Rovell calls out White on UFC numbers

May 1, 2013

ESPN Business Reporter and UFC head Dana White went back and forth on twitter on the state of UFC business.  The UFC drew the scrutiny of ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell.  If you didn’t know, Rovell covers the business of sports and is as active on twitter as Dana White.  Rovell sent a tweet out the following tweet after UFC 159.

This drew the ire of UFC fans, media and eventually got back to Dana White.  And in usual form, he escalates the criticism to make it personal.

Rovell didn’t seem pleased about the “ESPN” remark and defended his reason for inquiry.

After a query to substantiate the numbers that the UFC was still on the rise, White indicated to Rovell that he’d get him those numbers

On Wednesday, three days after the initial back and forth, Rovell received his request.  It appears to either be a cut and paste of a Fuel TV press release, a hastily put together word document and/or both.  You can click on the pic to see it close up.  As you can read, White tells Rovell that Zuffa is a private company.

The following tweet is a lesson in making sure you read what you tweet.  White’s response to Rovell.

Rovell did concede that the UFC had some strong indicators of improvement.

Rovell then addressed the data White provided to a follower that believed White had shown the reporter up.

Rovell did make a back-handed complement about the back and forth with White.

He then makes the most sense in the following tweets in requesting information that most would ask about a company’s financials.

Prior to receiving the data from White, Rovell ran a poll for his twitter followers.  Its something he does periodically to create engagement.  The poll asks whether UFC has mainstream potential.  As you can read, a little over half don’t think so.

You can also head over to Storify to see the original version of this.

Payout Perspective:

Its an interesting back and forth between a mainstream business reporter and White.  Certainly, there are errors on both sides of the conversation.  Rovell frames the questions differently.  He first states that the UFC has lost its “edge” based on the anecdotal evidence that a friend bought a ticket for substantially less than face value.  He then asks about the UFC slowing down financially and would like to see its net profits.  White responds over the top.  Rovell baits him to provide him data that the UFC is doing better and then White gives him something that can’t be substantiated.  Being a reporter, Rovell is upset and White relies on the “private company” safe harbor to protect the UFC from having to release its numbers.

At times, Rovell uses financial information to dampen the mood for fans.  For example, when a player drops in the NFL Draft, he’s the first to tweet how much money that player is losing.  Still, Rovell is being a journalist here and it would have looked better if White could have just said granted him an interview to talk about it or provided him information that did not look like it was a press release.

16 Responses to “Rovell calls out White on UFC numbers”

  1. BrainSmasher on May 2nd, 2013 2:51 AM

    This is so stupid. Grovell didn’t say the UFC wasn’t still growing. That is whT he changed his story to after he was called on his bullshit. His original comment was that $550 tickets were selling for $50. That isn’t the same as the UFC not doing as well as two years ago. That is saying the UFC is dying and on life support. He showed no proof of this magic $50 ticket. He showed nothing to support that ticket some how representing the state of the UFC. When did Dana claim this year is setting records. This guy is talking out his ass. He made a unfounded assumption based on a friends so called ticket price about the UFCs success. When called out he changed his argument.

  2. BrainSmasher on May 2nd, 2013 3:10 AM

    Problem is Dana got dooped. He was right to call him out for his comment over some supposed ticket. But once Grovell change his argument. Dana was stuck. As a promoter he can’t very well admit they company had declined the last 2 years. We also knew he wasn’t going to release any useful information into their financials. So he countered Grovells change of argument with a useless document. Which pretty much killed off the argument and ended it in a stalemate. For all we know the UFC could be doing better than before. We have no way to know. Especially any over seas deals or what they make in brazil on their tv deal. We Do know they are always opening more revenue streams a d they have more now than ever. I dont think 2012 was that great but it could have been. But regardless 2012 doesn’t have to reflect on the UFC popularity and it certainly does t mean the UFC has to run less events. If 2012 sucked the. It was do to Injuries. 2013 is awful strong for a company this guy acted like was dying. This guy sent the message the UFC was having a fire sale to put people in seats. Dana had to address it without giving in on private info to a bully. You can’t give everyone who attacks you what they want. Then everyone will attack you to get their wAy.

  3. Diego on May 2nd, 2013 6:12 AM

    Grovell bullying Dana. Yeah, that’s how it went.

  4. Sampson Simpson on May 2nd, 2013 10:38 AM

    Dana mainly showed FuelTV growth and improvement for the low TUF ratings on FX. That doesnt point to growth since the Chuck Liddell days

  5. BrainSmasher on May 2nd, 2013 1:22 PM

    Growth since Liddell days isn’t what started the debate. Grovell insinuated the UFC was in rapid decline and couldn’t sell tickets. The info Dana sent might not be what everyone wants. But it does show the UFC isn’t declining like this dufus claimed. What’s more ridiculous is the UFC had events at their peak that didn’t sell well like in Anahiem around UFC 60′s. I guess if this guys friend got a comped ticket for that event he would have claimed the UFC was dying then too! The guy is a fool who made comments with nothing to support it.

