April 30, 2012
Bad Left Hook reports that Floyd Mayweather is upset with the current HBO offering of its 24/7 series with Miguel Cotto. Mayweather believes that the producers have edited out footage he believes would be more entertaining.
After this past Saturday’s episode, Mayweather tweeted his displeasure for the show and stated that the Mayweather camp had “exciting content” which was not used.
As BLH points out, the 24/7 franchise is wearing thin when it features either Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. There’s only so much that you can show of either fighter when most of the world awaits for them to fight.
The 24/7 series is a great platform to promote boxing. As such, it should take a break from Mayweather and Pacquiao and focus on another compelling fight. And just do one episode. Perhaps the problem is that there are three or four episodes which makes the series repetitive. With big HBO PPV fights being promoted on multiple Time Warner networks, its likely we will continue to see the 24/7 series. While its stale to HBO viewers, the experience is relatively new to those watching it on CNN.
What would be more entertaining to promote fights is to show past fights to show how exciting the upcoming fight will be. The Audience Network does this and HBO has in the past. However, I’m sure there’s a need for original content and 24/7 still does it the best.
April 30, 2012
MMA Junkie reports that the eighth episode of TUF Live averaged 929,000 viewers. Its the lowest ratings ever for the TUF series.
TUF Live Episode 1: 1.28 million viewers
TUF Live Episode 2: 1.1 million viewers
TUF Live Episode 3: 1.2 million viewers
TUF Live Episode 4: 1.1 million viewers
TUF Live Episode 5: 947,000 viewers
TUF Live Episode 6: 1 million viewers
TUF Live Episode 7: 1 million viewers
TUF Live Episode 8: 929,000 viewers
Did Zuffa execs think that the TUF franchise would fall this far in the ratings when moving it to FX and on Fridays? TUF Live went unopposed (no Bellator) last week and fell to the lowest point in the franchise. Its a sign that viewers are not really interested in this season.
April 29, 2012
UFC head Dana White has threatened to cease holding events in the state of California if a controversial piece of legislation passes in the state. Assembly Bill 2100 was introduced last Wednesday and is supported by the Culinary Workers Union while opposed by the UFC among others.
Via San Jose Mercury:
(Assembly member Luis) Alejo wants to eliminate what he sees as abusive contracts, freeing up fighters to make Assembly Bill 2100 would prevent promoters from claiming unreasonable future merchandising rights, prevent unreasonable restrictions on fighters’ seeking outside sponsors and prohibit other onerous contract provisions.
Dana White told the OC Register:
“Do you know what’s going on in Sacramento, right now?” White said. “They are trying to pass this bill to raise our taxes and do a bunch of crazy (expletive) to us. They voted 4-2 for the bill. There were a couple of people not present to vote on it. If that thing passes we won’t do anymore fights in California. All kinds of crazy (expletive) they’re trying to throw in this bill for MMA. You know who’s doing it? The Culinary Union from Las Vegas. These guys have been (expletive) with us in New York, too. That’s why we’re not in New York. These guys got a bunch of lobbyists together to try to pass this bill against MMA. They are putting pressure on my partners, the Fertitta brothers, because they own the fourth-largest gaming company in the country and they are non-union.”
More info on AB 2100 can be found in our previous post.
H/t: Bloody Elbow
Would it hurt the UFC economically if it did not run events in either New York or California? It’s an intriguing question considering the UFC derives most of its income from PPV revenues and many of its live events are expanding to new areas or in Las Vegas. The UFC is expanding internationally and could find new venues in the US to hold events. Still, not holding events in the two biggest states in America does seem odd. The self-imposed ban on the state of California would affect Strikeforce more than it would the UFC. Although the UFC held its biggest event in Anaheim (UFC on Fox 1), Strikeforce has held events in San Jose or San Diego more often than the UFC has held events in the states. Of course, we do note that UFC on Fuel TV 4 will be in San Jose and UFC on Fox 4 will be in LA. So, maybe the strategy is to stress the economic impact Zuffa creates in the state with the 2 upcoming events and threaten that this will all end if AB 2100 passes.
April 28, 2012
Welcome to another edition of the pro wrestling post.
Shawn Michaels deal with Eyeblack
Former WWE superstar Shawn Michaels has signed an endorsement deal with Eyeblack. The company produces under-eye eyeblack with phrases and logo. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is also sponsored by Eyeblack.
The deal according to the press release allows Eyeblack to produce and sell product with Michaels’ trademark catchphrases which include Showstopper, Mr. HOF and Mr. Hall of Fame. It will also produce custom designs on camouflauge eyeblack for Michaels’ Outdoor Channel show, “MacMillan River Adventures.”
