Big Nog dances in Honda commercial

November 30, 2012

Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera stars in a Brazilian Honda commercial which has Big Nog dancing.  Via MMA Fighting, the commercial has Noguiera apparently playing himself but out of character.

Payout Perspective:

If anyone can interpret what is being said, it may help shed some light on what is going on.  It appears as though the mild-mannered man is wondering what his idol, Bog Nog would do.  Not sure that explains the lotion on the hands.   The Honda commercial is another sign that MMA is mainstream in Brazil and it also give Noguiera a chance to do something out of the ordinary (we assume this is not ordinary for Big Nog).   It also shows the popularity of Noguiera in Brazil.

UFC 154 PPV buy estimates between 680-700K

November 29, 2012

MMA Fighting reports that GSP’s return to UFC 154 garnered between 680,000 to 700,000 PPV buys.  During the UFC’s Conference Call this past Tuesday Dana White sounded pleased with the PPV buys as he called GSP the “PPV King.”

The estimated buy rate would be the highest since Silva-Sonnen II this past July.  That event received 925,000 PPV buys.  If the UFC 154 PPV buy rate holds true, it would be slightly below the PPV buy rates of GSP’s previous fights with Jake Shields (800K), Josh Koscheck (800K) and Dan Hardy (770K).

GSP’s biggest PPV buy occurred in January 2009 when he fought BJ Penn.  UFC 94 grabbed 925,000 PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

The PPV buy estimates for UFC 154 are good if you consider that the UFC pushed showing the event in theatres.  This was backed by the UFC promoting fighter appearances at the select theaters across the country.  Despite the low ratings for its Prelims and the ticket sales/attendance, the PPV buy rates appear solid.

OneFC CEO Cui sees fight network as a sign of “exponential growth of MMA in Asia”

November 29, 2012

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with OneFC CEO Victor Cui about the company’s recent agreement with Glory Sports International to a fighter exchange program.

”[The move] shows the exponential growth of MMA in Asia,” Cui added, “It’s a distinct Asian approach.” Cui points to the collaborative and inclusive approach of the OneFC Network which was established during its Fighter Summit in 2011. Fighters in the OneFC Network are allowed to fight with other promotions and vice versa.

Although OneFC will not be promoting the event on December 31st, Cui’s OneFC fighters will be on the card. Cui confirmed that Bibiano Fernandez, Shinya Aoki, Phil Baroni and Melvin Manhoef are scheduled to appear on the New Year’s Eve card to be held at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan.   Cui indicated that there may be more OneFC fighters although nothing had been confirmed.

Via OneFC press release:

Both internationally recognized organizations have agreed to fighter exchanges. It means that any GSI MMA fighter will automatically be eligible to compete exclusively in Asia on ONE FC and any ONE FC fighter will automatically be eligible to compete in GSI MMA events which are currently held under the DREAM brand in Japan. Fighter exchanges are expected to happen with immediate effect. The fighter exchange program also covers ONE FC Network of other affiliate association and gyms across Asia.

Highlighting this recent collaboration, Cui extolled the virtue of the OneFC fighter exchange program stating “it’s for the benefit of its fighters, fans and promoters.”  Cui indicated that the program ensures that the participating promotions will take care of its fighters.

As for OneFC, it plans on doing 12-14 of its own events in 2013 starting in Malaysia on February 2nd. Cui projects the company doing 18-24 events in 2014.  It also boasts an ESPN television contract in Asia which will help with the promotion of its product.

Payout Perspective:

The fighter exchange is a unique idea and should bolster the New Year’s Eve show for Glory and Dream.  OneFC will still benefit from the exposure of its fighters at the event and will be able to utilize any Glory fighters for its own events.  With a television contract with ESPN, we should look for more promoters to work with OneFC.  Cui also indicated that OneFC will have big news with a major sponsor for 2013 which will be announced next month.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC event during Super Bowl weekend in 2014

November 28, 2012

The media conference call yesterday to promote next Saturday’s UFC on Fox event included some information on the possibility of a new sports channel for Fox and the possibility of a UFC card coinciding with Super Bowl weekend 2014 in the New York-New Jersey area.

Fox has the rights to Super Bowl 48 will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.   A UFC show in the New York-New Jersey area (Prudential Center according to the SBJ) will add to the already frenzy of Super Bowl week activities.  The thought of the possibility could help elevate the UFC brand.  Moreover, the 2014 Super Bowl is being thought of as the official launch of Fox Sports 1.

A Fox Sports channel, Fox Sports 1, has been rumored to be in production as a “sizzle reel” has been shown to league and conference executives according to the Sports Business Journal (subscription required).  The reel offers detailed plans about Fox Sports 1.  According to those that have viewed the reel, Fox plans to rebrand its motorsports channel Speed into the new sports channel.  In addition, the reel focuses on the fact it will feature its “live-game programming” including the UFC.

