Invicta FC has second successful show

July 30, 2012

MMA Junkie reports the success of the second Invicta FC event which was streamed live on its web site this past Saturday.  Although Invicta FC president, Shannon Knapp, did not reveal the actual viewers, she stated it was more than 300,000.

Invicta FC’s first online streaming event received 230,000 viewers.  The flood of viewers is a positive sign for women’s MMA.  The article indicates that 100,000 viewers were waiting in the queue prior to the start of the fights.


Payout Perspective:

Does this mean that women’s MMA is growing in popularity?  Certainly the number of viewers gravitating to the Invicta web site is promising.  Of course, the price of the event (free) helped with the number of viewers.  Also, the lack of any MMA competition on Saturday helped.  It did run opposite Olympics coverage as well.  One of the positive signs for the company is how long viewers stayed on the site.  This means that viewers would stay and watch instead of just turning it off after a couple minutes.

The next steps for Invicta FC include finding a way to monetize its product.  The article talks of a television deal which would help with the business but relinquish some of the control.  Another option could be an Internet PPV. But there are technology issues that the company must ensure lest there be a server crash causing bad publicity.  At this point, the free service has been steady but the Junkie article points to some technology issues for Invicta in putting on the streaming.

The good news is that women’s MMA and Invicta FC are doing well after and things seem to be point up for the company.

RYU featured in Sports Business Journal

July 30, 2012

The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) has a feature on UFC official sponsor RYU.  The article is a positive company profile on the company.

While RYU is getting some good buzz, SBJ notes that its success will depend on how well the products sell.  A selling point for the brand is that the clothing uses natural materials as it prides itself on being “95% sustainable” and stresses the newest performance technology.  Compared with the likes of Nike and TapouT, RYU clothing is much more expensive than it competitors.   The question is whether consumers would be willing to spend more on this new brand.

RYU Flagship at The Shoppes at The Palazzo


Payout Perspective:

Another positive article for one of the UFC’s newest sponsors.  Not only is it featured in this week’s SBJ, its clothing was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America and, of course, here.  The good publicity comes at a pivotal time for the company as it has made a major investment in a retail storefront in Vegas, an athletic training facility and the launch of a women’s athletic line.  We’ll keep an eye on RYU and its stock and evaluate its performance over time.

Davis in new Sprite commercial

July 29, 2012

Cage Potato reports that Phil Davis appears in the latest Sprite commercial.  The commercial comes at a good time as Davis will be on UFC on Fox this Saturday.

Here’s the commercial:



On Sprite’s ad campaign, Ad Age writes:

The campaign highlights the experience of drinking a Sprite — described as “a unique, sudden hit of intensity” — something execs admit had been missing from previous advertising. The first ad debuts Saturday on the Olympics.

Payout Perspective:

A nice deal for Davis although it would have been better if he was on the main card.   It’s interesting that Sprite chose Davis for the commercial as one doesn’t automatically think Mr. Wonderful when it comes to the UFC.  As for the commercial, Davis doesn’t have a big role in this commercial but it’s a nice start.  But, he seems affable and has the physique that can contribute to the “intense” campaign in future ads.  What will be interesting if Davis’ commercial run during the Olympics opposite UFC on Fox.

The Pro Wrestling Post: Raw reaches 1000

July 28, 2012

This past Monday was Raw’s 1,000th episode.  The show did very well from a ratings and attendance standpoint with big numbers.

Cageside Seats reports Raw 1,000 received a 3.84 rating with an average of 6 million viewers.  Broken down, it received an average of 5.44 million viewers in Hour 1, 6.32 million viewers in Hour 2 and 6.30 million viewers in Hour 3.

Attendance was 18,318 in St. Louis, Missouri with 15,000 paid according to The Wrestling Observer.

Payout Perspective:

It was a nostalgia show as many old WWE superstars made a return.  The ratings and attendance were expected since this episode was hyped for many weeks.  The stars appearing also helped with the ratings.  While Brock Lesnar got involved, he was secondary to the CM Punk heel turn which was done perfectly to set up further storylines for the company.

While the 3 hour show held up throughout the evening, we will see how well it does over the  course of time.  The good news as pointed out by The Wrestling Observer is the ratings for the first hour show that viewers have adjusted to the new time change.

Payout Perspective: UFC-FOX TV Deal Q2/2012 Performance Review

July 27, 2012

Last year, UFC and FOX announced a huge 7 year TV deal worth as much as $90-$100 million per year, which would move UFC programming from Spike TV to FOX, FX, FSN’s, and Fuel TV. Now that 2012 Q1 & Q2 are in the books, we look back and analyze what type of impact UFC programming had on the FOX properties and the impact of the TV deal on the UFC.

