13 for 13: No. 2 UFC moves to Fox Sports 1

December 31, 2013

The UFC-Fox relationship entered into a new venture as Fox unveiled two new sports networks: Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and Fox Sports 2 (FS2).  The UFC was pegged to play a big role in providing the networks, especially FS1 with its content.

So far, the network has not lived up to its lofty expectations, but the UFC is a central piece to the FS1 programming grid.

The network almost stalled from the beginning as distributors balked at the carriage fees for FS1.  DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner Cable held out from carrying the new sports networks.  The three distributors combined for about 46 million households.  Fox had promised its investors that FS1 would reach 90 million households.  Without the three holdouts, it would have only half of its promised households.

The pre-FS1 carriage fee was 31 cents a month per subscriber whereas FS1 wanting 80 cents per month in 2014 which could go as high as $1.50 per subscriber based on fee increases during the life of the deal.  In the end Fox conceded the fee increase (for now) with the distributors in order for its intended launch of August 17th.

The first day of the new FS1 network received outstanding ratings marked by UFC Fight Night 26 from Boston which grabbed 1.78 million viewers.   It was a surprise considering the leveled expectations that it may take some time for people to get acclimated with the new network.  Well, that happened.  Since the first night of ratings, FS1 ratings have not been going as expected.

The UFC programming has not seen the numbers of UFC FN 26 (although this past Saturday’s Prelims did very well).  The Ultimate Fighter: Tate vs. Rousey which featured men and women fighters was supposed to draw viewers back to the fledgling franchise.  While there were spikes for the women fights, overall, the ratings were lukewarm (averaging 648K viewers for the season) and showed a 22 percent drop when moving to FS1.  In fact, it was reported that Fox execs would look at the MMA reality show differently.  Rather than look at the live viewership ratings, it would look at the “overall consumption” of the show which would include DVR and reruns to access the success of the show.  Certainly, the time slot of 7pm on the west coast (without a same night rerun) hurt same day viewership although there was an increase in DVR numbers.

Fox also issued “make goods” for advertisers paying for time on FS1 due to ratings shortfalls.  Some advertisers received ad times carved out during the World Series on Fox.  There was also discussion that “early pre-game” inventory for the Super Bowl would be offered.

UFC Fight Nights on FS1 and FS2

UFC Fight Night 26:  1.78 million viewers

UFC Fight Night 27:  824,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 28:  539,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 29:  638,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 30: 122,000 viewers (FS2)

UFC Fight Night 31:  641,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 32:  722,000 viewers

TUF 18 Finale: 1,129,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 33: 755,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 33 Prelims: 132,000 (FS2)

Despite the ratings disappointment, analysts and advertisers are still giving the networks a chance.  There is still room for improvement and the belief that the networks, especially FS1, will keep growing an audience.

Via Sports Media Journal

Via Sports Media Journal

UFC PPV 2013 Review + Updates

December 31, 2013

Now that thirteen UFC PPV’s are in the books for 2013, we can start to analyze UFC’s performance this year in terms of their most important revenue stream, PPV purchases.


Although PPV buys were estimated throughout the year, many are quietly adjusted and made more accurate throughout the year. Here is an updated list, which you can also find in our Blue Book Pay-Per-View section.

UFC PPV Buys 2013


PPV Buy Rate

Main Event

UFC 168


Weidman-Silva II




UFC 166


Velasquez-JDS III

UFC 165



UFC 164



UFC 163



UFC 162


Silva-Weidman I

UFC 161



UFC 160


Cain-Bigfoot II

UFC 159



UFC 158



UFC 157



UFC 156



Total: 5.05M*, Average: 420K*


UFC Fighter PPV Average Buys 2013

Fighter (main event)

PPV Buy Rate Average

Georges St. Pierre


Andeson Silva*


Ronda Rousey*


Jon Jones


Cain Velasquez


Jose Aldo


* Excludes UFC 168
** Only 1 event used in average


Payout Perspective:

Some of the big updates to the list include the final number for UFC 167, which can now be listed at 630K PPV buys, which falls to one of the lowest PPV numbers GSP has pulled in quite some time but still ranks second in 2013 (excluding UFC 168).  The second number to look at is UFC 165: Jones vs Gustafsson.  This PPV number has now dropped to 310K, which is the lowest PPV buy number Jones has ever done as a champion.  UFC 159: Jones vs Sonnen also suffers a slight drop from 550K to 530K buys.  Last but not least, is UFC 161’s buyrate of 140K, which ties UFC 147: Frankling vs Wandy II, which is the lowest UFC PPV Zuffa has promoted in the last 10 or so years. On the positive side, UFC 163: Aldo vs Zombie gets a small boost from 170K to 180K PPV buys.

