Spike TV Launches Bellator App

February 28, 2013

Spike TV launched an iPad and iPhone App to be used while watching Bellator MMA.  According to the press release, the App will give users real time fight data as they watch the event.

Via press release:

When the Bellator cage door closes and the gloves touch, the innovative app works in concert with the live Spike broadcast to supply fans with real-time fight data only available through the app.  Developed from the ground up to make watching live fights more immersive, viewers will have the unique ability to track expansive fighter analytics and participate in the on-air broadcast.  As “The 4th Judge,” fans can score rounds with the help of real-time statistics powered by CompuStrike, a service providing data in 26 categories from arm strikes to submission attempts.

“The Bellator app is truly the first of its kind.  It allows our passionate fans to experience the fight as a virtual fourth judge – creating a level of immersion that’s unparalleled in any sport,” said Jon Slusser, Senior Vice President, Sports and Multiplatform Events, Spike TV.  “We see this second-screen as a game-changer.  The results from the app will actually become part of the on-air discussion.  There’s nothing like that in all of sports television.”

“At Bellator, we continually look for new ways to connect with our fans in a more meaningful way,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “This innovative app will resonate with our first-adopter audience, who will feel closer to the action than ever before.”

As “The 4th Judge,” viewers will be able to have their opinions known during the live telecast.  The Bellator broadcast team of Jimmy Smith and Sean Wheelock will announce the results of viewers’ polling to see how fan opinion compares to their own as well as the official cageside judges. (“The 4th Judge” voting will not factor in the actual judges’ decisions).

The app features historical statistics for every fighter, pre-fight fan picks, and “Favorite Fight of the Night” polling, which will be sharable via social networks. The Bellator MMA app also gives fans the opportunity to watch exclusive videos, and dig deep into fighter biographies.

Spike TV worked with Omnigon Communications to develop the App.

Payout Perspective:

Multi-tasking is something that most of us do all of the time.  When watching Bellator or UFC, most check tweets to see what others are saying about the fights.  Its a good source of information and social interaction.  Hence, the Bellator App will create a center for fans to go.  The statistics and “The 4th Judge,” feature will create discussion among fans and another way to connect.

UFC 157 Salaries: Hendo leads payroll at $250K

February 27, 2013

MMA Junkie reports the payouts for UFC 157.  Dan Henderson topped the list of reported salaries released by the California State Athletic Commission.

The payroll for the event was $1,173,050.

Via MMA Junkie:

Ronda Rousey: $90,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. Liz Carmouche: $12,000

Lyoto Machida: $200,000 (no win bonus)
def. Dan Henderson: $250,000

Urijah Faber: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Ivan Menjivar: $17,000

Court McGee: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Josh Neer: $16,000

Robbie Lawler: $105,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Josh Koscheck: $78,000

Brendan Schaub: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Lavar Johnson: $29,000

Mike Chiesa: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Anton Kuivanen: $8,000

Dennis Bermudez: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Matt Grice: $8,000

Sam Stout: $52,000 (includes $26,000 win bonus)
def. Caros Fodor: $15,000

Kenny Robertson: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Brock Jardine: $8,000

Neil Magny: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Jon Manley: $8,000

Nah-Shon Burrell: $12,500 (includes $7,000 win bonus)
def. Yuri Villefort: $6,550*


Payout Perspective:

Rousey starts out at a $45K/$45K salary although its likely that herself and Liz Carmouche received unreported bonuses for their performances and exceeding expectations.  Henderson and Machida were the most expensive match and one of the worst on the card. Interesting that Robbie Lawler’s base was $95,000 in his return to the UFC.  Machida and Henderson combined for $450,000 of the payroll.  Nah-Shon Burrell missed weight and despite winning he forfeited a portion of his purse to Villefort.

UFC 157 Prelims: 1.267 million

February 27, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that UFC 157 Prelims received an average 1.267 million viewers.  The 2 hour show preceding the big event Saturday is average for the prelims on FX.

The show was down from UFC 156’s Prelims which was the highest average for prelims on FX.  The prelims for 157 included the Fight of the Night in Dennis Bermudez versus Matt Grice.

