Report: Wrestlemania gave Atlanta $62 million economic boost

October 24, 2011

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that this year’s Wrestlemania brought a $62 million economic impact to the area according to an economic research study by the WWE. This is a record for the WWE and a $17 million increase in economic impact from last year’s Wrestlemania in Glendale/Phoenix, Arizona.

This year’s Wrestlemania, which featured the return of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, garnered almost $8 million in taxes for the area. A portion of the impact relates to the increase in out of state visitors staying in the area for the event.

Darren Rovell also tweeted that the WWE’s impact equated to 621 full-time jobs in Atlanta.

Payout Perspective:

The study is being released a week before the WWE announces its earnings for the third quarter.  So, maybe a bit of public relations by the WWE. The reported financial impact on Atlanta is similar to the boon Toronto received for UFC 129 and is good news prior to its earnings call. Obviously, one may argue the economic impact report is skewed since the study was done by a Stamford, Connecticut firm (where WWE headquarters is located) likely commissioned by the WWE. But, it shows the importance of the live event is to the UFC and WWE. Both have added to the live experience through Expos at big events which allow consumers more access and touchpoints to its brands.

Fightmetric introduces new Fantasy MMA game

October 24, 2011

Fightmetric, the UFC’s official statistics provider, recently developed a new fantasy MMA game. The game, MMA Salary Cap Challenge, is similar to fantasy football and baseball as it uses statistics to determine winners.

Via its press release:

The game works just like other salary cap style fantasy games. Players are given a budget for each MMA event to spend on the fighters competing on the televised portion.

Scoring is based upon round as well as knockdowns, significant strikes, takedowns, submission attempts and passes.

Payout Perspective:

It’s an interesting take on Fantasy MMA. Looking at the scoring system, maybe MMA judges could use the information. For Fightmetric, it’s a nice way for it take advantage of the statistics it already compiles and package it in a fantasy game for public consumption. It would be interesting to know how many MMA fans out there participate in Fantasy MMA and if something like this would catch on. Fantasy Football is such a growth industry, will a Fantasy MMA game catch on with fans?

UFC goes 3D in 2012

October 22, 2011

Variety reports that the UFC has partnered with digital cinema company Cinedigm to bring four events to movie theaters in 3D in 2012. The first event will be Super Bowl weekend, February 4, 2012.

Via Variety:

February’s event will be shown in 120 theaters in the U.S. — a good starting point for the series, Cinedigm chairman-CEO Chris McGurk told Variety. “The important thing is to fill up those theaters, and I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” he said.

Cinedigm’s goal is to make movie theatres “appointment programming.”

Payout Perspective:

The last time the UFC flirted with 3D was for UFC on Versus 3. This experiment will be interesting considering the push for 3D in sports. It seems a little early for this but the UFC has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to new forms of media. The price point will play a big role in deciding whether to pay to go to a theatre to watch an event. The February 4th UFC event could have Chael Sonnen facing Anderson Silva in what will be a much hyped match.

With 34 events scheduled for 2012, it seems hard for consumers to consistently purchase UFC PPVs. This can be an interesting alternative than going to a bar. I have always been skeptical about live events playing in theatres so we will see how this will be marketed and how many people take advantage.

MMAterial Facts (10/21/11) : UFC and the Fox Era, Nick Diaz Phenomenon, & UFC in 3D

October 21, 2011

Welcome to this edition of MMAterial Facts, where we feature articles from around the MMA community.

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This week’s MMAterial Facts:

– The Nick Diaz Phenomenon (MMA Fighting)

“In 15 minutes, Diaz did more to shift the narrative of UFC 137 storylines than Penn, Mitrione and Kongo did in the preceding 40. That’s just the way it is when he speaks.

And isn’t that the point of conference calls and press conferences? When it comes to those, Diaz says more with less than anyone in MMA. If he was as verbose and microphone friendly as say, Chael Sonnen, it wouldn’t quite be the same. Diaz shows up when he wants, wedges open a window into his mind, and lets you in look in just long enough to find yourself fascinated and wanting more.”

– Opinion: Dana White is not the right man to lead the UFC during their era on Fox (Fight Opinion)

“Dana White has been the catalyst for the UFC’s growth from 2005 to present day. He is the most influential man in the sport and transformed UFC into an MMA empire. He avoided the kinds of pitfalls that doomed promotions like the WFA, the IFL, Affliction, PRIDE, DREAM, and Strikeforce. Thanks to Zuffa’s connections with Ari Emanuel, the promotion was able to bank a seven year, $700 million USD contract with Fox Sports to air UFC content on various Fox-related platforms.”

