NY Times writes about the MMA generation

March 17, 2012

The New York Times Fashion and Style section this week had a feature entitled, “The Fight Club Generation.”  The article details the fascination of MMA with youths to young adults.

The article which reports at a regional MMA card in Atlantic City focuses on youth interest in mixed martial arts. The article refers to the movie “Fight Club” which starred Brad Pitt and Ed Norton as the inspiration for many fans of MMA today. Not sure if this is actually true of most young MMA fans as that movie was filmed in 1999.  The mainstream popularity has only occurred in the past few years.  The article later devolves with comparisons to the XFL and “The Godfather.”

But, it also identifies, that in general, most people 35 years of age and older are not fans of the sport. In fact, the NY Times states that horse racing and figure skating are more popular than MMA in this segment.

Payout Perspective:

Getting past some of the minutiae in the article, one of the interesting takeaways coming from it is looking at how young fans get interested in the sport. TapouT and Cage Hero are  just a couple brands that have marketed MMA toward kids.  Last October, Cage Hero rebranded itself with an eye toward kids.  Having just attended a Jiu Jitsu tournament today and seeing so many kids under 10 in the sport one can see that grappling, and to a greater degree, MMA is a growing sport.   With MMA taking off, it will be interesting to see if the UFC begins to reach out, with more targeted campaigns, to the under 18 demographic.

Counsel counters Nevada’s claim Diaz lied

March 15, 2012

MMA Junkie reports on the ongoing saga regarding Nick Diaz’s response to Nevada’s allegations of marijuana use.  Last week, Diaz’s lawyer argued in a response brief that Diaz should be cleared of wrongdoing.

Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites after his February 4th fight against Carlos Condit.

In a response brief addressing the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s disciplinary action, Diaz’s attorney, Ross Goodman, argued that Diaz did not break the rules as he tested for an inactive metabolite of marijuana not banned by the NSAC or WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).

Diaz’s attorney argues that Diaz’s marijuana use is not considered a prescription drug. Also, he claims that Diaz did not need it to fight as the usage ceased, as is customary before Diaz’s fights, 8 days prior to the fight. Another of Goodman’s arguments suggest that the post-fight urine test may have shown higher levels of substances due to the physiological issues occurring at the time. In Diaz’s Declaration which was attached to the response, Diaz states that he had to lose 10 pounds the day before the weigh-ins (instead of his customary 2 pounds) and the 5 round fight with Condit incurred much more physical exertion than his normal 3 round fights.

As pointed out by Fight Opinion, Diaz’s attorney’s response brief is similar in argument to that of a guest editorial penned by Vancouver Athletic Commission’s Jonathan Tweedale on Bloody Elbow.

A public information officer for the Nevada Attorney General stated that Diaz lied to the NSAC in his pre-fight questionnaire when he swore he had not used prescribed medications two weeks prior to the Condit fight.

A copy of the questionnaire is here via Yahoo!

Diaz’s attorney argues that the questionnaire is inadmissible as evidence since Diaz did not sign the questionnaire “under penalty of perjury.”

Via MMA Junkie:

“In order for you to have a false official statement, it has to be sworn to,” Goodman said. “It has to be under oath. If you found something contradictory in an affidavit that is sworn to under penalties of perjury, then that’s where you really have a claim of false official statement. Here, you have none of that. You have a one-page, pre-printed questionnaire that was simply signed. There was no witness to attest to it, it wasn’t done under penalty of perjury, (and) it wasn’t sworn to.

“The second issue, which is really the main issue, is that he was truthful in responding to that question. He didn’t take prescription medications in the last two weeks (prior to the fight).”

Payout Perspective:

Next month’s hearing will be very interesting to see how the commission will rule on Diaz’s claims. While the pre-fight questionnaire will loom as evidence that Diaz lied, Diaz’s counsel makes an interesting argument about the admissibility of the document.  The questionnaire’s language does not constitute a legal declaration as the confirmation of truth language states: “I hereby attest that the above information is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge.”  Its likely that these forms will be updated pending Diaz’s hearing.

Secondly, we will see whether the commission will entertain Diaz’s claim that his marijuana use is not a prescription.

