TUF Live Episode 7: 1 million viewers

April 23, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that episode 7 of TUF Live airing Friday night received an average of 1 million viewers.  The ratings did not receive any bump from the UFC 145 as viewership remained the same from last week.

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

Payout Perspective:

While the ratings did not slide, it’s interesting that the third episode of UFC Primetime saw a 13% bump in ratings yet TUF Live ratings remained the same.  One would think that TUF Live would receive a bit of an increase as a lead-in to the show.  Also, on the heels of a big UFC weekend, one would think people would want to watch some MMA.

UFC 145: Payout Perspective

April 22, 2012

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective!  This time the UFC hit Atlanta for UFC 145 where the much anticipated fight between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones took place.

Jones outclasses Evans

Did the fight live up to its expectations?  Despite the hype, the outcome was never in doubt.  Jon Jones dominated Rashad Evans to win via decision.  Jones’ ability to utilize his reach and unique strikes did in Evans.

Both fighters received their share of boos from the crowd.  It’s interesting to witness that folks hate Jones.  Is it due to the perceived arrogance?

It appears that Jones is heading for a clash with Dan Henderson in a fight where most fans will be behind Henderson.

Next big thing?

Rory MacDonald may be the next dominant fighter in the sport.  He dominated Che Mills to continue his ascent up the welterweight ladder.  He is adamant that he’d never fight GSP if it came down to it. But, that scenario is down the line.  We will definitely see more of him and he’s still very young.

Rothwell ends Schaub quickly

Honestly, I went out of the room during introductions and I came back and this fight was over.  This was the second straight fight in which Schaub was knocked out. A good win for Rothwell who looked like he was in much better shape than his last fight against Mark Hunt.

Attendance and Gate

The UFC announced on Friday that 145 had sold out the Philips Arena.  We’ll update the numbers once we recieve them.  UPDATED:  MMA Junkie reports 145 drew 15,145 for a gate of $2.2 million.

Sponsorships

–  The big news for UFC 145 was that headliner Jon Jones would sport UFC branded gear.  As we noted, it appears that this will be a trend for the future.  Frank Mir, who will take Alistair Overeem’s place at UFC 146, will be the next fighter to wear UFC gear.

As it turns out, MicroTech and Xyience were secondary logos on Jones’ UFC gear.  Xyience had prominent space on the back side of Jones. In the end, is this new trend a conflict of interest?

Evans was sponsored by MMA clothing manufacturer Jaco.  But, he also was sponsored by Bony Acai, MusclePharm and Corn Nuts.  Three UFC Official Sponsors.  Coincidentally, MusclePharm was a prime sponsor of the main event.

Frankly, we do not know the relationship between Official UFC Sponsors and what opportunities each gets in terms of signage/visibility at each event.  So, it’s possible that the UFC placing its official sponsors on UFC branded fighters is a complementary piece to its existing partnership.  It could also charge its official sponsors for being secondary marks on the UFC branded fighters.  The UFC has indicated that branding fighters is a sign of the future.  As we hypothesized, the UFC could be inching out other MMA sponsors from the fighters in the Octagon.  As a result, there might be a time the UFC could entice more sponsors to become official UFC sponsors so that it could be on fight shorts or walkout shirts.

– Metro PCS, Dodge, RYU, US Marines and Corn Nuts all sponsored different portions of the night.  Metro PCS sponsored the weigh-ins on Friday.  MusclePharm sponsored the main event.

– Some new fight sponsors I noticed last night:

Kalapaki Joe’s – Its is a sports bar in Hawaii.  Interesting that a sports bar with locations in the islands decided to sponsor UFC fighters.  The good news is that one of its sponsored fighters was Rory MacDonald.

Square – Full disclosure.  I actually use this device.  It allows businesses to swipe credit cards remotely.

Majors Pharmacy – Mark Bocek’s sponsor on the back of his trunks.  It was easy to see and it helped that Bocek had top position most of the fight.

Husky – Rashad Evans was sponsored by this company although after an internet search I could not find them.  Always have your website with your logo folks.  I seem to think that this is an industrial-type company but if any reader can help, I’d appreciate it.  UPDATED:  According to a commenter, Husky is a tool and construction accessory company.