In terms of PPV draws for 2013, GSP is once again the PPV king, followed by Anderson Silva, Ronda Rousey, and Jon Jones.  Cain Velasquez and Jose Aldo come in near the bottom.  Its also important to note that the UFC will be without GSP and Anderson Silva for at least most of 2014, so it is going to be a trying year with many obstacles to overcome.

Reference:  MMA Payout’s Blue Book &  Dave Meltzer (The Wrestling Observer).

13 for 13: No. 3 Bellator MMA moves to Spike TV

December 31, 2013

Bellator made its debut on Spike TV in 2013.  The move brought much anticipation on how the MMA organization would do on a stable network available to a broader viewing audience and focused on its key demos.

Bellator MMA Live’s first season drew an average of 861,000 viewers.  The switch from MTV2 to SpikeTV was a success considering it produced +388% more viewers from Season 7 (on MTV2) to Season 8 (on Spike TV).  It also received help with its Thursday placement right after TNA Impact Wrestling which consistently received an average of over 1 million viewers.

After what was deemed a success on Thursdays, Bellator moved to Fridays for its ninth season.   As a result, the season average ended at 671,000 viewers although it was helped by Bellator 106: Alvarez v. Chandler which drew 1.1 million viewers.

Bellator’s first reality show, FightMaster, received an average viewership of 615,000.  While the concept seemed novel, the ratings and interest fizzled.  It was not helped by the fact the final for the show was delayed which meant people forgot that there was an actual final for the show.

The company signed Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz and utilized them on both its MMA programming and on TNA to mixed reviews.

In the end, the average viewership for Bellator MMA’s live events including its Summer Series in 2013 was 797,000 viewers (including DVR usage) according to Nielsen sources.

Was 2013 a success for the company on Spike TV?  How will Bellator do in 2014?  Will it try another MMA-related reality show?


13 for 13: No. 4 GSP and Silva gone from UFC

December 31, 2013

When this list was first compiled, No. 4 was “GSP gone from UFC. “ With Saturday’s fight, we added Silva as Anderson Silva’s absence from the UFC will take a toll on the company as well.

Georges St. Pierre’s announcement that he would take an indefinite leave from the UFC and relinquish the title left a void in the welterweight division.  Certainly, there was foreshadowing for his departure considering his post-UFC 167 comments and the rumors that he had personal issues he needed to take care of at home.  GSP initially denied the rumors and there was no follow up on whether there was any truth to them.  With GSP’s departure, Johny Hendricks will face Robbie Lawler for the vacated title in March.

Silva’s departure was not his own decision as he broke his leg in the second round of his fight with Chris Weidman.  Although Silva asked doctors about when he could return training and that the recovery could be “three to six months”, there is no timetable for the potential psychological toll it could take on someone.  Also, even as great a shape Silva is in at 38.  He is still 38.  Father Time is undefeated.  Ask Kobe Bryant.

GSP’s main event victory against Nick Diaz at UFC 158 registered the highest PPV buy rate (so far) in 2013 with 950K buys.  He has been described as the Michael Jordan of MMA and Dana White proclaimed that he was more popular in Canada than Wayne Gretzky (not true).  The point is that GSP is a known commodity for UFC PPV.  Notwithstanding the showing at UFC 167 (which drew 630K PPV buys, low for GSP), GSP draws fans.  Whenever the UFC put on a PPV with GSP, it knew the event would do well.

The same could be said for Silva.  Although his antics keep him from being hands down a fan favorite, his fights have everyone watching.  Similar to GSP and Canada, Silva is revered in Brazil and that has helped grab UFC fans in the region.  There is always a strong backing of Brazilian fans when Silva fights in Vegas.  Its not known if another Brazilian fighter could bring as much fandom (and business to the UFC) as Silva.

Silva’s first fight against Chris Weidman at UFC 162 did 550K and we likely will see a higher figure for UFC 168.

So the question is:  Who can the UFC groom to be a PPV draw?

