Celebrities invest in UFC

September 30, 2016

The Wall Street Journal reports that celebrities will hold an ownership interest in the UFC.  23 celebrities including Ben Affleck, Adam Levine and Serena and Venus Williams are investing in the company.

Per the WSJ, it’s the “most significant business move” since the sale of the UFC this past July.  Terms of the celebrity investments weren’t disclosed.  WME-IMG purchased the UFC for a reported $4 billion.  According to the article, Ari Emmanuel sought out the celebrities he knew to be fans of the sport and who would be willing to market the sport and influence their fans that it is more than a niche sport.

The news comes at the beginning of the hype for the company’s debut in New York November 5th.

Updated, per Darren Rovell, here is a list of those celebrities that invested in the UFC.  Each paid $250K.

Payout Perspective:

The news should not be of a surprise to anyone considering the entity that purchased the UFC this past summer.  Certainly the investment is a part of each celebrity’s financial portfolio so I would opine that this is not 50 Cent investing in Vitamin Water.  Yet, we are seeing the leverage that the new owners have in promoting and extending the reach of the UFC brand.

TUF 24 Episode 5 draws 301,000 viewers

September 29, 2016

The 5th Episode of TUF 24 drew 301,000 viewers according to Sports TV Ratings.  The episode is the lowest-rated of the season.

The episode first aired Wednesday night on FS1 at 10-11pm ET.  It drew 189,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  Notably, MLB on ESPN drew more viewers in the same time slot.

In the fight of the show, Ronaldo Candido submitted Jaime Alvarez.

The 5th Episode is lower than last fall’s TUF 22’s which drew 498,000.  It is also lower than this past spring’s TUF 23 which drew 361,000 viewers for episode 5.

episode-5

Payout Perspective:

The episode saw another Harley-Davidson product placement with Travis Browne showing up at the house with motorcycles. This season is fine but it lacks a sufficient amount of interesting known characters to garner steady live viewership. The DVR numbers bump are on par with past seasons but the live +SD ratings are sagging this season.

TUF 24 Episode 4 DVR+3 up to 584,000

September 28, 2016

Last week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter 24 drew 584,000 viewers on a Live +3 basis which represents almost a 50% increase from its Live + Same Day rating.’

episode-4-dvr

Payout Perspective:

The DVR ratings are the lowest for the season although its increase is on par with what it usually gains from recorded viewership.

Aldo threatens to take UFC to court

September 28, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that a disgruntled Jose Aldo is talking about taking the UFC to court if he is not released from his contract.

According to a Combate report, Aldo has talked to a lawyer about his legal possibilities.  He has six fights left on his existing contract.

Aldo was angered that the company passed him over for a title shot against Conor McGregor at UFC 205.  Instead, the UFC chose Eddie Alvarez as the opponent for the Featherweight Champion.  McGregor has not defended the title since he defeated Aldo this past December.

Dana White indicated that he would speak to Aldo and his team and would not terminate the contract.

Payout Perspective:

The prospects of Aldo suing the UFC to get out of his contract are probably slim.  Rather, the talk of lawsuit is posturing so that White and the UFC grant Aldo some concession.  Whether it is monetary or he gets to pick his next fight and opponent, I would suspect that the UFC would be willing to negotiate with Aldo rather than deal with another lawsuit.

Alvarez-Smith draws 459,000 HBO subscribers

September 27, 2016

The HBO replay of the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith fight drew 459,000 HBO subscribers on Saturday night according to Sports TV Ratings.

The replay was the only fight as there was no live event to go along with the fight.  It drew another 216,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

Alvarez stopped Smith in the 9th round before over 51,000 at Texas Stadium.

Despite the big crowd, the early indications of PPV sales appear to be less than 300,000.  However, there is a report that the event was seen by 18 million viewers in Mexico on free television via Azteca 7.

Notably, Alvarez’s fight this past May versus Amir Khan drew 767,000 HBO subscribers on the replay and 339,000 in the A18-49 demo.  His Miguel Cotto replay drew 901,000 HBO subscribers.  The Cotto replay was aided by a live fight while the Khan fight stood alone.

Payout Perspective:

On a night when the UFC did really well with its Fight Night event from Brazil, the PPV replay of Canelo Alvarez garnered less than 500,000 subscribers and was from its last two replays on the network.  This has to be due to the opponent and perhaps Canelo has yet to draw a huge base of fans from the casual American viewer.

UFC Fight Night 95 draws 1.1M viewers on FS1

September 27, 2016

UFC Fight Night 95 drew 1.109 million viewers on Saturday night on FS1 per Sports TV Ratings.  In addition, the prelims drew 838,000 viewers which preceded the main card.

The main card aired from 10:00pm-1:08am ET on Saturday night at drew 582,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The prelims, which aired from 8:00-10:00pm ET, scored 417,000 viewers in the same demo.

According to Nielsen, the event peaked at 1.326M viewers from 12:45-1:00am ET quarter hour which would have been during the main event.

