TUF 17 episode 5: 1.13 million viewers

February 22, 2013

Television By Numbers reports that TUF on FX this past week received an average viewership of 1.13 million viewers.  The rating was good for a 0.6 rating.

Via MMA Fighting:

The show did healthy demographic numbers, doing a 1.45 in Males 18-34, the group the FOX family contracted with UFC to super serve. It also did a 1.17 in Males 18-49.

TUF 17 Episode 1: 1.51 million
TUF 17 Episode 2: 1.27 million
TUF 17 Episode 3: 1.191 million
TUF 17 Episode 4: 1.25 million
TUF 17 Episode 5: 1.13 million

At this point, the season average rests around 1.27 million.

Payout Perspective:

A problem with TUF on Tuesdays is that on the west coast it shows only at 6:00pm without a later rerun.  This may contribute to the lower ratings.  Its a theory anyways.  This week saw the appearance of Mickey Rourke talking to the fighters about his days as a boxer.  An interesting and random appearance.

UFC trims fighter roster by 16

February 21, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that the UFC has let go of 16 fighters including welterweight Jon Fitch.  Each fighter released were coming off of a loss.

Fitch is the most notable fighter released as he was once thought of as a welterweight contender until he was KO’d by Johny Hendricks and most recently lost to Demian Maia. In between that he had a dominating win over up and comer Erick Silva.

The other fighters released include Wagner Prado, Mike Russow, Jacob Volkmann, Vladimir Matyushenko, Che Mills, Jay Hieron, Terry Etim, Paul Sass, Jorge Santiago, Mike Stumpf, Simeon Thoresen, C.J. Keith, Motonobu Tezuka, Josh Grispi and Ulysses Gomez.

At Thursday’s press conference, White stated that Fitch would be welcome back in the UFC after a few wins outside of the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

One of the aspects that did not sit well with some of the cut fighters was that they had to find out via twitter or others.  A bad move by the UFC as they should have at least been able to contact the fighters (or their reps) before announcing their release.  Its the professional thing to do.

Fitch’s release is the most surprising out of the group.  After an impressive showing against Erick Silva, he was dominated by Demian Maia.  He had been making $60K show/$60K win.  He actually made $66K at UFC 156 and would have likele made $66K for a win.   In relative terms, this is not an expensive price tag especially for a fighter that rose through the ranks.  In his second UFC fight (Ultimate Fight Night 4, April 2006), Fitch made only $8,000.  It could have been Fitch’s comments before his fight with Erick Silva that might have irked UFC officials.  Perhaps the UFC recalls his past problems with the UFC related to his initial refusal to sign over his name and likeness rights to the UFC’s video game franchise.  It does seem Fitch will be welcomed back at some point although he is a likely candidate to jump to Bellator.  As for the other fighters, Bellator or other regional promotions will likely scoop up these fighters.

The cuts show that despite the amount of events the UFC will put on, there is still not enough fights for each fighter retained by the UFC.  In fact, the UFC indicated it may cut more fighters.

Diaz petition for judicial review of Nevada suspension, fine denied

February 20, 2013

A Nevada Court has denied Nick Diaz’s request for a judicial review of his drug suspension.  Diaz was seeking review of his drug suspension for not disclosing his marijuana use and fine fo $79,500.

The order which recites the Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law found substantial evidence that Diaz used marijuana, a banned substance per the NAC, after testing positive following his post-UFC143 urine test.  The use was a violation.  The Court concluded that Diaz understood that his use of marijuana should have been disclosed to the Commission and on its pre-fight questionnaire. Paragraph 9 of the Findings of Fact states the Court found Diaz’s credibility questionable as it believes Diaz should have known that he should have disclosed his medical condition which requires he be prescribed marijuana.

In sum, Diaz’s request for judicial review is denied and his lawsuit against the Commission is over.