– Interview with UFC 137’s Roy Nelson as he prepares for Mirko Filipovic (MMA Mania)

“I feel standing, like I think I’ve stood up with some of the best heavyweights in the world. I stood up with Junior [dos Santos] so like, I think I might regress for this fight and go back to my roots, go back to my first five or six wins were all submissions. Maybe I’ll regress in the chain of being an MMA fighter.”

– The Lost Victims of the Injury Bug (MMA Convert)

“Everyone groans and exclaims when the big names get injured – there’s still weeping to be heard over Georges St. Pierre’s forced exit from UFC 137, and sobs can be heard all around the world over the news that Shane Carwin and Rich Franklin are both on ice over back- and shoulder injuries.  But the Dreaded Injury Bug has bitten others, too.  And while they may be lesser-known victims, sidelined from their participation in organizations that receive only a modicum of exposure and don’t employ an Octagon as a field of battle, these injured fighters’ absences from promised competition are woes that do still reverberate, albeit on a much smaller scale.  So let us acknowledge them, here and now, and recognize that their loss to their respective organizations’ rosters does have an impact on us.  They are the lost victims of the injury bug.”

– Get the popcorn ready, UFC is coming to your nearest theater…in 3D (MiddleEasy)

“According to Variety Magazine, the UFC has signed a contract with Cinedigm to offer UFC events that will be shown in movie theaters in illustrious 3D. “

– More surgery for Shane Carwin (NBC Sports MMA)

“Former UFC No. 1 heavyweight contender Shane Carwin will be forced to undergo a second round of surgical procedures to address issues related to neck and back problems. Carwin had surgery last November, and returned to fight against Junior dos Santos before being sidelined by these more recent issues.”

– Chris Leben: The Career Retrospective Interview (Cage Potato)

“[On “sending Anderson Silva back to Japan”:] “Here’s the deal: When you sit down with the UFC and give them a pre-fight interview, what are you supposed to say? I’m not going to say they tell you what to say [during the interviews], but it’s certainly coached, and they want you to be a tough guy. So I couldn’t say, ‘Hey I didn’t want to take this fight, I didn’t think I was ready for it, but I’m taking it anyway because the UFC told me I had to.’ I asked not to take the fight. I thought it was a bad idea, plain and simple.”

– A Review of “Raw Combat: The Underground World of Mixed Martial Arts” (Five Ounces of Pain)

“The book explores the fight scene in New York, which, as most fans know, isn’t exactly legal in the Big Apple. Jim paints a pretty vivid picture of how fights and events go down in New York and things definitely have a Fight Club feel. I’m actually a little worried for Jim’s safety once this book comes out for talking about the subject and breaking the first rule.”

– M-1 Global: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Jeff Monson” Video Promo (5thRound)

“Up until the release of Friday’s video promo, it was unknown how M-1 Global was planning on making the show available for viewing. Many thought Showtime might host the shindig, but it seems the premium cable network will stand clear.”

– We have a pretty interesting interview with Alexander Shlemenko (LowKick)

“How important for you is the potential rematch with Hector Lombard? Do you consider it as your main priority?
Yes, definitely. I’m absolutely sure that when we meet again, the fight will play by a totally different scenario. I’m working very hard on my takedown defense and overall physical condition. Hector Lombard will not be able to take me down and play the clock on the ground. I could beat him up and then win via KO standing.”

– Interview with Dan “Punkass” Caldwell from the Tapout Crew at NYCC 2011 (TheFightNerd)

“I think Kenny [Florian] is a really exciting fighter in his past matches, he just needs to fight the right people… me personally, I think the 155 lb. division looks a little more inviting again. I think he should go back to 155 and try his hand there. Some of those guys would match up better with his style.”

– Matt Lindland Interview:  Chael Will Finish Silva Before the End of the Third Round (BleacherReport.com/MMA)

“I think the rematch would look just like the first one, except I’ve got a game plan for Chael to finish him before the end of the third round. So, yeah it’ll look similar to their first encounter, but with some additional techniques and strategy, it won’t make it to the championship rounds.”

Update on Fox-Direct TV contract dispute

October 21, 2011

John Ourand of the Sports Business Daily/Journal has followed up a report on the Fox-Direct TV contract dispute. The two parties have now drawn lines in the sand which has Direct TV threatening to pull Fox channels on November 1.

