The Wrestling Post – Thanksgiving Edition

November 22, 2012

Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post.  This week we look at the WWE calling out TUF, a new distribution deal for the WWE and CM Punk not happy with management.

WWE makes another run at the UFC

During this week’s Monday Night Raw, the WWE took a shot at the low ratings of TUF.  In one of its intro bumpers it boasted that the WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown on SyFy was the most socially active show on broadcast and cable TV.  The bumper went on to state that it beat The Ultimate Fighter “by 10 times!”  (via MMA Fighting).

Payout Take:  The implication is that the WWE has more viewers and a bigger fan base promoting the product via social media than the UFC.  Yet, as the MMA Fighting article points out, neither company considers the other a direct competitor.  Usually, the WWE touts (no pun intended) its company versus others in the marketplace.  This past Monday, another one of its bumpers stated sales of the WWE’s game, WWE ’13, exceeded that of Madden and NBA2k13.

The interesting thing is that the UFC usually does not return fire at the WWE even though Dana White is known for responding to anything negative about the UFC.

WWE forges new international distribution deal

The WWE announced it has entered into an agreement with FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) for the exclusive home entertainment rights to WWE’s catalogue of programming across Europe, Middle East and Africa. (EMEA).

According to the press release FME will manage the DVD, Blu-ray and digital rights for all new and existing WWE content, making it the first time that fans of WWE’s popular programming can access it digitally across EMEA.

Payout Take:  The move should help with growth internationally and bolster the profits overseas.  The digital media sector is lagging based on the 3rd Quarter results from the company so this move looks to assist with this issue.

CM Punk appears on The Talking Dead; gets to be Grand Marshal of parade

WWE Champ CM Punk will appear on AMC’s The Talking Dead, the shoulder programming for the network’s big hit, The Walking Dead.   The interesting part of this is that Punk was critical of the WWE for not promoting his appearance this Sunday.

The WWE has promoted its talent on other programming.  This past Monday, it promoted the WWE taking over the E! Networks “The Soup,” on Raw this past Monday but no mention of Punk’s appearance.

Payout Take:  Whether or not Punk is in his bad guy character when he’s tweeted his disappointment for not promoting his appearance.  It could be a part of his gimmick but I would think that the WWE would want to take advantage of any mainstream publicity it could especially since The Walking Dead is one of the more popular shows out there.  Even if Punk would be on the talk show supporting TWD, it would be beneficial for the WWE.  Overall, appearances by WWE characters on The Soup and The Talking Dead help the brand and its characters and reflect an emphasis on the Entertainment part of WWE.

Bellator 81: 149,000 viewers

November 21, 2012

MMA Junkie reports the ratings for Bellator 81 at a tick higher than last week at 149,000 viewers.  The average for season 7 is now at approximately 166,000 viewers.

Bellator 81 featured the semifinals of the lightweight tournament.

Bellator 74: 190,000 viewers

Bellator 75: 145,000

Bellator 76: 175,000

Bellator 77: 149,000

Bellator 78: 154,000

Bellator 79:  220,000

Bellator 80:  148,000

Bellator 81:  149,000

Payout Perspective:

The rating for Bellator 81 this past Friday remained flat as compared to the drops of UFC Primetime and episode 10 of TUF which saw significant drops.  With the rise and fall of the Bellator tv ratings it’s hard to determine whether it will level at a certain point.

Overeem and Golden Glory settle contract dispute

November 20, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that the parties in the Alistair Overeem-Golden Glory contract dispute have settled for an undisclosed amount according to a press release from the parties.

Lawsuits were filed in California and Nevada over the heavyweight severing his relationship with his former gym.  Some background on the contract dispute can be found here.

As you may recall, Golden Glory and Knockout Investments (the legal entity that managed Overeem) claimed it had a right to 30% of Overeem’s earnings.  The lawsuit filed in Nevada provided some insight into his UFC contract as it revealed a $1 million signing bonus, a merchandise cut and a percent of the buys from his PPVs.

Payout Perspective:

One may recall that Golden Glory and KOI attempted to garnish Overeem’s wages from his UFC 141 fight.  However, the attorneys for GG and KOI failed to provide a bond required to garnish wages and Overeem was paid.  The settlement comes at a time when there are rumors that Overeem may be returning to the UFC as early as Super Bowl Weekend.  If and when Overeem returns, we will see about his management and his pay with the UFC.  