–  The UFC didn’t have its usual walkouts as the main and co-main events were the only walkouts shown.  This is a new trend that may hurt sponsors in the end.  As it turned out, with the KOs, there was some filler time between fights which could have been done with walkouts.

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports that the bonuses for the night were $65,000 each.

Submission of the Night:  Great ji-jitsu by Travis Browne to submit Chad Griggs.

KO of the Night:  As I stated earlier, I missed the Rothwell-Schaub fight because it was so quick.  But after rewinding, it was an impressive KO.

Fight of the Night:  Eddie Yagin and Mark Hominick – Hominick included his customary pushups after the final bell rang.  In return, Yagin did some situps.  It was like they were completing a workout or something.

Pre-Fight Hype

The UFC Primetimes were pretty interesting but were hidden away on Friday night and with TUF Live as a lead-in.  For all the efforts in promoting the fight, there were not enough opportunities to see a pretty good Primetime lead-in for the fight.

UFC Primetime Episode 1: 462,000 viewers
UFC Primetime Episode 2: 573,000 viewers

There was a lot of mainstream promotion for Jones-Evans.  The two traded verbal jabs on ESPN, UFC 145 sponsored a segment of Sportscenter (and I thought Dana White said the network hated MMA and the UFC?), they made an appearance on the NBA on TNT’s post-game show featuring Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal and Jones was featured in the Wall Street Journal.  The TNT appearance probably was due to the fact that the event was in Atlanta where TNT studios are located.

Mashable also had an article which featured the UFC’s social media strategy. In the article, it reports the UFC purchasing Promoted Tweets for UFC 145 which should increase trending visibility for the event. Despite paying for tweets, many UFC Fighters were trending topics last night on twitter organically.

The UFC is also starting to use Pinterest – which I still am not clear on how it works.

A criticism about the promotion of this card is the fact that not enough was done to promote the undercard.  There was little time spent on MacDonald-Mills, Rothwell-Schaub or any of the other fights.

Post-UFC 145 Headline

– Henderson next for Jones:  The only one real headline after the PPV.  The young lion versus the old vet.  Will Henderson have a chance against Jones?  Can he pull a Randy Couture?  Henderson packs more of a punch than Evans but will face the same reach disadvantages as Evans.  Also, Jones’ conditioning is phenomenal and one need only look to the Rua slugfest at 139 to see that Henderson may be in trouble.

Odds and Ends

– If the UFC is coaching certain fighters in interviews, it must have talked to Michael McDonald when he said he was going to party after his fight, “But not with alcohol, with the sweets.”  Ben Rothwell is another for thanking strangers, who he revealed were the fans of the UFC. Of course, I am joking about this.  I was chastised on twitter about making light of McDonald.  Now I know how Cage Potato feels.  Ok, not exactly.

–  Che Mills had the best walkout music of the night.  Too bad he faced Rory MacDonald.

–  I had hoped that Rashad Evans would have come out with his Bill Gates Mug Shot T-Shirt (FighterXFashion has the backstory).  The same one he wore after his knockout of Chuck Liddell at UFC 88 in Atlanta.  Evans did walkout to the same music at 88.

–  Anyone else think that the “Jones vs. Evans” lettering on the poster for UFC 145 was an odd choice?

Conclusion

In the end, the success of this PPV will hinge on the main event as the UFC put all of its marketing and promotional force behind the one fight.  It received some good mainstream acknowledgment which should help.  Also, Jones and Evans are great ambassadors for the sport.  This was the first PPV in which you could see some tweeks which could be influenced by Fox.  This included the elimination of walkout entrances of most fights except the main and co-main events. Venturing a guess as to the PPV buys, I would speculate we see somewhere in the 500K neighborhood.

The pro wrestling post: WWE stock, Lesnar’s sponsors and TNA-Bellator working together?

April 21, 2012

Before we all sit down to watch one of the biggest hyped UFC fights of 2012, MMA Payout gives you the weekly pro wrestling post.