Payout Perspective:

Since Diaz is main eventing in March against GSP, its hard to see the damage done to Diaz.  The UFC can set up matches for Diaz outside of Nevada until his suspension is over and the fine is minimal considering he is heading to a main event payday in March.  Of course, the Court questioning his credibility may hurt Diaz’s feelings but that’s all it really does.  The legal arguments made by Diaz’s counsel were the best that could be done (see here) for what amounted to a losing argument.

UFC on Fuel TV 7: 195K viewer average

February 20, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that UFC on Fuel TV 7 received a ratings average of 195,000 viewers for the live broadcast this past Saturday afternoon.  The prime time replay of the show on Fuel garnered 116,000 viewers.

Below are numbers from the UFC on Fuel events held outside of North America with the live events not in prime time.

UFC on Fuel TV 6: 88,000 live, 143,000 replay
UFC on Fuel TV 5: 111,000 live, 140,000 replay
UFC on Fuel TV 2:  197,000 live

Payout Perspective:

As you can see, this past Saturday’s event fared well considering the history of low numbers for non-prime time events.  However, it did not have a strong replay viewership.  Still, the card lasted over 6 hours if you watched the 3 hour Prelims on Facebook or YouTube.  This is due, in part, to the number of fights that went to decision.

Mayweather signs deal with Showtime, fights May 4th

February 19, 2013

Floyd Mayweather has signed a six year fight agreement with Showtime/CBS which will begin with his recently announced fight May 4th against Roberto Guerro.  The signing is a sign that the competition between Showtime and HBO has ramped up.

Mayweather and HBO had been longtime partners however the new agreement with Showtime suggests that the company is making inroads into HBO’s hold on boxing.  This past December, CBS held network fights for the first time in a great while to very good ratings.  It’s likely we’ll see CBS incorporated in some way with promoting Mayweather’s May 4th fight.  Most likely, it will be similar to the Pacquiao-Mosley 360 Fight Camp which aired on Showtime and CBS.  Mayweather was synonymous with HBO’s 24/7 series.

The deal grants Mayweather the opportunity to fight up to six times in a 30 month span.   We will see how many fights Mayweather decides to do.  At 35, it’s not clear if Mayweather would complete the six fights in 30 months.  However, if the deal is tied to the number of fights he is in, we may see Mayweather ramp up the number of fights he takes per year.  Mayweather fought in only one bout last year – a May decision over Miguel Cotto.

Payout Perspective:

Manny Pacquiao moved to Showtime when he accepted a deal to fight Shane Mosley on the network’s PPV in 2011.  A part of the reason was the ability to be on network television.  Mayweather’s deal is much more as it’s likely he’ll end his boxing career with Showtime.  We shall see what that means for the bidding war between HBO and Showtime.  Certainly, HBO will want to retain Pacquiao.  Despite losing the last two fights, a 5th fight with Marquez should draw interest and HBO should try its hardest to keep it on HBO.  However, if we are to look into the future., if there is any interest left in Mayweather-Pacquiao, it may mean that we see it on a Showtime PPV.

No further details of the deal have been released and it will be interesting to see what Showtime did to pull the biggest PPV draw in boxing to its stable.

Alvarez-Bellator lawsuit enters settlement discussions

February 18, 2013

The Eddie Alvarez-Bellator situation may be drawing closer to a possible settlement as Patrick English, attorney for Bellator, sent a letter to the Court requesting an extension of time to respond to Alvarez’s Counterclaims.   The parties have agreed to the extension until March 1, 2013 and the Court approval should be a mere formality.

Mr. English attached a Consent Order requesting an extension of time for Bellator to receive an extension of time to file an Answer to the Counterclaim until March 1, 2013.  Previously, Bellator had an extension to respond until Tuesday, February 19th.  This second extension appears that the parties are willing to negotiate a settlement without further litigation.