NETWORK: FOX (112M households) Q2 Ratings:

UFC on FOX:

  • UFC on FOX 1: Dos Santos vs Velasquez: 5.7M, 3.1 household rating (1 Hour Block, 1 Fight)
  • Q1: UFC on FOX 2: Evans vs Davis: 4.7M, 2.6 household rating (2.5 Hour Block, 3 Fights)
  • Q2: UFC on FOX 3: Diaz vs Miller: 2.4M, 1.5 household rating (2 Hour Block, 4 Fights)

Q2 Average: 2.4M; Q1 Average: 4.7M; Trend: Down

 

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NETWORK: FX (99M households) Q2 RATINGS:

TUF LIVE:

  • Q1: TUF Live Episode 1 – 1.3M
  • Q1: TUF Live Episode 2 – 1.1M
  • Q1: TUF Live Episode 3 – 1.2M
  • Q1: TUF Live Episode 4 – 1.054M
  • Q2: TUF Live Episode 5 – 947,000
  • Q2: TUF Live Episode 6 – 1M
  • Q2: TUF Live Episode 7 – 1M
  • Q2: TUF Live Episode 8 – 929,000
  • Q2: TUF Live Episode 9 – 954,000
  • Q2: TUF Live Episode 10 – 948,000
  • Q2: TUF Live Episode 11 – 821,000
  • Q2: TUF Live Episode 12 – 875,000

Q2 Average: 934,250; Q1 Average: 1.16M; Trend: Down

TUF Season Average Rating (last 6 seasons):

  • TUF LIVE Season on FX (2012) Averaged 1.01M viewers
  • TUF 14 Season on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1.5M viewers
  • TUF 13 Season on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1.3M viewers
  • TUF 12 Season on Spike TV (2010) Averaged 1.74M viewers
  • TUF 11 Season on Spike TV (2010) Averaged 1.65M viewers
  • TUF 10 Season on Spike TV (2009) Averaged 3M viewers

TUF Season Average (previous 5 seasons) on Spike TV: 1.84M Viewers

Spike TV Comparable Trend: TUF’s debut on FX was lowest rated season in TUF history.

 

UFC on FX:

  • Q1: UFC on FX 1: 1.3M
  • Q1: UFC on FX 2: 1.4M
  • Q2: UFC on FX 3: 1.1M
  • Q2: UFC on FX 4: 1.3M
  • Q2: TUF Live Finale: 1M

Q2 Average:1.13M Q1 Average: 1.35M; Trend: Down

UFN Average Rating (last 5 events) on Spike TV:

  • UFN 25 on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1.8M viewers
  • UFN 24 on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 2.2M viewers
  • UFN 23 on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1.85M viewers
  • UFN 22 on Spike TV (2010) Averaged 1.2M viewers
  • UFN 21 on Spike TV (2010) Averaged 1.6M viewers

UFN Average (last 5 events) on Spike TV: 1.73M Viewers

Spike TV Comparable Trend: Down

 

UFC Primetime on FX:

  • “UFC Primetime: Velasquez vs Dos Santos” (Single episode on FOX): 2M Viewers
  • Q1: “UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. Condit” Series Average: 540,000 viewers
  • Q2: “UFC Primetime: Jones vs. Evans” Series Average: 560,000 viewers
  • Q2: “UFC Primetime: Dos Santos vs. Mir” Series Average: 542,000 viewers (only 1 & 2)

Q2 Average: 551,000; Q1 Average: 540,000, Trend: Up, flat

UFC Primetime Debut Episode Ratings (last 5 events) on Spike TV:

  • UFC Primetime: GSP vs Shields on Spike TV (2011): 610K viewers
  • UFC Primetime: Lesnar vs Velasquez on Spike TV (2010): 974K viewers
  • UFC Primetime: Rampage vs Evans on Spike TV (2011): 1.2M viewers
  • UFC Primetime: GSP vs Hardy on Spike TV (2010): 1M viewers
  • UFC Primetime: GSP vs Penn II on Spike TV (2009): 880K viewers

UFC Primetime Debut Episodes (last 5) Average on Spike TV: 933K Viewers

Spike TV Comparable Trend: Down


UFC on FX Prelims:

  • Q1: UFC 142 Prelims: 880K
  • Q1: UFC 143 Prelims: 1.4M
  • Q1: UFC 144 Prelims: 1.5M
  • Q2: UFC 145 Prelims: 1.6M
  • Q2: UFC 146 Prelims: 1.3M
  • Q2: UFC 147 Prelims: 969K