1. UFC 156 Prelims – 1.86 million
2. UFC 148 Prelims – 1.8 million
3.UFC 145 Prelims – 1.6 million
4. UFC 144 Prelims – 1.5 million
5.  UFC 155 Prelims – 1.4 million
T-5. UFC 143 Prelims – 1.4 million

Payout Perspective:

Are the numbers disappointing considering the hype and initial information on the PPV buys for 157?  Can it be explained that everyone was waiting for Ronda Rousey and didn’t care about the rest of the card?  Brendan Schaub versus Lavar Johnson was the lead-in fight for the PPV and was not a very entertaining fight.  Still, the numbers for 157 don’t even make the top 5 of prelims on FX.

Initial UFC 157 PPV buys show impressive debut for women’s MMA

February 26, 2013

MMA Fighting reports  initial indications that Saturday’s UFC 157 PPV buy rate are very strong.   The PPV featuring women for the first time in the UFC is said to have done 40% better than UFC 156 Super Bowl Weekend.

Now all we have to do is to figure out that number.  The LA Times Lance Pugmire tweeted that  UFC 157 was 40% better than UFC 156.

Based on the information, UFC 156 did about 330K PPV buys which means that UFC 157 is a little north of 450K PPV buys.  Bear in mind that the PPV buys for 157 is unofficial but the UFC should be happy with the initial number.

Payout Perspective:

It’s interesting that Pugmire’s tweet came out without providing an actual estimated number.  There is speculation that the buys could be up much more than 450K but we will just have to wait to see.   If the 450K number holds true (or goes up), the UFC is probably happy as well as breathing a sigh of relief. With the amount of promotion it undertook to get coverage for the event, it looks like the media and public relations worked. In my opinion, Rousey, more than women’s MMA, pushed the PPV sales. We will see how this will affect how the UFC will market a women’s match in the future.

South Dakota MMA bill passes committee, onto House for vote

February 25, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that South Dakota Senate Bill 84, a bill which would regulate combat sports including MMA in the state is off to the state House of Representatives for a vote. On Monday it was voted unanimously for passage out of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee.

According to the bill, SB 84 would appoint a 5 person commission.  The commission shall have at least one member with actual experience in boxing, kickboxing or MMA.  The commission would oversee, “all contests and exhibitions of boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts competitions and sparring exhibitions held in the state of South Dakota.”

The bill would establish licensing fees and fees for events which would in turn fund the athletic commission governing these events.  

Payout Perspective:

Although the bill got out of committee, there is still opposition to MMA.  Opponents of MMA have tried to pass an amendment which would make boxing and traditional martial arts as the only combat sports regulated in the state.  Proponents of the SB 84 can point to an incident at an amateur MMA event last year in which a fighter died shortly after his fight.  According to one of its sponsors, the bill was intended to put a halt to unregulated MMA events in the state.  This argument had been taken up by Zuffa’s counsel in its lawsuit in New York.  It will be interesting to see the debate that will take place when the bill goes to the house.

UFC 157: Payout Perspective

February 25, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 157 from The Honda Center in Anaheim, California. In the main event, Ronda Rousey defeated Liz Carmouche in the first ever women’s bout in the UFC.

Rousey submits Carmouche, UFC wins

Saturday night’s title fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche could not have gone better unless it had gone 5 rounds…or even 2.  But, Rousey’s trademark armbar with just seconds left in the first round left the crowd and many fans satisfied with the main event.

UFC 157 poster

The fight legitimized women’s MMA.  Rousey did what she does (i.e., armbar) and Carmouche showed that she was not a tomato can.  In the end, the UFC ended up winning as it showed that the women could put on a show.  It took a risk in putting this as the main event and the women came through.  Now the only issue is where it goes from here.

Machida wins, the fans do not

This fight complemented the main event because it was not an entertaining fight.  If Rousey-Carmouche were not on top of the card it would have been this fight.  Fortunate for everyone, the UFC went with the women.  With that said, it was a tactical fight that was slow paced.  Whether it was Machida’s in and out or Henderson’s constant measuring of the Dragon, the fight lacked any excitement.

