Tecate offers up to $50 rebate for May-Pac

April 30, 2015

ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Tecate is offering a $50 rebate off of this Saturday’s Mayweather-Pacquiao PPV.  The rebate will cut in half the suggested PPV price for purchasing the fight in high definition.

Tecate paid an astronomical $5.6 million for the rights to sponsor the fight.  Corona, which had been a Mayweather sponsor, bid $5.2 million.

To receive a $50 rebate you would have to purchase 3 18-packs of Tecate.  Alternatively, you can save $15 off the fight if you purchase just one 18 pack or $30 if you purchase two 18 packs.  According to Tecate, it is offering 675,000 mail-in rebates.  The forms are available at point-of-purchase locations which are primarily in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas.

Tecate has been sponsoring boxing since 2007 and has been involved in promoting Pacquiao fights in the past.

Payout Perspective:

For those wanting the rebate, you will likely have to be in the Southwest part of the U.S.  I have never seen these rebates in my neck of the woods although it would be a great promotion especially with the PPV going for $90-$100.  Tecate invested heavily in this fight and we should see this promotion do well this time around.

TUF 21 Episode 2: 454,000

April 30, 2015

The second episode of TUF 21 on FS1 scored just 454,000 viewers in overnight ratings per Sports TV Ratings.  It’s a slight decrease from the debut.

In the second episode, Luis “Buscape” Firmino defeated Uros Jurisic by unanimous decision in a fight that Dana White voiced his displeasure.

TUF 21 was up against the NBA Playoffs on TNT as well as a Game 7 on NBCSN in the NHL Playoffs.  The Portland/Memphis game won the night for cable TV sports with 2.937 million viewers tuning in.  The ESPN Mayweather/Pacquiao press conference which aired from 4:00-5:00 ET drew 465,000 viewers, which was just ahead of TUF per Sports TV Ratings.

TUF 21

Episode 1 – 490,000

Episode 2 – 454,000

Payout Perspective:

The series is not off to a good start although it appears that many people are recording this show and watching it later.  Per a Nielsen source, the adjusted viewership (DVR +3) ratings for last week’s debut drew 700,000 viewers.  As long as people are tuning in to watch at some point, I think that

WWE Q1 2015 results

April 30, 2015

The WWE announced its results for the first quarter of 2015.  In a release from the company, it stated that revenues increased 40% to $176.2 million which is the highest quarterly revenue in WWE history.  The results exceeded analyst expectations for the company.

After five consecutive quarters in the red, it’s the first quarter where the WWE has shown a positive operating income.  As for the WWE Network, it reached 1.3 million total subscribers, a benchmark it announced the day after Wrestlemania.  The WWE reports that its average of network subscribers is at 927,000 at the end of the first quarter.  Again, the network’s free promotion, which was February this quarter, contributed to the Network’s growth as 154,000 subscribers converted from free to paid subscribers.

For its quarter ending March 31, 2015, it reported net income of $9.8 million ($0.13 per share) as compared to a net loss of $8.0 million ($0.11 per share) in the first quarter last year.

According to Chief Strategy & Financial Officer George Barrios the positive financial results were “driven primarily by the escalation of our [WWE] television rights fees and the expansion of the WWE Network subscribers.”

The WWE indicated that it will implement a five-part strategy the rest of 2015 for the Network.  This includes 1) creating new content; 2) implementing high impact customer acquisition and retention programs; 3) introducing new features; 4) expanding distribution platforms, and 5) entering new geographies.

As for the rest of WWE business, each division, except WWE Studios ($1.5M vs. $4.3M) is up over this quarter last year.  The total net revenues for this quarter were $176.2 as compared to $125.6 at the end of the quarter for 2014.  The Network segment, which includes revenue generated from Network and PPV increased $19.2 million from the prior year quarter.  The Network alone generated $28.6 million in revenue based on an average of 927,000 paid subscribers.

At the time of this writing, WWE stock is down slightly at $14.16 per share.

Payout Perspective:

A good quarter for the WWE.  Beating the analyst expectations is a good achievement by the company.  Wrestlemania was the likely key driver here especially when you look at the number of converted free to paid subscribers going into March, which was Wrestlemania month.  Of course, we do not know how many dropped the network in April.  We will see if the WWE can continue its positive momentum and see if its strategy for the network continues to net subscribers.

Zuffa files Reply Brief in Motion to Transfer Venue

April 29, 2015

Zuffa has filed its Reply Brief in response to the Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Zuffa’s Motion to Transfer the Venue.  Predictably, the big issue will be whether or not the fighter contracts which avail them to the Nevada should be interpreted by the Court.

In its Motion to Transfer Venue from San Jose to Las Vegas, Zuffa lawyers argued that the fighters that filed suit against Zuffa executed contracts or bout agreements which availed themselves to Nevada or Las Vegas as the fora for which a lawsuit would arise.  There are variations within the contractual language of the plaintiffs but the gist is that the contract limits lawsuits to Nevada.

