Bellator 188 draws 444,000 on Spike TV

November 21, 2017

Bellator 188 drew 444,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event was tape-delayed as it took place in Israel.

In the main event of the card. Jeremiah Labiano defeated Noah Lahat via unanimous decision.  The card was the second straight week of international cards on tape delay.

Payout Perspective:

It’s the lowest-rated card since last month’s Bellator 184 from Oklahoma.  The tape-delay and lack of interest contributed to the low viewership for this card.  It was one for the hardcore fans on Friday night.

UFC Fight Night 121 draws 815,000 viewers, prelims 775,000

November 21, 2017

UFC Fight Night 121 drew 815,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night per Nielsen.  The prelims which preceded the main card on the network drew 775,000 viewers on the network.

The main event featured Fabricio Werdum as he defeated Marcin Tybura via unanimous decision in a heavyweight matchup.  The prelims featured bout saw Ryan Benoit score a headkick KO of Ashkan Mokhtarian in the third round of their fight.

According to ShowBuzz Daily, the main card drew 0.26 in the A18-49 demo and the prelims did 0.25 in the same demo.

The 60-minute post-fight show on FS1 drew 321,000 viewers and 0.14 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight show started 20 minutes late due to the main card overrun.  The pre-fight show was abbreviated to 10 minutes due to College Football overrun.  It did draw 739,000 viewers in just 10 minutes.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are lower than last week’s card but 815,000 has to be a success considering the lack of buzz and notable fights on this card.  The 775,000 for the prelims is another good number as it was going up against college football Saturday night.

New sponsors sign with UFC thanks to Endeavor, Performance Institute

November 20, 2017

The Sports Business Journal had another issue dedicated to combat sports and the UFC was a part of it with an article about how the new owners have opened up new spaces for sponsorships.

With the new ownership, Endeavor took over the role of sponsorship sales as the UFC’s department was cut as part of the trimming of the company upon acquisition.  It has been able to upgrade the UFC’s sponsor portfolio.

One thing that was not scaled down during the purchase was the new UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.  The center which caters to UFC athletes was a $14 million investment.  It is a 30,000 square-foot training complex similar to the ones utilized by NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB athletes.  It is staffed by strength and conditioning coaches, trainers, nutritionists and physical therapists.

This past May, the UFC secured a deal with New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery.  HSS provides the UFC access to their team of physicians and serve as orthopedic consultants to the physical therapy staff at the new UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.  In addition, it secured Body Armor as its “official sports drink” and Performance Inspired as “official sports supplement” of the UFC.

Via SBJ:

Barely six months after opening the facility, UFC has tripled the sponsorship revenue that it expected to bring in based on pro formas, landing brands such as sports drink Body Armor and nutritional supplement Performance Inspired. It didn’t hurt that WME clients Kobe Bryant and Mark Wahlberg are investors in those two respective companies.

In addition to these new areas is the idea of integrating sponsors into the UFC content instead of selling spots and dots which is a reference to patches and banners that the UFC traditionally used as revenue drivers.  For instance, fighters will appear on 7-Eleven cups as part of the convenience store sponsorship.  In 2018, when Modelo takes over as the official beer of the UFC, it will feature fighters in its “Fighting for” series of commercials.

Payout Perspective:

The article which interviews Lawrence Epstein seems to be optimistic about attracting more sponsors to be “official” UFC partners.  Although the space has yet to be occupied Epstein expects that the UFC will have a fast food sponsor and insurance sponsor.  Despite the fact Geico and Progressive have purchased spots on UFC events on FS1, it has yet to secure a deal.  But, with Endeavor in the fold and its broad range of contacts, we might see the UFC expand with more “official” sponsors.

As of now, no takers for UFC’s new media right deal

November 20, 2017

The Sports Business Journal reports the UFC’s current state of negotiating a new media rights package once its deal with FOX is up.  Currently, the new asking price of $450M per year is a stiff increase that is not garnering a lot of interest at this point.

The current deal with FOX is worth $120 million per year (with it jumping to $160 million for the last year) for the 7 year deal which ends at the end of 2018.  The UFC is looking to increase its rights fee to $450 million per year.  Traditional media companies appear to be weary of the hefty ask.

The article notes that it has had meetings with online companies Amazon and Oath.  There has been speculation that the next media rights deal could include a digital only platform which would be unprecedented.

SBJ notes that with the WWE’s media rights deal coming up in the fall of 2019, the market and bargaining leverage might be hindered for the UFC.  WWE has met with Fox earlier this summer as part of the pro wrestling company’s road show with various networks “to show the power of its programming.”  The WWE’s deal with NBC in 2017 is estimated at $180 million.

Payout Perspective:

With the WWE’s media rights deal up around the same time as the UFC, re-upping with Fox may be tougher than expected.  Although the two companies differ in entertainment products, Fox could see the WWE as a suitable replacement (with better TV ratings) for its FS1 network if the UFC asks for too much.  The unknown factor is the possibility of taking its media rights to a digital only platform.  While this may seem unlikely, the UFC has been a company willing to take risks.  The new ownership may be risk averse but if it cannot secure a deal in the neighborhood of its asking price from a traditional media company, it may look to other alternatives.

UFC attendance and bonuses (only 3 $50K bonuses awarded)

November 19, 2017

The UFC announced the attendance, gate and bonuses for Saturday’s Fight Night 121 from Sydney, Australia.  Only 3 bonuses were handed out.

