White not pleased with Showtime after denying changes

March 5, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that Dana White will step away from working with Strikeforce and focus on the UFC. White said this after Saturday night’s Strikeforce event in which Showtime execs turned down suggestions provided by White.

White planned to skip the UFC on FX 2 event in order to head to the Strikeforce event in Columbus, Ohio but when he heard that Showtime would not implement certain changes to the production of the card, he skipped the Strikeforce event.

Via MMA Junkie:

But at the last minute, things changed. According to White, new Showtime boss Stephen Espinoza decided maybe not all of the changes the UFC boss proposed would find their way into the event.

And, White said, he didn’t have the courtesy to even make a direct call, instead preferring contact with fellow Zuffa exec Pete Dropick.

“I almost missed the first UFC fight in 11 years, and then I get the phone call from Pete Dropick when I’m in Japan,” White said. “‘Yeah, listen, they’re not going to change pretty much any of the stuff you wanted.’ So I said, ‘[Expletive] them.’

Payout Perspective:

Hard to say if this is good or bad for Strikeforce.  Based on the initial reviews and estimates, the Strikeforce event was well-received. It would be interesting to see what changes White wanted and why Showtime turned down the changes. With White hands off on Strikeforce, it will be interesting to see how Strikeforce will do assuming Scott Coker takes over.  Also, what support will it receive from Zuffa?

11 Responses to “White not pleased with Showtime after denying changes”

  1. Bruce on March 5th, 2012 10:23 PM

    Uh oh! White not pleased. I guess White didn’t make them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

    What obligation does Showtime have to obey White? Last I checked they are an independent company with its own board of directors. The only obligation to Zuffa is to publicly broadcast Strikeforce productions under an existing agreement. If White was a true entrepreneur he would understand it takes many carrots to get parties which owe you nothing to see things your way. Give them more money or promise them other benefits. Duh.

  2. Matt C. on March 6th, 2012 2:11 AM

    @Bruce

    Bruce you do know that Strikeforce was nearing bankrupt and that is why they were sold right?

    Just look at the salaries from this last show…look no further than Scott Smith making $65k for that loss. Hell Josh Thompson making $80k with no win bonus reported.

    Look at some of the guys they moved from Strikeforce to the UFC… Cung Le made $350k for fighting Wandy. Cung Le’s Strikeforce contract was crazy for the amount of money they were making from Showtime.

    You think the UFC is the one that needs to offer some carrots or more money or other benefits to Showtime to get them to make some changes? That makes no sense to me. The show as is resulted in a company being sold because it couldn’t make enough money off their Showtime contract. Showtime still doesn’t want to change anything… it’s the UFC losing money now on their Strikeforce product and if they think changes need to be made Showtime should be receptive to their partner that is taking the losses.

  3. Weezy02 on March 6th, 2012 4:18 AM

    Zuffa has done a pretty good job with turning Strikeforce’s financial model around. They took a lot of the toxic contracts (the ones that offered not enough ROI and further moved the pre-Zuffa company into debt) and signed that talent to the UFC where the investment dollars could be easily recouped. Although that made SHOWTIME concerned, it positioned Zuffa to be able to take a lower contract amount (around $4.75 million annually supposedly) and still do okay. Strikeforce doesn’t make a lot of money for Zuffa but from what I’ve heard they have actually been able to make it financially viable for at least as long as the SHOWTIME contract lasts. Basically, they’ve made huge strides toward moving Strikeforce’s spending in line with their income. A lot of their travel/set-up costs are covered by sponsorship dollars. From what I’ve heard, most of the higher dollar contracts they still have are ones they’re happy with (see Mousasi, Lawal, Melendez for example). There are still a few contracts that they want to see off the books. Lawlor getting $150K is ridiculous from a business standpoint (although think that might be close to being done) and Barnett’s contract is really high (cutting HW division helps solve that). Over the last year they’ve done a great job of either cutting ties with fighters that make more than they bring to the company (Emelianenko, Arlovski, etc…) and moving other high-paid talent to their UFC brand to maximize return (Diaz, Henderson, Overeem, Shields, Le etc…). With Shamrock retiring and Carano in pseudo-retirement, the landscape for the future in Strikeforce is one of young talent with some talented veterans sprinkled in that can put on exciting fights at a cost that is in line with the SHOWTIME contract and their live gate drawing power. If SHOWTIME does re-up with Strikeforce, it will be a money making venture for both parties. Zuffa is starting to look more favorably at the costs associated with running Strikeforce through this year and going forward. And although it’s very much a toss-up, don’t count out SHOWTIME re-upping the contract. As a point of reference, I’ve heard that just over 650K viewers watched the Super Six final but that SHOWTIME sunk about $1.5 million – $2.0 million into that one card. If MMA can get them 330,000 – 400,000 viewers for a sub-$700K investment per show, they’ll probably view that as a good ROI. This is especially true when you consider that it pulls in a slightly younger demographic and allows them to offer a product that their chief rival (HBO) does not.