The Plaintiffs argued in its opposition that the contracts were not at issue and need not be interpreted to adjudicate this matter.  Thus, the forum selection clause dictating forum were inapplicable.

In its Reply Brief, Zuffa argues that a “crucial component” of Plaintiffs’ case is that Zuffa’s contracts improperly restrict competition.  Thus, at some point, this will need to be demonstrated through “specific terms of the contracts” and how it illegally bars completion.  It contends that Plaintiffs cannot just show market share or a disparity of purses but through fighter contracts.  Moreover, it opposes Plaintiffs’ interpretation of the contracts that they impose perpetual and indefinite terms on athletes.

Zuffa cites the Ninth Circuit case of Simula, Inc. v. Autoliv, Inc. which it argues is binding authority.  Zuffa argues that Simula advises that when a plaintiff argues antitrust claims which have anticompetitive effects, the contracts must be interpreted.  In that case, the Court determined whether an arbitration provision in a contract should be followed.  In addition, it determined that with antitrust claims under Sherman Act 1 and 2, the Court would have to evaluate an agreement between the parties.

As Zuffa argument goes, since the contracts will need to be evaluated, Nevada would be the proper forum since it would be “more familiar” with the governing law.  It also argues that since the plaintiffs contend that this is a nationwide class action, the relevancy of the location main class representative is not relevant.  Thus, it rebuts the argument that Le and others live in Northern California since the lawsuit alleges to be a nationwide class action.  It also contends that the residence of the plaintiffs is “substantially diminished” when the plaintiff’s venue choice is not its residence.  This would be the case, as pointed out by Zuffa, by plaintiffs such as Brandon Vera and Gabe Ruediger.

As for Plaintiffs suggestion that San Jose is more expeditious to trial and has handled more Antitrust cases, Zuffa summarily dismisses these contention citing they are not elements in determining a motion to transfer venue.  It also argues that there is not a strong local interest in the underlying litigation.

The hearing on the Motion to Transfer Venue will be held in San Jose on May 7th.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how the court addresses and interprets the Simula case.  While the case does point out that it needed to look at the underlying agreement when deciphering an antitrust case, the main issue there was whether an arbitration provision found in the contract applied to the dispute.  Thus, the case hinged on whether or not there should be a stay of the lawsuit pending an arbitration or whether that case should be dismissed in its entirety.  The point being is that the court did not necessarily decide whether a forum selection clause bound the parties to the contractual provision when the lawsuit is premised upon anticompetitive behavior of a party (i.e. antitrust claims).  This is just a cursory look at the Simula case and certainly plaintiffs’ lawyers will analyze the case and make its own distinctions.   This is the last filing before the hearing next week so we shall see what arguments are presented by plaintiffs to rebut these assertions.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Reebok ends Jon Jones sponsorship deal

April 29, 2015

Darren Rovell reports that Reebok has terminated the contract of Jon Jones.  The news comes on the heels of his suspension from the UFC on Tuesday.

Jones had an individual sponsorship agreement with the soon-to-be official clothier of the UFC.  He was featured in a commercial for the brand which debuted during NBA games last month.  A link on the Reebok web page which featured Jon Jones is no longer valid.  Also, a tweet from Reebok last week promoting Jon Jones with an Instagram pic/video no longer works.

A representative for Reebok told TMZ Sports, “In light of recent events, we have made the decision to terminate our contract with Jon Jones, effective immediately.”

Payout Perspective:

The decision by Reebok to pull Jones’ individual sponsorship deal was a likely result of his indefinite suspension and actions this past weekend.  Like the UFC, it had stuck with Jones despite the positive showing that he had used cocaine, but the latest episode was too much for the brand that becomes the official sponsor of the UFC in July.  It’s an obvious hit for Jones and also one for Reebok as it had invested in Jones as well.  Certainly, the brand can shift to another UFC star but it would be of no surprise if Jones was to be a main driver for Reebok.

Jones stripped of title, suspended indefinitely

April 28, 2015

The UFC announced Tuesday night that it has stripped Light Heavyweight Jon Jones of his title and suspended him indefinitely. Daniel Cormier has stepped in to face Anthony Johnson for the now vacated title at UFC 187.

The discipline to Jones comes after his hit and run accident in New Mexico this weekend. Jones fled the scene. An arrest warrant was issued for Jones after it was discovered that one of the individual’s involved, a pregnant woman, suffered a broken arm. Jones turned himself in and bail of $2,500 was posted shortly after his incarceration.

Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Lawrence Epstein met with Jones after his first court appearance. The announcement to strip Jones of the title was announced the same day as the meeting.

Cormier was scheduled to meet Ryan Bader in New Orleans as part of a UFC Fight Night in June. No replacement for Bader has been announced.