Late Thursday night Fox released the following statement (obtained via John Ourand’s twitter)

Despite Fox Networks’ offer of an extension during our ongoing negotiations, DirecTV has informed us and their customers that unless we agree to their demands, they “will suspend our networks on November 1.”

DirecTV sent us a proposal on Tuesday afternoon. They have given us no chance to respond before taking an unnecessarily aggressive posture and going public. It is disappointing that they have chosen bad faith tactics over meaningful negotiation.

We have proposed to keep the Fox Networks on DirecTV for the same price, and on the same terms as they are currently carried while we attempt to work out a fair agreement. Unfortunately, DirecTV has decided that unless they get their way, they are going to pull the plug on their customers November 1.

The following is Direct TV’s response (via Ourand’s twitter):

After months of making little progress in our talks with News Corp and Fox to renew our agreement to carry their regional sports networks and other national channels we’ve regrettably reached a point where we will be forced to suspend the channels as soon as Nov. 1 unless News Corp is willing to move toward a more reasonable price increase.

They are currently asking our customers to pay 40% more for the exact same Fox channels that they already receive and that’s simply unfair and unwarranted. We hope to resolve this situation before any action is taken, but we will do what’s necessary to protect our customers from excessive and unwarranted fee increases. We already provide News Corp nearly a billion dollars a year for their channels, and we have no problem continuing to compensate them fairly.

Note: Fox broadcast stations and Fox News are not affected at this time

Fox contract ends December 31, 2011 while Fox News contract ends January 31, 2012.

Payout Perspective:

Fortunately for the UFC, the Fox network will not be affected for its big “UFC on Fox” event November 12th. However, the dispute could affect its future programming on Fox networks. Why? Direct TV has 19 million subscribers and is the second biggest distributor in the US. A prolonged dispute between Fox-Direct TV could negate UFC momentum of promoting its brand on Fox networks. With UFC programming set for Fox cable networks like FX and Fuel, many of the casual viewers will not see the UFC with its new network partners.  In fact, the dispute could be beneficial to Spike TV which could go heavy into airing the UFC library during this time. As we’ve pointed out, this could lead to future viewer confusion once Fox-Direct TV come to terms. We will continue to monitor to see if Fox cable networks goes dark on November 1st.

TUF 14 Episode 6: 1.6 million viewers

October 20, 2011

MMA Weekly reports that TUF 14 episode 5 received a strong 1.6 million viewers to average 1.5 million viewers thus far in the season. The ratings equated to a 1.0 household rating.

According to Television By Numbers, it tied with Psych (USA) and Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family) for top spot for cable programming Wednesday night in the coveted Adults 18-49 demographic.

Episode 1: 1.5 million
Episode 2: 1.6 million
Episode 3: 1.3 million
Episode 4: 1.5 million
Episode 5: 1.5 million
Episode 6: 1.6 million

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are a positive sign that the TUF franchise still has a viewership base despite going up against the World Series. Last night’s episode included a controversial fight between Akira Corassani and Dustin Neace in which it appeared Corassani tapped to a submission. The sparks between the two included a face off brawl prior to the fight which included Miller and Bisping in a confrontation. While some of the stirrings seem produced (e.g., Mayhem’s car getting towed), it still is producing interest and a returning base of viewers.

M-1 Global Challenge 27: 185,000 viewers

October 20, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that ratings for M-1 Global Challenge on Showtime Friday night scored an average of 185,000 viewers. The event drew a 0.6 household rating.

Via MMA Junkie:

The event was the third M-1 Challenge show to air on Showtime. M-1 Challenge 24 drew 189,000 viewers earlier this year, and M-1 Challenge 26 drew 161,000 viewers in July. The three shows now have averaged 178,000 viewers on the premium-cable channel.

By comparison, the Strikeforce Challengers series on Showtime has averaged 207,000 viewers per event in 2011.

Payout Perspective:

Good numbers for the promotion especially with its Friday night time slot. Still lower than Strikeforce Challengers  average numbers, but as pointed out by readers, the M-1 average matches Bellator 54. It will be interesting to see what Showtime will do with Ken Hershman leaving for HBO and Zuffa in talks with the network about its future on Showtime. M-1 could be an alternative for Showtime if Zuffa leaves and it decides to remain in the MMA business.

