Bellator 150: 733,000 viewers

February 29, 2016

Bellator 150 drew an average viewership of 733,000 Friday night on Spike TV per Sports TV Ratings.

The main event of the night was Cheick Kongo taking on Vinicius Kappke de Quieroz.  Kongo won by split decision.

The event took place from 9-11:28pm ET on Spike TV.  It was the second-highest rated sports cable programming on Friday night as the NBA on ESPN paved the way with its double header.

2016 Bellator Events on Spike TV (overnight ratings)

Bellator 148: 566,000

Bellator 149: 1,900,000

Bellator 150: 733,000

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect a 62% drop from the Bellator 149 tentpole event last week.  In comparison, Bellator 139 this past summer drew 764,000 viewers which represented a 52% decrease from the Bellator 138 tentpole event which featured Ken Shamrock taking on Kimbo Slice.  Notably, Kongo was in the main event of the post-tentpole event this summer too.

Harley Davidson renews sponsorship with UFC

February 29, 2016

Harley Davidson has renewed its sponsorship deal with the UFC according to the Sports Business Journal (subscription required).  While no terms were disclosed, the agreement is being reported as being a multi-year deal.

The motorcycle maker has been a mainstay with the UFC since 2007 and it is the third time that Harley Davidson has renewed with the UFC.

The article notes that the UFC does not designate differing levels for each sponsor but customizes its partnerships.  The two sides have worked for several months on the new deal which includes “new components.”  The new deal with the UFC includes showcasing Harley Davidson across multiple UFC platforms as well as sponsoring the arrival of fighters on PPV and other broadcasts.  It also includes the presentation of a UFC fight to be held on a U.S. military base.

In a unique move by the two sides, the sponsor deal will include showing UFC PPV events to motorcycle customers at 600 Harley Davidson dealerships across the country.  The dealerships will receive the PPVs at a discounted rate.

Recently, Toyo Tires re-upped with the UFC.  DraftKings ended a 1-year partnership with the company.

Payout Perspective:

The news of the renewal comes at an appropriate time as UFC 196 will air this weekend.  The most notable part of the sponsorship is the ability for Harley Davidson to show UFC PPVs at its dealerships. One would think that this move would help promote sales for Harley Davidson as customers could feasibly come in for the fights and leave with a new motorcycle.  Also, the sponsorship at a UFC base helps promote the Harley brand to many U.S. service men and women.  This deal appears to be most beneficial to the Harley brand while continuing an existing relationship with the UFC.

UFC Fight Night 84 attendance, gate and bonuses

February 27, 2016

Michael Bisping, Anderson Silva, Scott Ashkam and Teemu Packalen received the $50,000 fight-night bonuses at UFC Fight Night 84 from London.  In addition, the attendance and gate were announced for the event taking place at The O2 Arena in London.

Bisping and Silva won for Fight of the Night while Ashkam and Packalen earned Performance of the Night Bonuses.

In addition, the event drew 16,734 for a gate of $2 million.  The event ranks second out of 5 UFC events at The O2 Arena.  Michael Bisping was in the main event of the top-ranked event at the O2 as he faced Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 120.  The capacity at the venue is 20,000.

The UFC’s James Elliott announced the bonuses, attendance and gate at the event’s post-fight press conference.

Payout Perspective:

This was a big event due to the Anderson Silva-Michael Bisping main event.  Despite being on the downside of his career, Silva is a huge draw and with the home country favorite Bisping as his opponent, this was an easy sell.  The event was a huge boost for the Fight Pass platform.

UFC conducted investigation on newcomer East’s criminal history

February 27, 2016

UFC newcomer Cody East was investigated extensively regarding his criminal history.  East, a 12-1 fighter from New Mexico, was charged with multiple counts of criminal sexual behavior in September 2005 when he was a 17-year-old in high school.   This was only one of several crimes involving the heavyweight prospect.

East was charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor, four counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor and one count of false imprisonment.  East pleaded innocent to the charges.

In 2007, East was charged with four counts of first-degree rape among other criminal charges.  The sordid details are here.  Although he was acquitted of the rape charge, East found himself in more trouble in July 2007 when he allegedly assaulted several young girls.

There is more to his criminal history here in this extensive post on Bloody Elbow.

East’s manager indicated that the company conducted an “extensive background check” before offering him a UFC contract.

In addition, BE has obtained a statement from the UFC which details their background check including interviewing East’s former probation officer.  The probation officer stated that East would be “a good candidate” for the UFC which we assume meant that East had gone through rehabilitation and counseling successfully and would not be a detriment to the company.

East is scheduled to debut at UFC 197.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC instituted a policy in 2014 which requests background checks for fighters.  Notably, the Will Chope incident comes to mind.  Domestic violence is a sensitive subject and you might understand why the UFC conducted an independent investigation which might have been above and beyond the standard background check.  One would hope that the investigation concluded that East has reformed his life since his criminal activity.  Combat sports as well as other sports such as the NFL have athletes involved in domestic violence and it’s up to the leagues to determine whether it is worth its time and reputation to associate them with its brand.

