Martinez-Chavez, Jr: 475,000 PPV buys

September 21, 2012

Yahoo! Sports via Kevin Iole reports that last week’s Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. HBO on PPV scored a very good 475,000 buys.  Mark Taffet at HBO PPV confirmed the numbers to Iole.

According to Bad Left Hook, PPV estimates ranged from 250K to 400K. In addition to the PPV success, the Thomas and Mack Center was a sell out for the fight.  Add to that the Alvarez-Lopez fight occurring across town and it was a good night for boxing.

Payout Perspective:

The numbers are great but are soured a bit as hope for a springtime rematch went by the wayside as JCC tested positive for marijuana.  The offense, which is his second in Nevada, will keep him on the shelf for a while due to the inevitable suspension.  This stops any momentum this fight could have had for 2013.  With the fight still fresh in our mind, HBO could have easily reset the table with another dose of 24/7 and a Cinco de Mayo weekend fight.

For those interested, HBO will show the fight again on Saturday night.  A great pre-funk for UFC 152.

The PR of Jon Jones

September 20, 2012

As we get ready for UFC 152, we take a look at the image of the star of the main event, Jon Jones.  Despite being the top draw and one of the highest paid fighters in the UFC, he is also the most polarizing fighter in the UFC.  Some of the issues fans have with him are of his own doing and some are perception.

Jones became a UFC darling as the next big thing.  He was given a push by the UFC and stepped in for Rashad Evans to challenge Mauricio Rua for the title.  After destroying Rua, the Jones era was at its zenith as he could do no wrong.  In fact, we all recall he stopped a mugging the afternoon of the fight with Shogun.  Jones was what the UFC needed.  His celebrity earned him a spot on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Then somewhere the backlash began.  A feud with Rashad Evans and his training camp became public.  It was thought that Jones usurped control of Greg Jackson as Evans left Jackson’s camp to train with the Blackzillians.  While this does not make Jones the “heel,” the cracks in the Bones persona began to show.

Jones was even brought into question as Jones was sponsored by the UFC in his fight with Evans.

Jones was charged with a DUI this past May.  It was later discovered that he was in the car with two young women and neither one was the mother of his children.  Despite his DUI, he was not disciplined by the UFC and did the right thing in accepting responsibility.  For the most part, this lapse of discretion did not hurt his image.  In fact, he garnered the Nike sponsorship after this incident.

Then came UFC 151.  When Henderson pulled out of the main event, Chael Sonnen was tabbed by Dana White as a suitable replacement.  But, Jones declined the fight due to the short notice.  This caused an uproar and Sonnen to call out the Light Heavyweight champion.  It also started the PR nightmare for the UFC as White laid into Jones and Greg Jackson for their decision.

As for UFC 151, Jones accepted full responsibility for the cancellation but the apology was less than perfect. His “carry the cross” tweet indirectly analogized himself to Jesus Christ.  While most reading the tweet understood that Jones was taking the blame, the way he made the apology was off-putting.  The tweet showed Jones’ confidence…some would call it arrogance.

Even with the apology, news came out that Jones was going to compensate fighters for the delay in their paydays.  But it came with a catch.

Via MMA Mania:

According to (ESPN’s) Franklin McNeil, a reliable source close to the situation said that Jon Jones was willing to pay the fighters from the card their purses. Unfortunately, that good will was hampered by a condition. You weren’t allowed to voice your opinion about the situation if it wasn’t a favorable one. These days, charitable moments have sub-clauses. Due to multiple fighters speaking out against Jones, he decided to change his mind and not pay out the fighters.

Here we see Jones again attempting to do the right thing but with the wrong execution.  It would have been great for Jones to say that he’d pick up the tab for all the undercard fighters as those guys would be hurt the most with a delay in fighting.  Maybe all the fighters.  But, according to the report he put a condition to the money which would make paying the fighters seem more like a payoff for their silence.

Despite this, Jones has made a good accounting of himself during the UFC 152 Conference Call and in this interview with Ariel Helwani transcribed via MMA Mania.  He has spoke his mind and, has for the most part, stood behind his decision to turn down the Sonnen fight.

Yet, Jones did say he felt like he was “a piece of meat” in the interview with Helwani.

