UFC on Fox Sports Ratings (12/09 – 12/15)

December 26, 2013

MMAPayout will be covering in detail the FOX – UFC  TV deal, quarterly and weekly, in order to analyze the performance of both properties throughout the lifespan of the TV deal.  In this week’s edition, we will be looking at the UFC on FOX sports network ratings for the week of 12/09 – 12/15.

FOX-Sports-Logo

 

UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (12/11):
UFC Tonight: 127,000 viewers (7-8 PM)
UFC Reloaded: 480,000 viewers (8-11 PM)

UFC on Fox Sports Friday Night Block (12/13):
– UFC on FOX Weigh-Ins on FS1: 44,000 viewers (7-8 PM).
– 
UFC Tonight: 54,000 viewers (8-9 PM)
– UFC Ultimate  100 Knockouts Replay on FS1: 275,000 viewers (9-10 PM).
– Golden Boy Boxing on FS1: 188,000 viewers (10-1 AM).

UFC on Fox Sports Saturday (12/14):
– UFC on FOX Prelims on FS1: 613,000 viewers (5 – 8PM).
– Big East Basketball on FS1: 212,000 viewers (8 – 10PM).
– FOX Sports Live on FS1: 137,000 viewers (10-11 PM).

Other Key Programming Notes :
– Ultimate Insider (12/15) on FS1 drew 37,000 viewers.
– UFC Unleashed (12/15)  on FS1 drew 217,000 viewers.
– UFC Breaking Ground(12/15) on FS2 drew 133,000 viewers.
– UFC Road to the Octagon (12/13) on FS1 drew 44,000 viewers.
– Best of PRIDE FC (12/10) on FS2 drew 48,000 viewers (FS2 viewership high for the week).

 

***

 Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals:
– Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 155,000 (last week: 186,000)
– Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 14,000 (last week: 30,000)

Ratings provided by Nielsen TV Ratings & Fox Sports.

 

Payout Perspective:

This week is no different than last week, as FOX Sports continued to struggle since TUF and the College Fottball season came to an end.  This week, the primetime viewership averaged 155,000 viewers, a drop from the 186,000 average viewers the previous week.  In the past three weeks, primetime viewership on FS1 has declined from 514,000 to 155,000, which is roughly a 70% drop. Fox Sports 2 primetime viewership this week also dipped from 30,000 the previous week to 14,000, which is more than 50% but typical due to the small viewership numbers.

Despite the declining primetime viewership numbers for the network, UFC programming claimed the highest viewership on FOX Sports 1  and four out of the top five  for the week. What’s even more surprising is that only one out of those 4 were live sport events.  Out of the top 5 programs for the week, only the UFC on FOX prelims and the Big East college basketball game on Saturday were live events.  The most successful non-live programming was UFC Reloaded, a replay of a previous UFC PPV event, which drew 480,000 viewers.

The most watched non-UFC programming on FS1 for the week was the Big East CBB game on Saturday, which drew 212,000 viewers.

Glory 13: 659,000 viewers

December 26, 2013

MMA Payout has learned from Nielsen sources that Glory 13 airing on tape delay on Spike TV Saturday scored an average viewership of 659,000 viewers.  It peaked overall in the first hour at 905,000 viewers.

The event, from Tokyo, Japan, aired on Spike on Saturday in its 9pm-11pm time slot.  In the second hour, the show peaked with 873,000 viewers at 10:42pm.  The show peak of 905,000 viewers occurred at 9:11pm.

Spike TV aired a preview show for Glory 13 of 538,000 average viewers.

Glory 11:  381,000 viewers

Glory 12:  476,000 viewers

Glory 13:  659,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Good numbers for the organization as there is a generous increase in viewership for each event.  Even with a tape delay, the viewership for the event is up almost 40%.  In my opinion, the preview show ratings show a budding interest in the sport and Spike’s commitment to Glory (it probably could have done much better ratings with a Cops rerun.  We shall see how Glory 14 (from Croatia) does on SpikeTV March 8th as it will go opposite UFC Fight Night 37 (on the digital network) and Canelo Alvarez’s next scheduled fight.

