UFC on FOX 6 Prelims on FX Draws 1.2M Viewers

January 31, 2013

Ratings for this past weekend’s UFC on FOX 6: Johnson vs Dodson prelims were on par with UFC on FOX 5 and tied for 7th all time for all FX televised prelims.

UFC on FOX 6 was televised on Saturday night from Chicago’s United Center from 5PM to 8PM on FX. The broadcast averaged 1.2 million viewers (0.50 HH) according to Nielsen, which ties it for seventh all-time for total average viewers. The FX prelims portion featured T.J Grant defeating Matt Wiman via KO, Clay Guida defeating Hatsu Hioki by split decision, and Ryan Bader scoring what was labeled as “the fastest submission victory in the history of the LHW division” over Vladmimir Matyushenko.

Most Watched FX Prelim Events:

– UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II – 1.8M
– UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans – 1.6M
– UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson – 1.5M
– UFC 155: JDS vs. Velasquez – 1.4M
– UFC 143: Condit vs. Diaz – 1.4M
– UFC 146: JDS vs Mir – 1.3M
– UFC on FOX 5: Henderson vs Diaz – 1.2M
UFC on FOX 6: Johnson vs. Dodson – 1.2M
– UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar – 1.0M
– UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao – 1.0M
– UFC 154: GSP vs. Condit – 980,000
– UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar II – 974,000
– UFC 147: W. Silva vs. Franklin II – 969,000
– UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort – 955,000
– UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes – 880,000

Ratings Note: Yahoo Sport’s Kevin Iole reports that the TUF Episode 1 replay, which aired on Saturday night at 11PM a few hours after UFC on FOX, drew 1.179M viewers.  The live airing of TUF Episode 1 drew 1.5M viewers on FX and TUF Episode 2 this week drew 1.27M viewers.

TUF 17 Episode 2: 1.27 million viewer average

January 30, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that the second episode of The Ultimate Fighter did 1.27 million viewers for a 0.9 rating.  The ratings reflect a decrease from the season debut on FX.

According to Television By Numbers, TUF did 1.27 million viewers for a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demo for its time slot.

TUF 17 Episode 1: 1.51 million
TUF 17 Episode 2: 1.27 million

Payout Perspective:

The numbers are better than that on Friday nights and MMA Fighting indicates that the decrease between the debut and second episode is common for the series.  But, the ratings are not in line with the series’ run on Spike TV. Does anyone else feel like the ratings for the second week be better considering the UFC put two of its biggest stars as coaches?

Jackson says UFC misstates PPV numbers

January 30, 2013

MMA Mania reports that Quentin “Rampage” Jackson claims that the UFC misstates its PPV numbers to its fighters. Jackson’s statement is part of the on again, off again relationship he has had with the company.

In an interview with MMA Heat Jackson indicated that Zuffa is taking advantage of its fighters by telling the fighters one number on PPV buys while representing to the press a higher number.  This affects fighters that are receiving a percentage of the PPV buys.  Thus, the claim is that UFC is not paying its fighters with PPV upside in their contracts the true PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

Sour grapes by the outgoing Jackson?  He was really mad that he was prevented from wearing Reebok, a new ‘Page sponsor, but he wore it anyway.  He even held his shoe up to the camera before entering the octagon.  His PPV claim probably perked the ears of Bellator’s legal counsel in its current litigation with Eddie Alvarez.  As we know, PPV buy rates are an issue and Jackson’s statements hold him out as a potential witness for the lawsuit.  It also holds him out to potential liability if Dana White, et al. want to sue Jackson for defamation. UFC can sue, if it wants to disprove Jackson’s statements.  But, with the UFC usually holding its numbers close would it be willing to do it to prove that in a public lawsuit?

Final numbers for UFC on Fox 6 show healthy gains

January 29, 2013

MMA Fighting reports the full numbers from Saturday’s UFC on Fox 6 card.  The numbers which now include the west coast viewership have bumped up the average to 4.4 million viewers.