Despite stating that he had no problems with Jones, Dana White appeared on The Jim Rome radio show and talked about Jones.  In reference to Jones’ comment that he felt like the UFC treated him like “a piece of meat,”  White responded by saying, “He didn’t feel like a piece of meat when we bought him that Bentley.”  I don’t know if White meant the money Jones made gave him the means to buy him a Bentley or whether the UFC actually paid for Jones directly. Regardless, the comment was meant as a strong rebuttal to Jones’ comment about how the UFC was treating him.

It will be interesting to see what will come out of the meeting between White and Jones this week in Toronto.

The latest interview with Ariel Helwani shows the maturity of Jon Jones (as well as a James Harden beard):

Payout Perspective:

Despite the criticism, Jon Jones is not going anywhere.  From his “Champ is Here” entrance music to the cartwheel into the Octagon, Jones has a style and way about him that either people like or people hate.  Jones has fallen into the same predicament many young athletes on the top of their game face.  He wants to do the right thing but finds out that he can’t please everyone and himself.  The cancellation of UFC 151 should not have been on Jones.  Jones attempted to do the right thing but it came off as selfish.  Even though he states that he doesn’t care about what other fighters think, it seems that he does.

White needs Jones as much as Jones needs the UFC otherwise White would have just cut Jones.  Interesting that White never threatened to cut Jones like he threatened to cut Anderson Silva after UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.  Jones is proving to be an unbeatable force in the UFC and a PPV draw.  He is also the best American fighter in the UFC.

Notwithstanding his continued statements that he does not care what people think, essentially he does.  With Jones now sporting Nike as his main sponsor, Jones will be more visible to the mainstream media.  Also, with his brothers in the NFL, broadcasters cannot but mention the brother, a “UFC Fighter”.  We will see this over and over as I’m sure that’s in the media guides for both Jones brothers.  And of course, if you watch a Fox broadcast, if Chandler Jones makes a tackle, it will be worked in that his brother is the UFC champ.

In one of his interviews, Jones compared his predicament with LeBron James.  This is not too far off of a comparison.  James definitely has made his share of poor PR choices (namely The Decision), shilled for sponsors (namely the Swoosh) and made arrogant proclamations to media (namely the amount of titles the Heat would win).  Yet, James became more comfortable with who he was and with winning a title silenced some of his critics. With some of the media hits he’s been doing this week, we see Jones becoming more comfortable in his own skin despite the backlash of 151.

Mayweather must pay Pacquiao lawyers $113K

September 19, 2012 reports that the US District Court in Nevada has ordered Floyd Mayweather to pay Manny Pacquiao’s attorneys $113,518.50 in fees and costs as a result of evading his deposition.  The lawsuit stems from Pacquiao’s defamation claims against Mayweather in which Mayweather claimed Pacquiao was taking PEDs.

The judgment in excess of $113,000 is a result of Mayweather failing to sit for his deposition in the lawsuit.  During the discovery phase of the lawsuit, Pacquiao’s attorneys attempted to take Mayweather’s deposition.  Mayweather’s attorneys filed a motion for protective order which would halt Pacquiao’s attorneys from taking the deposition.  The court denied Mayweather’s motion.  Regardless, Mayweather didn’t show when his deposition was noted to take place.

Pacquiao’s attorneys also filed a supplemental motion seeking an additional $2,432.50 in attorneys’ fees and $514.60 in costs for the actual hearing granting the attorney fees award.

Payout Perspective:

If you thought that Pacquiao-Mayweather was never going to happen, this could fuel the fire for an actual fight…or give cause to never have one between the two.  In hindsight, Mayweather’s refusal to attend his deposition may have been a smart (albeit pricey) move.   He will not have to answer questions about the PED accusations and likely saves himself from unnecessary questions and scrutiny.  While I would not recommend this tactic for everyone, it worked here.  Yes, paying over $113K in fees and costs  is expensive, but for a guy that makes $40 million in one night, it’s something he can do.

Mir latest main event injury

September 18, 2012

In what is beginning to be the norm in the world of Zuffa, another fighter must pull out of a main event due to an injury.  This time its Frank Mir as he was set to face Daniel Cormier in a Strikeforce event that was set for Oklahoma City in November.

MMA Junkie reports that Mir may have  knee injury which caused him to pull out.   The spate of recent injuries has caused Zuffa to scramble and book events on the fly.  With about 6 weeks out, Strikeforce still has time to find a replacement for Mir.

Payout Perspective:

Another injury, another replacement must be found.  Mir was going to be the first UFC crossover to Strikeforce but we will see if Mir’s replacement will be another UFC Heavyweight.  At least with the latest main event injury, there is time to find a suitable replacement from either UFC or Strikeforce.