WWE stock plummets to 52 week low Thursday

Despite breaking records with its PPV buys for Wrestlemania 28, the WWE’s stock hit a 52 week low on Thursday.  The depression in stock comes a couple weeks before it announces its first quarter results.  WWE reports first quarter results May 3rd.  The company is spending a lot of money right now as it attempts to build its WWE Network.

Payout Take:  The 52 week low may be attributed to the high aspirations for its PPV buys.  The WWE Network and its Film Division are the two culprits in the WWE empire that are losing money for the company.  While the WWE is addressing the issues with its film unit, it is the expenses for the WWE Network that may be a ray of hope for the company in the future.  Although it missed its original target date for its debut, if it can find distribution deals and a fan base and advertisers that will be willing to pay, the WWE may be onto something.  But, that’s a big “if”.

Lesnar allowed to wear his sponsors in the WWE

Despite jumping to the WWE, Brock Lesnar is keeping his sponsors.  According to Wrestling-Online.com, one of the clauses in his contract was that he could still wear his sponsors while in the WWE.  Currently, the WWE characters are sponsorless.  Jimmy Johns is one of the bigger sponsors Lesnar will be wearing to the ring.  I don’t believe the WWE has an official sandwich maker for the company so there were no conflicts.  It will be odd to see Lesnar in the ring wearing gear that he wore in the Octagon.

Payout Take:  Not only does Lesnar get a $5 million contract from the WWE, he will still be paid by his UFC sponsors for wearing the gear.  This is a bonus for his sponsors considering that he will be in front of a much bigger audience.

 

TNA to work with Bellator when it heads to SpikeTV

Despite renewing its contract with Spike TV, TNA wrestling is still retooling its product.  News has surfaced that TNA heads Dixie Carter and Eric Bischoff have met with Spike TV execs to discuss the direction of the product.  TNA has contacted Bellator about ways that each company can help one another once Bellator comes aboard to Spike in 2013.

Payout Take: This can benefit both companies…or, it could hurt each company.  While both cater to the network’s target demographics, involving Bellator in TNA angles may disturb the Bellator product and blur the lines of real and sports entertainment.  Spike execs, TNA and Bellator will have to be creative in collaborating on cross-promotion.

Xyience takes center of Octagon May 5th

April 20, 2012

Xyience will hold the center of the Octagon in the UFC’s third network appearance May 5th.  The official energy drink of the UFC will also appear on the ring bumpers during the event..

Via Xyience press release details the importance of the visibility:

To gain perspective on what this means in terms of reach for XYIENCE Xenergy, the November 12, 2011 UFC debut on the network, UFC on FOX Velasquez vs. Dos Santos was ranked No. 1 among men aged 18–34. It also delivered more viewers of a younger age (35), and a higher concentration of males, than other live sports on broadcast television. The XYIENCE Xenergy logo could be found on the perimeter of the mat during that broadcast.

In support of the announcement, Xyience is staging local appearances by Matt Serra on May 4th and 5th.  Details can be found here.

Payout Perspective:

A good boost for the visibility of the Xyience brand for the event.  Similar to the November 12th event, UFC on Fox 3 will have to compete with a big boxing PPV the same night as Floyd Mayweather fights Miguel Cotto.  It’s likely that the two events will not directly cross paths that night as the Mayweather fight will likely occur later on in the evening after UFC’s event on Fox.

It’s interesting that we are seeing more brands having an opportunity to take the center of the Octagon for events.  As an example, Affliction was the center for UFC on Fuel 2.  We will see who will be next.

Jones clothing deal could be sign of future

April 19, 2012

Interesting news came out last week when it was announced that Jon Jones would be wearing UFC branded gear for his fight this Saturday night.  The UFC tells the USA Today that there will be more fighters wearing UFC gear in the octagon.

Jones’s former sponsor, Form Athletics, went under, leaving Jones available to any sponsor.  While there was speculation that Nike may be a sponsor (and still may in the future), Jones will sport UFC-branded gear which is already for sale on the UFC.com web site.

via FighterXFashion

 

 

Lorenzo Fertitta spoke to  USA Today (via MMA Junkie):

To give you a little bit of background, I was going through the process of renegotiating with Jon and his management team on his fight contract. One of the things they brought up was that Jon was at a point where he didn’t necessarily want to sign contracts with some of these smaller, what I’ll call, T-shirt companies that you historically see in UFC, whether it be Tapout or MMA Elite or any of these other guys.