The ratings are similar to December’s UFC on Fox 5 show which received 4.4 million viewers and hit a high of 5.7 million during the main event. West coast viewers that saw the show at 5:00 p.m. were at 4,219,000 viewers and a 2.39 rating.  The main event drew a high of 5.2 million viewers.

Via MMA Fighting:

UFC on FOX 6 show scored a 2.09 overall in the 18-49 demographic. No other network show that night topped a 1.0. Advertisers for UFC programming are usually aiming for males 18-49. The show, which sold out of all ad inventory, did a 3.01 in males 18-49 and 3.02 in males 18-34.

Payout Perspective:

Good news for the UFC as Saturday night’s event showed that the lower weight divisions can carry a card.  The previous numbers have reflected a disparity between main events 155 and below versus the upper weight divisions.  The conclusion that lower weight divisions don’t sell can now be challenged.  We will see what happens this week with the Edgar-Aldo headliner.  Its interesting that the UFC decided to utilize this as the main attraction to market on a card where Overeem and Rashad Evans are fighting.

Randy Couture signs deal with Spike TV, will star in Bellator reality TV show

January 29, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture has signed on with Spike TV to star in the Bellator reality show. Spike TV sent out a media alert this morning announcing a press conference set for next week to make the official announcement.

SI.com’s Loretta Hunt reported that Couture has signed a multi-year contract to appear in multiple projects.  The article states that there is a possibility that there is the possibility that Couture may appear in other ventures on Viacom’s family of networks.   The first project is a yet to be revealed reality show on Spike TV which MMA Fighting reports will differ from the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter.

Payout Perspective:

2013 is looking up for Bellator as its had a great first month. The launch of Bellator on Spike TV has gone well, it had Eddie Alvarez’s request for a preliminary injunction denied and now it has signed Randy Couture.  The signing of Couture provides the company with credibility as its a solid name that most MMA fans will recognize.  Undoubtedly, Bellator will tout him as an “MMA Hall of Famer.”  Having Couture as an anchor for its reality show and other projects provides those projects with an instant boost.  We will see if Bellator attempts to sign more UFC vets for its projects.  For Couture, the move to Bellator may be risky (as he’s burned a bridge with Dana White who was not pleased with the move), but it gives him more opportunity to venture into more projects while still being involved in MMA.

Hawn settles sponsorship dispute

January 28, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator fighter Rick Hawn has settled his dispute with a sponsor that did not pay him after his fight January 17th.  Hawn took to twitter to let his followers know of the issue.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney initially covered the $1,500 due Hawn from clothing sponsor HTFU apparel.  The sponsor has now paid Hawn although he plans on donating the $1,500 to charity.

Via MMA Junkie:

…Hawn tweeted a portion of an email from [HTFU’s Mark] Gingrich informing him payment had been stopped on the check, which was part of a sponsorship deal verbally negotiated five days prior to the event by his representative, Mike Russell.

There was no contract between Gingrich and Hawn, though Russell said a series of emails and Facebook messages constituted a formal agreement and threatened to sue when the check was voided. Gingrich threatened legal action in response.

Gingrich and Russell agree the sponsorship’s value was $3,500 – $1,500 by check and $2,000 in HTFU apparel – but disagree on what was promised in return.

Gingrich expected that Hawn’s corner would wear HTFU apparel but only one of the cornermen did so.  He also expressed disappointment that Hawn “snubbed” him after weigh-ins.  

Payout Perspective:

Here is an example of how social media helped deter a lawsuit.  Its also an example of why verbal agreements are not a good idea.  There was a misunderstanding between Hawn’s rep and the sponsor regarding how much visibility HTFU would receive.  While Hawn’s tweet made it seem as though HTFU stiffed Hawn, there might have been a genuine issue regarding what Hawn was supposed to do for his sponsor.

The sponsors pay for the fighters and their corners to don its logo especially when the camera is on them.  This is the reason why you see cornermen rush to put on a shirt on their fatigued fighter or flip on the hat of their sponsor before the camera shows them during the decision.

