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