Bellator 54: 185,000 viewers

October 19, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 54 on MTV2 received an average of 185,000 viewers. Running unopposed a UFC card helped the promotion increase viewership by 80% between Bellator 53 and 54.

Via MMA Junkie:

Once again, the latest ratings continue the organization’s wildly inconsistent season-five numbers; two events have scored at least 235,000 viewers, and three have drawn 158,000 or fewer.

A replay earned an average of 116,000 viewers. The 185,000 average equated to a 0.2 rating according to The Wrestling Observer.

Payout Perspective:

A nice bounce back from 53’s 103,000 average a week ago. As MMA Junkie points out, Bellator’s ratings have been across the board and its hard to find a pattern. But, we may argue that the numbers reflect the fact that Bellator can draw a decent audience when its not running up against the UFC. This begs the question as to if Bellator should move to another night. Moving the time slot on Saturday could be another option but that could draw confusion. Bjorn Rebney indicated that he would be open to such a move in 2012. But, this week Bellator 55 runs unopposed (on TV that is) so we should see another solid ratings week.

Update on Bellator-Desert Rage litigation

October 19, 2011

Last week we reported that Bellator had sued Arizona promotion Desert Rage Full Contact Fighting claiming the Arizona-based promotion interfered with contracted Bellator fighters for its upcoming event in Yuma on October 22nd as Desert Rage was set to hold its own event nearby on the same date.

The most recent movement in the case has Desert Rage filing a jurisdictional challenge to Bellator’s lawsuit. As a company in Illinois, Bellator filed its claim in Illinois. However, Desert Rage has opposed the filing and is requesting that the lawsuit either be dismissed or transferred to the district court in Yuma, Arizona. The hearing date to determine the jurisdiction issue will be held in December which is interesting considering that its well after the October 22nd events of both companies.

In its motion, Desert Rage includes the affidavit of Chance Farrar, the individual Bellator alleges to be the central person to have had contact with Bellator contracted fighters and had knowledge of its contracts as Farrar worked with Bellator this past spring.  In his affidavit Farrar claims not having a contract with Bellator and worked as a “fight coordinator” for Bellator’s April 2011 event in Yuma. Notably, he states, “I did not have any written contract with Bellator in relation to this (April 2011) event.” He also states that Desert Rage had planned its October 22nd event in July which would trump Bellator as it claimed it started planning for its event in August.

Based on the affidavit, its interesting that Bellator did not have Farrar sign a non-disclosure, non-compete agreement prior to having him work with the company. Obviously this is Monday-morning quarterbacking and perhaps Bellator did not have a reason to suspect this could happen. But, as a fight promotion, planning is everything. Its interesting that some sort of instinctive relief  (a request from the court to stop a party from doing something) was not requested by either party as both promotions are set to hold its events this Saturday. The hearing date for the motion is set well after the events and the effect of that would make the lawsuit about money. Or, just a moot point.

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GSP out for UFC 137

October 18, 2011

Dana White tweeted this afternoon that Georges St. Pierre is out of the UFC 137 main event due to injury. As a result, Nick Diaz ironically steps into the main event versus BJ Penn while Carlos Condit is taken off the card completely as he wants to wait for GSP.

Dana White tweet (via ESPN):

“I just landed in New York City, and what do I always say? I have to deal with bad [stuff] every day. GSP is out with an injury!!!”

Diaz originally taken off the main event with GSP for no-showing media obligations now is in the same place he would have been had he not decided to skip the pressers. Condit now must wait for the GSP title shot, as we assume he still gets a shot at GSP.

Payout Perspective:

Second to the Fox deal, the biggest happening in the UFC this year are the injuries to key fighters. Losing GSP will definitely hurt the PPV buy rate for 137. Fortunately, having BJ Penn on the card helps save some viewers. With the UFC planning an ambitious 34 events in 2012 and starting a new partnership with Fox, this year’s rash of injuries is a reminder of one of the realities with the sport: injuries can force out marquee names. Just this year, Cain Velasquez, Brock Lesnar, Rashad Evans and GSP have had to be replaced due to injury. Not to mention Jon Jones taking time off for an injury.  Certainly, the latest injury to GSP had to have Dana White making calls to the fight camps of Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez to make sure that nothing happens to each prior to the biggest night in the UFC’s history.

GSP’s injury definitely hurts the welterweight division and creates a backlog for welterweight contenders waiting for a shot at the title.

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