Q2 Average: 1.29M; Q1 Average: 1.26M, Trend: Up, Flat

UFC Prelims Average Rating (last 5 events) on Spike TV:

  • UFC 141 Season on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1.8M viewers
  • UFC 139 Season on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1.2M viewers
  • UFC 137 Season on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1.1M viewers
  • UFC 136 Season on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1M viewers
  • UFC 135 Season on Spike TV (2011) Averaged 1.6M viewers

Previous 5 UFC Prelims Average on Spike TV: 1.34M Viewers

Spike TV Comparable Trend: Down, Flat

 

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NETWORK: FUEL TV (36M Households) Q2 RATINGS:

UFC on FUEL:

  • Q1: UFC on Fuel TV 1: 217,000
  • Q2: UFC on Fuel TV 2: 197,000
  • Q2: UFC on Fuel TV 3: 173,000

Q2 Average: 185,000; Q1 Average: 217,000; Trend: Down

 

UFC on Fuel Prelims:

  • Q1: UFC on FX1 Fuel Prelims: 148,000
  • Q1: UFC on FOX 2 Prelims: 144,000
  • Q1: UFC on FX 2 Fuel Prelims: 113,000
  • Q2: UFC on FOX 3 Prelims: 86,000
  • Q2: UFC on FX 3 Fuel Prelims: 84,000
  • Q2: TUF Live Finale Prelims: 165,000

Q2 Average: 112,000; Q1 Average: 135,000; Trend: Down

 

Overall Q2 Ratings Analysis (Fuel TV PR):

–  Three live Ultimate Fighting Championship® Fight Nights and two live motocross races in June delivered FUEL TV its most-watched month ever and it continues to be the industry’s fastest growing ad-supported cable network, according to Nielsen Media Research.

– FUEL TV’s June viewership growth was powered by 406 hours of Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) programming, including three live prelim shows for main cards featured on FX. The “TUF Finale Live” Prelims on Friday, June 1, delivered the network its most-watched prelims to date, most-watched Friday and second most-watched Friday prime time in its history. The 406 hours of UFC programming in the month edges out the previous record of 384 hours in April.

– For the year, FUEL TV has delivered nearly 1800 hours of UFC programming. In the first six months of 2012, FUEL TV has established itself as the fastest growing network in year-to-year percentage audience growth in total day and during prime time among households, total viewers and men 18-49 compared to Jan. – June 2011.

– The Saturday live airings of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship motocross races have emerged this month as an incredible compliment to the UFC programming. On June 9, the FMF High Point National, the fourth stop of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, drew 214,000 total viewers and 105,000 men 18-49, ranking as the network’s second most-watched program ever and third in the target demographic. The following race on Saturday, June 16 was the network’s tenth most-viewed program ever with 141,000 total viewers.

FUEL TV June 2012 Audience Highlights:

  • June 2012 is the network’s most viewed month ever, surpassing February 2012;
  • FUEL TV recorded its second and third most-watched weeks in network history in June;
  • June 2012 was up +50% in total viewers and +67% in M18-49 vs. June 2011;
  • Total Viewers grew 56% in prime time and +60% among M18-49 compared to June 2011;
  • Saturday, June 9 ranked as FUEL TV’s third most-watched day in network history, up +575% vs. the 2Q 2011 average;
  • Live Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship race on Saturday, June 16 was the network’s tenth most-viewed program in network history with 141,000 Total Viewers;
  • “The Ultimate Fighter Finale Live” Prelims on Friday, June 1 had 165,000 Total Viewers, ranking as the network’s most-watched UFC Prelims to date, in addition to being FUEL TV’s fifth most-watched program ever.  The show peaked from 8:30 – 8:45 PM ET with 241,000 Total Viewers;
  •  Friday, June 1 was the most-watched Friday and second most-watched Friday prime time in network history;
  • UFC Prelims on Friday, June 22 was FUEL TV’s sixth most-watched show ever with 160,000 Total Viewers, fourth most-watched   show in the target demo and second most-watched UFC Prelims on the network.
  • For the first six months of 2012, prime time viewership is +140% over 2011;
  • Since January 1, the network’s total day viewership is up +90% compared to 2011;

“The UFC fans have found FUEL TV and are tuning into the network every day now,” says Mike Feller, Vice President of Programming, FUEL TV. “The increased viewership numbers are also carrying over to other programs, as we’ve seen with the ratings growth of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. It’s apparent that both UFC and motocross share similar viewers and make for great complementary programming.”