UFC 154 FX Prelim and Primetime Ratings

November 20, 2012

MMA Junkie reports the ratings for the UFC 154 FX Prelims.  In addition, MMA Payout has ratings for the 3rd episode of UFC Primetime.  Both ratings are disappointing considering the anticipated return of GSP and the hopes of a good PPV buy rate for UFC 154.

The UFC 154 FX Prelims garnered an average of 980,000 viewers which is lower than the UFC 153 Prelims in October.  It is also lower than the 1.2 million average for the UFC Prelims on FX.

The third episode of UFC Primetime airing Friday night received a dismal 337,000 viewer average.  The three part series featured GSP and Carlos Condit as they prepared for their bout on Saturday night.

Payout Perspective:

If the attendance and gate were indications that UFC 154 might not meet UFC expectations, the ratings for the Prelims and the last episode of UFC Primetime provide more evidence that UFC 154 may have not performed as had hoped despite the return of GSP.  Although there are only rumors of the PPV buy rate, the UFC had hoped for a PPV lift with GSP on the card and all indications point to a disappointing PPV buy rate.

TUF 16 Episode episode 10: 643,000 viewers

November 19, 2012

MMA Junkie reports the rating for episode 10 of TUF 16 drew a meager average of 643,000 viewers.  Last Friday’s rating earned a 0.4 rating in the 18-49 demo according to Television By Numbers.

Episode 10 was the second worst for the TUF series.  This season’s episode 5 was the worst of all time with 624,000 viewers.

TUF 16 Episode 1: 947,000

TUF 16 Episode 2: 872,000

TUF 16 Episode 3: 775,000

TUF 16 Episode 4: 1.1 million

TUF 16 Episode 5: 624,000

TUF 16 Episode 6:  811,000

TUF 16 Episode 7:  676,000

TUF 16 Episode 8: 1.1 million

TUF 16 Episode 9: 921,000

TUF 16 Episode 10:  643,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

With the news that Shane Carwin had to pull out of the end of the season fight, it seemed appropriate that the ratings would dip to near all-time lows.  No word on the Countdown rating but based on episode 10’s poor rating, Friday night’s Countdown show may not have done well.  The low number is a little surprising considering it was a UFC PPV weekend and a Countdown show was on the channel the same night.

UFC 154: Payout Perspective

November 18, 2012

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This week we cover the return of GSP as he faced Carlos Condit for the UFC Welterweight title at the Belle Centre in Montreal.

GSP defeats Natural Born Killer

Long layoff ring rust?
GSP shows none at all
Condit can’t stop Georges

Condit’s headkick and constant work from the bottom kept the pressure on GSP.  But GSP’s superior wrestling and strikes outpointed Condit for the title.

Hendricks KOs Hitman

Big Rigg punches hard
Kampmann can’t get out of first
Hendricks wants title

3 out of the last 5 Johny Hendricks fights have ended in the first round due to punches.  He could be the next in line for a middleweight title shot pending the status of GSP-Silva.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

As we reported last night, the attendance and gate were lower than its last visit to Montreal in December of 2010 when GSP defended his title against Josh Koscheck.  UFC 154 had 17,249 in attendance with a gate of $3.1 million.  In 2010, the Belle Centre had 23,152 in attendance for a gate of $4.6 million.

There were indications from several Canadian news outlets that ticket sales were slower than usual but those reports were rebuffed.  It does appear that Saturday night’s event was not a sellout and will come up short in comparison to 2010 in terms of gate.

The bonuses were handed out at the postfight press conference where each received $70,000.

Fight of the Night:  GSP v. Condit
Submission of the Night:  Ivan Menjivar
KO of the Night:  Johny Hendricks

No arguments for any of the awards.

Promotion for UFC 154

The UFC produced its 3 part “Primetime” series to promote the GSP-Condit showdown.  TUF was its lead in and it was a good way to hype the return of GSP and remind everyone that Carlos Condit was the interim champion.

Despite stating that ESPN hated MMA, Dana White did the ESPN “car wash,” the flurry of shows hyping UFC 154 in Bristol.  The UFC also bought space on ESPN’s web site as it sponsored the fantasy football page, a definite place with many hits.

The UFC showed the event in local theatres and supported this endeavor by having UFC fighters attend the event.  It will be interesting to see the attendance at the theatres and whether the UFC will continue to sponsor these type of events.

Sponsorships

The Octagon sponsors included, Xyience, Dodge, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Htman Absolution, Utlimate Poker, TapouT and Bud Light.  Axs.Tv Live also made an appearance on the Octagon mat.