The heavyweights this year (JDS, Cain) did not produce good PPV numbers.  In fact, 2013 was a down year for heavyweight PPV main events as the two shows a year which traditionally feature the heavyweights were off from 2012.

2013 Heavyweight Cards

UFC 160 Cain-Bigfoot = 380K

UFC 166 Cain-JDS III = 330K

2012 Heavyweight Cards

UFC 146 JDS-Mir = 560K

UFC 155 JDS-Cain = 590K

Jon Jones is inconsistent as reflected by 310K PPV buys at UFC 165 and 530K PPV buys at UFC 159 (against Sonnen).

It’s likely that we see the UFC market around Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman.  Rousey’s quick turnaround may reflect the wish for the UFC to get in three or four Rousey fights in 2014.  We will see if the UFC will do the same for Weidman.

So how will the UFC fill the void?  And, will either GSP or Silva make a return in 2014?

UFC 168: Payout Perspective

December 30, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at the last UFC event of 2013 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Weidman retains belt after Silva breaks leg

Corey Hill. That is what went through my mind as Anderson Silva’s shin was shattered on a Chris Weidman leg check.  Many may recall the lanky TUF competitor breaking his leg on an eerily similar

Leg checks are gruesome as it is and Silva’s kick that broke his leg looked like it was right on Weidman’s knee.

It appeared that Weidman may have knocked out Silva in the first but Silva was able to survive round 1 and even bloodied Weidman.  Although Weidman likely won round 1, the fight was still up in the air before the kick despite folks concluding that Weidman would have won the fight.  Weidman did look much improved from July and solidified his standing as the division’s champ.  It appears that Vitor Belfort may be next.  The question is will it be in Vegas or Brazil?

As for Silva, it’s likely the end to his career.  At 38, Silva has had a successful run and should be financially set for the rest of his life.  We may see him in the UFC in some sort of emeritus role but never again in the Octagon fighting.


Rousey armbars Tate to retain title

Ronda Rousey submitted Miesha Tate although the challenger put up a fight and was the crowd favorite throughout.  Rousey refused a Tate handshake at the end which solidified her as the heel.

Tate was a heavy underdog and it seemed that surviving the first round was a victory in itself.  Despite not getting armbarred in the first or second round, Rousey was still dominating the match.  Her Judo was exceptional and one has to wonder why attempt to take Rousey to the ground when Tate scored with shots on her feet.

Rousey has a quick turnaround as she fights Sarah McMann on February 22nd.

Some have speculated that the Rousey-McMann fight was made to coincide with the Winter Olympics.  Both were medalists in the Olympics.  The only problem with this theory was that Rousey and McMann competed in the Summer Olympics.

Browne KOs the Warmaster

Travis Browne used his elbows to KO Josh Barnett in what was a mini-upset.  Browne propels himself to a fight with Fabricio Werdum with the fighter likely getting Cain Velasquez.

Attendance and Gate

As announced at the post-fight press conference, it was the second-highest gate for an MMA event in MGM history with 15,650 for a gate of $6.2 million.


Rousey, Tate and Browne were the recipients of the fight night bonuses.  Instead of the standard $50K each, the UFC upped the bonus to $75K.

FOTN – Rousey-Tate

Sub – Rousey

KO – Browne

As we previously pointed out, Jim Miller should have received the Submission of the Night with his slick setup and eventual arm bar of BJJ Black Belt Fabricio Comoes.


The Nevada State Athletic Commission revealed the pay of the top 3 fights on the card (via MMA Junkie).  The rest of the card should be made public later this week.

Chris Weidman received a big pay increase in pay in his first title defense.  He received $200K to show and another $200K for the win for a total of $400K.

Silva received $600K and would have made another $200K if he won.

Rousey made $50K/$50K but with another $150K in bonuses she tallied $250K for the night.  Tate made $28K and another $75K for $103K.

Josh Barnett made $170K and Travis Browne made $56K ($28K/$28K) plus his $75K win bonus for a total of $131K.

Raise in PPV Price

One of the surprises that came before the fight was the $5 bump in price for the last PPV of the year.  UFC 168 was the first at $59.99 (HD) and $49.99 (SD).  White indicated that this would be the only time it would raise its price.  However, there is some confusion as to whether the $59.99 will remain in 2014 as the current prices on the UFC web page list UFC 169 an 170 at $59.99 although there are reports the listed price is a mistake.