From the Nevada Attorney General’s perspective, its interesting that it made a statement about Diaz’s response brief prior to the hearing.  Furthermore, its pubic relations team should have thought out the correct words to use when describing on the questionnaire that he had not used prescription drugs 2 weeks prior to the fight. The public information officer stated:   “not only did Nick Diaz violate the law by testing positive for marijuana metabolites, but he also lied to the commission on his pre-fight questionnaire when he swore that he had not used any prescribed medications in (the) two weeks before the fight.” (h/t MMA Junkie).  The use of the word “swore” connotes the use of a legal declaration like the one Diaz gave in his response brief. The PIO could have kept it simple and stated that “Diaz violated the law by testing positive and lied to the commission.”  But, to go further allowed Diaz’s counsel to counterpunch with the legality of the document argument.  Perhaps this is a subtle misstep, but it allowed an opening for Diaz legal team to gain a PR advantage.

UFC could go after viewers of illegal streaming web site

March 14, 2012

The Wrestling Observer reports that Zuffa is taking a familiar strategy in going after online piracy. In Zuffa’s lawsuit against illegal streaming web site Greenfeedz, Zuffa has obtained Greenfeedz user information which may lead to Zuffa going after the users.

Its alleged that Greenfeedz illegally streamed PPVs UFC 130 through 142.  The web site has been shut down. As part of the legal action, Zuffa has obtained information of users of the web site which may lead to tracking down the users that viewed illegal streams of the UFC events on Greenfeedz.  No action has been taken yet against any individual that used Greenfeedz.

Payout Perspective:

The Zuffa strategy is reminiscent of rock band Metallica’s legal battle against Napster in the late 1990s-2000s.  Metallica sued Napster for copyright infringement and as an offspring of the litigation Metallica sued three universities (USC, Yale and Indiana University).  The colleges were brought into the litigation as Metallica claimed that the universities were complicit to copyright infringement by not blocking Napster on its campus computers.  Metallica also obtained information on 335,435 Napster users which it requested Napster block from its service as copyright infringers. In its lawsuit against the three colleges, Metallica (and Dr. Dre, another plaintiff) included slots for unnamed students in its lawsuit which it claimed would add as defendants later. It could have took the extra step in suing the users but eventually did not.

We will see if Zuffa will follow through with suing users of the illegal streaming web site. Based upon Zuffa’s strong stance against piracy, it could sue users as an example. Similar to the Metallica situation, Zuffa hopes that the threat of suing end users will dissuade some from visiting the likes of Greenfeedz.

Payout Perspective: TUF Live on FX Debut Rating Breakdown

March 14, 2012

The Ultimate Fighter Live debut on FX drew an average of 1.28 million viewers, as previously reported on MMAPayout.We will now take a closer look at the quarterly ratings breakdown, viewership ratings pattern, and expectations coming into the show.

The UFC ratings press release labeled the ratings as a “strong start” to the series, and according to John Solberg of FX, “Transformers” and the UFC led the channel to a #1 ranking on Friday (prime time) for the A18-49 and A18-34 demographics. We will now take a closer look at the numbers in our Ratings Breakdown analysis.

 

TUF Live FX Debut Ratings Breakdown:

Viewership for First Hour (15 Minute Intervals):

1,505,000
1,454,000
1,446,000
1,364,000

Viewership for Second Hour (15 Minute Intervals):
1,389,000
1,160,000
1,236,000
1,181,000

Viewership for Third Hour (15 Minute Intervals):
1,173,000
1,052,000

Total Average Viewers: 1.28 Million

 

TUF Live FX Debut Comparisons (Same  Friday  Time Slot):

TUF LIVE Premiere (FX) – 1.28 Million Average Viewers

TUF Friday’s (Reruns on Spike TV) – 653,000 Average Viewers

Bellator 60 Live (MTV 2) – 169,000 Average Viewers

 

Historical Comparisons and Notes:

TUF Premiere Episode Averages Seasons 1-14:  2.0 million viewers

TUF 14 Premiere on Spike – 1.5 million viewers (lowest of the 14 seasons)

TUF 13 Premiere on Spike – 1.5 million viewers (lowest of the 14 seasons)

TUF 12 Premiere on Spike – 1.6 million viewers

TUF 11 Premiere on Spike – 1.9 million viewers

TUF 10 Premiere on Spike – 4.1 million viewers (highest of the 14 seasons)

TUF 1 Premiere on Spike – 1.7 million viewers

 

Expectations from the UFC:

From a Dana White interview MMAWeekly.com performed regarding the matter:

“Now that we’ve got this new platform, going on big Fox and FX, the amount of viewers that are going to watch, I mean this season of the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ with no promotion whatsoever is pulling between 1.5 and 1.8 million viewers (on Spike),” White said.