Machida will get another shot at Jon Jones but after watching this fight, I’m not sure if that excites anyone.

Faber chokes out Menjivar

The details of jiu jitsu.  If you have the fight on DVR, during the finish watch how Urijah Faber uses his non-choking arm to peel back the forehead of Ivan Menjivar which exposed his neck despite Menjivar’s attempts to tuck his chin.  With the neck exposed, Faber slid in his arm and coupled with the body triangle Menjivar was forced to tap. The peel back of the arm is what Carmouche was unable to do with Rousey when the two were in a similar position.

An impressive win for Faber as he looked fresh and reminiscent of his time in the WEC.  However, the rub is that he’s in a place where he’s better than the mid-card but not good enough to claim a title.  We’ll see what the UFC does with Faber.

Attendance and Gate

Announced at the post-fight press conference, the Honda Center was sold out with 15,525 for a gate of $1.4 million.  There was no confirmation on paid attendance versus comps.

As we detailed here, it was the highest attended event at The Honda Center which included UFC 121: Velasquez versus Lesnar.  It also bested the two Affliction events held at The Honda Center although Affliction: Banned earned more ($2.1M gate per MMA Payout’s Blue Book).

It seems as though Anaheim is the “go to” venue outside of Vegas.  This venue worked for this event.  The Honda Center is down the road from Rousey’s home in the LA area and up the road from Carmouche’s in San Diego.  Most fans could travel easily up or down Interstate 5 to support their fighters.  Southern California is a hub for MMA and is more progressive than most areas of the country.  Sure, it’s in Orange County but it’s in Anaheim, not Newport Beach.

Bonuses

As reported previously, the bonuses were $50,000 each and were awarded below:

Fight of the Night:  Dennis Bermudez v. Matt Grice
Submission of the Night:  Kenny Robertson
KO of the Night:  Robbie Lawler

Promotion of the Fight

Rousey was on every media outlet imaginable: ESPN, SI, The Jim Rome Show, Time and HBO Sports to name a few.  The UFC stated that this event received the most media attention ever and Rousey has received more media than Brock Lesnar.  The Rousey media blitz drew support from mainstream notables that gave their support via twitter.

 

 

The UFC pitched gay media to focus on the Liz Carmouche her story.  The UFC did a good job in marketing Carmouche as a pioneer for the gay community without exploiting her sexual orientation.  It also stressed the fact that she was a U.S. Marine.

With Danica Patrick competing at the Daytona 500, media were eager to jump on the women’s weekend.  Realistically, it’s hard to blame the media focus: it is historical, out of the ordinary and an easy lead that would get readers/page views.

UFC Primetimes

The 3 part UFC Primetimes were especially good this time around.  It had more meat to it for the obvious reasons.  Both fighters had compelling stories that drew you in.  It’s what the Primetimes are supposed to do.  It seemed more like the good HBO 24/7s especially the last 5 mins of the first and third episodes.  Good narration and great writing made the shows.

Sponsorships

The night’s sponsors in the Octagon included Xyience, MetroPCS, UltimatePoker.com, Toyo Tires, Dodge Dart, TapouT, new sponsor Head and Shoulders and Bud Light in the center.  Corn Nuts also sponsored the corner cam.

Rousey was sponsored by the UFC as she donned the UFC-Monster headphones and wore UFC sponsored gear although I believe that Lululemon Athletic made the fight gear.  Will double check on that.  She also had a Xyience patch on her shorts.

In addition to inside the Octagon, Rousey also has deal with Fuji gis.

Fuji gis

Carmouche had several sponsors including VA Home Mortgage (which sponsored several fighters on the card), Salesforce and Torque.

Henderson had his Twitter and Facebook handles on his shorts in addition to Clinchgear.

Machida was sponsored by official UFC sponsors Bony Acai and Head and Shoulders in addition to Venum,

Kenny Robertson won submission of the night and also gets the award for best sponsor:  Mason Funeral Home.  A funeral home sponsoring a UFC fighter?  Everyone dies so it is in the UFC demo.