13 for 13: No. 7 UFC PPV Buys Actually Improving?

December 25, 2013

If I were to tell you that the UFC is having a strong year with its pay per view business you would think that someone sponsored this post.  However, the UFC is set to improve over its 2011-2012 PPV averages.

Through 12 PPVs it is averaging approximately 423K PPV buys for 2013.  Even if UFC 168 hits 1 million PPV buys, a benchmark it has not hit since 2010, it would average 467K PPV buys for 2013.  While this sounds bad for the UFC, it’s likely that the company will eclipse its 2012 PPV average of 448K PPV buys (over 13 events) and 2011 PPV buy average of 413K (over 14 events).

Expectations for these events may have overshot the actual PPV buy rates.  UFC 167’s buy rate of 625K has to be a disappointment considering GSP is a reliable PPV star for the company, there was much buildup for the event and the rumors that 167 would be GSP’s last.  Yet, the 625K PPV buys is one of GSP’s lowest since being a headliner.  The GSP-Diaz 950K PPV buys earlier this year has to be attributed to Nick Diaz and “wolf tickets”.  It also shows that UFC events sell much better when there is some animosity between the main event competitors.

Jon Jones has seemingly not produced as expected as a main eventer.  A heated rivalry between Jones and Chael Sonnen did not occur on TUF and while their fight at UFC 159 drew 550K, Jones’ follow up fight against Alexander Gustafsson only drew 325K PPV buys.

Anderson Silva, another fighter that has contributed to UFC PPV success drew 550K in his only fight of the year so far at UFC 162 against Chris Weidman.  The UFC should expect a better PPV average for this Saturday in their rematch.  But with a loss, this could be the downturn for the Spider on PPV.

Ronda Rousey should be another fighter to be on the lookout for in 2014.  She headlined (along with Liz Carmouche) UFC 157 over Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson.  In the end, UFC 157 drew a respectable 450K PPV buys and a lot of mainstream attention.  Will Rousey be a fighter that will attract the PPV crowd?

UFC PPV Buys 2013

Event

PPV Buy Rate

Main Event

UFC 168

????

Weidman-Silva II

UFC167

625,000

GSP-Hendricks

UFC 166

330,000

Velasquez-JDS III

UFC 165

325,000

Jones-Gus

UFC 164

270,000

Henderson-Pettis

UFC 163

170,000

Aldo-Zombie

UFC 162

550,000

Silva-Weidman I

UFC 161

150,000

Evans-Hendo

UFC 160

380,000

Cain-Bigfoot II

UFC 159

550,000

Jones-Sonnen

UFC 158

950,000

GSP-Diaz

UFC 157

450,000

Rousey-Carmouche

UFC 156

330,000

Aldo-Edgar

 

Some interesting notes from the PPV buys this year.  Jose Aldo headlined two PPVs.  Although Benson Henderson does well with Fox ratings, it does not translate to PPV buys.  His rematch with Anthony Pettis only drew 270K PPV buys.  UFC 161 had to revamp its main event due to an injury to Renan Barao but it definitely was a PPV event that UFC fans chose to skip.  The UFC heavyweights did not produce buy rates this year as reflected by UFC 160 and 166.  This is surprising considering that Cain Velasquez going into UFC 160 had averaged 733K PPV buys (over 3 PPV fights) since defeating Brock Lesnar at UFC 121.

All PPV buy rates from MMA Payout’s Blue Book and thanks to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer.

13 for 13: No. 8 Zuffa still shut out in New York

December 24, 2013

Another year, another full-court press by Zuffa to hold an event in New York….another disappointment.  The Southern District of New York ruled on New York’s Motion to Dismiss and found in favor of the state and dismissed all of Zuffa’s claims except for its claim that the existing statute banning professional MMA in the state is unconstitutionally vague.

The dismissal severed a huge chunk of Zuffa’s case against the state which was originally filed in November 2011.  While Zuffa attempted to spin the news, the fact that it now has only one claim in its lawsuit has to be damaging for its possibility of success.  To give a snapshot of the glacial pace of this litigation, New York filed its Motion to Dismiss Zuffa’s lawsuit in October 2012 and a hearing on the Motion was not heard until February 2013.  And then, the ruling did not come out until September 30, 2013.