Boxing has big weekend

September 17, 2012

This weekend saw some big boxing action with Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions going head to head Saturday night with competing PPVs.  The main event for Top Rank had Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. succumbing to Sergio Martinez.  Golden Boy had Canelo Alvarez winning by TKO victory over Joseito Lopez.

According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission it was a sellout at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas for JCC-Martinez with 16,939 tickets and 751 comps.  No tickets were unsold.  The gate was estimated at $3 million.

The NSAC also reported that the Alvarez-Lopez fight was a sellout although there was some controversy behind these numbers.   It did a gate of $1,618,150 with 12,860 tickets purchase (and 0 unsold) and 1,659 comps.  Despite the announcement of a sellout at the weigh-ins, tickets were still available for sale. But, it appears a late surge in ticket purchases made this a true sell out.

Payout Perspective:

Earlier this year, we reported on whether the boxing business could make a comeback.  This weekend helped persuade us to believe that it can.  The better news is that this weekend did not feature Pacquiao or Mayweather.  Which means that boxing had a buzz without its two big draws and there will be boxing after these two big stars.  The JCC-Martinez 24/7 episodes on HBO were interesting and drew the viewer in and perhaps it seemed fresher because it was not a rehash of Pacquiao or Mayweather.

Couple this past weekend with last weekend’s Chad Dawson-Andre Ward fight on HBO, and boxing is interesting once again.  Realistically, many still will clamor for Pacquiao and Mayweather but this past weekend showed that boxing is on its way back.

The Ultimate Fighter 16 episode 1: 947,000 viewers

September 17, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that the season premiere of TUF season 16 scored an average viewership of 947,000 viewers.  The rating is the lowest ever for the debut of the TUF series.

TUF 16’s 2 hour season premiere featured the opening fights to get into the house.  Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson watched octagon-side with Dana White.

Payout Perspective:

Without a UFC event since UFC 150, one would think that more people would want to tune in to the TUF 16 season premiere see some fresh UFC fights.  Of course, watching a bunch of up and coming fighters may not be what the MMA fan is looking for in a Friday night.  It appears that the new ratings standard for TUF on FX may be somewhere around 1 million viewers.  I did like the promos for the fighters on FX leading up to the debut but we will see if it gains some traction this season.

Nike MMA Commercial Forthcoming

September 16, 2012

Jon Jones announced via his Twitter that Nike will film an MMA commercial which presumably stars Jones.  The news comes after it was announced this week Anderson Silva’s global sponsorship with Nike.

According to Jones’ twitter, Nike filmed scenes for the commercial in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As for Silva, his manager Ed Soares stated that Silva’s sponsorship with Nike has gone from an exclusive Brazil sponsorship to a global sponsorship.  This is big news for The Spider as he fights next month.

Payout Perspective:

Its obvious that the commercial will at least feature Jones and Silva.  The news of a Nike commercial is good news for the UFC as two of its biggest stars are now sponsored by the Swoosh.  This a blue chip sponsor that the UFC needs to grow and attract more mainstream sponsors.  We will see how Nike presents MMA in its commercial and how active it will become in the UFC.

“MMA Uncensored Live” expands to an hour

September 15, 2012

Coming off of the best ratings for the half hour program, Spike TV’s “MMA Uncensored Live” announced this week it is expanding to an hour format.   It coincides with its move to 10PM ET/PT on Thursday, September 20th.

Via Spike TV press release:

“MMA Uncensored Live” features radio personality Craig Carton as host with former middleweight fighter Nate Quarry and mixed martial arts veteran journalist Luke Thomas as fight experts.

Launching this past February, “MMA Uncensored Live” has attracted the biggest names in the sport as guests, including Jon Jones, Chael Sonnen, BJ Penn, Alistair Overeem, Tito Ortiz, Josh Koscheck, Roy Nelson, Junior Dos Santos, Frank Mir, Stephan Bonnar, and Rashad Evans.

The most recent installment aired September 6, featuring guests Dave Bautista and Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal, and delivered a series record 696,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

While its last half hour installment did well, the big question is whether it can sustain a consistent level of viewership for an hour each week.  From a content perspective, it makes sense for Spike TV to expand the programming for its Thursday night combat sports night of programming.  But, will anyone watch an hour show if it doesn’t have King Mo (or another ratings grabbing fighter) on each week.  Going up against NFL Football each week this fall will be a test to see how the lineup will do overall.