Josh Koscheck and Lyoto Machida are still sponsored by Lugz.  I didn’t know that the company was still around.  But, these two have had long-term sponsor deals with the company.

Post-UFC 157 Headlines

What’s next for women’s MMA – It was a good debut for the women in the UFC.  It was an exciting, competitive match and no blood.  There was the concern of Rousey almost losing her top but the UFC avoided that issue. So, what’s next?  Rousey will be a draw the next time she fights.  But, the bigger issue is what happens when other women fight.  The UFC would not be able to get as much buzz for another women’s fight if Rousey is not in it.  We’ll see how the UFC uses women’s MMA to complement the male card.

Machida next for Jones – Is anyone excited to see this rematch?  Perhaps the UFC hoped for Henderson to win here to get a redo for UFC 151.  I’d rather see Alexander Gustafsson get the shot.

Odds and ends

–  Kenny Robertson will be teaching class on Monday at his “day” job.

– I was sitting on the tweet that Henderson was going to knock the head off of Machida’s shoulders all night.  It didn’t happen.

–  I wonder if there was a proposition bet on whether Carmouche would have gotten out of the 1st round.  If so, that would have been exciting.

–  It’s obvious that the UFC has a working relationship with Invicta as Carmouche’s coach wore the shirt and the logo was seen during the UFC Primetimes.  Zuffa wouldn’t let this happen unless there was a business relationship.  If women’s MMA starts to take off could we see another Zuffa purchase?  More likely I could see the UFC using Invicta like a farm system and call up fighters to fight on a UFC card.

Conclusion

With all of the great media attention the UFC received for Saturday’s event, it will be interesting to see how much of the media attention will convert to PPV buys.  It reached out to more media than usual in getting attention for this event.  Rousey and Carmouche have been great ambassadors for women’s MMA.  But, I think it will boil down to whether the casual viewer can stomach the possibility of seeing a woman busted open and bleeding like Joe Lauzon at UFC 155.  Or, can they watch an arm be broken right in front of their eyes.  These are questions that seem silly but will really determine whether women’s MMA can succeed with the UFC.

With that being said, a low to mediocre PPV buy rate would be disappointing considering the amount of public relations and press buzz the UFC received for this bout.  Yet, how many new viewers can be added for this event?  Would the backstory of Rousey and the novelty of the women’s fight be enough to convert non-UFC followers to pay for the PPV.  Last year’s PPV average hovered around 450,000 buys.  If UFC 157 hit the average it would be a success.

UFC 157 gate, attendance and bonuses

February 24, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that UFC 157 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California was a sellout with a reported 15,525 in attendance for a $1.4 million gate.  In addition, UFC head Dana White announced the bonuses which were $50,000 each.

The winners of the bonuses were as follows:

Fight of the Night:  Dennis Bermudez v. Matt Grice
Submission of the Night:  Kenny Robertson
KO of the Night:  Robbie Lawler

White indicated at the post-fight press conference that the event was a sellout.  According to MMA Junkie and Ariel Helwani (via twitter), its the highest attendance of any of the 6 events held at the Honda Center.  This includes UFC 121 which featured Brock Lesnar v. Cain Velasquez.

Payout Perspective:

While the UFC announced the attendance, it would be interesting to know of the actual paid attendance.  UFC 121 did have a higher gate despite having less in attendance ($2.2M via MMA Payout Blue Book).  Its likely that those tickets were higher priced due to Lesnar-Cain for the Heavyweight Championship.  It was a good showing for women’s MMA and the fight did not disappoint.  Stay tuned for MMA Payout’s run down of the event.

A look into the past ratings of UFC 157 main event fighters

February 23, 2013

As we get ready for Saturday’s fights, we take a look at how well the top of the card did in its recent fights with respect to ratings.

Ronda Rousey

Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman – 529K viewers
Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey – 431K viewers

No PPVs to go on here but Rousey’s fights have been some of the highest rated on Showtime.  However, the media blitz has been unprecedented which may equate to more casual/first time MMA fans to buy the PPV.  A win here against Carmouche and we could see a rematch against Miesha Tate.