There were many promotional commercials leading up to 168 that still promoted the PPV as $54.95 although you were likely made known of the price change when you went to order.

The rise in the price could mean more people went to bars to watch the PPV and maybe more fight parties.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC went all out for UFC 168 with branding all over the MGM Grand including the key cards, slot machines and gaming felt.  I can attest the UFC has done the gaming felt back in the Tito Ortiz days (circa 2006).  Still, the constant reminders of the fight likely helped out.

ESPN got in on the action as it let Dana White take over its twitter and Instagram accounts on Saturday to hype the fight.  The obvious conflict is that White’s company is featured on ESPN’s newest competitor, Fox Sports 1.  The fact White is allowed to promote on ESPN and that ESPN wants White to promote the UFC infers that MMA is legitimately making strides as a sport that is newsworthy (well, except that ESPN got rid of the over the air version of MMA Live).

UFC used FS1 to promote the fight and showed Weidman-Silva I and also aired “Fighting Words” which was an interesting look at the first fight that included audio of the corners that caught what each said to their fighters.  It also included interviews by both fighters and audio from Jon Jones and Urijah Faber at the fight.  While UFC Primetime has been shut down, this show did a great job in recapping events leading up to the rematch.

The Saturday morning edition of Good Morning America did a spot on Ronda Rousey which is a pretty big even if it was the weekend crew of GMA.

Fight Pass

The UFC held a press conference prior to the fights to announce the UFC’s new digital network, the UFC Fight Pass.  More on this later but the sweetener for UFC fans is that it is giving users 2 months free before it charges your credit card $9.99 per month.


Sears was the newest “big” sponsor to the Octagon.  Maybe a “one off” but I’m sure the UFC hopes that it can bring it in as an official sponsor.  Tapout, MusclePharm, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Cinemax’s “Banshee”, Peter Berg’s movie, “Lone Survivor”, WarGaming.net, MetroPCS and Bud Light with the center.

UltimatePoker.com had the prep point outside the cage and AXS TV had the official weigh-ins.

Harley Davidson ran a promotion for its Project Rushmore motorcycles in which the winner of Weidman-Silva would win a motorcycle.

MetroPCS also had a unique activation for this event where twitter users could obtain a “personalized” digital photograph of Ronda Rousey.

Interesting sponsor of the night:  Autoshopper.com.  It was on a number of fighters including Miesha Tate.

1Law.com, a law firm out of Utah picked the right fighter to sponsor as it was on the front of the shorts of Travis Browne as he KO’d Josh Barnett.  It has sponsored Browne in the past.

Monster (an official UFC sponsor) headphones are going to be around more and more heads in the Octagon so get used to them having them on and not listening to anything.

Nike was noticeably absent from Anderson Silva.  When asked by Ariel Helwani in a pre-fight interview, Silva told him to ask Dana.  White deflected comment but it was clear that Nike did not pay or would not pay the sponsor fee for Silva this time around.  To be clear, Nike still sponsors Silva, it’s just that he was not on Silva’s shorts, shirt or banner.

Rousey was sponsored by the UFC in what looked like signature gear.  She was also sponsored by Xyience.

Tate had a number of sponsors including Autoshopper.com, Venum, Affliction and Training Mask.

Silva did have less sponsors this go round.  He had Wizard, Burger King, computer maker Lenovo and soccer club Corinthians Paulista.

Weidman had an assortment of sponsors including Bad Boy Club, Oak Grove Technologies, American Ethanol, Monster and investment firm InCapital.

Post-UFC 168 Headlines

The new faces of the UFC.  Saturday we saw the two new faces of the UFC in Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman.  With GSP and Anderson Silva gone within weeks of each other, Weidman should be marketed as the top UFC guy.  Even though Jon Jones has a fair argument here, his last couple of fights have not equated to PPV success.  Weidman took down the GOAT twice and we will see how long he can defend the belt in this division.

Despite being the “heel” against Miesha Tate, Rousey has the “it” factor that draws people to watch her.  She is brash, dominant and that look of determination walking to the ring would have anyone hiding their arms around her.  The question is whether the fame and time obligations may catch up to her.  With her next fight so close to this one and coming off of shooting two movies, we will see if it catches up with her.

Odds and Ends

-The UFC offered closed circuit of the fight at the MGM for $60 per person.  I do not believe the UFC put this PPV in movie theatres.