The Pro Wrestling Post: Lawler suffers heart attack on RAW

September 14, 2012

It was a surreal Monday Night Raw from Montreal as Jerry “The King” Lawler suffered a heart attack while commentating a match.  Emergency personnel on hand acted swiftly in getting Lawler the help he needed and saved his life.

Although it appears that Lawler will make a recovery, the WWE was faced with another decision of whether to continue with the live event.  The irony of the situation is that Raw’s special guest was Bret Hart.  The Hitman’s brother, Owen Hart, died in the ring at a WWE PPV in 1999.  Hart fell from the rafters as he had an equipment malfunction.  Despite the tragedy occurring, the WWE decided to continue on with the PPV.  This decision was heavily criticized as it forced WWE performers to continue with the event despite seeing a friend and co-worker fall to their death right in front of them.  Not to mention the fact that many fans attending the event saw this too.

Which brings us to this past Monday. Commentating was cut off during the matches from the time that Lawler was taken to the back.  Commentator Michael Cole did inform the audience what had happened.  Honestly, I had flipped channels and when I heard Cole’s announcement I did not know something actually happened.  I thought it some part of the show even though Cole said it was not.

Payout Take:  The WWE management was faced with the hard decision of continuing with the show or abruptly ending it while medics attended to Lawler.  Despite the lesson of Owen Hart, WWE continued with its programming.  It’s hard to say if this was the correct decision or not.  Since Lawler ended up ok (relatively speaking), having updates and WWE programming on probably helped.  In a morbid way, the social media buzz about Lawler probably gained viewers as many casual and non-casual viewers turned to the USA network to figure out what was going on.  The third hour ratings were up from last week but down from its average.

If the show had gone off the air abruptly, I’m sure it would be understandable.  But, it would leave many scrambling to twitter to find out what was happening.  However, if something tragic were to have happened, the WWE would have been criticized for the continued airing of the event.  Again, the WWE gambled that the real life emergency would not disrupt this meticulously scripted staged environment.   Notably this time, the WWE held off from commentating and gave updates on Lawler’s condition.  Essentially breaking with the script to report on Lawler.

The WWE has become much more aware as a company since 1999.  Of course, becoming a publicly traded company probably had something to do with this.  Still, the WWE continued with caution in continuing with its programming with the full knowledge of the possibilities and the likelihood that rumors on social media would be rampant.

On another note, Lawler’s heart attack brings up the issue of older wrestlers performing.  While we all know its scripted, the physicality is still present and someone in their 50s and 60s needs to be monitored much more than the guys in their 20s.  I’m sure the WWE will take a deeper look into this after this incident.

Online Content Provider Acquires MMA Library

September 13, 2012

Digital Development Group Corp (Digidev), a hybrid content licensing and technology company announced the signing of an agreement with AEU-TV LLC for a portfolio of Mixed Martial Arts content.

In a company press-release, Digidev CEO Martin W. Greenwald stated:

In the MMA classic library, George (AEU-TV) has assembled one of the most complete works of legendary fighters in the world, including companies promoting the sport such as Hook n Shoot, ADCC Abu Dhabi Combat Club, Submission Wrestling World Championship, Vale Tudo of Brazil and Gladiator Challenge. The library showcases the early fights of such MMA greats as Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Rashad Evans, Dan Servern, Wanderlei Silva, and Tito Ortiz.

The AEUTV MMA channel will launch with 50 hours of content and eventually plans to cover a significant portion of the 700 hours AEU-TV has accumulated over the years. There was no mention of a launch date or which platforms the new channel would be available on.

Digidev is focused on OTT technology (‘Over-the-Top’ delivery of online video directly to the living room TV, bypassing incumbent PayTV operators). OTT targets devices such as DVD players and video game consoles, Smart TVs, stand alone Internet connected devices plus mobile platforms. Digidev is in the midst of launching a beta of their first channel “Something Weird”, which will be available on Google TV, Roku, Boxee, Apple TV, Android and iOS devices.


Payout Perspective

This is the kind of specialty channel that would appeal to the hardcore MMA fan and is the sort of content that would be a great fit for new media distributors. Over traditional cable and satellite systems, this type of channel might struggle due to a limited audience and higher distribution costs. With Internet television, it’s cheaper to reach a wider fan base and you can offer a myriad of different pricing options. MMA fans tend to be young, tech-savvy and possess a higher than average household income which makes them ideal consumers for new media ventures.

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