Payout Perspective:

Obviously, the Court’s denial of Eddie Alvarez’s Preliminary Injunction weighs heavy into the decision to settle the lawsuits without further litigation.  At the preliminary injunction hearing, Alvarez’s attorneys failed to show the Court that it would have a reasonable probability of success on the merits and they failed to show that Alvarez would suffer irreparable harm.  These were two of the four factors required to prevail on a preliminary injunction.  If Alvarez would have succeeded, it would have been likely that he would have signed a contract with the UFC.

However, Bellator had a strong opposition brief which included two declarations which addressed the issues of the 1) right to match, 2) the Fox v. Spike TV comparison, and 3) the PPV issue.   Prior to the preliminary injunction hearing, a Certification of MMA journalist Dave Meltzer was filed on Alvarez’s behalf.  The certification rebuts the declarations filed by Bellator in its opposition to the preliminary injunction. The certification identified UFC PPV buy rates with the belief that Alvarez would have made more if he would have been allowed to fight in the UFC.

The Court did not agree with Alvarez’s argument that Bellator could not provide an identical match was a failure to match. The Court held this argument untenable although it did not discount that Alvarez could not win based on this theory.  So, while Alvarez lost on this point here, he could win after the discovery phase.

As for the irreparable harm argument, the Court held that Alvarez’s argument that he would be harmed if he could not fight in the UFC on April 27th was speculative at best.  There was no illegal restraint on Alvarez by Bellator and he could still compete professionally even if an injunction were not granted.

It will be interesting to see if the parties can come up with a settlement that would make both parties happy.  The fact Alvarez lost the injunction does not make him bound to the contract offered by Bellator.  He could continue with the lawsuit if he truly wanted to fight the issue. But,we might see some compromise in which Alvarez can be bought out of his contract after a certain number of fights if he truly wants to head to the UFC.  If Alvarez did not want to stay, it would make sense for Bellator as I do not see the company wanting a malcontent with its new partnership with Spike. Maybe the number of fights with Bellator is reduced without a right of first refusal or matching rights clause so that he can fight elsewhere.  However, Bellator may make Alvarez a solid offer as a way to make him happy and be a face for the company.  He could be made one of the top (if not the top) paid fighters in the company.  We should know by March 1st which way Alvarez goes.

New York Times feature reviews UFC-Bellator-Spike relationship

February 18, 2013

The New York Times’ Sunday Business Section featured an article which addressed the current state of the MMA television business.  The article focuses more on Bellator as it becomes the new dance partner for Spike TV.

Entitled, “The Slugfest in the Executive Suite,” the print version, which is the Business Section’s front page story is a cartoon graphic of two male execs with taped hands and feet duking it out in what appears to be an Octagon.

Some takeaways from the read include the fact that Ari Emmanuel represented the UFC in its negotiations with Spike TV.  The UFC, according to the article, wanted a “50 percent fee increase” and “other demands” when it renegotiated with Spike TV.

Other factoids from the article:

-One of the “other demands” made by the UFC was a “50 percent equity stake in Spike” and control over what fights it could show on PPV.

-Viacom paid for a $50 million majority stake in Bellator.

-At the Atlantic City event on December 7, 2012, “[m]ost of the [Bellator] fighters received $3,000 each to show up and an additional $3,000 for winning,” stated the article.

-The article refers to the 18-34 demo as “superconsumers.”  As we know, its a valuable demo for advertisers.

Payout Perspective:

The article skews toward Bellator as it enters its new relationship with Spike TV.  Perhaps the UFC chose not to be interviewed for the article, but that seems odd considering it would want to get the its side of the negotiations out to the public.  The most interesting part of the piece what was demanded from the UFC to stay with the network.  Obviously, insiders know what occurred, but the perception from the article is that the UFC asked for too much.  A 50 percent rights fee increase and a 50 percent stake in Spike may have been too much for Viacom to stomach.  For the UFC, this might have been an overreach to negotiate with other networks and/or payback for its original investment in producing and funding TUF.