“We’ll more than double that when we go onto FX. I mean we’ll probably have more than 3 million viewers on FX watching the ‘Ultimate Fighter’.”

Expected Viewership: More Than 3 Million Viewers (Actual: 1.3 Million)

 

UFC’s Reaction:

Dana White’s answer after ratings were reported and asked if 1.3M was, as he tweeted, “:) sweet!”:

“yup!!! On a Friday night when our demo is out.”

White’s answer when asked by a fan if they could move their time slot away from Friday to improve ratings and not miss their demo:

“that’s when FX wants us on”

 

Payout Perspective:

There are a few things to point out here.  The most obvious and important one is the ratings pattern, which constantly declined throughout the show.  That is not a good sign for the UFC who was hoping to make a big splash for their debut episode on FX.  The second observation to point out here  is that TUF Live lost one third (33%) of their audience from start to finish, which also isn’t great.  The event was heavily promoted all over FOX properties and all over the internet, which makes the 1.3 million that much more disappointing.  It was also the lowest TUF season debut in the history of the series, although it did win the A18-49 and A18-34 demos as well as their head to heads with Bellator on MTV 2 and Spike’s TUF repeats.

The main complain that was loudly heard from the fans was that the show format just didn’t seem to work live.  There were many awkward moments with no commentary while the fights were going on and you heard talking and conversation from Dana White and the TUF coaches Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber discussing their observations, but it just didn’t seem to work out. John Anik’s usage seemed particularly odd, as he could have been doing the play-by-play but instead was relegated to doing interviews and announcements.  Most casuals we received feedback from labeled the event as “2.5 hours of random guys fighting one rounders that someone was filming from some underground location”.

The positive here is that this will not be TUF’s normal format, and their 30 minutes of drama and 30 minutes of fighting should improve the quality of the show, but you have to wonder how many first time viewers will return after that many turned their TV sets to another channel.   It will be difficult to gain traction with the Friday night time slot, but FX has made it very clear that it only wants to show UFC content on Friday nights and Saturdays on their network.Again, the typical format should be much more favorable to the casual and TUF fans, so we will have to wait and see how the next few episodes do to see if fans come back and settle in.

TUF Live Ep 1: 1.28 million viewers

March 13, 2012

The Ultimate Fighter Live on FX drew 1.28 million viewers according to a press release provided by the UFC. The ratings won the new Friday night MMA wars at it did better than SpikeTV’s UFC’s Ultimate Fighter Fridays and MTV2’s Bellator 60 live event.

Via UFC press release:

The series debut of The Ultimate Fighter® Live on FX got off to a strong start Friday night (3/9/12, 9:00-11:38 PM) delivering 1.28 Million Total Viewers, 953,000 Adults 18-49 and 538,000 Adults 18-34, and ranking among the top five cable programs on Friday in Men 18-34 (#2), Adults 18-34 (#3), Men 18-49 (#4), and Adults 18-49 (#5)

The Ultimate Fighter® Live (9-11:38 PM ET) was up +58% in Adults 18-49, +96% in Men 18-49 and +124% in Men 18-34 vs. year ago time period.

Compared to other MMA telecasts on Friday evening, The Ultimate Fighter® Live Season 1 debut significantly outperformed Spike’s repeat counter-programming of The Ultimate Fighter® Season 10 by +189% in delivery of Adults 18-34, +162% among Adults 18-49, +208% with Men 18-34, and +167% in Men 18-49, and it also battered live MMA bouts on MTV2 by +703% in delivery of Adults 18-34, +947% among Adults 18-49, +568% with Men 18-34, and +842% in Men 18-49.