  6. Tops of on May 2nd, 2013 7:21 PM

    As usual brainsmasher on the defense lol…that’s what I’ve been posting for the longest time…..Dana is hyping UFC more than its actual value…and when people asks for evidence they would say we’re a private company….I’m glad espn writer is now investigating…more reporters would now start to investigate…and soon would burst the UFC hype machine bubble…now is the time to sell the UFC.while its still up there..the next phase the decline stage……

  7. Tops of on May 2nd, 2013 7:34 PM

    Bigger than soccer? When Dana? When? Your still not allowed in new York…..I’ve been watching mma when it was called NHb in the early nineties….when zuffa bought it we waited for the big mainstream takeover it really grew with lindell era and now it reached its peak….almost all my friends don’t watch it anymore…..Dana is like Moses in the bible he would lead you to the promise land….it’s been 12 years already hahahahaha…..fastest growing sport…again based on what?compared to what sport?all sports are old….mma is new so were did they compare it?

  8. Logical on May 2nd, 2013 9:34 PM

    Dana: There is this jackass goofball reporter asking for verifiable numbers, hey you INTERN whip me up some hardcore numbers to show this jackass.

    Intern: Er.. sure thing boss let me load up windows 95 and notepad, will have them in a jiffy.

    1) Growth has been like awesome and stuff… 205% growth in err… like the last card and it was sweet and i was like YEAH!!
    2) International numbers have been sweet, we celebrated with pizza at the company picnic last month, we got a little drunk so our numbers may have a 1005% margin of error but we all agreed we rocked and shit!
    3) 2013 will be the Anderson Silva of 2012, maybe 2009 who knows, this is MMA anything can happen.

    Dana: Good job you freaking nerd, this will shut this goofball once and for all. *Evil Laugh*

  9. Jeremy Lynch on May 3rd, 2013 2:28 AM

    The ratings Dana used are fairly easy to confirm, as are the gates. He made a point of using numbers that usually go public.

    If Dana had talked about PPVs being up, the reporters request for more verifiable data would have had more substance.

  10. Ron Duks on May 3rd, 2013 6:16 AM

    Jason, what “errors” does Rovell commit? He responds to White’s comments. Would you have him say the same thing over and over? Your final comment seems a little disingenuous. Of course the “edge” he was talking about was finances. That is why his “proff” was a resale of a UFC ticket at a 90% loss.

  11. Ron Duks on May 3rd, 2013 6:17 AM

    that should be “proof” lol

  12. Columbo on May 3rd, 2013 8:47 PM

    That memo Dana posted was pathetic. Breaking viewership records on the lowest rated cable channel besides the ‘MLB Network’ is something to be proud of?

  13. Columbo on May 3rd, 2013 8:57 PM

    Fueltv just put out a press release stating that April was the most watched month ever!

    FUEL TV was up +75% in household (HH) rating (0.07 HH vs. 0.04 HH), +67% in total viewers (30,000 vs. 18,000) and +56% among Men 18-49 (14,000 vs. 9,000) this April compared to April 2012, according to figures released by Nielsen Media Research.

    The month ended very strong, with near record viewership set for the UFC® 159 Weigh-in and Postfight Shows. The live UFC® 159 Weigh-In Show on April 26 (4:00 PM ET) was the second highest-rated and fourth most-watched UFC weigh-in in network history, behind the record set for the UFC® 158 Weigh-in on March 15. It averaged 109,000 total viewers

    The UFC® 159 Postfight Show averaged 159,000 total viewers, with a 0.34 HH and 0.50 Men 18-49 rating. It was up +210% in HH’s, +218% in total viewers and +257% among Men 18-49 compared to the 2012 live UFC postfight show average.

    Damn, those number are crazy!

  14. BrainSmasher on May 4th, 2013 12:39 AM

    Ron Duks

    Getting a cheap ticket to an event is t proof of anything. Every sport has games where tickets are not as hot as others. Do you realize the NFl has teams that are not selling out their games? Does that mean the NFL is on a decline? No, they are stronger than ever. But some teams are not a hot ticket just as some events I. Some cities might not be hot. That is IF his cheap ticket story is even true. We don’t know. We also don’t know he the person got the ticket. Was this a magic ticket or were there a lot of them At that price? What ever the case. It Has no reflection on the UFC as a business at all. How does it reflect annual PPVs? How does it reflect annual revenue? How does it mean they are running to many events? How does to many events effect attendance in New Jersey when they haven’t been there is a very long time? Then after he has his foot firmly in his mouth. He back peddles and says he was saying the UFC isnt growing as fast as it was 2 years ago. As if setting a record every year, Year after year, Is the only measure of succes! The guy is a tool and was only looking for attention. He knew a lot of fans, mostly noobs punk kids who dont pay for anything, would love him saying the UFC is having to many events. It didnt even make since. He never thought Dana would respond. Once he did he argument changed.

  15. Sampson Simpson on May 5th, 2013 12:52 PM

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Look at those Fuel numbers. LOOK AT EM GO!!!

  16. Tomdd on May 21st, 2013 9:25 PM

    I’m sure the UFC is gaining in popularity worldwide, but it’s definitely becoming less popular here in Canada at least. When I was in college a fight day was a big deal, everyone around town would talk about it (Vancouver 3,4,5 years ago); these days I wouldn’t even know there was a fight on if I didn’t check online. The hardcore fans are still into it, but it’s lost a lot of casual fans since its heyday.

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