Glory signs TV deal with ESPN

February 26, 2016

Glory has announced a multi-year agreement with ESPN.  According to the Glory press release, the live events will stream on ESPN3 with replays occurring on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

Per Glory press release:

Since the relationship began in November of last year, GLORY and ESPN have collaborated in showcasing two non-stop, stand-up striking events — GLORY 25 Milan and GLORY 26 Amsterdam — live on ESPN3, each replayed in prime time on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

To kick off the landmark multi-year agreement, GLORY 27 Chicago streams live once again on ESPN3, tonight at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, with a replay on ESPN2 Sunday, Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT and ESPN Deportes Monday, March 7 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.

“Working with the team at ESPN has been an absolute pleasure,” said GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin. “We’re two, after tonight three, events into this relationship and excited that GLORY is part of ESPN’s sports portfolio. There’s no better television home in the United States for the GLORY numbered series.”

As the programming schedule unfolds, future GLORY events will be telecast live on ESPN2 in addition to ESPN3.

“This agreement allows us to continue serving this passionate fan base,” said Matthew Volk, Director, ESPN Programming and Acquisitions. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with GLORY to provide their content throughout the U.S.”

GLORY has secured deals with broadcast networks in over 200 countries to distribute its unparalleled library of kickboxing programming worldwide.

Payout Perspective:

After its relationship with SpikeTV ended, Glory looked for a permanent home.  It had a relationship with ESPN on a per event basis and looks like that both sides are willing to make it more long-term.  In addition, UFC Fight Pass has secured the rights to Glory Super Fight Series as well as Friday’s event also streamed via the digital network.

Each Bellator 149 fight drew at least 1.9M viewers

February 25, 2016

Every Bellator fight at Bellator 149 drew over 1 million average viewers according to Spike TV.  The Kimbo Slice-Dada 5,000 drew the highest rating with 2.9 million viewers.

The breakdown is as follows:

Emmanuel Sanchez-Daniel Pineda: 1.9 million viewers

Linton Vassell-Emmanuel Newton: 1.9 million

Derek Campos-Melvin Guillard: 2.4 million

Kimbo Slice-Dada 5K: 2.9 million

Royce Gracie-Ken Shamrock: 2.8 million

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the DVR numbers from last Friday night.  We already knew that the co-main events drew big ratings but the other fights on the card did high numbers as well.

McGregor on SI cover next week

February 25, 2016

Conor McGregor will be on the February 29th cover of Sports Illustrated.  McGregor is the third UFC fighter to make the cover of Sports Illustrated.

In addition, SI featured McGregor in a video short which promotes him and includes the background on the news of Rafael dos Anjos pulling out of the March 5, 206 fight

Payout Perspective:

The video short is an interesting take on McGregor.  The SI cover is a coup for McGregor and the UFC as the placement coincides nicely with UFC 196.  The magazine cover should hit the stands this Monday.  McGregor is the UFC’s biggest draw at this point and with over 200,000 people checking into YouTube to watch his press conference with Nate Diaz, he’s someone that everyone has their eyes on.

Kimbo-Dada fight ratings up to 2.9M viewers

February 25, 2016

The DVR numbers for Bellator 149 this past Friday reflect higher ratings for the Kimbo Slice-Dada 5000 fight as the fight between the two drew 2.9 million viewers.  The Royce Gracie-Ken Shamrock fight drew 2.7 million viewers.

Overall, Bellator 149 drew 2.2 million viewers for the 3 hour fight card.  Kimbo-Dada drew 2.9 million from 11:16pm-11:30pm ET.  It was the most-watched fight in Bellator history.  Gracie-Shamrock drew 2.7 million viewers from 11:54pm-11:57pm ET.

In addition, the Benson Henderson special which aired after Bellator 149 drew 864,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

With almost 3 million viewers, the numbers reflect that Slice is a ratings magnet.  It also tells us that despite the actual fight, Slice will be back in the Bellator cage.

Diaz replaces RDA at UFC 196, Edgar upset

February 24, 2016

Dana White announced on ESPN’s SportsCenter Tuesday night that Nate Diaz would face Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 196. The fight will be contested at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds due to the short notice for Diaz.

White indicated that it would be the most exciting fight that they could make.  White also named Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar as fighters that turned down the fight.  Despite Donald Cerrone lobbying for the fight, he was not chosen.

There will be a press conference on Wednesday with both fighters taking part.

Diaz has expressed his hate for McGregor in his last post-fight Octagon interview.  Thus, despite the short promotion time for this fight, we should be in for some great sound bites.

Payout Perspective:

One would think that the UFC made the choice of Diaz over Cerrone and others due to how they could sell this fight.  Diaz had an impressive win over Michael Johnson and will not have to cut much weight.  The big announcement was sort of a slight to Aldo and Edgar as White named them as fighters not willing to take the fight.  This has made Edgar mad.  Edgar is dealing with an injury and could not take the fight on short notice.  We will see how this plays out for Edgar as he could be in line for Conor at UFC 200.  But, lashing out at the company might mean someone else gets the shot.  On the other hand, he’s been put on hold since Conor has moved up in weight.

As for UFC 196, the Diaz-Conor matchup should make for some interesting promotion for the fight.