-There were over 5 million Google searches for Anderson Silva on Saturday night.  Most searchers likely wanted to see an image of his broken leg.

-It was the first time I recall the main event fighters coming out from different sides of the curtain at the weigh-ins.

-Over 14.6K people were on YouTube at the start of the very first fight which bodes well for viewership for the rest of the card.

-Rumors of Brock Lesnar in Vegas during UFC 168 is reminiscent of the two guards that sat in the courtroom that unnerved Colonel Jessup in “A Few Good Men.”  In other words, the UFC could have just flown Lesnar out to Vegas and create a story that wasn’t there.

-Rousey and Tate are complete opposites and this was most telling in their walkout songs.  Katy Perry (Tate) vs. Joan Jett (Rousey).

-Due to the short fights, there was a lot of downtime and “commercials” and the live fights ended at 9:30pm PT.

-Buried by the main event stories was the second straight impressive win by Michael Johnson on the Prelims.

-Uriah Hall saved his job, while Chris Leben likely heads to retirement.

Marc Jacobs is selling a Ronda Rousey t-shirt.

-Anyone else notice that the broadcast team kept pumping up the odds including right before the Tate-Rousey fight.  That might not be new, but what was new was that it directed people interested in odds to the UFC web site.


The hype for this fight was the biggest this year and the women co-main event had a lot to do with it.  It may be one of the highest HD PPV buys ever.  There was a lot of mainstream buzz for the fight which not always transfers into PPV purchases. But I think the buzz helped.  Despite the protests about the price increase, it will likely not affect the final PPV buys.  An estimation of around 750K PPV buys should be attainable if not surpassed after all is said and done.

13 for 13: No. 5 Eddie Alvarez-Bellator settle lawsuit

December 29, 2013

The Eddie Alvarez-Bellator legal saga came to an end this year with Alvarez settling with Bellator and making a triumphant appearance at Bellator 106.  The legal case which Alvarez vowed would go to trial settled in time for Alvarez to face Michael Chandler on November 2nd.

As we know the story, Alvarez completed his fight contract with Bellator although the company had “matching rights” which would allow it to keep Alvarez so long as it matched any competing offers.  Alvarez and Bellator had agreed that Bellator would get a chance to match the offer made by the UFC.  In fact, court documents show that it had cut and paste the UFC contract almost verbatim.  Still, Alvarez’s camp argued that the Bellator “match” did not match the UFC contract.  Bellator sued Alvarez, Alvarez sued Bellator and Alvarez attempted to file a Preliminary Injunction to allow Alvarez the opportunity to bolt for the UFC.  The court denied the PI.  The court also denied a motion by Bellator to dismiss Alvarez’s lawsuit against it.

Alvarez proclaimed that he would go to trial to settle this dispute.  Other fighters supported Alvarez and Alvarez talked about how Bellator mismanaged some of its fighters.  For this, Bellator head, Bjorn Rebney had to go into damage control to explain some of the issues Alvarez had highlighted.

The case would not have gone to trial until late 2014 at the earliest.

Alvarez went on a PR march claiming the Bellator had attempted to alter a document regarding the matching terms of his contract.  In fact, Alvarez produced the document (and the attempted “blacking out” of his address which you could still see) but it did not lend much to his theory.

Fortunately, Alvarez agreed to terms with Bellator which, in the end, likely saved Bellator 106.  Alvarez did not speak about the terms of his return to Bellator and his return was marked by this odd interview with Alvarez by Glenn Robinson’s daughter.

The lawsuit likely served as a guide for contractual dealings with Ben Askren.  The Welterweight champ was let go by Bellator even though the organization had matching rights in its contract with Askren.  Despite the fact Bellator let its champ go, it was less of a public relations issue than if it became mired in another lawsuit.

The court documents revealed the UFC contract and its PPV buy structure.  While these terms may have been released in the past, it was still interesting to look at the UFC’s structure in how fighters are paid based on PPV buys.  It also showed some of the added benefits Bellator was willing to give Alvarez if he stayed which included guests spots on Spike TV programming.  But, the key issue was the PPV upside that Alvarez would receive if he joined the UFC.  Earlier this year, Bellator had not put on a PPV although there were vague notions that it would put on a show.  As we know, it eventually announced a PPV to be headlined by Rampage Jackson versus Tito Ortiz.  We all know how that turned out.