  4. MMA NINJA on March 6th, 2012 5:43 AM

    I don’t think Dana needs any advice from nobody fans, on how to run a business. He has done a phenomenal job building the UFC brand and helping Zuffa create a monopoly in the MMA business. I think he kind of knows what he is doing! SMH at people who just “dont get it”….

  5. Machiel Van on March 6th, 2012 7:53 AM

    “you do know that Strikeforce was nearing bankrupt and that is why they were sold right?”

    This is false.

  6. Jason Cruz on March 6th, 2012 11:35 AM

    Ratings for Strikeforce disappoint: 431K viewers via MMA Weekly

  7. smoogy on March 6th, 2012 2:15 PM

    When Scott Coker takes over? What?

  8. Weezy02 on March 6th, 2012 5:29 PM

    How is 431,000 viewer average on Showtime a disappointment? Again, Showtime significantly lowered its costs and is averaging better viewership than they did in 2010 with Strikeforce. Also, the Strikeforce numbers aren’t much lower than boxing, but the cost is much lower. The proof will be in the pudding. If I’m right, Espinoza will make an offer to increase the contracted licensing amount to Zufffa after this year. If I’m wrong, he won’t.

  9. BrainSmasher on March 6th, 2012 5:39 PM

    Bruce

    Zuffa OWNS Strikeforce. Dana White owns 9% of Zuffa. Therefore Dana White is part owner of Strikeforce.

    Machiel Van.

    That statement could very well be true. SF was nearing the end of their tv contract. Over the corse of the deal fighter pay had grawn at an incredible rate. Im sure SF paied this money to keep their fighters in hopes of a better TV deal. As we saw Showtime was not interested if giving a better paying tv deal. I think this is why SF sold out. The salaries were to high to make it under the same deal and the UFC was offering lots of money to walk away. Zuffa is losing their ass on SF with this new deal from Showtime because of fighter pay even after moving all the higher paid guys. Former SF owners tried to act like everything was peachy with SF but they wanted to focus on Hockey. That is BS. No company drops a successful product for no reason. Most companies with a tv deal reup a new deal long before it expires. SF for sure was already in talks with Showtime and knew they wasnt going to get a deal they could live with. Overeems contract was up and they would have lost him or raise their expense yet again. Fedor was leaving. Diaz publicly wanted more money. Their excuse SF was to successful was just a red herring.

  10. Bruce on March 6th, 2012 7:54 PM

    Yes I’m aware, lol, Zuffa owning Strikeforce has nothing at all to do with owning Showtime, which is an independent company. Thought I was clear on my point there…

    Yes Showtime certainly has a duty of good faith to Zuffa, but they are not in any way required to perform any act requested or demanded by Zuffa.

    I was always under the impression that Strikeforce was the second largest promotion in the States, no matter how well its business was going. It had a broadcast contract with Showtime, and as successor owner, Zuffa became the beneficiary to all Strikeforce contracts. I have a suspicion Showtime is asserting itself and fears UFC domination or oppression, and therefore decided to assert its independence.

  11. BrainSmasher on March 7th, 2012 12:22 PM

    Sorry u said showtime I thought it said strikeforce.

    Not sure why showtime would not listen to white. They could think he is trying to hold back sf and limit it’s success. Who knows. They could alsoknow they are not resigning with SF and are going to do things their way. They have to realize this will cause problems down the road. IMO showtime just wanted cheap MMA to bring in fight fans to help their boxing and to get cheap ratings. I have seem no commitment to SF or MMA on their part. Until we hear what White wanted done we really can’t know who was at fault.

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