Proposed Anti-MMA Bill in Wisconsin still alive

January 25, 2012

OnMilwaukee.com reports that an “Anti-MMA” bill in Wisconsin is still alive but is fading quickly. If passed, the bill could ban mixed martial arts in over 1,200 towns in the state.

Duke Roufus of Roufus Sport has lobbied against the measure. You may recall Roufus is the trainer for MMA fighters including Anthony Pettis and his gym is located in Milwaukee

The actual bill authorizes towns to pass ordinances banning MMA. The state’s Department of Safety and Professional Services governs the regulation of MMA in the state. The proposed bill would grant local government the authority to ban MMA in its town.

Via OnMilwaukee.com:

Referred to as “Wisconsin’s Anti-MMA Bill”, AB-308 was authored by Representative Patricia Strachota and co-sponsored by Senator Glenn Grothman in October of 2011, just a year removed from Wisconsin’s adoption of mixed martial arts regulations designed to create statewide safety and regulatory standards.

The bill’s sponsors actually supported the original legislation adopting MMA regulations. The change in course is puzzling to Roufus and supporters of MMA of that state.

Payout Perspective:

If passed, it would be a definite blow to MMA in the state. The story suggests that MMA cards are just being organized and to repeal the MMA regulations would be a disappointment for MMA fans. The bill is not as definite as New York’s ban as the pertinent language gives a town the authority to ban MMA. So, it would really be up to the local governing body whether it would enact a ban. The bill appears to be losing support but we will continue to monitor.

UFC issues formal statement on UFC.com security breach

January 25, 2012

The UFC issued a formal statement via MMA Fighting regarding Sunday’s security breach of the UFC.com web site. The response comes two days after the hacking of the web site.

Via MMA Fighting:

On Sunday, January 22nd, the UFC.com website was redirected by a criminal hacker to another website. The UFC website was quickly restored to the control of the UFC, and there is no evidence suggesting that any confidential information belonging to the company or its customers was compromised by the re-direction of the website. UFC representatives are continuing to investigate the matter and are working with law enforcement agents to prosecute those involved.

Payout Perspective:

While there is nothing wrong with the statement, the tardiness of the assurance that all is well with the site is a concern. As MMA Fighting points out, the recent Zappos.com security breach saw a swifter response from the online shoe retailer. Still, the online shoe retailer is facing at least one lawsuit related to the breach. In addition, White’s twitter response that he basically did not care is of concern since UFC.com also acts as a storefront for its fans. Its a place where the UFC sells product and asks for buyer’s credit card and personal information.

UFC bans weapon sponsors

January 24, 2012

Cage Potato reports that Zuffa has banned all gun, ammo, hunting and knife sponsors in the UFC. The ban is a one of the guidelines promulgated by the Fox Sports Media Group.

Longtime UFC fighter sponsor, The Gun Store, is the most notable to be affected. Also affected was Ammo to Go, which sponsored fighters on the recent UFC on FX 1 card and UFC 142. According to reports, the news broke last week and the ban was instituted this week.

Cage Potato received word from Fox regarding the reason for the restriction:

Via Cage Potato:

“Simply put, UFC is complying with its FOX Sports Media Group contract which only applies to events and shows carried on its networks. Beyond that, FOX does not comment on its standards and practices.”

MMA Payout had the opportunity to contact Grohmann Knives, also known as GKnives.com. It sponsored Jim Miller Friday night among other fighters. In an email to MMA Payout it stated it was not notified of the ban and in fact the company was solicited by UFC fighters about possible future sponsorship opportunities.

Payout Perspective:

The ban is not too surprising considering the UFC-Fox relationship. With being in the mainstream comes restrictions and we can see this as the sponsorship version of the more family friendly UFC. Yet, this may hurt some fighters who rely on sponsors like The Gun Store and Ammo to Go as a source of revenue.

Seen another way, the ban could foster a new way to think about sponsorship. Ingrained Media, a marketing firm working with MMA fighters, hypothesized that there may be a time when there may not be any sponsors in the UFC. It called for more of a strategy when it comes to building brands for fighters rather than just finding logo placement for televised events. The challenge is to find ways to leverage the fighter’s UFC platform in to sustainable revenue for the fighter and value for the brand. We will see if this happens.