Payout Take: A nice quid pro quo for Michaels. A portion of the deal was for use of Michaels trademarked phrases. It is a nice product placement for Michaels’ hunting show. But, in general, just what real purpose do the eyeblack strips have? Couldn’t you wear sunglasses to keep the sun out of your eyes?
TNA moves up an hour earlier on Spike TV
TNA will move up an hour to 8pm ET (5pm PT) starting May 31st. According to the press release, it’s “predicated on the fact that there are more available viewers in the 8:00-10:00pm timeslot with less sports competition in the 8pm hour.”
TNA is not doing too bad in the ratings right now. This past week it averaged 1.4 million viewers with a 0.99 rating which was up from the previous week. Bear in mind, the ratings are much better than either Bellator or TUF Live.
Payout Take: Acknowledging the competition and moving it to a slot where it may get move viewers is a good move by TNA and Spike TV. The move likely is gearing up for this fall when the NFL will have more games on Thursday nights throughout the fall. It could also mean sliding in Bellator at 10pm in 2013 with TNA as a solid lead-in and moving it off of Friday nights.
WWE to live stream PPV show on Facebook and YouTube Channel
Without its network, the WWE is utilizing its other social media to promote this Sunday’s PPV which features Brock Lesnar. Earlier this year, the WWE used its YouTube channel to promote Wrestlemania this past year and returns to it to feature a match. Cageside Seats reports that the live pre-show will appear on its Facebook, WWE.com and YouTube channel. The additional free match should draw viewers to one of the outlets and perhaps draw additional buys.
Payout Take: The move helps market Lesnar’s return to WWE PPV and serves as a monitor as to how well visited its social media, especially its YouTube channel is visited. The WWE has produced original content for the channel and it may be a default place for the WWE while it waits for its Network to hit.
April 27, 2012
AdvertisingAge reports that Anheuser-Busch, a major blue chip sponsor for the UFC, has “reprimanded the mixed-martial arts organization for remarks made by some fighters”. Multiple advocacy groups have recently criticized UFC employees and fighters for using comments described as “sexist and homophobic.”
A-B recently released a press release which stated the following:
“We’ve communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act”
In a statement to AdAge regarding the A-B situation, UFC issued the following response:
With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments. We don’t condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values
…. unlike most other sports leagues, we encourage our athletes to engage online. It is part of our company culture, and whenever you are at the forefront of a trend or initiative, it comes with its own pitfalls. We will continue to embrace social media while looking for better ways to stay in front of the issues. This includes a mandate for our athletes to attend sensitivity training and a seminar on proper use of social media.
AdAge also cited three recent incidents that were documented in a letter by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. One involves UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson urging Japanese fans to say homophobic statements, another of UFC fighter Rashad Evans hyping his fight against Penn State alumni Phil Davis inappropriately stating “I’m going to put those hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State”. The last is not a fighter, but UFC announcer Joe Rogan, who used sexist and misogynist language against Yahoo Sports blogger Maggie Hendricks after she pointed out Rampage Jackson’s inappropriate behavior towards female reporters. Plenty of other instances regarding UFC president Dana White performing similar acts have also been reported within the last few years, but were not cited in the write-up.
The letter that caused a lot of the recent commotion for A-B and the UFC was a letter from the group Alcohol Justice, who titled it “An Open Letter to Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) Shareholders – RE: Opposition to sponsorship of the Ultimae Fighting Championship (UFC).
The letter states the following:
As fellow shareholders and as public health advocates, Alcohol Justice (formerly Marin Institute) asks you to vigorously oppose ABI’s sponsorship of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s largest promoter of violent cage-fighting events.
We believe ABI’s sponsorship of UFC must come to an end as there is a very tangible risk to the bottom line of dividends and stock price value as well as long term bad press as the relationship of this patently brutal blood sport to predatory marketing of Bud Light to underage youth are played out on the global stage of public opinion. It’s already being called “Blood Light.” This cannot be good for business, sales, or long-term profitability.
Alcohol Justice, the alcohol industry watchdog, has served as a leading research and advocacy institution for over 24 years. We monitor and expose the alcohol industry’s targeting of youth and minority populations, as well as the industry’s adverse effect on public health and the environment globally.
There is compelling evidence that exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing increases the likelihood of underage drinking. Since 2001, at least seven peer-reviewed, federally funded, long-term studies have found that young people with greater exposure to alcohol marketing — including on television, in magazines, on the radio, on billboards or other outdoor signage, or via in-store beer displays, beer concessions, or ownership of beer promotional items or branded merchandise — are more likely to start drinking than their peers.