 

Payout Perspective:

Bear in mind that its the UFC press release, but the numbers show that TUF Live won the night of MMA. This can be attributed to the UFC and Fox marketing machines which hyped the show almost everywhere.  Bellator 60 garnered just 169,000 viewers as the season premiere ratings are down from last season. Promising news for Bellator was that online streaming of its preliminary bouts on Spike.com were up 58 percent from season 5’s average. No numbers were given but we shall assume that its a sizable increase.  It will be interesting to see how competitive (or lopsided) the MMA Friday night ratings will be over the next couple months.

Wyoming creates MMA board

March 13, 2012

UFC.com announced via twitter that Wyoming became the 45th state to legalize MMA. The state announced that it has created an MMA governing board to oversee regulation which may hurt more than help local MMA.

Wyoming focused on legislation that specifically addressed regulating mixed martial arts as previous efforts to re-establish the defunct office of the boxing commissioner were negated.  The office would have regulated MMA in addition to boxing.

WY politicians celebrating state regulation

One of the reasons behind regulating MMA would be to attract the UFC to hold a show in the state – not a PPV but maybe a UFC on FX show.  A UFC event would draw fans from the state as well as nearby Colorado.

The MMA board, which goes into effect July 1, would consist of an appointed board of three individuals. The board would draft new rules and regulations for MMA and work with other state commissions to see how they operate.

But establishing a board would hurt local MMA.

Via the Rapid City Journal:

The MMA board will be paid for by taking 5 percent of the gross receipts from each MMA fight in the state. Some fight organizers said that could lead some promoters in the state to stop holding events.

Stephen Alley, an MMA promoter who has held fights in Casper since 2006, said attendance at those fights has declined in recent years to the point
that an additional fee would be devastating.

Payout Perspective:

The good news is that the state of Wyoming is regulating MMA which legitimizes the sport as well as provides safety guidelines for the fighters. The bad news is that by establishing an MMA board, it is indirectly hurting local MMA promoters. Its an unfortunate twist that to promote the sport, the state is hurting it. We shall see if Wyoming can find a solution to the problem.

Picture via UFC.com twitter

UFC Primetime: Diaz vs Condit Draws 657,000 for FX Debut, Averages 540,000 for Series

March 13, 2012

“UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. Condit”, a three-part series which aired on three consecutive Friday nights on FX, drew 657,000 viewers for it’s FX network debut.

After the debut episode, each of the following weeks saw a decline in viewership and overall, the three-part series averaged 540,000 viewers on FX. In January of 2011, the same time period on FX averaged 1.2 million viewers.

Here are the viewership numbers for all three episodes:

– “UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. Condit” (Episode 1): 657,000 viewers
– “UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. Condit” (Episode 2): 520,000 viewers
– “UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. Condit” (Episode 3): 442,000 viewers

 

Here is a list of the viewership numbers for all Primetime debut episodes:

“UFC Primetime: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos” (UFC on FOX): 2,000,000 viewers (FOX)
“UFC Primetime: Rampage vs. Evans” (UFC 114): 1,200,000 viewers (Spike)
“UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Hardy” (UFC 111): 1,000,000 viewers (Spike)
“UFC Primetime: Lesnar vs. Velasquez” (UFC 121): 974,000 viewers (Spike)
“UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Penn II” (UFC 94): 880,000 viewers (Spike)
“UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. Condit” (UFC 143): 657,000 viewers (FX)
“UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Shields” (UFC 129): 610,000 viewers (Spike)

 

Estimated PPV Numbers for Primetime Featured Events:

“UFC Primetime: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos”: N/A
“UFC Primetime: Lesnar vs. Velasquez” (UFC 121): 1,050,000
“UFC Primetime: Rampage vs. Evans” (UFC 114):  1,050,000
“UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Penn II” (UFC 94): 920,000
“UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Shields” (UFC 129): 800,000
“UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Hardy” (UFC 111): 770,000
“UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. Condit” (UFC 143): 400,000

 

Payout Perspective:

The “UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. Condit” three-part series was one of the lowest rated in the history of the Primetime specials.  It also sold only 400,000 PPV buys, which is almost half the next lowest Primetime special PPV event – St-Pierre vs. Hardy for UFC 11, which sold an estimated 770,000 PPVs.