There was also Dave Meltzer’s Declaration in support of Eddie Alvarez’s Preliminary Injunction.  Meltzer indicated PPV buy rates in his declaration to support Alvarez’s initial argument that Bellator did not match the UFC’s contract.  If the case would have proceeded and came closer to trial, Meltzer would have been deposed and/or testified at trial.  Attorneys would be able to inquire about how he substantiated PPV buy rates including such information as where he gets his information and if there is a formula for his PPV analysis.  Certainly, Meltzer could have claimed that he does not need to reveal his sources based upon his journalistic ethics.  Yet, it would have created an interesting scenario.  But, once again, the settlement saved this issue.

And, in the end, Meltzer was right about the “matching” thing.

The fact that Bellator cancelled its PPV after Ortiz’s injury shows that it did not believe Alvarez could headline a PPV (or it did not have enough time to market Alvarez as its top star).  Regardless of the reasons for turning the PPV into a card on Spike TV, the cancellation of the PPV may have confirmed what Alvarez may have known throughout:  that Bellator was not the same as the UFC.

UFC 168 attendance, gate and bonuses

December 28, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that UFC 168 drew 15,650 for a live gate of $6.2 million. In addition, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Travis Browne earned $75K bonuses as announced by Dana White at the post-fight press conference.

White announced the attendance and gate at the presser as well.  UFC 168 attendance at the MGM Grand came in second to UFC 148 also featuring Anderson Silva (against Chael Sonnen in their rematch).  On that night the gate was $6.9 million with 15,104 in attendance.

The bonuses were up $25K from the standard $50K as each bonus was $75K tonight:

FOTN:  Tate-Rousey

Sub of the Night:  Rousey

KO of the Night:  Browne

Jim Miller might have an argument for sub of the night with his armbar sub of Fabricio Camoes.

Payout Perspective:

The attendance and gate numbers were as predicted earlier this week.  The promotion and fights lead to big interest in this end of year event.  Women’s MMA stole the show once again as Miesha Tate, despite losing, survived enough of the fight with Rousey to gain some respect from MMA fans that all but agreed this would be a 1st round submission.  Despite boos, Rousey leaves tonight with two bonuses plus her show purse and win bonus which totals to a reported $250K.  Tate made her show money ($28K) plus the $75K bonus for a total of $103K.

Weidman receives pay bump for UFC168

December 28, 2013

MMA Junkie reports the initial reported payouts for UFC 168 of the main and co-main events this Saturday.  Notably, Chris Weidman is receiving a huge raise in his first defense of his Middleweight crown against Anderson Silva.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission released the “show” and “win” salaries for UFC 168 which was obtained by MMA Junkie.

Anderson Silva will receive $600K (plus an additional $200K if he wins) in his first fight since dropping the title in July.  Weidman, who received just a base of $24K (and another $24K) for the win gets $200K to show and $200K.

Ronda Rousey will receive $50K plus another $50K if she defeats Miesha Tate.  Tate is scheduled to make $28K and another $28K if she pulls off the upset.

Josh Barnett is slated to receive $170K flat with no win bonus while his opponent, Travis Browne will receive $28K and $28K for a win.

Payout Perspective:

Weidman gets the biggest salary boost as he receives almost an 85% increase in pay from his July base salary.  Perhaps this is a sign of valuing the champions more as we saw Demetrious Johnson’s pay rise dramatically after his win earlier this month.

Rousey’s pay represents a $5K increase from her debut at UFC 157 where she received $45K/$45K.   Silva’s base salary is the same as it was at UFC 162.  Josh Barnett received a $10K bump in pay since his fight in August.

UFC going all in for UFC 168 promotion

December 27, 2013

To say that tomorrow’s UFC 168 is an important event for Zuffa this year would be quite the understatement.  In fact, the focus placed on UFC 168 has been so strong that some have argued that it has actually undermined the UFC events in between, which caused them to under perform. We will take a look at some of the numbers and the promotion being put together the week leading up to the event.



The UFC announced on July 13th, 2013 that the highly anticipated rematch between new Middleweight champion Chris Weidman and MMA legend Anderson Silva would take place on UFC 168, making Rousey vs Tate 2 and incredibly strong co-main event for the casual fans and mainstream. Since that announcement was made, about 5 months before the event was to take place, the UFC made it no secret it would be heavily promoting the event, which include an entire season of TUF dedicated to pitting both coaches on the PPV along with countless of media appearances and press conferences.  To summarize, the UFC has been promoting UFC 168 for five months straight hoping to cash in big at the end of the year.