 

UFC/FOX TV Deal Performance History:

Payout Perspective: UFC-FOX TV Deal Q1/2012 Performance Review

 

Payout Perspective:

Making a conclusion as to whether the UFC and FOX TV deal is a success or failure based on only the Q1 and Q2 ratings would still be quite premature at this point, but having two quarters in the books allows us now to compare ratings performance 6 months into the deal on the FOX platforms plus Spike TV.

To no surprise, Fuel TV continues to benefit greatly from this UFC deal, as it became the fastest growing network in year-to-year percentage audience growth in total day and during prime time among households, total viewers and men 18-49 compared to Jan. – June 2011.  Oddly enough, the main goal for Fuel TV remains increasing their household reach, which actually dropped from 36.4M to 36.2M during the first two quarters of 2012, when UFC made it’s debut on the network, though most of that is explained by cord cutters since the effect was not specific to Fuel TV. Another interesting note is that Fuel TV aired nearly 1800 hours of UFC programming. However, Fuel TV only reaches 1/3 of the households that Spike TV reached, also being one of the lowest rated networks in cable TV, so unless Fuel’s reach picks up – doesn’t look like that will be the case until the end of the year at the earliest – the UFC will consistently be placing the majority of their content on a channel that only reaches a fraction of what Spike TV provided them.

A big disappointment so far has been the performance of UFC on FOX events, which is one of the biggest positive in the UFC/FOX TV deal for the UFC.  With only four contracted events on Primetime, the product does not have enough frequency to make a meaningful impact up to now, and in fact, each event has produced less viewership since it’s debut (UFC on FOX 1: 5.7M, UFC on FOX 2: 4.7M, UFC on FOX 3: 2.4M).  Getting mainstream sponsors for the FOX events has still been a struggle as was expected when the deal was made last year by TV ad analysts.  The negative ratings trend won’t help them in this department either.

FX and the newly revamped “TUF Live” were a big part of the TV deal with TUF being the key platform the UFC uses to create future stars and PPV draws. The show ended up being a huge disappointment (in terms of ratings and creating stars), now owning the title of the all-time lowest rated season in the history of the TUF. Dana White and the UFC brass predicted that they could very well reach 3 million viewers for TUF on FX if they were getting around 1.5 million on Spike TV without any promotion. It was also noted internally within Zuffa that WWE ratings on USA were also a factor in predicting a rating on FX considering they do on average 3M viewers on the same Friday night time slot. Well, that prediction didn’t was off to say the least, even with the heavy promotion leading up to TUF’s debut on FX.  FX dedicating Friday nights as “UFC Nights”, a day which is notorious for bad ratings and when the M18-34 demographic is not at home in front of their TV sets, has also not panned out for the UFC yet. Moving the content to mid-week is a noted option in 2013, but nothing has been officially decided.  They will be doing the next season of TUF (2012) in the same Friday night time slot and analyze those numbers as well before making a final decision.

There is something to be said about the simplicity of being a UFC fan and being able to find all the content you needed on one network. Now, with multiple platforms designated with different UFC content, fans are having a difficult time migrating from Spike TV to numerous FOX platforms. FOX only shows UFC events 4 times a year, FX only on Fridays and sometimes on Saturday, while Fuel TV has designated days where they show no UFC content at all despite airing over 300+ hours of UFC programming a month . The complexity for the typical MMA TV viewer has definitely increased since the deal, but it looks like most fans have now made the transition.

The question you have to ask now is that if fans have indeed already made the transition from Spike to FOX, shouldn’t ratings be going up, or is there something else impacting the ratings? The sheer frequency of MMA content the MMA fan has access to now a days plus the number of events, injuries, focus international expansion, etc. will certainly test Zuffa’s theory that the demand continues to exceed the supply, and that they in fact need to put on more events than they are already doing.  The old saturation equation of greater frequency results in a watered down product has been brought up quite a few times, using most recent cards like UFC 147 and UFC 149 as perfect examples.  The next two quarters should give us a pretty good indication whether ZUFFA as a promotion and the average MMA fan can keep up with this torrid pace.

Bellator 72: 193,000 viewers

July 27, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 72 ratings for its Summer Series scored an average of 193,000 viewers.  It was the second highest ratings average since season 6.

Bellator 71 was not on MTV2 as it was streamed online. Bellator 70 had an average of 119,000 after 68 and 69 had promising averages.

Payout Perspective:

It was good timing for Bellator considering the DirecTV-Viacom dispute ended just in time for 72.  The welterweight tournament final and the reemergence of Paul Daley were on the show.  We’ll see if Bellator 73 can best 72 on August 24th with Pat Curran defending his title and the finals of 2 tourneys on the card.

Will MMA ever be an Olympic sport?