Payout Perspective:

For the cynical, one might suggest that a strong first quarter of 2015 helped Zuffa make this decision. UFC 187 still has a strong card and if Jones were kept on the card, his legal matters would have been a distraction in lead-up to the event. In the end it was the correct decision for the organization to make. It seems a little odd to praise the UFC for doing what it should be doing, but we have seen prior examples of inconsistent discipline. While Zuffa could have indicated that it would wait until the facts came out, enough was enough. It slapped Jones on the wrist with a $25,000 fine for violating the Athlete Code of Conduct for using cocaine prior to UFC 182 and it had to do something more this time around.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC 186 Prelims draw 710,000 viewers

April 28, 2015

MMA Payout has learned from Nielsen sources that the UFC 186 Prelims on Fox Sports 1 drew 710,000 viewers in Live + Same Day viewership.  It is the first Prelims event that has drawn less than 1 million viewers in 2015.

The featured card on the Prelims featured Patrick Cote taking on Joe Riggs with Cote winning via unanimous decision.  The Prelims also held the Fight of the Night

The Prelims peaked during Cote-Riggs with 846,000 viewers in the 9:30-6:45pm ET quarter hour.

Also of note, the pre-fight show drew 322,000 viewers on FS1.

UFC PPV Prelims 2015

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the fact that this card was the least desirable of the PPVs this year.  The 710,000 is the lowest since December’s UFC 181 which drew 840,000 viewers.  The Prelims competed with NBA and NHL Playoffs which aired at the same time.

Klitschko draws 1.63M viewers on HBO

April 28, 2015

HBO’s Saturday night boxing featuring World Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko drew the highest rating among its subscribers drawing an average of 1.637 million viewers for the fight with Bryant Jennings.  The overall telecast drew an average of 1.3 million viewers.

It was Klitschko’s first appearance in the U.S. in years and many fight fans tuned in with the fight peaking at 1.742 million viewers.  The undercard featuring Sadam Ali defeating Francisco Santana drew an average of 1 million viewers peaking with 1.134 million.

According to Bad Left Hook, it was the highest rating for HBO Boxing since 2012.

Payout Perspective:

The HBO telecast, which competed with UFC 186, reflects the fact that Heavyweight boxing is still a draw and Wladimir Klitschko should fight stateside more often.  One need only look at the 17,056 fight fans that came to saw him at Madison Square Garden to know that despite Deontay Wilder, Klitschko is the dominant fighter in the Heavyweight division.  Despite PBC’s recent dominance of television, the viewership from Saturday reflects the fact that boxing can still be viable on the premium networks.

Warrant issued for Jones for hit and run

April 27, 2015

An arrest warrant has been issued for UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones as a result of a hit and run incident that occurred on Sunday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The charge indicates that Jones left the scene of an accident involving “death or personal injuries.”  There was not a death, but in the three car accident, a pregnant woman suffered injuries to her arm and wrist.

UPDATED:  Jones in custody.

According to the warrant, an off-duty police officer recognized Jon Jones at the scene as he watches UFC “all the time.”  The off-duty officer was in the area at the time of the accident.  He observed Jones at the driver’s door area of a silver Buick.  Jones was identified as the driver of the Buick.  Another witness at the scene observed Jones leaving the vehicle and then returning as he put cash in his pants from the Buick.

MMA Fighting reports that Jones will turn himself in.  The MMA Fighting article indicates a pipe with marijuana was inside the car Jones was apparently driving.

Jon Jones Warrant

Payout Perspective:

Based on the information at hand, the pregnant woman that was injured does not appear to have life threatening injuries or injuries that might affect the birth of her child.  Of course, that’s based on information we know at this time and this could change.  Hopefully not.  Notwithstanding that issue, the news of the latest trouble for Jon Jones is of huge concern for the UFC.  The UFC will come under fire for whatever decision it may make with respect to his fight next month.  From one perspective, if they keep him on the card while the investigation goes on there will be criticism.  If he is taken off at this point, it hurts the card and the UFC business.  We will see what happens to Jones in the coming days.

PBC on Spike TV ratings drops 35% from March debut

April 27, 2015

Friday night’s PBC on Spike boxing event on Friday night drew 569,000 viewers according to Sports TV Ratings.  The ratings are a sharp decrease from the 869,000 viewers it drew on March 13th.

Friday night’s 3 plus hour event drew a 0.2 rating for the adult 18-49 demo.  According to Television By Numbers, the NBA Playoffs drew the top ratings on cable.  Notably, the Clippers-Spurs on ESPN drew 3.41 million viewers and Rockets-Mavericks which preceded LA-San Antonio drew 2.46 million.

In the main event on Friday night, Badou Jack defeated Anthony Dirrell to win the WBC middleweight title.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly the NBA and NHL Playoffs likely hurt the ratings for the rather long event on Spike Friday.  The roughly 35 % drop from its debut might be a concern for ratings-watchers especially Spike TV execs who are hoping to build out its Friday night lineup with combat sports.  One would think that this number should rebound with Amir Khan fighting Chris Algieri on Spike TV on May 29th.

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