Liz Carmouche

Showtime: Henderson vs. Fedor – 571K viewers (4th highest SF show of all time on Showtime) vs. Marloes Coenen

Carmouche’s only fight of note was her March 2011 loss to the Strikeforce champ.  While she has been marketed well for UFC 157, no one believes she is the draw here.

Urijah Faber

UFC 149 – 235K main event vs. Renan Barao
UFC 139 – 250K co-main event vs. Brian Bowles
UFC 132 – 350K main event vs. Dominick Cruz
UFC 128 – 490K co-main event vs. Eddie Wineland (Jones vs. Shogun main)

Remember the California Kid?  He’s on this card although its lacked the hype of his previous fights.  Faber’s biggest draw was on the Jon Jones card at UFC 128.  He did have a solid number at UFC 132 considering the lighter weight divisions usually do not do well on PPV when headlining.  Can Faber make another run at a title shot?

Ivan Menjivar

UFC 154 – 700K GSP main event
UFC 148 – 925K Silva v. Sonnen II

Menjivar has appeared on the under card of two of the biggest PPV buys in the past year.  We’ll see if he can score an upset and be on the card of another big PPV.

Dan Henderson

UFC 139 – 250K main event vs. Shogun Rua
Showtime: Henderson vs. Fedor – 571K viewers (4th highest SF show of all time on Showtime)
Showtime: Feijao vs. Henderson – 412K viewers

It feels like Henderson has been in the UFC for years but he’s only been on one card since coming back from Strikeforce–the memorable fight with Shogun in San Jose.  Similar to Rousey, his fights have been well-received on Showtime.  With a win, could Henderson make a plea for another shot at the title?

Lyoto Machida

UFC 140 – 490K main event vs. Jon Jones
UFC 129 – 800K co-main event vs. Randy Couture
UFC 123 – 500K main event vs. Rampage Jackson
UFC 113 – 520K main event vs. Shogun Rua II
UFC 104 – 500K main event vs. Shogun Rua
UFC 98 – 635K main event vs. Rashad Evans

We take a look at Machida’s past PPV appearances since the “Machida-era” started with his win against Evans.  We also excluded his last appearance on Fox this past August.  Based on the numbers, its safe to say that Machida is a good PPV draw for the UFC.  He’s averaged 578K PPV buys since UFC 98.  Machida will look to make another run at Jones’ title with a win here.

Payout Perspective:

With the previous history of the top of the card fighters, its a toss up as to how successful this card will be in terms of PPV buys.  This event is drawing a lot of eyes to it for the simple fact that people want to know how the women will do.  I was a little surprised that the UFC Countdown show didn’t highlight Machida-Henderson or Faber-Menjivar.  It was previewed on the UFC’s YouTube Channel but I don’t think it was shown on tv.  Correct me if I’m wrong. Its also interesting that Josh Koscheck-Robbie Lawler is on this card and no one knows because of the Rousey-Carmouche fight.  Certainly this fight could have been sold to fight fans.  The Honda Center is a reported sell out so we will see if this equates into PPV buys.

Bellator MMA Live (90): 737,000 viewers

February 22, 2013

The Wrestling Observer (subscription required) reports that Bellator MMA Live (90) received 737,000 viewers and received 473,000 viewers for its replay.  As TWO reports, the replay was up substantially due to word of the King Mo KO.

UPDATED:  Bellator 360 aired immediately after Bellator MMA Live.  The replay for Bellator MMA Live is not correct.  We will update once we receive the information

Bellator’s lead-in, TNA Wrestling, scored an average of 1.352 million viewers for a 0.4 viewer rating according to Television By Numbers.

Bellator 85:  938,000 viewers
Bellator 86:  812,000 viewers
Bellator 87:  705,000 viewers
Bellator 88:  807,000 viewers
Bellator 89:  719,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The numbers are up from last week due to King Mo…and the replay was up because of King Mo’s knockout.  The ratings confirm that King Mo is a draw for Bellator but with his surprising knockout loss does it hurt the company and its ratings for the Light Heavyweight Final?  The replay numbers are up from 313,000 last week which shows that many people heard or read the results and wanted to see King Mo.