While the ban hurts all fighters, it likely hurts mid-tier fighters the most considering they are on the televised portion of cards cards but do not make the top tier money as main eventers and are not lower-tier fighters who may not be able to solicit sponsors at the point in their career. For them, the MMA middle class will have to look elsewhere for sponsors.

UFC on FX 1: 1.3 million viewers

January 23, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that the UFC on FX’s debut scored 1.3 million viewers on Friday night. The prelim bouts on Fuel, which preceded the FX show, received 148,000 viewers.

In comparison, Spike TV ran UFC counterprogramming at the same time as UFC on FX which garnered an average of 700,000 viewers.

According to MMA Junkie the ratings for UFC on FX received a 1.19 average among men 18-49 and a 1.21 for men 18-34.

Payout Perspective:

If you look at it with the glass half full, there were a lot of UFC fans watching its product Friday night. But, its with the UFC’s current tv partner we are concerned with here. The numbers are lower for FX right now in comparison to recent Spike TV live programming. This may be unfair to compare considering that the UFC is in its infancy stages of its new TV deal and we have a quirky situation with Spike maintaining the UFC library. There is the other argument that the switch from Friday to Saturday may be an issue. However, this spring Friday night will be the night for MMA as Bellator sets up shop on Fridays opposite the UFC on two channels.

Based on its low attendance and gate, the ratings fall in line with the fact that this event fell victim to being an event in the midst of a blitz of bigger UFC events. We shall see how Fox markets its product on FX to ensure more viewers are directed to its Friday live events.

UFC.com hacked but White indifferent

January 23, 2012

USA Today reported that UFC.com was hacked yesterday as a result of its position on SOPA. However, Dana White did not seem to be concerned with the web site’s security breach.

MMA Mania reports that the group that hacked the site did this in part as retaliation for the shutdown of file sharing web site Megaupload.What may have stirred some controversy is White’s reaction to the web site hacking. White usually responds to UFC issues on twitter with some sort of opinion.. Most recently, he addressed the controversy over Friday night’s Fight of the Night. He’s also wrote in opposition to ESPN’s story on fighter pay. Yet, he did not seemed concerned about the issue Sunday night.

As we wrote previously, the UFC is in the unenviable position of supporting an unpopular law for its target audience. While SOPA and PIPA would help the UFC in its fight against the piracy of its PPVs, its broad reach has many of its fans opposing the legislation.

Payout Perspective:

The hacking of UFC.com should have been addressed by White or the UFC with more concern. To make light, or not care about a security breach on its web site shows a disregard for its property – a property that would be protected by the legislation its been supporting. From a PR perspective, one need not acknowledge the perpetrators of the hacking, but the UFC should ensure its followers that the breach has been addressed. After all, as people have noted, how safe would you feel to make a purchase on UFC.com if you knew that the site had been hacked. We’ll see if there will be additional hackings of the site and/or if the UFC will address the issue.

Pro-SOPA editorial may have led to hacking of UFC.com

January 22, 2012

The UFC’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence Epstein wrote an op-ed in Sunday’s Las Vegas Review Journal in defense of the UFC’s position in favor of SOPA. On the same day, the UFC web site was hacked in what is believed to be a response to the UFC’s position on the bill.

In addition to its support of the controversial SOPA bill, Epstein’s editorial argues in favor of the Protect IP Act (PIPA). A bill supported by Nevada Senator Harry Reid – a friend of the UFC.

Overall, Epstein’s piece attempts to find common themes that the reader would agree with (stealing is bad, it hurts the economy and hurts American businesses) before coming to his point  that the UFC is against piracy of its PPVs. The piece uses the UFC as an example of a U.S. success story.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The UFC itself is an example of American innovation. The Fertitta brothers, who are Las Vegas natives, along with their friend, Dana White, co-founded today’s UFC by rescuing a dying company from bankruptcy. They cleaned up the sport by inviting clear, enforceable regulation of fighting events, put their own livelihoods on the line and created a new market (with thousands of jobs) where none existed prior. That is exactly the kind of entrepreneurial engine that our country needs, especially now.