Fox Sports 1 is being though as a direct competitor to ESPN as Fox has the background to compete with the “worldwide leader.”

H/T:  F4Wonline

Payout Perspective:

Obviously, we do not know where the UFC will be in terms of popularity in 2014 but being a part of Super Bowl week/weekend would be great in terms of mainstream press.  Also, the potential to have it an anchor on the new Fox Sports 1 would only mean good things for the company and the sport of MMA.  Fox Sports 1 intends to launch in August 2013 but officially launch during Super Bowl 48.  Could we see Fox moving all of UFC content to FX until Fox Sports 1 is up and running?  Would that mean Fuel becomes obsolete or would it still run secondary content?

Broner-DeMarco gets over 1M viewers

November 27, 2012

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that HBO Boxing’s Adrien Broner v. Antonio DeMarco did a 2.6 rating with 1,050,791 viewers.  The lead in for the latest 24/7 for Pacquiao-Marquez IV did a 2.1 rating.

The 23 year old brash and bold Broner is reminiscent of a young Floyd Mayweather in attitude and style.  Broner’s last fight in July did 1.4 million viewers for an HBO Boxing After Dark.  DeMarco was a better opponent than Broner’s July opponent, yet the viewership probably decreased due to UFC 154.

As for the 24/7 series, its interesting that it received a decent rating considering the lack of buzz for the fourth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez.

Payout Perspective:

Despite those thinking that the viewer rating for Broner’s latest fight was low, it was on the same night as UFC 154.  According to Dana White at today’s telephone conference, he was pleased with the PPV buys for GSP’s return.  No word on numbers for UFC 154, but the Broner fight did well considering it went up against the UFC and college football.

Broner’s flash and talent make him a personality to watch in the coming years in the fight game.  I’m not sure there’s enough fighters in his weight class to make him a top draw in boxing but he is still very young and there’s time.

Bellator will implement rematch clause in 2013

November 26, 2012

MMA Fighting reports that Bellator Fighting Championships will modify its current tournament structure to allow for championship rematches.  The rematch clause should help bring exciting fights, storylines and recognizable names to its move to Spike TV.

On the Bellator web site, Bjorn Rebney wrote a letter to fans explaining of the slight change to the organization’s tournament format.

Payout Perspective:

The change for Bellator will aid in its transition to Spike TV.  The best scenario for Bellator would be an exciting title fight with the champion losing his belt and for a rematch to occur within a short span after the first fight.  Thus, Bellator could capitalize on the buzz of the first fight by heavily promoting the rematch.  It also would enable new viewers to familiarize itself with its fighters.  This move is programming driven to ensure that it hits the ground running (i.e. ratings) on Spike TV.

SBJ features HBO’s Hershman and talks HBO-ESPN content sharing

November 26, 2012

In this week’s edition of the Sports Business Journal (subscription required), it published a feature on HBO Sports’ President Ken Hershman. The piece offers a background for the president as well as a glimpse into the direction Hershman sees its boxing programming.

The article details Hershman’s beginnings from working at a law firm to working up the ranks at Showtime to his current position at HBO.

Notably, Hershman indicated that HBO secured a content-sharing agreement with ESPN to air its 24/7 series over ESPN’s networks.  The popular shoulder programming that accompanies most HBO Boxing PPVs expanded to Time Warner’s brethren of networks last.  Additionally, ESPN and ESPN Deportes will have access to HBO Boxing weigh-ins and press conference coverage.

Payout Perspective:

Originally announced in September, the deal with ESPN increases the chance of more casual fans catching a 24/7 than those that may see it on CNN or TNT or TBS.  Last year’s move to have Time Warner Properties show the HBO series was helpful for to promote its PPVs.  But, HBO Boxing’s target demos on Time Warner networks is seasonal (i.e.  TNT and basketball and TBS and baseball).  While promoting fights during NBA on TNT or TBS Baseball would help, without those sports, it would be harder to garner a sports audience.  With ESPN, HBO will get an audience more in its target demos and open to pay $70 for a PPV.

Fast Company features the UFC in latest issue

November 25, 2012

Business trade magazine Fast Company featured the UFC in its November issue.  The issue is part case study as it introduces the main players but also looks at the UFC business.

The article authored by scribe Luke O’Brien, notably of Deadspin fame, details the company execs and gives a general rundown of what it is like on fight night for Dana White.  For those not following White, et al., the snapshot of Team Zuffa gives followers of the magazine a look at how White saw promise in a fledgling “fight to the death” sport and repackaged it into what it has become.