His aspirations (were) that he wanted to be signed by a Nike or an Adidas or an Under Armour, somebody like that. The reality is, those opportunities don’t present themselves to Jon right now, and that’s why I suggested, “Hey look, we’ve got this performance line of gear. Let us send it to you. You can test it. You can try it out. If you like it, then you can wear it in your next couple of fights.”

Fertitta added that the deal with Jones is non-exclusive so he’d be able to sign with another company if the opportunity presented itself.

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting development for the UFC as no fighter this high profile has worn UFC profile gear.  In recent memory, Gilbert Yvel (in his last UFC fight before being let go) and Tiequan Zhang wore UFC apparel in their fights.  The article indicates Urijah Faber, Clay Guida and Phil Davis among others that have worn UFC gear but not necessarily during fights.

From another perspective, what becomes of the UFC sponsorship fee?  It would seem that the UFC sponsored clothing deals would negate any gains from the fees.  Is the UFC inching out sponsors to own the clothing business? Or, will a Nike or Under Armour partner with the UFC to become an official sponsor?  Thus, we may see something like the NFL or NBA with an official clothing sponsor.  Or, does this seem like a move to the WWE merchandise model–will we see no other fighter sponsors aside from the UFC?  It could mean that all sponsorship opportunities would be filtered through the UFC.

As for the Jones deal, was it smart for him to take the deal with the UFC rather than with another apparel company/sponsor?  It’s likely that Jones may have left money on the table to perhaps appease the UFC.  While his aspirations are Nike or Adidas, it wasn’t in the cards this time around.  But, he may have made more money with a “one-off” deal with other sponsors.

As an aside, the media gets another “uneducated” shout out as the UFC tries to clarify for us that despite only one of the two fighters is represented by the UFC in the main event, it does not show favoritism to the UFC sponsored fighter.  This is in response to those claiming that the UFC is favoring Jones in the fight due to this new deal.

UFC on FUEL TV 2: 197,000 viewers

April 18, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that UFC on Fuel TV 2 drew an average of 197,000 viewers this past Saturday.  The numbers are down from the 218,000 viewers received from the initial live Fuel show.

Despite the drop in ratings, one must point out that UFC on Fuel 1 took place in primetime stateside and featured Diego Sanchez versus Jake Ellenberger.  On the other hand, due to the time difference, UFC on Fuel TV 2 took place Saturday afternoon which could have detracted from viewership.  Additionally, Gustafsson-Silva is not the most appealing or name recognized main event out there.

Payout Perspective:

Although we saw a drop, FUEL reports that the show had the largest viewership in FUEL TV history for the target demo of males 18-49.  Also, the main event saw a peak of 298,000 viewers. Overall, I believe that the UFC is trying to put a positive spin on the ratings.  The timeslot and the fact that many still do not receive FUEL were likely reasons from the decrease from UFC on Fuel 1 to Fuel 2.

UFC demands retraction from MMA web site

April 17, 2012

The UFC issued a press release Tuesday announcing it had served a demand for retraction from MMA web site Cage Potato.  In Nevada, the demand is a prelude to a defamation lawsuit.

The UFC’s issue concerns a post on the web site on April 14th.   The post is in regards to Jon Jones wearing UFC branded gear in his upcoming fight April 21st. The offending issue appears to be the picture and caption used by the web site.  The picture, taken from the White-Jones Bud Light commercial which ran last year, included a caption which stated White was betting on Jones this Saturday.  The web site oftentimes takes a satirical tone with its stories and captions. Of course, the caption was a joke.  However, the demand for retraction was no laughing matter.