The op-ed also indicates that the UFC “contributes more than $300 million” to the economy. It also argues that there must be a rule of law to regulate online sites from stealing from businesses like the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

The timing of the op-ed piece is interesting considering the SOPA boycott occurred earlier this  past week. As a result, a scheduled vote on SOPA this week has been put off. The UFC’s position on SOPA is of no surprise as Lorenzo Fertitta sent a letter of support to the bill’s sponsor last November. The WWE was another company in favor of the legislation.

Still, the placement of the editorial is interesting considering the timing. But the actual intent of the piece lacks persuasiveness. A better use of the editorial would be to acknowledge the strong opposition but assert the reasons why SOPA protects intellectual property rights of many companies including the UFC. It does get into its position a little. But mostly we get a broad American values editorial which carries no weight. While there are certain political lines that the UFC is trying to straddle with its position, it could have asserted its support of the controversial legislation while carving out its reasons. Since a big portion of the UFC’s target audience are those that would support a protest of SOPA, it would make sense for the UFC to explain itself in better detail.

As some believe, Sunday’s “hacking” of UFC.com could have been a result of the UFC’s position. While the UFC will be concerned from an online security perspective, it should also look at it from a PR perspective. For the UFC, this may not be as easy as it seems. The UFC has been aggressive in its stance against illegal streaming and distribution of its fights. In supporting SOPA and PIPA, it sees legislation that can assist in its fight against online piracy. But, opposition to the laws, which include many young, internet savvy individuals – the same people that likely follow Dana White and many other UFC fighters on twitter, utilize social media and embrace the online community oppose the restrictions that would come with the proposed laws. We will see how SOPA and PIPA will evolve and if the UFC will continue to support it.

UFC on FX 1: gate, attendance and bonuses

January 21, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that UFC on FX 1 drew 7,728 fans for a gate of $334,860. The event took place Friday night at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to Junkie, a late sales and media push had most of the lower bowl in the 19,000 seat venue full. The last time the UFC held an event in the arena was in April 2009. That show, a UFC Fight Night, garnered 10,267 fans for a $626,077 gate.

In addition, the bonuses handed out were $45,000 each. Nick Denis, Jim Miller, Pat Barry, and Christian Morecraft all received the bonuses. Denis won for KO of the night, Miller won sub of the night and Barry and Morecraft earned Fight of the Night. There was some controversy for the FOTN choice, as many believed Jared Papazian and Mike Easton won that honor. Listening to his followers, Dana White tweeted that Papazian and Easton would “take care of” for their work Friday night. So, it sounds like another bonus may have been paid to Papazian and Easton.

Payout Perspective:

A decent event that was caught in between UFC 142 and the UFC’s next card on network TV. Thus, not too much buzz leading up to the Friday night event. The attendance reflects this fact but the figures fall in line with a UFC on Versus card. One would think more fans would come out since its been 2 plus years since the UFC visited Nashville. But, it might be the quality of the card that kept people from spending the money. It will be interesting to see the ratings for the event as it debuted on FX.

NBC Sports Network Fight Night debuts Saturday night

January 21, 2012

The Sports Business Journal reports on the return to the ring of NBC on the rebranded NBC Sports Network formerly known as Versus. Saturday night is the debut of “NBC Sports Network Fight Night,” which will appear quarterly in 2012 on the network.

NBCSN will work with Main Events as its promotional company to produce quality fights. It already has had an obstacle to overcome as its original main event was scrapped due to fighter injury. Main Events replaced the main event with a match between two unknown, but unbeaten heavyweights.

The pledge by Main Events is that it will put on competitive fights and will work with other promoters to achieve this goal.

According to boxing sources, rights fees will average $150,000 per show which, according to the SBJ, wil “fill a middle-class void that exists between ESPN and the premium cable networks.”

