UFC 165 and 166 PPV buys disappoint
October 30, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that UFC 165 and UFC 166 PPV buys are lower than expected. The poor showings are disappointing as the UFC expected to finish strong to end the year.
According to Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting, UFC 165 did somewhere between 300,000 and 325,000 PPV buys. Numbers have not been released for UFC 166 but indications according to MMA Fighting are slightly higher than UFC 165. This would mean that two (Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez) of the company’s biggest stars presumably failed to draw at least 400,000 PPV buys.
UFC 166 went up against an HBO Boxing event which featured a replay of the Marquez-Bradley PPV, MLB Playoffs and college football. The prelims ratings scored only 628,000 viewers which did not bode well for the main card.
The MMA Fighting article indicates that a possible reason for UFC 165’s buy rate is due to the Mayweather-Canelo fight the week before. That PPV was priced at $75 and was heavily, heavily promoted. For the casual PPV buyer, paying another $45-$55 on top of the $75 is pretty steep for a month on a cable bill. Realistically, if there was a choice, many would go with the Mayweather fight.
Is it a trend or bad luck that two of the biggest draws for the UFC did their lowest PPV number as a headliner in consecutive months?
The UFC had hoped to close out 2013 with four consecutive strong PPVs with its biggest stars starting with UFC 165 (Jones), UFC 166 (Cain-JDS), UFC 167 (GSP) and UFC 168 (Silva-Weidman, Rousey-Tate). It had hyped these PPVs with a worldwide tour but based on the first two PPVs, the UFC may have to rethink its expectations on buy rates. Certainly, the tickets are moving for the last two events and 167 and 168 will end in sellouts. But this does not necessarily equate to buys.
There is an argument that the promotional vehicles (or lack thereof) for these PPVs have contributed to the low PPV buy rates. It’s a plausible argument. FS1 is still in its infancy stages. This can be reflected by the low ratings for the UFC 165 Primetime shows which had its highest viewer output at 158K viewers. But that does not address the fact that the UFC is still getting a lot of time on Fox’s NFL broadcasts. The question is whether there should be more done to promote these events through Fox and/or elsewhere.