The pre-fight show drew 259,000 viewers (105,000 in A18-49).  The post-fight show drew 348,000 viewers (168,000 in A18-49) on FS1 per Sports TV Ratings.

The ratings reflect a 32% bump from a similar situated Fight Night from last September per Nielsen.  Also, the prelims reflect a 73% jump in ratings from last September’s Fight Night.

Most watched Fight Night main events in 2016

  1. Dillashaw-Cruz (UFC Fight Night 81)
  2. Hendricks-Thompson (UFC Fight Night 82)
  3. Hunt-Mir (UFC Fight Night 85)
  4. Cyborg-Lansberg (UFC Fight Night 95)

Televised Fight Night cards are below.

UFC Fight Night 2016
Main Card Prelims
UFC Fight Night 81 2,288,000 1,767,000
UFC Fight Night 82 1,300,000 1,093,000
UFC Fight Night 83 983,000 829,000
UFC Fight Night 85 1,149,000 766,000
UFC Fight Night 86 781,000 443,000
UFC Fight Night 87 656,000 494,000
UFC Fight Night 88 757,000 469,000
UFC Fight Night 89 964,000 369,000
UFC Fight Night 91 609,000 311,000
UFC Fight Night 92 863,000 662,000
UFC Fight Night 94 826,000 637,000
UFC Fight Night 95 1,109,000 582,000

Payout Perspective:

It was the fourth-most watch Fight Night main card this year and it was the third-most watched Fight Night prelims event this year per Nielsen.  The ratings reflect an interest in Cyborg Santos which may mean that more events with her in the main event are on the horizon.  On a night when College Football usually dominates, the UFC pulled strong ratings on a card from Brazil.

Adweek feature focuses UFC’s debut in New York

September 26, 2016

Conor McGregor will face Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 205 in New York.  Adweek ran a feature on how brands are getting behind the company’s debut in the state.

Earlier this year, New York lawmakers voted to legalize MMA in the state.  While there are still bumps regarding the passage of the bill, the fact is that MMA is making its long-awaited debut in the Big Apple.

According to the AdWeek article, UFC pulls in more total fans (1.1 billion) in telecasts worldwide and garners more fans than MLB (223 million) and the NHL (199 million) per Nielsen.  Perhaps this number is skewed since the UFC is year-round as opposed to sports which live events air during the season.

The article also notes that most of the UFC fan base is outside of the US with only 16 percent of its fan base here in the U.S.

The AdWeek focus of the feature stresses how brands can capitalize on working with the UFC and how it is relatively cost-effective to work with the MMA organization as opposed to other leagues.

Payout Perspective:

The interesting takeaway from the article are the fans outside of the US.  This bodes well for international expansion in terms of events and UFC Fight Pass subscribers.  The feature stresses the core audience of the UFC is young males in a demo that has disposable income.  Notably, the article centers its focus on two longtime, existing UFC brands Harley Davidson and Anheuser Busch and how those brands will benefit from the UFC’s debut in New York.

UFC Heavyweight flagged by USADA

September 26, 2016

UFC Heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov was notified of a potential anti-doping violation by USADA stemming from an out of competition test.

Magomedov is 3-0 in the UFC but last fought at UFC 192 in October 2015.  He was scheduled to face Stefan Struve at UFC 205 next month but withdrew due to a staph infection.

The UFC has released a statement on Magomedov:

“The UFC organization was notified that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Ruslan Magomedov of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection made on September 7, 2016.”

Payout Perspective:

The 29-year-old Russian has not been active for a while and may find himself out even longer.  Barring a legitimate excuse, this does not bode well for Magomedov.

Bellator Kickboxing draws 287,000 viewers on Spike TV

September 26, 2016

Bellator Kickboxing drew 287,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night according to Sports TV Ratings.

Friday’s event was live from Budapest, Hungary.  In addition, the event which aired from 9:00pm-10:51pm ET drew 105,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.

Previously, Bellator Kickboxing drew 346,000 viewers in its debut this past April.  In June it improved to 418,000 viewers .

Payout Perspective:

Bellator went up against College Football on FS1 (USC/Utah) which drew 1.042M viewers.  The event was the lowest-rated of the 3 thus far as Bellator is attempting to re-introduce kickboxing to Spike.  Thus far, it does not seem to be working.

UFC Fight Night 95 attendance and bonuses

September 25, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses from Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 95 which aired on FS1.

The event drew 8,841 at the Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil.

In addition, the bonuses went to Eric Spicely, Vincente Luque, Erick Silva and Luan Chagas.  Spicely and Luque drew the performance bonuses while Silva and Chagas drew Fight of the Night.  Each earned $50,000 each.

The numbers were announced by a UFC official.

Payout Perspective:

Notably, the attendance was about the same as UFC Fight Night 51 which drew 8,822 and was held in the same venue.  At that time, it was reported that there were 1,173 comped tickets.  A slight improvement in attendance from the last event although no gate announced, as usual, for a Brazil event.

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