Notably, the Court dismissed Zuffa’s claim under the First Amendment citing that the central question in determining First Amendment protection was whether the activity was primarly communicative and expressive. The Court claimed that the fighters lacked the “essential communicative elements” for a claim under the First Amendment.

At this point, the parties have provided the Court with a “Scheduling Order” detailing deadlines for written discovery and depositions.  New York has identified the named Plaintiffs as potential people to depose which includes Frankie Edgar and Jon Jones.  It is intended that they will need to be deposed by March 7, 2014 according to a Court filing.

Where will the Court case go?  After discovery, it’s likely that we see New York attempt to make a case to bring a summary judgment motion to dismiss Zuffa’s remaining claim.  If Zuffa survives another motion to dismiss its case, we will likely see a trial sometime in 2014.  Even if it is found that the MMA ban is unconstitutional, it’s likely the state of New York would have to draft legislation allowing professional MMA in the state and how it would be regulated.

The ongoing legal saga is just another chapter of Zuffa attempting to legalize MMA in New York.  Despite its usual confidence at the beginning of the legislative session in Albany, there was no vote for MMA once again.  The UFC had claimed to have secured Madison Square Garden in November for its 20th Anniversary show but the date came and went.  Whether or not the Culinary Union of Las Vegas played a part, or whether a sexual discrimination claim played a part, Zuffa is spinning its wheels.  In July, it was revealed that it had contributed $35,000 to New York Legislators since the start of the year. Notably, it spent $330K on federal lobbying efforts this year. This is down from $620K on lobbying efforts in 2012.

While most MMA fans believe that the UFC will be in New York one day, the company continues to strike out when trying to make inroads into the state.  We will see what can be done this spring in Albany and what movement happens with the court case

UFC Fight Pass reportedly $9.99 per month

December 23, 2013

The new UFC digital network set to launch next month is slated to be a subscription service at $9.99 per month.  The digital network named “UFC Fight Pass” will show all overseas fights and will eventually have the full Zuffa library for subscribers.  An official announcement by Zuffa is due this week.

Bloody Elbow, MMA Mania among others picked up on a tweet by Ross Finklestein which showed a screenshot promoting the UFC Fight Pass.  An official announcement will occur later this week.

The digital network is a way to monetize the company’s continued expansion globally.  While Zuffa plans to hold events in new locations across the globe, it wants to focus on localizing its events instead of conducting events to cater to North American television.  Thus, the first live card on the Fight Pass will be UFC Fight Night 34 in January that will take place in Singapore starting 3:30amPT/6:30am ET.  It’s unlikely that anyone would get up to watch this card although you could re-watch it later on the Fight Pass.

Payout Perspective:

Anyone interested in purchasing the Fight Pass?  At $10 per month, only the biggest UFC fans would pay another $120 a year in addition to the $55 or $60 they pay in UFC PPVs.  But for the company, the foray into a digital network is an interesting strategy that may pay off while accomplishing the strategy of expanding into new markets while monetizing the product for those interested in seeing these overseas events.

13 for 13: No. 9 UFC continues globalization of brand

December 22, 2013

The UFC continued its expansion outside of the U.S. with 13 events abroad.  Of the 13 events, 6 were held in Brazil while the UFC returned to Japan for the second year in a row and had two shows in the United Kingdom.

Most of the live events were part of the Fuel TV/FX/FS1/FS2 group for fans to watch for free.  There were two three PPV events in Canada this year.  The dismal PPV ratings (150K PPV buys) for UFC 161 were aided by a nice live attendance and big gate of $3.1 million.

UFC Events Outside of the U.S.