The marketing of Liz Carmouche

February 22, 2013

UFC 157 will go down as a historical night for the company regardless of the PPV buys.  For the first time the UFC has put its faith in women behind Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche.  While we all know about Rousey, Carmouche is a compelling story that complements the company’s first foray into women’s MMA.

The UFC is making a calculated risk by reaching beyond its normal demographics of young males in order to grab some mainstream appeal.  Dana White has made a 180 degree reversal from his original stance that women would never fight in the UFC.  Rousey was the perfect fighter to be the first woman signed to a UFC contract.  Under the radar from the Rousey media storm is the fact that Liz Carmouche is also a pioneer in the sport.  Not only is Carmouche participating in the first women’s fight in the UFC, she is openly gay.

The UFC marketed Carmouche’s sexual orientation smartly.  It has promoted the accomplishment while not exploiting it.  The UFC Primetimes have detailed Carmouche and coming out as gay even detailing how she met her girlfriend.  In its pre-fight press, the UFC targeted gay media outlets to garner coverage for this demographic.

“I think the UFC is not shy about promoting her sexual orientation,” said Jim Buzinski of Outsports.com  “Having an openly gay fighter is great in terms of showing that gays and lesbians are everywhere, even in the octagon.”

Via Outsports.com

Via Outsports.com

“The UFC’s inclusion of Liz is fantastic for two reasons,” stated Aaron McQuade of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), “First, it introduces their [UFC] fans to an openly gay fighter who’s considered one of the best in the world. Second, it shows their [UFC] fans that the world of mixed martial arts is open and accepting of all people, no matter who they are.“

The outreach to gay media should get the interest of some readers that may make an impulse buy of the PPV based on their support of a gay fighter.  It might also help that it will be the first time women fight in the male-dominated UFC.  With respect to Carmouche, she has been steadfast in being comfortable in who she is and what she stands for in the eyes of others.  For those fans of Carmouche, she calls her followers “Lizbos,” an obvious play on words.

White’s opinionated stance on issues helped with the UFC marketing Carmouche.  At the recent media scrum for the event, White respected Carmouche for coming out while stating he could care less about her sexual orientation.  White’s comments imply that he doesn’t care whether Carmouche were gay, straight, bisexual or all of the above.  When asked how would it be if a male fighter were to come out, White stated that the UFC would not treat them any different.  I tend to agree with this comment although it would be clear that the UFC would likely market this individual (as it is doing with Carmouche) to the gay community.

White’s stance on the subject can be seen as a progressive look on societal changes.  It can also be seen as taking advantage of a situation its been presented.  His policy change on women’s MMA likely stems from the popularity of Rousey, Zuffa’s acquisition of Strikeforce and a need to inject some life into its flat PPV business.

Carmouche’s background is relevant because its rare in sports that an athlete comes out.  We need only look to the NFL to see that even in the most popular sport in the United States, its players may not embrace an openly gay athlete.  Earlier this month, San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver made anti-gay comments during the week preceding the Super Bowl.  Interesting for Culliver when he plays for a team that actively markets toward the gay community.

For the UFC’s part, there has not been a backlash about Carmouche or homosexuals in the lead up to the fight this Saturday.  Of course, it’s likely that opponents of homosexual athletes participating in MMA have kept quiet to avoid the ire of White.

Payout Perspective:

Despite the UFC marketing of Carmouche, the fact that Carmouche is openly gay seems to be an afterthought in this fight as Rousey has been the center of attention. Carmouche is articulate, a role model for women and is good for the sport of women’s MMA.  The only problem is that her best fight was a loss to Marloes Coenen.  Ironically, Dan Henderson main evented that night.  Carmouche is the overwhelming underdog here.  Still, with the shocking KO of King Mo in Bellator, this sport doesn’t have gimme fights.

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