With the Comcast-NBC merger, past hurdles in developing fighters and having them move on to HBO, Showtime and PPV are no longer. Main Events CEO Kathy Duva told Sports Business Journal that if fighters leave for premium cable, Comcast still wins. Also, if fighters become PPV stars, Comcast wins too.

The two hour program will debut Saturday night at 6pmPT/9pmET. It will air from the old ECW Arena in Philadelphia.

GoDaddy.com has signed on as a sponsor for the show.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how this show will be received. The Fight Night follows NBCSN’s strategy of live programming being central to its sports network. Its an interesting concept by Main Events and addresses a problem that is common in the boxing industry. As we’ve seen with Mayweather-Pacquiao, the problems of promoters working with each other prohibits good match-ups. We’ll see how the show will present compelling storylines and promote fighters.

UFC goes 3D for 143

January 20, 2012

The UFC announced that it will be showing UFC 143 in 3D in movie theaters. Tickets for the in theater PPV will go for $25 and can be purchased in advance.The main event Super Bowl Weekend has Nick Diaz battling Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight title.

Via UFC press release:

Las Vegas, Nevada – The Ultimate Fighting Championship®, in conjunction with Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. (NASDAQ: CIDM)  and NCM Fathom, announced that tickets for the first-ever live, 3-D broadcast of a UFC® Pay-Per-View event on the Big Screen are on sale now. The championship fight card,UFC® 143: DIAZ vs. CONDIT, airs live and in 3-D in more than 100 theatres nationwide on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

The night’s main event pits the fiery and unpredictable Nick Diaz against hard-hitting knockout artist Carlos Condit for the interim UFC welterweight title. An exciting co-main event features heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson battling submission ace Fabricio Werdum.

Tickets for UFC® 143: DIAZ vs. CONDIT are available for purchase now at www.ufc.com/3D, as well as at theatre box offices across the country. Fans can visit the website for information on which theatres will be carrying the event in their respective regions.

“I know the fans love 3-D, so I’m happy to give them this championship fight live and in 3-D in theaters across the country,” UFC President Dana White said. “I cannot wait for this fight between Diaz and Condit to determine the interim UFC welterweight champion!”

UPDATE: The above press release web site takes you to Fandango where you can purchase advance tickets. The cost is $25 per ticket in the Seattle, WA area although I’m not sure if this is region specific.

Payout Perspective:

This will be an interesting experiment to see if the 3D concept will catch on with MMA. Last year, the UFC and Cindegim announced this partnership. The UFC first tried 3D with UFC on Versus 3. Depending on the price of the tickets, this could be a successful experiment and another option from having to pay $50 plus to order a PPV at home. But, I don’t recall past attempts for movie theatre live events doing well.  It would have been nice to have had bigger names on top of the card as this could draw more interested fans to this event.

“UFC Tonight” draws 61,000 viewers on Fuel TV

January 20, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that UFC Tonight on Fuel TV drew an average of 61,000 viewers on Tuesday night. It triples the viewership of the show from last week.

UFC Tonight, the UFC’s news magazine show, debuted January 3rd with a  39,000 viewer average. Last week’s edition scored a low of 20,000 viewers.

Via MMA Junkie:

In 2011, FUEL TV was cable’s lowest-rated channel. However, thanks largely to the UFC’s new partnership with the channel, which airs live fights and an array of other UFC programming, FUEL TV has expanded from a meager 30 million U.S. homes to approximately 36 million in just a matter of months. (By comparison, the UFC’s former longtime home, Spike TV, is available in approximately 100 million.)

While the growth process has proved problematic for some hardcore UFC fans who don’t have FUEL TV in their programming lineup, the cable channel has seen an immediate impact in its viewership. According to FUEL TV officials, the channel has seen a 56 percent gain in total viewers over the first two weeks of 2011 and a 75 percent increase in viewers in the coveted male 18-49 demographic.

Payout Perspective:

The spike (no pun intended) in ratings is a good sign that fans are finding the show. As we’ve indicated here before, there will be some growing pains with the new Fox platforms as fans get used to the new channel. It will be interesting to see if the ratings continue to rise, remain steady, or fluctuate depending on the events and subjects covered by the show.

« Previous PageNext Page »