UFC on FX 7: 01/19/13, San Paulo,  Brazil – Attendance – 9,115

UFC on Fuel TV 7: 02/16/13, London, England – Attendance 10,349 $1.3M gate

UFC 158: 03/16/13, Montreal, Canada – Attendance 20,145 $3.7M gate

UFC on Fuel TV 8: 03/03/13, Saitama, Japan – Attendance 14,682

UFC on Fuel TV 9: 04/06/13, Stockholm, Sweden – Attendance 14,506 – $2.7M gate

UFC on FX 8:  05/18/13, Jaragua do Sul, Brazil – Attendance 7,642

UFC 161: 06/15/13, Winnepeg, Ontario, Canada – Attendance 14,754 – $3.1million , 150K PPV buys

UFC on Fuel TV 10: 06/08/13, Fortaleza, Brazil – Attendance 13 6,286

UFC Fight Night 28: 09/04/13, Belo Horizonte, Brazil– Attendance 5,126

UFC 165 09/21/13 :Air Canada Center Toronto, Canada – Attendance 15,504 – $1.9M 325K PPV Buys

UFC Fight Night 29:  10/09/13 Baruen, Brazil – Attenance 6,621

UFC Fight Night 30:  10/26/13 Manchester, UK – Attendance 10,355 $1.5M gate

UFC Fight Night 32: 11/09/13 Goiania, Brazil – Attendance 10,565

UFC Fight Night 33:12/07/13 Brisbane, Australia – Attendance 11,393 $1.7M gate

The UFC started its TUF Franchise in China in December with Cung Le as the chief coach and also featuring UFC fighter Tiequan Zhang.  The finals for TUF: China will occur in March 2014 from Macau, China.  Prior to March 2014, the UFC will visit Singapore in January and that event will be the first on the UFC Digital Network

Brazil had its second season of TUF culminating with Fabricio Werdum defeating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the Finale which was part of UFC on Fuel TV 10.  It was announced that TUF: Brazil 3 would be coached by Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.

In May, the UFC brokered a television deal with Televisa Networks which will give it exclusive an exclusive distribution agreement to air UFC programming in 20 Spanish speaking countries in Latin America.  It also revealed plans to launch a subscription-based channel that would have access to over 35 live events per year as well as original UFC programming broadcast in Spanish.  Although the mid-year announcement indicated that the subscription network would be available in late 2013, I have yet to hear news of this launch.  If this has happened, let me know.

Televisa Networks

As we’ve remarked over the last couple years, the UFC sees globalization of its product as a way to expand business.  The UFC has announced potential locations for UFC events in 2014 including Poland, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Turkey (via MMA Junkie). The events overseas will be more focused on the region by including local fighters while having the event at times convenient for the location rather than gearing it toward North American audiences.  With the news of a subscriber-based Digital Network which will air overseas UFC fights, we are seeing the game plan.

 

13 for 13: No. 10 Bellator nixes PPV

December 21, 2013

November 2nd would have been the date of Bellator’s first PPV which would have featured Rampage Jackson facing Tito Ortiz in the main event.  However, due to an injury to Ortiz, he was a late scratch for the event.  As a result, Bellator cancelled its pay per view and placed the event on Spike TV.

In the end, Bellator 106 on Spike TV pulled 1.1 million viewers with Michael Chandler facing the returning Eddie Alvarez in a 5 round bout.  In the end, the event went over 3 hours and 30 minutes which would have been close to the likely PPV time limit.

The cancellation made the months of promotion between Ortiz and Rampage at Bellator events and on TNA Wrestling shows worthless.  It also showed that Bellator did not believe Chandler-Alvarez II would be a main event that viewers would pay $35-$45 nor did it have a supporting undercard to promote that would support a PPV-worthy show.  What the cancellation inferred was that Bellator was hanging its hopes on PPV buys on Rampage and Tito and hoping that names alone would sell the product.  As we can see, it was a risky play.

Certainly the fact that Bellator attempted to get in front of the story with a decisive move to take it off of PPV and move it to Spike TV provided some damage control.  It could have kept the event on PPV and suffered very low PPV buys.

Will Bellator do a PPV in 2014?  It does not really have to based on its current business model, yet Bjorn Rebney left the PPV option open for an event featuring the Chandler-Alvarez trilogy.

Broner-Maidana on Showtime: 1.3 million

December 21, 2013

Showtime’s Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza reported that last week’s Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana on the network did 1.3 million viewers.  ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported the ratings via twitter.