Now, we should take into account that the Primetime special was supposed to be GSP vs Diaz, which would have done much better numbers. Curiously after GSP pulled out due to injury, the UFC scheduled Diaz vs Condit for the Interim WW Title and went ahead and continued their plans to film the Primetime special.  As a result, it was one of the lowest “Primetimes” ever.  Another factor here to consider is the cost of producing these Primetime specials, which is estimated to be between one and two million dollars.  You have to wonder if the ROI for this event was worth it for the UFC.

In terms of viewership on the new FX platform, the Primetime special numbers depict a negative trending pattern as viewership started to decline after the first episode.  As for reasons for the lower than expected viewership numbers, the time slot is not a desirable one considering that historically, networks have struggled to keep the 18-34M demographic in front of their TV sets on Friday nights. Another factor to take into account is the difficulty to move a show over from one network to another. It appears that FX is still going through a transitional phase trying to migrate the UFC fanbase that has called Spike TV home for years.

Jim Miller signs sponsor deal with Bass Pro Shops

March 12, 2012

Jim Miller has landed a sponsorship deal with outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops for his main event fight against Nate Diaz on UFC on Fox 3 May 5th according to Miller’s agent Oren Hodak. The deal includes logo placement and promotional appearances outside of the octagon.

Via KO Reps:

KO Reps is proud to announce Bass Pro Shops as a sponsor for Jim Miller who will headline the UFC on Fox event May 5th.  Bass Pro Shops is a natural fit with Jim, so we are very excited about the partnership.  Along with logo placement the deal will also include other promotional events outside of fight night.  We will kick things off by giving out a few gift cards via social media.

“When not training or spending time with my family it is no secret that I enjoy being outdoors or working in my workshop,” said Miller about the sponsorship deal,  “Walking into a Bass Pro Shop is like opening up gifts on Christmas….there are so many great items in the store, that I don’t know what direction to head first.” Miller added,  “It feels great to be the first fighter representing Bass Pro in the Octagon.”

In addition, KO Reps confirmed that Miller will have Microtech and Venum as returning sponsors for UFC on Fox 3.

Payout Perspective:

The Bass Pro Shops sponsorship is a good deal for Miller as its not only a mainstream sponsor but it joins a sponsor with a fighter that has an outside interest in the sponsor. The fact that Miller likes the outdoors makes him much more of a brand ambassador for the company since he already is a fan of the outdoors. Also, the deal includes outside promotional appearances which helps Miller increase his own personal brand as an MMA Fighter and outdoor enthusiast. A win-win deal for both Bass and Miller.

(Miller photo via KO Reps)

Edgar gets rematch versus Henderson

March 11, 2012

Frankie Edgar announced via twitter last week that he will receive his rematch against Ben Henderson. Dana White has tentatively scheduled the fight for this summer.

Via Edgar’s twitter:

Payout Perspective:

Once again Anthony Pettis is put on hold. Its likely the right call and shows that certain fighters have some weight when it comes to making career decisions. It appeared that Edgar was being pushed into the Featherweight division without much say. But, to Edgar (and his camp’s) credit, he was able to convince White he deserved a rematch. For Showtime, the change in course has to be frustrating. He will have to take another fight before his title shot. And, as we know, he lost to Clay Guida.  Also, the Nate Diaz-Jim Miller fight for UFC on Fox 3 will likely be for a top contender spot instead of a title shot at Henderson. The contenders to Henderson’s title reflect the dept of the lightweight division.

“I am Bruce Lee” scores 1.4 million viewers

March 10, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that Spike TV’s documentary “I am Bruce Lee” set a record for documentaries on the network. The two hour feature last Wednesday scored a household 1.0 rating with a 1.4 million viewer average.

The feature included many stars commenting on the influence Bruce Lee had on their lives and professions. It included the likes of the UFC’s Dana White, Stephan Bonnar and Cung Le. The previous record for documentaries on the network was “Facing Ali,” which garnered 860,000 viewers in 2009.

Payout Perspective:

The documentary was a good look at the life and times of Bruce Lee.  The ratings reflect the interest many still have with Lee. The network also capitalized on the time slot which used to be owned by The Ultimate Fighter. With the impressive rating, we will see if Spike TV decides to follow up with another documentary sooner than later.

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