July 26, 2012

MMA Fighting reports on a recent poll which indicates 25% of Americans think Mixed Martial Arts should be an Olympic Sports.  The poll which was commissioned by Yahoo! Sports indicates MMA is second only to baseball (33%) in sports people would like to see in the Summer Games.

In addition to baseball and MMA, softball (24%), lacrosse (19%) and field hockey (15%) round out the list.  Notably, softball was last an Olympic sport in 2008.  It will sit out 2012 and 2016 but there is support for its return in 2020.  My last check has field hockey as a current Olympic sport.  Baseball was last an Olympic sport in Beijing in 2008 and there are no plans for its return at this point.  With the World Baseball Classic, which returns in 2013, there is at least a reasonable replacement for its absence from the Summer Games.

Via MMA Fighting:

Yahoo! partnered with Ipsos MediaCT to conduct the study in May of 2012. 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 to 64, ‘who are representative of the U.S. online adult population’, were polled, according to a press release

According to the report, UFC head Dana White is for amateur MMA provided that it is regulated.  White would like to see the Olympic committee get behind the idea, and similar to boxing, White would like to see amateurs do well so that when they turn pro, they would have a built in fan base.

Payout Perspective:

The Summer Games already have amateur wrestling, boxing and tae kwon do as sports.  Would it have room for mixed martial arts?  The one issue for MMA to be an Olympic sport would be the need for an infrastructure to train and regulate amateur fighters.  It’s unlikely that the UFC, Strikeforce or Bellator fighters would want to compete for free despite it being for their country.  Moreover, it would be unlikely that Dana White or Bjorn Rebney would allow one of its fighters under contract to fight (with the possibility of being injured) at the Olympics. But, with the popularity of the sport, we could see younger, unsigned fighters seeking visibility going the amateur route.  Perhaps we see wrestlers or boxers that could not make it in their sport make it in MMA.  In the end it is nice to see the support and notoriety MMA is receiving.

Mir faces Cormier in Strikeforce

July 26, 2012

USA Today reports that Frank Mir will be facing Daniel Cormier at a Strikeforce event this fall.  It will be the first time that an existing fighter on the UFC roster will fight on a Strikeforce card.

After their encounter, Mir and Cormier will fight in the UFC Heavyweight division.  As usual, the fight will air on Showtime.

Frank Mir


Payout Perspective:

It’s an interesting booking decision that should help with the promotion of the Strikeforce event.  One would have to think that Mir was asked to do this as it’s unlikely he would voluntarily want to appear on a Strikeforce card.  Perhaps a make good for getting the shot at JDS.  But, if Mir were to lose, it would put him behind Cormier in the quest to get another shot at JDS

UFC 149 Prelims: 1 million viewers

July 25, 2012

MMA Weekly reports that UFC 149 Prelims on FX drew an average of 1 million viewers.  The average viewership ranks below the 1.3 million viewer average for the Prelims on FX.

Despite the below average ratings, the prelims featured the best action of the night as it produced the Fight of the Night (Caraway and Gagnon) and the KO of the Night (Jimmo).

Payout Perspective:

The UFC 149 main card was injury plagued and it appears that this may have impacted viewing of the prelims.  Obviously, 149 pales in comparison to the UFC 148 Prelims which hit a 1.8 million viewer average.  The injuries to fighters continue to be a problem with events and 149 was a prime example of what happens if fighter injuries occur at the same time.

Boxing back on CBS this year

July 25, 2012

NBC is not the only network to air boxing this year as CBS will have two events featuring Olympic fighters turning pro after London.  CBS, in conjunction with Showtime and Golden Boy Productions will air two shows on Sunday, October 14th and Saturday, December 15th.

Bad Left Hook reports that the shows will be produced by Showtime and air on CBS so its likely we’d basically see a ShoBox-like event on the network.

Boxing Insider has the Golden Boy press release:

Golden Boy Promotions, SHOWTIME Sports and CBS Sportswill team up to showcase standout boxers from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games making their professional debuts live on the CBS Television Network. The initial live boxing broadcasts, which will be produced by SHOWTIME Sports, include two dates, Sunday, October 14 and Saturday, December 15 with additional dates to follow.


Payout Perspective:

Good news for the sport and nice strategy to ease the sport back onto network television.  The shows will take advantage of the Olympians bounce from coming off of the Summer Games so there will be some interest from viewers.  Also, we assume that the fighters will come at a low cost since they will be starting out their careers as opposed to established fighters that would demand much more in terms of fight purse.  For Golden Boy, its a low risk investment as they would be picking and choosing the fighters to recruit for the event.  Being on national network television would be an incredible opportunity for a young fighter starting out in terms of exposure.

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