The fight which featured the undefeated, brash Broner versus the brawler Maidana was a slugfest.  Maidana put Broner down on the canvas twice although Broner held up through most of the middle rounds.  Maidana upset Broner via decision.

Its not clear if the 1.3 million is at its peak or its average.  The number is limited to the number of Showtime subscribers tuning in for the fight.  According to Bad Left Hook, the ratings made it the third highest rating on Showtime.

Initially, the fight was going to be only on PPV until Showtime decided to put it on the network instead.  The event was offered in PPV for those non-Showtime subscribers.

Payout Perspective:

If the 1.3 is the average viewership, according to a list compiled by Yahoo! Sports, Broner-Maidana tied for 5th highest this year in the HBO-Showtime ratings.  Broner scored the fourth highest rating (1.4 million) for 2013 when he fought Gavin Rees on HBO in February.  Broner also did 1.3 million in his fight against Paulie Malignaggi Despite being pulled off of PPV, it was promoted well through its two-part All Access shows (Showtime’s version of 24/7).  The fight probably helped both fighters as it was hotly contested, went back and forth and many more people were able to see the fight since it was on Showtime. We will see if there is a rematch in 2014.

13 for 13: No. 11 World Series of Fighting sustains in first full year

December 20, 2013

2013 was the first full year for the WSOF.  Even though its last event on NBC Sports Network saw a downturn in ratings, it was announced that it would be on NBC twice in 2014 and more events which could mean bigger things in the coming year.

WSOF

WSOF

The ratings saw a high with its August 2013 event and saw its lowest ratings on December 10th.

WSOF 1 – 198,000 viewers (November 2012)

WSOF 2 – 210,000 viewers

WSOF 3 – 201,000 viewers

WSOF 4 – 264,000 viewers

WSOF 5 – 227,000 viewers

WSOF 6 – 161,000 viewers

WSOF 7 – 94,000 viewers

WSOF has hired sports media company IMG to represent the company in seeking to distribute the media rights for the company.  It is seeking to hold 8-10 events in the next two years and seeking to hold events internationally.  The organization announced the “World Series of Fighting Japan” as it has established a working agreement with Pancrase to co-promote a card in Japan.

In addition, it announced a partnership with Boost Mobile this year which came off to mixed reviews with its debut promotion during the August event.

Despite the mix of ratings, the WSOF is live content for the NBC Sports Network which it needs.  If you have tuned in recently, NBC Sports Network has shown the US Olympic Trials for Curling.  To me, MMA seems a little more exciting compared to curling.  It will be interesting to see how its business strategy of expansion does and if the product catches on in international markets.  Its network appearances will be something to look at in terms of how it is promoted and how it will do on the network.  NBC Sports Network’s “Fight Night” which has made appearances on the NBC Network on Saturday afternoons has shown good ratings for a boxing card with relatively unknown boxers.

One of the things that the WSOF could do is continue to look for ex-UFC fighters that still can be competitive and put on good fights.  Also, Nick Newell.  He should be the face of the organization.  He is a great fighter and will make a great human interest story.  Expect him to fight on NBC when WSOF makes its debut.

UFC offers closed-circuit option for 168

December 20, 2013

The UFC has announced that UFC 168 set for Saturday, December 28th will now be available via closed-circuit telecast at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.  Tickets for closed-circuit will be $60 each.

The card is nearing a sellout with scattered single tickets left in the highest price bracket ($1,038.35 per ticket according to Ticketmaster on Friday afternoon).  The headliners feature Chris Weidman defending his UFC middleweight championship against Anderson Silva and Ronda Rousey defending her bantamweight title against Miesha Tate.

H/t:  @kidceej at MMA Mania

Payout Perspective:

It should be no surprise that the UFC is pulling out all of the stops for this card.  It has already bumped up the PPV price by $5 which should pull in more revenue in the end.  The closed-circuit option is smart as it provides a way for those not wanting to buy from scalpers but still want to see the fights.  It also should pull in some of the holiday crowd coming into Vegas for the glut of Bowl games.

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