In that span, the UFC has hosted four PPV events, from UFC 164 to UFC 167, and all have arguably underperformed.  Pettis vs Henderson, the highly anticipated rematch from WEC, which produced the Showtime Kick, drew less than 300,000 buys.  Jon Jones was the first noticeable casualty, drawing his lowest PPV buy rate since becoming champ.  Velasquez/JDS III drew 330,000 viewers while Velasquez/JDS II drew 590,000 the previous year.  GSP’s 630,000 PPV buys are the lowest since UFC 87 in 2008 against Jon Fitch z9 not to mention that it was the UFC’s anniversary event).   All events underperformed, but will the gamble to place most of the attention on UFC 168 for almost half a year pay off? They are certainly betting on it.

UFC 168


Weidman-Silva II




UFC 166


Velasquez-JDS III

UFC 165



UFC 164




The UFC has gone all in the week heading into UFC 168 with countless ad spots on FOX Sport properties and key big FOX spots during NFL programming.  The UFC even scored an appearance in Good Morning America this morning. To put it bluntly, a lot of money was spent on promoting UFC 168 and considering that UFC predicted the event would be as big as UFC 100 (1.6M buys), they really had no choice.  Then again, the UFC also bumped up the PPV price by $5 just for this event, hoping to reach UFC 100 levels of revenue even they most likely won’t be able to match the buyrate.  This week, Dana White estimated the gate for UFC 168 to be around $6.3M already, which would place it among the top gates in the company’s history.  It also appears that ESPN is all in for this event, which has historically meant good things for the UFC.

Now, is the event a shoe in to become a huge PPV success? Well, not necessarily.  End of the year between Christmas and New Years has always been a tough sell due to the festivities, new toys, NBA, and CFB Bowl games. UFC 141 hosted a huge main event between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem, two of the biggest and physically gifted athletes in MMA.  Lesnar had been a shoe in for 1M PPV buys for years with the UFC, and adding an opponent like Overeem seemed like a PPV buyrate slam-dunk. Only, it didn’t turn out that way.  The event ended up doing around 535,000 buys, which is nearly half what most expected, though there were a few key differences between that event and UFC 168.  One major factor was holding UFC 141 on December 31st (Friday night) where UFC 168 is being held on the more traditional Saturday night time slot. Lesnar had also lost his belt for that bout for his bout against Overeem after being dominated by Cain Velasquez along with many health concerns.  However you slice it, UFC 168 will be a hugely successful event, though the question of whether it can crack the 1M PPV buyrate which Lesnar and only a couple of other main events have been able to accomplish in the past 5 years is still up in the air.

Lets take a look at some of the promotion:







13 for 13: No. 6 UFC to launch digital network

December 27, 2013

Although not yet officially announced, the UFC will launch the “UFC Fight Pass” which will air January 4th starting with UFC Fight Night 34 from Singapore.  It’s the UFC’s first attempt at a subscriber-based network and serves two unique purposes.

The first is that it is an attempt to localize the UFC fights by enlisting local fighters to have on cards and starting the events at a convenient time for the region rather than catering to North American viewership. This should help with promotion and attendance of events.

The second is to monetize the events and delve into the use of a subscriber-based network.  At the reported price of $9.99 per month, it may not entice some casual viewers but may grab the attention of some dedicated UFC fans.

What may sway many UFC followers is what else the UFC will put on the network.  It is believed that the UFC library will be available to subscribers.  Also, there is the possibility a lot of the shoulder programming for UFC events will land on the Fight Pass.  This may include interviews, press conferences, weigh-ins and post-fight press-conferences.   It will also include The Ultimate Fighter series from other countries.

It’s an interesting launch that beats the WWE’s launch of its much-talked about network.  It does appear that the UFC Fight Pass will not provide 24/7 programming while the WWE may have more to offer including original content.

Will the UFC move strictly to a subscriber-based network in the future and completely leave PPV as it is rumored with the WWE’s network?  Hard to fathom.  While it would be enticing, it would lose a lot of the promotional strength it currently receives from distributors for its PPVs.  But, the digital option is a look into the future of where it can move some of its content.

The first live event on The Fight Pass (via Wikipedia)

The first live event on The Fight Pass (via Wikipedia)

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