As the primary sponsor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) is delivering harmful content to millions of underage youth. At center stage is the ever-present Bud Light logo, imbued throughout all of UFC’s violent events, including live fights, Pay-Per-View, and television broadcasts that reach 354 million homes worldwide. These homes are filled with children!
In addition, millions of UFC fans of all ages have access to live streaming of fights via Facebook, and limitless YouTube videos of bloody fights, promotions, and “pornohol” such as Bud Light Lime ads featuring UFC “Octagon Girl” Arianny Celeste topless, underwear-clad and rolling around in a bed of limes.
UFC President Dana White has been quoted as saying “our targeted audience is anywhere from age 17 to 35.” He and a number of UFC athletes have recently come under fire for sexist, homophobic, violent and derogatory remarks, including jokes about rape and sexual assault. As A-B InBev shareholders we should be outraged by this behavior.
Given that alcohol is the number one drug of choice among America’s youth, and the U.S. Surgeon General estimates that approximately 5,000 people under age 21 die from alcohol-related injuries involving underage drinking each year, board members, shareholders, and consumers will become more aware of the ethical ramifications that continued sponsorship of UFC will have on ABI. Do we really want Bud Light ads to be condemned for irresponsibly delivering harmful content to millions of youth, exposing them to people beating one another to a bloody pulp?
We believe this will lead to mounting litigations, inevitable regulatory and legislative actions, and growing concerns about the safety of youth exposed to harmful content by viewing UFC promotions. All of this can only hurt ABI’s reputation as a corporate citizen and its robust revenue.
As shareholders we have an obligation to help protect stock value by holding the corporation to higher standards of responsibility, especially those related to underage consumption and harm. We can insist that management address these ethical issues with more integrity by pulling its support of this graphic, violent, bloody sport. While the world may still want to enjoy a Bud Light, it does not need “Blood Light.”
Bruce Lee Livingston, MPP Executive Director/CEO
That very same day, Business Insider Advertising also wrote a write-up titled “Budweiser Threatened To Pull Its Ad Dollars From The UFC After Seeing This Guy’s Nazi Tattoos”. They went to state that the statement released by A-B regarding the inappropriate language and behavior is “almost unheard of in sports sponsorship, where advertiser displeasure is usually delivered to media partners behind closed doors”. The website also stated “While the sport can’t be expected to be a bastion of Edwardian manners, it is not until you see a collection of the kinds of things said by UFC pros that you realize just how unprofessional the organization is. What follows is a slideshow of incidents in which offensive language and behavior is used in the UFC”.
This is not the first time A-B has reprimanded the UFC. If you recall back at UFC 100 – the biggest show in UFC history to date – Brock Lesnar stood on the Bud Light logo, pointed at it, and said he was looking forward to going home with his wife and “drinking a Coors Light because Bud Light won’t pay me anything”. That problem was dealt with behind closed doors as both the UFC and Lesnar were reprimanded by A-B and during the post-fight press conference, Lesnar issued an apology for his post-fight behavior and continued to answer questions as a Bud Light bottle was strategically placed in front of him.
Regarding who is responsible for triggering most of this recent bad press for the UFC, look no further than the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, who has had ongoing labor dispute with Station Casinos and UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta – who are both firmly against labor unions. So far, the Culinary Union has been credited for keeping the UFC out of the state of New York for several years by backing anti-MMA legislators in the state, triggering a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation, writing letters to UFC advertisers and TV partners (FOX) informing them of the inappropriate language and behavior of the organization and its fighters, the creation of http://www.unfitforchildren.org/ (a website illustrating many of these examples), and just recently, drafting up a version of MMA Bill of Rights and presenting it in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and recently in front of the California State Athletic Commission.
In terms of the labor union’s efforts against the UFC owners, this week has been a rewarding one. The letters to UFC sponsors and multiple anti abuse and violence groups has increased the awareness of lack of etiquette it has haunted the UFC in the past, when they just weren’t quite mainstream enough for anyone to care. Landing the recent FOX deal and essentially putting all their main competitors out of business in recent years has caught the attention of mainstream groups in the last year. Earlier this week, the proposed Bill of Rights hearing in Sacramento (AB2100) passed committee on a 5-3 vote. This bill would essential give fighters rights – many derived up from the Ali Act in boxing – which the UFC greatly apposes. UFC representatives essentially told the committee that if the bill passed, it would essentially drive the UFC away from California, which would have a great economic impact on not only the fighters, but also on the state. It would also cause a heavy burden and expense on the CSAC, which they are not equipped to handle.