One of the down sides of social media is that although Hawn’s tweet brought up the issue to the public (and to Bellator), it also brought Hawn’s other sponsors to question.  When I first saw the tweet, Hawn did not name the sponsor he had a problem with so people were left to speculate.  I actually watched Hawn’s fight again to see which sponsor it could be.  This could be an issue with Hawn with future potential sponsors.  As for HTFU, it indicated that it would not sponsor another MMA fighter.  This may be a case of not knowing what to expect in sponsorship of an MMA fighter.

The Wrestling Post – Lesnar renews contract with WWE

January 28, 2013

Brock Lesnar has signed a 2 year extension with the WWE.  The deal dispels rumors of a return to the UFC.

Lesnar’s WWE commitment was solidified when he showed up on Raw Monday night and F5’d Vince McMahon.  The appearance likely means that Lesnar will appear at Wrestlemania this spring.  PWInsider.com first reported the re-signings of Lesnar and Chris Jericho.  Lesnar had signed a limited one year deal which expired this spring.  This deal will have him with the WWE through Wrestlemania 31.

Brock_Lesnar_Apr_2012


Payout Take:
 Interesting to note that Lesnar still sports Jimmy John’s and Case IH, an agricultural equipment company, on the back of his shirts. Its a prudent move despite the rumors that Brock might have been willing to come back to the UFC.  Certainly he could make more money with the WWE taking less physical abuse than he would in the UFC.  At his age and with his past medical issues, its the better business move.

(Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

UFC on Fox 6 wins key demo and scores with 3.77M viewer average

January 27, 2013

Television By Numbers reports that Saturday night’s UFC on Fox 6 won key demos Saturday night on Fox.  The fights featuring a Flyweight title match earned a viewer average of 3.766 million viewers.

UFC on Fox 6: Dodson v. Johnson earned a 1.8 rating  in the 18-49 demo which was up 13% from December 9th’s UFC on Fox 5 rating.  The rating won the time slot for the demo.

UFC outdueled Figure Skating on NBC as the two live sporting events went up against each other.

Other numbers from the night:

Attendance at the United Center in Chicago was 16,091 with a paid attendance of $1.27 million (via MMA Junkie).

Bonuses:

Fight of the Night: Dodson v. Johnson
KO of the Night: Anthony Pettis
Submission of the Night:Ryan Bader

Each earned $50K. (h/t:  MMA Junkie)  

Payout Perspective:

A very good night for the UFC (despite production issues and twitter reports in some regions that Fox switched to a rerun of the “The Big Bang Theory” during the main event) as we are starting to see UFC-Fox relationship is starting to click.  Last month, the Fox show did well but many pointed to the top level names and talent on the card that gave it the ratings boost.  This time, we saw that a Flyweight main event held up in the ratings.  Of course, Rampage on the card did help and we will know later this week if the ratings fell off after Jackson-Texeira.  Still, Anthony Pettis and Ricardo Lamas did their part in keeping viewers interested in the first hour of the two plus hour show.  The last two network shows are a good sign for the UFC.  We will see if this can translate in a big PPV buy for this weeks Edgar-Aldo showdown.

Court denies Alvarez’s preliminary injunction application

January 25, 2013

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey denied Eddie Alvarez’s request for a preliminary injunction so that he might be able to appear at UFC 159.  The court held that Alvarez could not satisfy his burden of proof for a preliminary injunction.

Preliminary Injunction Decision

The Court heard oral arguments this morning and rendered its decision this afternoon.  The Court held that Alvarez could not satisfy the first 2 elements for issuance of a preliminary injunction.  First, the Court held that Alvarez could not show a reasonable probability of success on the merits.  Second, he could not show irreparable harm.

The Court held that Bellator had satisfied its matching rights of Zuffa’s contract.  It would not look into the word for word matching of terms but determined that it would apply a “common-sense interpretation to the word “match.””

Notably, the Court would not examine the issues regarding weighing Fox versus Spike TV or the issue of Zuffa’s PPV offer.  Rather, it stated that while Alvarez may prevail at a later date, it would not today.

In a footnote, the Court indicated that it would not and could not find Bellator in breach of contract if it doesn’t provide its own PPV.  So, despite the fact that Bellator has not put on a PPV and there have been no indications of a PPV outside of these legal negotiations, the Court would not decide on an event that may or may not occur in the future.