Bellator MMA 149: Payout Perspective

February 23, 2016

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective with a look at the latest Bellator tentpole event from Houston, Texas.  The event was a spectacle to say the least about Friday night’s event.

Gracie stops Shamrock in Round 1

The intros for this fight were well done as Bellator invested a lot into the production value of the event.  Unfortunately, the actual fight did not live up to the hype.  I don’t think anyone thought that it would, but the end to this fight was a mess.

Gracie clearly kneed Shamrock in the groin right in front of the referee.  Yet, there was no call from the referee.  What made this even more odd was the lack of immediate acknowledgement from Shamrock.  It was not until Shamrock went to the ground did he feign the shot to the groin.  Shamrock got up angry as if he was in the WWE again.

Prior to the exchange, the fight was slightly better than the co-main event.  Both men are way past their prime and I would hope that the promotion does not ask these guys to step into the cage again.

Kimbo bests Dada 5K

I’ve tempered my comments on how bad this fight was due to the fact that Dada 5000 almost died.  The poor conditioning by both fighters makes you wonder what these guys had to do to pass a test from the state of Texas.  Kimbo once again was slow and was tired halfway through the first round.  Dada was gassed after the initial exchange.  It seemed like someone told these guys some MMA strategy instead of just flailing away – something that most expected.

Kimbo won via attrition more than anything else.  Again, this is a situation where I would not have these guys fight again although Kimbo will likely be back.

Kimbo-vs-DaDa-5000-fight

Ratings

The ratings were the best for the promotion on Spike TV and the largest audience for live MMA on the network since UFC Fight Night 24 from Seattle when Little ‘Nog faced Phil Davis.  That event took place in March 2011.

The peak hit 2.7 million viewers with Kimbo-Dada at 11:30pm ET per Nielsen.  Overall, the fight drew 2.5 million viewers.  The Gracie-Shamrock fight drew 2.4 million viewers.  Overall, the event averaged approximately 2 million viewers with its shoulder programming before and after drawing huge ratings as well.

Bellator 149 was the number 1 ranked telecast of the day with men 18-34 in all of television.

It goes without saying that this was the highest-rated Scott Coker “tentpole” event since Kimbo’s last fight this past June.

And yes, Kimbo Slice is Ratings.

Promotion of the Fights

Frankly, the promotion and build for the top two fights were much better than the fights themselves.  The shoulder programming on SpikeTV was well done and told the story.  Specifically, the Kimbo/Dada promotion was the best and gave us the backstory that ordinary, casual fans did not know.  Of course, the unedited press conference featuring Kimbo and Dada rivaled the GSP/Diaz “Wolf Tickets” press conference for reasons to want to see the fight.

Attendance

There were no immediate numbers from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas although Scott Coker indicated that ticket sales were going well.  Of course, Coker would say this so we will have to see if this information is made public.

Sponsorships

AutoZone, Dave & Busters, Blackheart Spiked Rum, Miller Light, video game Street Fighter V, Gold Bond and Monster Energy Drink were in the Bellator cage.  Miller Lite had the center of the ring

Maybe a breath of fresh air for some MMA fans, but the fighters donned sponsorships on their tights, walkout t-shirts and there were actually fight banners.

Kimbo wore a “Peel Your Paint” (DipYourCar.com) shirt for his sponsor.  He also wore Venum shorts.  Dada5000 repped his own company, “Brawl.”

Odds and ends

Why didn’t they wrap Royce Gracie’s hands?

Best quote of the promotion video prior to the Kimbo-Dada fight: “Explosivity at its finest,” said by Dada.  This was grossly incorrect.

Adrian Broner appeared on the show to promote the upcoming PBC on Spike event featuring the fighter.

Mike Tyson provided commentary during the Campos-Guillard fight.  He was likely inebriated.

Notable things from the shoulder programming featuring Gracie, Dada, Kimbo and Shamrock.  When Dada was driving around his hometown to promote the fight, he had a handicap parking permit hanging from his rear view window.  Gracie had a very nice and likely expensive gun collection.  Does the IRS know about these?

The weigh-ins live stream was not very good.

On the prelims, Juan Torres had the time of his life.  He told John McCarthy, the ref of his fight, that he was a big fan.  In fact, in between rounds he asked if he could take a pic with him after his fight.  Maybe he should have focused more on the fight as Torres lost to Justin Wren.  As for Wren, he continues with one of the best stories in MMA.

Conclusion

The booking of the Kimbo/Dada fight has taken up much of the post-fight news due to the health of Dada.  It also brings up the question as to whether such a fight should have taken place.  The fact is that it was not a surprise that this event drew the biggest ratings in Bellator history and that the Slice-Dada fight is where viewership peaked.  The “freakshow” fight is something that Bellator under Scott Coker is willing to do.  We’ve seen the UFC do this before as well with Randy Couture-James Toney.  And maybe to a certain extent, the return of BJ Penn would have provided a similar, odd allure.  But, with the glaring issues with Slice-Dada we don’t know whether Bellator or the Texas Commission should be to blame.

With the ratings, you would have to expect that we will see more fights comparable to the top two we saw on Friday night.

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