List of parties who are in favor and against AB2100 amendments:
Support: American Rights at Work, Arete Agency. California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union. California Conference of Machinists. California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. California Police Activities League. California Teamsters Public Affairs Council. Engineers & Scientists of California, IFPTE Local 20. Fighters Online, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Jockey’s Guild, Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association, Patient Networks, Professional & Technical Engineers, IFPTE Local 21, United Food & Commercial, Workers Western States Council, UNITE-HERE, AFL-CIO, Utility Workers Union of America, Local 132, two private citizens (Eddie Goldman & Juanito Ibarra)
Opposition: Goossen Tutor Promotions, Honda Center, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, HP Pavilion at San Jose, Ultimate Fighting Championship
Notice the opposition here.
– UFC is a given.
– Notice HP Pavilion in San Jose. Last year, the UFC’s purchased Strikeforce, which at the time was it’s main competitor, from the Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment based out of San Jose, who also owns the San Jose Sharks and manages the HP Pavilion. The problem with owning Strikeforce was that it kept UFC out of San Jose, a hotbed for MMA at the time, due to the nature of being competitors. Part of the deal to sell Strikeforce to Zuffa was for the UFC to put on several shows at the HP Pavilion per year. Since the purchase, Zuffa has visited San Jose for UFC 139 late last year and is currently scheduled for the Strikeforce HW GP finale on May 19th. Another date for a smaller UFC show was discussed for July and another big UFC numbered event is in talks before the end of the year. A bill which would would drive the UFC away and it’s now close ties to the promotion would obviously be bad business for the San Jose based venue.
– The Honda Center is the other California venue listed as opposition. Interestingly enough, that’s the UFC’s preferred venue when visiting Southern California, where they can heavily push and market towards the Hispanic demographic as they did for Cain Velasquez against Brock Lesnar and most recently on their FOX debut against Junior Dos Santos. UFC’s plan was to host another big event at the Honda Center by the end of the year.
– The other is Goossen Tutor Promotions, which is partly ran by Dan Goossen, a boxing promoter and the manager of ex-boxing champ James Toney, who previously fought for the the UFC back in 2010 against Randy Couture back in 2010. Goossen negotiated Toney’s contract to fight in the UFC at the time. Goossen also wanted to do James Toney vs Tito Ortiz even further back in 2003-2004 and a previous Toney vs Couture bout about five years ago.
Looking at the Culinary Union’s efforts the past few years, it’s apparent that their efforts have focused on keeping the UFC out of New York, trying to do the same in California (one of their biggest current markets within the US), and impacting the relationship between their major blue chip sponsors is quite the strategic plan. All would impact the UFC’s bottom line. I’m not sure the labor union can continue to be successful and continue to lobby against the UFC for years to come, but they are doing something most other groups have failed to do in a very long time, and that’s pose a challenge. If they weren’t taken seriously before, I can assure you no one from Zuffa is laughing at their efforts now. At the very least, it causes a few annoying and pesky headaches here and there for the Fertitta brothers in hopes that one day both sides can come to an agreement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that a compromise will be reached anytime soon.
April 26, 2012
MMA Fighting reports that Nick Diaz has filed a lawsuit against the Nevada State Athletic Commission. In addition, Diaz’s attorney filed a preliminary injunction which would stay Diaz’s suspension related to his failed drug test from UFC 143.
Via MMA Fighting:
The suit is asking the court to immediately stay the summary suspension handed out to Diaz by the NSAC as well as to enjoin the NSAC from going ahead in any further disciplinary proceedings. Diaz’s complaint also asks the court to declare his due process rights have been violated by the NSAC’s failure to promptly convene a hearing to determine the merits of the disciplinary complaint against him.
Diaz vs. NSAC
Diaz’s attorney stated that according to statute, Diaz’s disciplinary hearing must have been heard within 45 days of the temporary suspension or it would consider the complaint dismissed. However, Diaz failed to appear at a temporary suspension hearing according to the NSAC.
This will be interesting to see how the court rules on April 14th – the date of the preliminary injunction hearing. Diaz is not challenging the merits of the NSAC’s complaint, but the process. This could have major implications for the NSAC and athletic commissions on a broader scale as it relates to how it governs.
Diaz indicates that he is ready to fight immediately if the suspension is lifted. This could be helpful for the UFC for its late summer/fall schedule as a rematch with Carlos Condit would fill a PPV main event in prelude to a GSP showdown in Montreal.
Diaz’s primary complaint is that the NSAC has not acted within the statutory regulations provided by the state of Nevada which relates to his other complaint of lack of due process. Essentially, Diaz states that the temporary suspension required the NSAC to have a full hearing on the merits of his drug test and subsequent suspension. That has not happened. The NSAC had served Diaz with an Amended Complaint which adds the fact that Diaz lied on his pre-fight questionnaire. The NSAC may argue that the amendment to its original Complaint equated to additional time required prior to a full hearing on the merits.
