11 for 11: No. 4 Injuries plague PPVs; Buy rates down

December 27, 2011

Injuries have plagued 2011 as many of the UFC’s top stars have had to postpone or delay fights this year.

GSP, Brock Lesnar, Jon Jones, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and Rashad Evans are just a sample of the fighters that were scratched from PPV cards due to injury. This does not even touch upon the number of fighters on the undercards that have been shuffled due to injury.

Lorenzo Fertitta acknowledged this fact in a recent LA Times interview.

Via the LA Times:

…but our biggest issue lately has been 11 of our last 14 main events have fallen out and required replacement fighters. It’s like there’s been a hex over us. So it’s been a challenge to run the business how we’ve planned to.

Fetitta indicated that if the UFC gets a run of of good health (and is able to book the fighters and fights it can), then the business will take off.

Injuries haven’t helped with the PPV buys for the UFC. This year we saw a decrease in PPV numbers and only two shows (UFC 126 and UFC 129) reached 500K PPV buys. In 2010, 11 PPVs scored 500K or better.

If the Brock Lesnar factor holds true, UFC 141 would be the only UFC PPV this year to go over 1 million PPV buys.

At the beginning of the year, Dave Metzler believed that 2011 would be a rebuilding year for PPVs. But, he cited the need to build up the bantamweight and featherweight divisions and building new stars as reasons for smaller PPV numbers. Jon Jones is a new star that the UFC hopes to build into a PPV attraction. However, the PPV numbers do not reflect the bantamweight, featherweight or lightweights gaining traction as main eventers. As an example, the third fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard at UFC 136 received only 225K PPV buys.

It will be interesting to see how 2012 will fare on the injury front. We already know Anderson Silva will not be available until mid-2012. This will delay a guaranteed PPV draw, a potential rematch with Chael Sonnen. Also, GSP will be out until late 2012 and the division will have an interim champion in the meantime.

We will see if the UFC tries to push Jon Jones to the forefront as a PPV draw. Also, how will the UFC utilize the flyweight division. And, will the lighter weight divisions draw. We shall see at UFC 142 as Jose Aldo fights Chad Mendes in the main event.

Of course another factor in addressing the PPV buys is PPV fatigue. There will be 16 PPVs this year with a PPV almost a bimonthly happening. Its hard for a fan to pay over $100 bucks a month in PPVs in addition to their normal cable/satellite bill. Couple the economic factor with the injuries to main events, and its a combination which likely led to the lower numbers.

Photo via LA Times

6 Responses to “11 for 11: No. 4 Injuries plague PPVs; Buy rates down”

  1. Chris on December 27th, 2011 2:38 PM

    Yeah injuries and the lack of huge fights are the reason PPV buys are down.

    I believe they said they will do 14 next year, so thats 2 less, hopefully they drop it down the next year to 12, one a month.

    But losing GSP hurts them next year.

    They were probably hoping to get

    Brock/Reem Dec 30th then either Brock/JDS titel fight or Reem/JDS title fight

    if Brock lost to Reem he could fight Mir in what would be still a big fight or Cain rematch would still be big.

    GSP vs Diaz, vs Condit and maybe Jake E, Fitch or a superfight vs Silva

    Silva/Sonnen, Silva vs Bisping and then Silva vs GSP or Jones end of the year

    Jones/Rashad

    They could have gotten alot of big fights but GSP got hurt so that takes 2 to 3 big fights away next year.

    If Brock loses to Reem he might leave the UFC which would hurt them, what if Sonnen loses to Munoz? Davis beats Rashad?

    So buys could be down next year as well.

  2. BrainSmasher on December 27th, 2011 3:35 PM

    Good points Chris. When PPV draws get beat by the new guard it takes a while to build the new guys into draws. I think Chael is a safe bet to beat Munoz. But Rashad could lose and Davis is a Long way from beings a draw. As we see with Jones. Being good and even marketable still takes time to effect PPV buys. 2012 could be huge or it could be a dud. That is the nature of the fight game. The good thing about having a bad year if one wants to look at the bright side. It sets up all the pieces for a good following years. As bad as 2011 was if all goes well 2012 could be one of the best years for the sport. Of course GSP, Silva are hurt and Brock could leave. But just the fight possibilities this year make it the best year in UFC history for super fights(PPV draws).

    In addition to the Silva/Chael, GSP vs a huge list of contenders, Brock/Overeem/Santos/Cain/ mini tournament that is playing out. You have the possibilities that those fights lead to more. If Chael can pull it off vs Silva we will get a huge rubber match. I would bet a lot of money that GSP gets beat this year by one of the contenders. Be it Ellenburger, Condit, etc. There will be almost an immediate rematch which will get huge ratings. You also have Rory McDonald in the mix who could be a star.

  3. Mossman on December 28th, 2011 10:13 AM

    Injuries have added to it… but when fans have no clue when the PPVs are and there is no rhyme or reason to it, but you keep upping the amount of PPVs….. the fatigue…aka OVER-SATURATION are going to kill the fan base.

    You can’t expect the organic growth to continue. Especially when there is no seasonality or regiment to the programming. You just keep throwing sh*t up against the wall to see what sticks and consumers get A. confused, B. strained in the wallet area and C. finally become dis-interested or you lose them as a fan, because they can’t keep up with who is fighting who…

    The smartest thing the UFC could do is create some form of a regular programming schedule. I.e. for the love of Christ please make it like the 1st Saturday of the Month and each holiday weekend, etc. Then fans know.

    Look at what is going to happen this Friday… only the hardcores who follow everyday will know that its on Friday… most casual fans who have seen a commercial think Brock is going to fight on Saturday. All you have to do is read the comments on their Facebook and see how stupid consumers REALLY ARE. It’s going to KILL their buys for this even with Brock on the card. They’ve never had a Friday PPV. It doesnt make sense to do it now. Wait a week and have it on Saturday for crying out loud.

    Seriously… the easiest thing they could do is give themselves a regiment.

  4. Ironbuddha on December 28th, 2011 11:04 AM

    Wow, glad i read this. i follow MMA pretty religiously but i had no idea the fight was Friday. I knew it was the 30th but I have so much going on with the holidays and family stuff that I didn’t realize the 30th was Friday.

    I’m sure I would have realized it over ther next day or so because I always read BE, but if I had been busy, i may have missed it.

  5. Sampson Simpson on December 28th, 2011 4:57 PM

    Dana White is following the model that killed boxing’s popularity over the long-haul.

    Too many PPV’s throughout a year.

    PPV is thought to be the relegated only for those events deemed “Pay-Per-View Worthy”. In essence, this meant that the event was CANNOT MISS due to it’s importance and intrigue.

    As the long-time or even newbie fan would start to miss watching and buying PPV events, it makes them realize that nothing the UFC has to offer is truly “can’t miss tv”.

    Life goes on with or without the UFC and that’s something Dana White & co cannot fathom.

    If the UFC wants to build a healthier business model for themselves, PPV must be relegated to a maximum of 6 times a year. It’s just a quick, short-sighted money grab if it’s anymore than that.

  6. BrainSmasher on December 29th, 2011 1:15 AM

    12 would be better and i agree they shouldn’t have changed this event to a friday. I didnt realize the 30th was a friday until yesterday. Still wouldnt have missed it but im sure many who dont follow will. I dont think that means they needs a set schedule. With the way they travel to different cities, countries, etc and have to work with TV openings and sometimes fighters injuries. It would make it very hard and most importantly predictable to the competition. Fans in the end will findthe fights if you have promoted it properly and made them care enough to find it.

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