UFC Fight Night 26: Payout Perspective

August 21, 2013

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at last Saturday’s Fox Sports 1 taking place at the TD Garden in Boston.

Sonnen subs Shogun

Chalk another one up for the bad guy.  Chael Sonnen looked good.  Or, Shogun Rua looked bad. Sonnen scored a first round guillotine choke of the former UFC champ.  After the fight, he proceeded with a pro wrestling promo in which he challenged “middle age comedian” Joe Rogan and then Wanderlei Silva.

Good win for Sonnen and calling out Silva means another entertaining promotion and fight down the road.  Does that mean that Sonnen has given up on a title run?  Calling out the “Axe Murderer” isn’t climbing the ladder.  But, Sonnen was soundly defeated by Jon Jones this year and a run at Middleweight seems unlikely with Anderson Silva in the way. Even if Sonnen sticks to entertaining fights, he serves a purpose for the company.

Browne KOs Overeem

Deja Vu all over again.  Alistair Overeem looked impressive in the first round and then proceeded to stand in front of his opponent which was his eventual demise.  Despite Overeem’s gaffe, Browne showed great resilience to come back to win as it looked like the “Demolition Man” was going to stop him.

For Browne, its another step up the ladder in the Heavyweight division.  Could he be in the waiting room for a title shot in 2014 or does he need several more fights to prove he’s championship caliber.  Stipe Miocic, the winner of Barnett-Mir, Roy Nelson are all good possibilities for Browne.

For Overeem, who knows what happens next.  Its likely he gets another shot in the UFC but is he past his prime?  The loser of Barnett-Mir or Mark Hunt could be an interesting matchup for him.

Attendance and gate

MMA Junkie reports attendance for UFC Fight Night 26 was 12,539 for a gate of $1.53 million.  On Tuesday of fight week, 10,600 tickets had been sold.  The number of comps have yet to be released so we may have had a nice last minute purchase of tickets.

The UFC’s last visit to Boston drew 14,168 fans for a total gate of $2.8 million.  You may recall that event featured BJ Penn’s rematch with Frankie Edgar and James Toney succumbing to Randy Couture.

Bonuses

Bonuses were the standard $50,000 but the UFC gave an extra KO and submission bonus:

Fight of the Night:  Michael McDonald-Brad Pickett

Submission of the Night:  Michael McDonald, Chael Sonnen

KO of the Night:  Matt Brown, Travis Browne

Ratings

The story of Saturday’s event had to do with the ratings it pulled for the main card on Fox Sports 1.  New channel, new network and the UFC pulled a 1.78M viewer average from 8:00-10:45 p.m. according to The Wrestling Observer. John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal tweeted that the 8:00-11:00 p.m. pulled a 1.7M viewer average which accounts for the last quarter hour.

The ratings outdid all others for the prime time spot in the 18-49 demo.  Only Gymnastics (another sport) on NBC had more overall viewers for the time period.

The ratings are surprising considering that there was concern that subscribers would not know where the channel was and/or whether it was on their current tier of programming.

It also did much better than the UFC’s stint on FX.

Via Television By Numbers:

FOX Sports 1’s first ever primetime event, UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SHOGUN VS. SONNEN, averaged a 1.38 and beat the average of the eight UFC on FX Fight Nights by +49% in rating (1.38 vs. 0.93) and +38% in viewership (1.78 million vs. 1.29 million).  FOX Sports 1’s first UFC FIGHT NIGHT also beat seven of those eight FX Fight Nights individually.  Among younger demographics, last night’s FOX Sports 1 card easily beat the average of FX’s primetime UFC cards by +50% in viewership among Men 18-49 (994K vs. 663K) and +44% higher among Men 18-34 (492K vs. 342K).

Sponsorships

The usual sponsors were in the octagon for the event: TapouT Corn Nuts, Dodge, Toyo Tires, MetroPCS, UltimatePoker.com,

Modell’s Sporting Goods, EA Sports UFC game was also advertised in the Octagon.

One notable sponsorship from Saturday was that Travis Browne was sponsored by Salt Lake City Personal Injury Attorney 1Law.

Boston issues

Although its his hometown, Dana White encountered hurdles to putting on the event.  First, there was a licensing issue which was rectified.

Then, the Culinary Union attempted to put a halt to the event in Boston by requesting that the Massachusetts Athletic Commission prohibit Chael Sonnen from fighting due to his prior real estate fraud conviction.

There was also an attempt to ban fans under 18 years of age from attending the event.  In fact, an ordinance was passed after today banning minors from attending an MMA event without an adult.

Then, there is what is becoming the usual Deadspin piece taking a shot at the company.

Odds and ends

The new camera angles and slow mo replays were interesting although gratuitous at times.

Stephen Siler looked impressive in his quick work on the prelims.

Conor McGregor-Max Holloway prelim received main card treatment as Dana White indicated via twitter that he would show the walkouts for both.  This was mainly to show the response Boston gave McGregor.

Oscar de la Hoya made an appearance during the broadcast to promote Golden Boy’s Monday night boxing event.  The working relationship between Golden Boy and the UFC can only help with crossover viewership.

More disappointing night:  Uriah Hall, Joe Lauzon or Alistair Overeem.

Conclusion

Overall, a great start for the network and a nice debut for the UFC.  As ratings start to trickle in for FS1, we are learning that the UFC may be an important part of the new network.  Certainly, Fox is happy with the early returns and if the UFC maintains a healthy rating for its live events, it will be the anchor programming for the channel.

6 Responses to “UFC Fight Night 26: Payout Perspective”

  1. Tops of on August 21st, 2013 12:50 PM

    Gymnastics had more viewers?

  2. BrainSmasher on August 21st, 2013 1:18 PM

    Why wouldn’t it? It was on NBC opposite reruns on the other networks.

  3. Jason Cruz on August 21st, 2013 2:49 PM

    Tops,

    Yes. But UFC had more viewers in its 18-49 demo. So we gather old(er) people enjoy gymnastics.

  4. BrainSmasher on August 21st, 2013 5:37 PM

    and old people don’t have cable lol.

  5. Tops of on August 22nd, 2013 3:30 AM

    Jason
    OK.surprising.
    I thought gymnastics is only popular during the Olympics….

  6. Diego on August 27th, 2013 9:35 AM

    It feels right to have MMA on a sports network rather than Fox or Spike. I don’t know why that is.

    I think the night went very well for the UFC. The fights were exciting, which is all you can really ask for, and the new production went smoothly – unlike some of the other FS1 shows.

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