Another interesting observation is the explanation from Diaz’s camp that it did not challenge the initial “Summary Suspension” due to the reliance that it would receive a full hearing “in the near future.” Diaz’s legal counsel does a good job in laying out dates of its continued request to the NSAC as to when Diaz may receive a hearing.
It’s an interesting legal strategy and its plausible that the injunction may be granted.
April 26, 2012
The Sports Business Journal reports that Fox Sports and boxing promoter Golden Boy Promotions have entered into a multiyear, six figure agreement. The deal will give Fox Sports live events on Fox Deportes and Fuel TV.
At least one live event each month will be shown on the Fox networks although no plans are in the offing for a boxing event on the major Fox channel. According to the SBJ, the deal is significant as Fox paid a six-figure rights fee to Golden Boy for the events. The rights fee is a sign that boxing is gaining steam once again as rights fees for boxing on basic cable were nonexistent in recent memory.
The deal is for 15 months with options to extend it multiple years.
The move reflects the commitment Fox has to combat sports for its smaller cable channels. It shows its belief in broadcasting live sports content as a way to attract its target demos of mainly younger males.
Is boxing on its way back? Just a while back we talked about the problems with the sport and whether it could make a comeback. So far, we’ve seen NBC Sports Network with a quarterly show, the talk of Spike TV having boxing and now the Fox deal. Certainly, the Fox deal is important due to the type of exposure it can receive over the span of the Fox networks. If it does do well, we could see its return on Fox. Its a nice hedge on the part of Fox to see if audiences will gravitate to boxing again. It is interesting that Fox did pay a rights fee to Golden Boy. One would think that Fox would have the bargaining leverage in the negotiations.
April 25, 2012
MMA Junkie reports the salaries for UFC 145 as released by the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission. Jon Jones and Rashad Evans were at the top of the $1.2 million payroll.
Via MMA Junkie:
Champ Jon Jones: $400,000 (no win bonus)
def. Rashad Evans: $300,000
Rory MacDonald: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Che Mills: $8,000
Ben Rothwell: $104,000 (includes $52,000 win bonus)
def. Brendan Schaub: $14,000
Michael McDonald: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Miguel Torres: $32,000
Eddie Yagin: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
def. Mark Hominick: $17,000
Mark Bocek: $46,000 (includes $23,000 win bonus)
def. John Alessio: $10,000
Travis Browne: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Chad Griggs: $27,000
Matt Brown: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Stephen Thompson: $8,000
Anthony Njokuani: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. John Makdessi: $12,000
Mac Danzig: $54,000 (includes $27,000 win bonus)
def. Efrain Escudero: $10,000
Chris Clements: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
def. Keith Wisniewski: $10,000
Marcus Brimage: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Maximo Blanco: $13,000
It’s interesting that Ben Rothwell was third highest on the payroll. Also Efrain Escudero’s return to the UFC meant a pay cut from his TUF winner contract. “Wonderboy” was the only fighter making less than $10,000. A rather low payroll despite the fact that $700,000 of the payroll was dedicated to the main event.
April 24, 2012
MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 66 ratings received an average of 106,000 viewers last Friday. The ratings are disappointing considering it was headlined by Eddie Alvarez versus Shinya Aoki.
The 106,000 viewers is a sharp decrease from last week’s 163,000 viewer average. It is also the third worst average in Bellator/MTV2 history. MMA Junkie suggested that its site as well as others aired the prelims and main event fights online which could have detracted from the television average.
The roller coaster continues with the Bellator ratings. Even with it being a UFC PPV weekend, Bellator had a solid main event that was not worthy of a 103,000 viewer average. With Hector Lombard leaving for the UFC, Bellator is down one of its top stars. Bellator will need to ensure that it keeps and cultivates its top fighters so that the company can have a face.
April 24, 2012
MMA Weekly reports that the prelims for UFC 145 on FX scored an average of 1.6 million viewers. The ratings are a network high for the UFC Prelims on FX.
The ratings reflect the fact that the UFC on FX is increasing its ratings average each time its on the network. Despite the downturn in viewers to TUF Live on FX Fridays, it seems that fans are finding the UFC Prelims on FX just fine. UFC 145 Prelims tied for third all-time in terms of ratings for televised prelims on Spike TV and FX.
Positive news for the UFC and FX. For the UFC, the high viewership helps with the probability that those fans were likely buying the PPV. For FX, it shows that the UFC viewership on the network is steadily increasing each time its on the network.