In addition, UFC sponsors RYU, MusclePharm, Corn Nuts, the U.S. Marines Corps and Metro PCS also were mentioned throughout the telecast.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention video game Hitman Absolution was also promoted during the PPV as well.

The U.S. Marines returned to the prep point, which I am thinking is one of the prime spots for signage on a PPV telecast.

Georges St. Pierre had a new logo.  In addition, we looked at the business of GSP.  He has a multi-year deal with Hayabusa, a deal with Under Armour, Coca Cola (NOS) and Google.  NOS Energy Drink includes GSP on its front page along with videos of his training for the fight.

Johny Hendricks inked a sponsorship deal with Bass Pro Shops and donned the outdoor retailer logo on his shorts and banner.

Photos courtesy of KO Reps

Other sponsorship notables…

Sam Stout wore a signed Montreal Canadiens hockey jersey to the weigh ins.  Stout also was sponsored by the movie Red Dawn.

Shockmaster Tom Lawlor was sponsored by BeeBald.com.

Instaloan was a prevalent sponsor as the logo was on several fighters tonight.

One of Francis Carmont’s sponsors was MoGo – the flavored mouthgard.

FighterxFashion has a nice rundown on the shorts worn by UFC Fighters.

Post-UFC 154 Storylines

GSP vs. Dana Black – A superfight between Anderson Silva and GSP could be the second stadium show for the UFC and first 1M plus PPV for 2013. The hype for the fight would be nonstop and relentless.  Silva has softened his stance on the GSP fight and even a possible Jon Jones encounter.  Silva has embraced the promotional aspect of the fight (hence the Dana Black reference) as it likely means the biggest payday of his career.

Johny Hendricks a true contender – He’s a one-hit wonder because of his heavy hands and with another first round TKO he solidified his position as a legitimate contender for the welterweight crown.  Is he the next welterweight in line for a title shot?  Will he have to wait in line for GSP-Silva? We will know this spring.

Odds and Ends

Aside from the main event, Tom Lawlor’s “homage” to the Shockmaster’s entrance at the weigh-ins was the best of UFC 154.  It was an obscure reference, but those that grew up in that timeframe knew it automatically.

Joe Rogan was pretty loose on the broadcast especially during the Lawlor-Carmont fight when he asked,  “How fat can you be and still be a ref?”  Apparently Rogan didn’t like the ref and criticized him breaking Lawlor-Carmont for inaction.

Anderson Silva with the black framed glass look and Lyoto Machida and his November mustache looked like they were members of N.E.R.D. and not world class fighters.

Conclusion

Will the PPV buy numbers correlate with the attendance/gate figures?  For point of reference, GSP-Koscheck did 800K PPV buys back in 2010.  There was considerable promotion for this fight since it was GSP’s return but Condit might not have been as big a name.  In 2010, Koscheck was the heel and wanted to be booed whereas GSP was the definite good guy.  This was highlighted by the TUF series when they coached opposing teams.

As for UFC 154, it was a solid card and with GSP at the top of it, we should see somewhere around 600K buys.  If the attendance/gate figures are an indication, the buy numbers are off from the 2010 show.

UFC 154 attendance, gate and bonuses

November 17, 2012

Mike Chiapetta of MMA Fighting reports the attendance for UFC 154 being 17,249 for a gate of $3.143 million gate.  In addition, GSP, Condit, Ivan Menjivar and Johny Hendrick earned the respective bonuses.

The Bell Centre capacity is listed between 16K to 19K for an MMA event.  Compared with GSP-Koscheck in 2010 in the same venue, that event did 23,152 for a $4.6 million gate.

The bonuses  were $70K and are as follows:

FOTN:  GSP-Condit

KO: Johny Hendricks

Sub: Ivan Menjivar

All were clear cut winners for their bonuses.

Payout Perspective:

A little surprising that the gate and attendance were not stronger considering the return of GSP.  The bonuses were well-deserved as the GSP-Condit fight could be considered a candidate for the fight of the year.  Hendricks could be lying in wait for the middleweight title with another first round KO.  MMA Payout will have more on UFC 154 in its Payout Perspective.

Johny Hendricks secures Bass Pro Shops sponsorship

November 16, 2012

Johny Hendricks has signed a sponsorship deal with Bass Pro Shops.  Hendricks will wear the outdoor retailer logo on his shorts, walk out shirt and the logo will appear on his banner.

Hendricks faces Martin Kampmann tomorrow night at UFC 154.