Via UFC press release:

As detailed in the formal demand for a retraction prepared by UFC® attorney, Donald J. Campbell of the Las Vegas law firm, Campbell & Williams:

“The claim that Mr. White would financially wager on the outcome of a UFC® event is outrageous in the extreme. Indeed, in the verified complaint we are presently preparing for Mr. White’s signature upon his return from Abu Dhabi, Mr. White expressly states under oath that at no time in the history of his association with the UFC® has he ever financially wagered on the outcome of a UFC® event.”

Mr. Campbell further explained that under Nevada law a demand for retraction is the first required step in the filing of a lawsuit seeking punitive damages against a party that has maliciously published defamatory statements about another.

Cage Potato complied with the demand and issued its retraction on the site.  Cage Potato’s managing editor Ben Goldstein spoke to USA Today about the issue:

“This is just so silly that I want to print this retraction and get this behind us,” Goldstein said. “I have no (problem) saying on our website, ‘Look, it’s just a joke. We didn’t mean it to be intended this way.’ I’m just not interested in turning this into some sort of beef with UFC. It’s really not that important to me.”

Via social media, it appears that Dana White is still not cool with the situation despite the retraction.

Payout Perspective:

It’s an interesting strategy by the UFC as to how it is dealing with this. We probably know it has to do everything with the joke being about gambling on the sport.  The UFC is likely sensitive to the perception that the UFC is fixed – especially since its top draw for the past couple years, Brock Lesnar, was a former pro wrestler…and has returned to sports entertainment.  While most MMA fans will likely think this is ridiculous, there is a huge population out there that are beginning to watch the sport because it is now on Fox.

Another point in the gambling angle is the fact that the Fertittas own casinos and they do not want any inference that they bet on the sport.

The UFC brand is another reason.  It wants to protect the brand and ensure that there is no inference of gambling.  While it could have made a request for the web site to take the offending piece down without much news, it decided to make the formal request and press release.  Thus, it served notice on others on how it would handle people that defamed the UFC.

As for the legal strategy, the Fight Lawyer points out a lawsuit may open up Dana White’s reputation in discovery.  This could potentially stir up issues for White and the UFC not related to the lawsuit, yet still discoverable .

Bellator 65: 163,000 viewers

April 17, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 65 ratings grabbed 163,000 viewers on MTV2.  This week’s  average is less than 64 but above the season’s average.

Bellator 64: 175,00 viewers
Bellator 63:  140,000 viewers
Bellator 62:  175,000 viewers
Bellator 61:  108,000 viewers
Bellator 60:  169,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Although down from the week prior, the hope is that the numbers remain consistent and boost the season’s average.  The fluctuating ratings are a concern so hopefully we see a positive trend here. As MMA Junkie points out, none of the sixth season ratings have matched the averages of the first three seasons the organization has had on MTV2.

TUF Live Episode 5: 1 million viewers

April 17, 2012

TUF Live Episode 6 garnered a 1 million viewer average as reported by MMA Junkie.  The number is slightly better than episode 5’s 947,000 viewer average – an all-time low 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:  947,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Slightly better than the all-time low for the series.  As we’ve discussed throughout reporting these figures, there are many factors to attribute the lower ratings. But, we may need to just recalibrate our expectations of the series.

WWE reports WM 28 buys: 1.3 million

April 16, 2012

The WWE is reporting that the preliminary PPV buy rate for Wrestlemania 28 is 1.3 million buys worldwide.  It also is reporting that global gross sales exceeded $67 million including the live event.

If I am reading the WWE’s release correctly, the gross sales includes the live gate which was originally reported as $8.9 million. The buy rate broke the 2007 WM which was 1.25 million buys according to F4WOnline.  That Wrestlemania featured Donald Trump in a cameo role.

Broken down, the 1.3 million buys means about 700K domestic and 600K international.

Payout Perspective:

Is 1.3 million buys a disappointment?  While there was an ESPN reporter that tweeted that the buy rate was closer to 2 million buys, we now know that was more speculation than reporting.  The fact that the Rock was involved in the main event in his hometown and there was a year long run-up to this event makes 1.3 million somewhat of a disappointment.  We shall see what this means for the WWE’s stock for the rest of this year.  Last year, the company rode the financial wave of WM 27 so this could be a good sign for the company in its next earnings call.

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