UFC on Fuel TV 7 attendance, gate and numbers

February 16, 2013

MMA Fighting reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for this afternoon’s UFC on Fuel TV 7. The event, held at the Wembley Arena in London, England,  drew 10,349 with a gate of $1.3 million.

The capacity of Wembley Arena is 12,500 although we do not know if the configuration of the arena had it at 12,500 for the event.

Bonuses for this afternoon were awarded with each receiving $50,000.

Fight of the Night: Tom Watson-Stanislav Nedkov
Submission of the Night:  Renan Barao
KO of the Night: Watson

Payout Perspective:

A Saturday afternoon of fights which picked up with Swanson-Poirer and Barao-McDonald.  James Ta Huna should receive some award for originality of entrance.  Watson doubled up in bonuses in his fight with Nedkov.  Barao executed a perfect head and arm triangle choke to tap McDonald.  Although the event drew under capacity, the attendance reflects the appeal the UFC has in other countries.

Bellator MMA Live (89) ratings: 719,000 viewers

February 15, 2013

The Wrestling Observer reports that Thursday’s Bellator MMA Live did an average of 719,000 viewers and 313,000 for its replay.  The numbers are down as it went up against NBA on TNT which featured prime matchups before the All-Star Game.

Television by the Numbers reports that Impact Wrestling, Bellator’s lead-in, received 1.3 million viewers for a 0.4 rating in the 18-49 demo.

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 first NBA game, OKC v. Miami, received a 3.39 million viewer average and the second game, LA Clippers v. LA Lakers received a 2.61 million viewer average.  Despite the games, Bellator’s ratings remain consistent.

Concessions made by New York may allow UFC in state

February 14, 2013

In a turn of events on Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was to hear oral arguments in New York’s Motion to Dismiss Zuffa’s First Amended Complaint.  Instead, John Schwartz, attorney on behalf of the state of New York made a surprising admission.

The attorney representing the Attorney General for the state of New York stated that the statute banning professional MMA in New York did not apply to amateur MMA and that a third party sanctioning body could regulate professional MMA.  With respect to the sanctioning, Zuffa’s counsel advised that the lawsuit need not go forward if there was a possibility for the regulation of the sport in the state.  The Court advised the parties to settle the lawsuit.

The briefing leading up to Wednesday may have aided Zuffa’s cause.  In its portion of the Opposition Brief arguing that the New York law was unconstitutionally vague, Zuffa argued that the state of New York allowed the World Karate Association (“WKA”) to regulate kickboxing events which would be in direct conflict with the New York law.  However, it would not grant other kickboxing organizations exemptions to the law which would allow them to run kickboxing events within the state.  The briefing described this as a “loophole” although is it a loophole if its the law?  The law identifies sanctioning organizations.

It appears that the state allowing exempt organizations the opportunity to sanction events such as kickboxing (and now MMA) may have led its counsel to concede this point without having to argue the broader issue of the constitutionality of the statute.

Payout Perspective:

Wednesday’s result did little in making professional MMA legal in the state of New York.  It did give Zuffa the opportunity to work with a third party sanctioning body to regulate MMA in the state.  But is this a victory?  While many are excited about the prospects about the state holding a UFC event, Wednesday’s result did not overturn the New York law.  Furthermore, the UFC will still have to work with a sanctioning body to regulate MMA in the state. This is a good option but one wonders why Zuffa didn’t go forward with attempting to repeal the law.

How easy (or difficult) will it be for Zuffa to work with a third party?  What will be the cost?
Did the UFC take a short-term victory when it could have won a long-term goal?

These are hard questions that one must weigh with against the legal fees (not to mention the non-legal lobbying fees to get the sport legal) it has expended up to this point.  The Court could have influenced the parties to settle the case despite the outstanding legal issues.

Practically speaking, if Zuffa can find a decent working relationship with an exempt regulating body, then we may see the UFC in New York sooner than later.

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