Photos courtesy of KO Reps

Payout Perpsective:

A good deal for Hendricks as the sponsorship links his outside the Octagon interest with inside the Octagon business.  Not only does Hendricks have a sponsor, there could be opportunities to make appearances and advocate for the retailer through use of products, etc.  Hendricks and Jim Miller are the only UFC fighters with sponsorships from Bass Pro Shops.

The business of GSP

November 16, 2012

USA Today (via MMA Junkie) has a feature on the earning power of Georges St. Pierre in lieu of his return to the Octagon Saturday night.  In looking at GSP, we glance at the current landscape of UFC champions and the potential for others to achieve the business success of GSP.

The article details the business of Georges St. Pierre and answers the question of how he’s been able to retain and obtain new sponsorship deals despite being out with a knee injury for 14 months.  Notably, the mix of his clean image and Hollywood agents have enabled him to secure some top deals for an MMA star.


Payout Perspective:

The article is a nice update on GSP’s star power and how his CAA agents have helped him secure blue chip sponsors.  You may recall a year ago that GSP dropped long time manager Shari Spencer and retained Hollywood agents, CAA, for his marketing needs.  Two years ago, the NY Times also detailed his uncertainty with the mainstream meet and greets.

Fast forward to now and the article details GSPs new sponsors:  Google, Coca Cola and Bacardi.  He also has retained Under Armour and signed on with MMA equipment maker Hayabusa.  He also has a book deal for an autobiography/philosophy.

The article points to GSP’s clean and gentleman-like image as the reasons for his success in garnering sponsorships.  Despite the initial concern of having an MMA star endorsing products for a brand,

Looking at the UFC champions, is there any others that could garner so many sponsors? Recently, JDS signed with Nike Brasil, Jon Jones signed a global deal with Nike and Anderson Silva has Nike, Burger King among other Brazilian blue chip sponsors.  Dominick Cruz obtained a sponsorship with Phoenix International Speedway.  However, Cruz and Jose Aldo have been injured and the lighter weight classes usually do not garner big sponsorships.  Of course, there is Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson who probably has the most envied sponsorship (among gamers):  Microsoft’s XBox.

Carlos Condit is the interim middleweight champion at this point but a relative unknown.  He has a clean image and a family man which has been outlined if you are watching the Countdown shows.  If he beats GSP Saturday night he too could secure blue chip sponsors.

Which leaves us with Benson Henderson.  Like GSP, he has a squeaky clean image and has never been one to be in trouble with the law.  He’s doesn’t go to clubs so he won’t be in a compromising position on TMZ and reads books for fun. The one issue, if one may call it that, is that Henderson is a die hard Christian and professes his faith after each post-match interview.  This may put off sponsors that want to remain religion neutral to appeal to the biggest population.  Its hard to tell someone to suppress their beliefs especially when they believe its a reason why they are succeeding.

The other factor here is representation.  GSP’s agency, CAA, represents Hollywood stars as well as athletes in the NBA, NFL and MLB.  So, there are existing relationships between blue chip sponsors and the agency.  While this may not be the dominating factor that is getting GSP these sponsors, it might be a reason.  Its not to say that someone without the cache couldn’t go into Coca Cola and negotiate a deal for their fighter but CAA has the contacts and the experience to do it.

TUF move to Wednesday ‘highly unlikely’

November 15, 2012

Will the next season of TUF move to Wednesday nights?  Although initial reports indicated that the series which will feature coaches Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones next season will move to Wednesday, FX officials are denying the claim.

Via MMA Fighting:

“FX has not announced the official date or night that the next installment of TUF will air, however, it is highly unlikely it will air Wednesday nights,” wrote Dominic Pagone, the Vice President of Media Relations of FX in a message to MMAFighting.com. “The official announcement will be coming in the next two or three weeks.”

Before its move to FX, Spike TV ran TUF on Wednesday nights where ratings ranged over 1 million viewers.  However, moving to Fridays on FX has seen all-time lows for the series with averages well under 1 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see what becomes of TUF’s time and day slot for what the UFC and Fox hopes is a return to Spike TV rating averages with Jones and Sonnen as coaches.  With Bellator moving to Spike TV in January, it’s anticipated to move to Thursday nights to bolster a lineup with TNA Wrestling.  MMA Junkie reports the company has reserved Thursday, January 10th for its first show on Spike.  However, according to MMA Fighting, Bellator has left Wednesday nights open as well.

We could see a ratings war between the UFC and Bellator as the two could go head to head which would be interesting but may not be the best for MMA fans.

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