In addition to the UFC backstory, it identifies the major challenge the company faces:

Now the UFC is at a critical juncture. It could join the country’s major sports leagues–an ascension fueled by big profits, network TV acceptance, and aggressive international expansion. Or, the UFC could mismanage its growth–by fatiguing fans with too many events, failing to resolve labor tensions with fighters, or simply overreaching. And, of course, there’s an inherent question the UFC is finally large enough to confront: Is this sport too violent to thrive in mainstream America?

Despite the mantra that the UFC and the WWE are not the same and never the twain shall meet, the article points to the Fertittas and White looking over WWE SEC filing to examine how it did its business.  And what it ended up with is the current model of using television to promote its PPV business.

The article offers several takeaways from the UFC case study:

  1. It was willing to invest in itself to tell its story.  When no one would fund the very first The Ultimate Fighter, Zuffa spent $10 million to produce it.
  2. In expansion it is changing its U.S. model to cater to the international markets.
  3. The UFC is using its content to allure fringe fans by airing fights for free on Fox, Fuel and FX.
  4. It has built relationships with celebrities in hopes that their influence will be relayed back (via twitter) to their following.

Payout Perspective:

The feature portion of the article is something that many have read before.  The business aspects of the article are interesting especially the challenges it faces in attempting to penetrate an international market and the way it executes this.  Another interesting takeaway is the issue of a fighter union which we just wrote about.  The article identifies the backlash Jon Jones received when he refused to fight Chael Sonnen Labor Day Weekend.  While there is a good discussion about how the stars are gaining footholds in controlling their own careers, most do not think a union is a good idea.

White responds to question about fighter union

November 24, 2012

As part of the ESPN duties to promote UFC 54, Dana White took part in a chat with fans. The issue of fighter unions came up again and White offered up his opinion.

When asked about whether the UFC will ever see a fighter’s union, White responded:

I doubt it. The thing about fighting is, fighting is not a team sport, it’s an individual sport. It’s going to be tough to see a day with Silva or GSP is giving up big chunks of their money to guys who won’t make two fights in the UFC. Different sports. But if it happens, it happens. I have to negotiate with somebody on the fight contracts.

Payout Perspective:

The issue of a fighter union has been discussed in the past.  Earlier this year, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported on fighter pay which drew the ire of the UFC.

In a web chat with The Seattle Times in March 2011, White said that it would be up to the fighters whether they wanted a union.  In the past, White has also cited union problems in the NBA and NFL as reasons why unions may not be the answer to labor peace.  This time around, we see White explaining the issue a little more.

White’s most recent explanation alludes to the fact that if a union is set up, fighters at the top of the pay scale such as Anderson Silva and GSP, would have to give up a portion of their pay to take care of fighters at the bottom of the pay scale.  Without true incentive except to help fighters starting out, it would be hard to see fighters at the top of the scale concede a portion of their fight purse.  Another good point made by White is that its an individual sport.  Unlike the NFL or NBA, fighters fight as individuals and are not on teams.  Despite being aligned with a gym or fight team, fighter pay is based on their individual performance in the Octagon.

Despite being independent contractors, the UFC has done enough to make the issue of a fighter union a non-existent issue.  One of the most important is fighter insurance which has taken care of fighters under contract.  Also, incentive programs offering monetary rewards such as social media bonuses and fight night bonuses.  Yet, White seemed indifferent about the possibility of a union which is a little surprising.  With the recent issues with fighters not taking fights, one can only imagine the issues that he might encounter with a union: pay, fight schedules and general grievances just to name a few.

White takes TUF Finale to The Hard Rock

November 22, 2012

MMA Junkie confirmed reports that Dana White moved The Ultimate Final Finale from The Palms to The Hard Rock due to a personal issue with the Hotel and Casino.  White’s credit limit was cut in half at The Palms which made White decide to take his business elsewhere.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal originally reported the fallout between White and The Palms.  White had signed an exclusive deal to run TUF Finals at its venue since 2007.
The Palms cut White’s credit in half which precipitated the issue  White was a big spender at The Palms as he spent up to $20K on dinners and tipped up to $10K to staff.

Via Wikipedia

Payout Perspective:

This is more of a public relations issue for The Palms than White.  It is White’s right to take his business elsewhere if he has an issue with the business.  The Palms likely weighed the financial issue versus the public perception.  Realistically, The Palms was not making much out of the TUF finals considering the small venue and number of comps.  The only real revenue it could make would be to the influx of fans frequenting the casino, bars and restaurants at The Palms the night of the fight.  The Palms only concern was dealing with an angry White once he learned his credit was cut.  He was a long-time partner and spent a lot of money there.  But, if The Palms could no longer extend the credit, there’s not much it could have done to stop White from leaving.

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