Even if the Court ruled in its favor with element 1, it did not determine element 2 to satisfy the burden.  The Court held that Alvarez was basing the fact that he would be irreparably harmed on speculation.  Specifically, the argument that Alvarez would lose out on “notoriety, endorsements and a wider exposure to viewers” would require the Court to make speculative assumptions on what might or might not happen as a result of his participation on April 27th.

Furthermore, Alvarez’s brief cited two cases in which preliminary injunctions were granted on behalf of professional athletes based on the fact that they would be irreparably injured if they would not be able to pursue their career in the manner in which they saw fit.  However, those cases differed as in each there was an illegal restraint that necessitated the players to be granted an injunction. The Court held that Bellator was not imposing an illegal restraint on Alvarez and he is not precluded from competing professionally if the injunction were not granted.  Thus, Alvarez could not prove element 2.

(H/t:  Fight Lawyer)

Payout Perspective:

Bad news for Alvarez as Bellator has won a big battle.  The Court punted on two of the more interesting issues in the matching rights debate: comparison of networks and PPV.  Perhaps punt is not fair considering the limited scope the Court was willing to evaluate on a preliminary injunction.  However, the lack of resolution and definition on the issues leaves it primed for further litigation.  As the Court indicated, Alvarez may still prevail in his claims, but he could not obtain a preliminary injunction.

More likely, we will see a settlement of some sort between the parties.  Perhaps even mediation to resolve the dispute.  Its not clear if we will see Alvarez sign with Bellator or if the parties workout a deal where Alvarez will eventually land in Zuffa.

MMA Payout will continue to follow.

Bellator files opposition for Friday hearing in Alvarez lawsuit

January 24, 2013

Bellator has filed its opposition briefing for Eddie Alvarez’s preliminary injunction.  It includes two declarations which supports the contention that the organization had matched Zuffa’s offer.

On Friday, January 25th, the Court will hear Alvarez’s Order to Show Cause regarding a preliminary injunction sought by the lightweight so that he may seek a contract with Zuffa.

Bellator’s opposition includes two declarations.  The first is from Main Events boxing CEO, Kathy Duva.  Duva’s declaration states that matching rights clauses are commonplace in fight contracts and that guaranteed purses are the customary measure to determine whether a third party has matched terms of the contract.  Duva also indicated that she is an attorney-at-law with a law degree from Seton Hall.

The next declaration is from former Showtime exec, and current EPIX TV consultant, Ray Langbord.  Mr. Langbord addressed two issues in his declaration.  First, he addresses the right to match issue.  In reviewing the contracts in question, he opines that Bellator matched Zuffa’s offer and actually offered more non-speculative monetary compensation.  Langbord also indicated that matching rights measure is guaranteed payouts as Duva addressed in her declaration.  He also goes into a discussion about weighing Fox versus SpikeTV and states that Spike TV is more experienced in MMA than Fox.

Langbord, also an attorney, addresses the PPV issue.  He states that despite the fact that Bellator has not run a PPV it still is capable of doing so.

As for the legal brief, we addressed the elements needed to prevail here.  The most notable argument is whether Alvarez would likely prevail on the merits. Bellator argues that New Jersey does not require “matching of immaterial terms, or what appears to be the same thing, [and] do not let insubstantial variations between the third party offer and the right’s holder offer to defeat the right.”

Bellator also brings up the issue of a “poison pill” clause that has been addressed by courts in New Jersey.  Essentially, poison pill clauses violate the duty of good faith and fair dealing in contracts.  Bellator attorneys cite a USA Cable vs. World Wrestling Federation case as authority.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see what happens Friday.  Certainly, Bellator attorneys make a good case against the injunctive relief sought by Alvarez.  The declarations are helpful for Bellator but necessarily instructive for the court.  Yet, it does support Bellator’s belief that it matched the guaranteed money offered by Zuffa.
The poison pill clause is something that has been used in the NFL and NBA.  Jeremy Lin’s contract with the Houston Rockets is an example of such a poison pill.  Basically, the poison pill is something in the contract that the other side cannot or will not be able to match.

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