The bonus winners were Tai Tuivasa, Nik Lentz and Damien Brown.  Tuivasa and Lentz drew the Performance bonuses of $50,000 each while Brown earned Fight of the Night honors.  Brown’s opponent, Frank Camacho, missed weight and was not eligible for a bonus.

In addition, the event drew 10,021 at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.  No live gate was announced.  According to this, the seating capacity is 18,2000 for the venue.

Payout Perspective:

Ryan Benoit could have been awarded the other $50,000 bonus for his head kick KO of Ashkan Mokhtarian but the UFC decided to just award Brown and keep the other $50,000.  The attendance is good for an event that had little interest unless you are a hardcore UFC fan.

Another UFC Heavyweight flagged by USADA for potential violation

November 18, 2017

UFC Heavyweight James Mulheron has been notified of a potential violation of the UFC anti-doping policy and has been removed from his fight against Cyril Asker next week in Shanghai, China at UFC Fight Night 122.

Mulheron fought just once in the UFC, losing against Justin Willis at UFC Fight Night from Glasgow, Scotland.

Via UFC.com:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed James Mulheron of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on November 10, 2017. Due to the proximity of James’s upcoming scheduled bout at UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Gastelum in Shanghai, China on November 25, 2017, against Cyril Asker, Mulheron has been removed from the card and UFC is currently seeking a replacement.

Payout Perspective:

Yet another Heavyweight falls to USADA it appears.  It’s not clear why heavyweights may be susceptible to the anti-doping policy but it appears that this is happening more than other weight classes.  As we know, Anderson Silva was removed from this card because of a potential violation as well.

Early estimates of UFC 217 PPV are at 875,000

November 17, 2017

Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting is reporting that early estimates of the UFC 217 drew 875,000 PPV buys in North America making it the biggest PPV show for 2017 thus far.

UFC 217 featured Georges St Pierre’s return against middleweight champion Michael Bisping in addition to two other championship fights.

Google trends reflected strong interest in the PPV.  There were over 1 million google searches on the Saturday of the PPV for UFC 217.  The UFC Prelims drew 1.276 million viewers despite starting on FS2.

Payout Perspective:

Very good result but if you are gaging success by the 1 million PPV buy threshold, it may disappoint.  There were 3 title fights and the return of GSP.  There was more interest in Canada for this PPV but it wasn’t enough to hit 1 million in North America.  The good news that it’s likely the PPV buys worldwide exceed 1 million and shows that GSP is still a draw.

Werdum charged with assault after hitting Covington with boomerang

November 16, 2017

Fabricio Werdum is in trouble after a video showed him throwing a boomerang at UFC welterweight Colby Covington.  According to an Australian news outlet, Werdum has been charged with common assault.

Werdum is the headliner of Saturday UFC Fight Night card in Sydney, Australia where he faces Marcin Tybura.

The video shows the two getting into an argument and then Werdum appears to throw a clear plastic bag which had a boomerang inside of it.

Covington went on Facebook Live after the incident and used an anti-gay slur in the direction of Werdum.  Just last month, Werdum was disciplined for using a similar slur in a confrontation with Tony Ferguson.

It appears that Werdum will have to return for a court date in December.

Payout Perspective:

This is something that you cannot do especially outside of a hotel in a country where the company is trying to develop a presence.  Werdum is in the wrong for throwing a boomerang at Covington and Covington is wrong for his continued generalizations against the people of Brazil.  The UFC has to step in and it will be interesting to see what it will do to Werdum who is in trouble for the second time in two straight months.  Covington has been under fire after his post-fight comments in Brazil calling the people of Brazil “Filthy Animals.”  We’ll see if there are any repercussions for Covington although it would seem in the legal case he is the victim.

TUF 26 Episode 10 draws low of 158,000 viewers

November 16, 2017

TUF 26 Episode 10 drew 158,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night according to Nielsen.  It is the lowest-rating for the TUF series.

The show featured the final quarterfinal bouts to determine the semifinals for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion.  Barb Honchak defeated Rachael Ostovich in one of the quarterfinal bouts.  In the other Nicco Montano defeated Montana Stewart.

Honchak and Montana will now meet in next week’s semifinals to determine who will fight for the title at the Finale on December 1st.

The show drew only 0.06 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The 158,000 viewers is the lowest-rated TUF this season and overall for a first-run episode for the series.  It was ranked 150th in cable tv ratings on Wednesday night and almost did not make the cut for reported ratings on ShowBuzz Daily as it only lists the top 150 shows on a given day.  The lead-in was college basketball which did not draw that many viewers.  An Indiana-Seton Hall matchup drew just 252,000 viewers Wednesday night before TUF.

Nunes makes Forbes’ “30 under 30” list

November 16, 2017

UFC women’s bantamweight champion was chosen to be on Forbes’ ’30 under 30’ list for 2017 in the area of sports.

Nunes, 29, defended her title this past September.  But, she was mired in controversy when she pulled out of UFC 213 with an injury causing Dana White to criticize her.

In addition, boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was picked for the list as well.  Alvarez fought twice in 2017 with both fights (vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr and Gennady Golovkin) drew over 1 million PPV buys.

Here is her Forbes writeup:

“She sent shockwaves through the UFC world by defeating Ronda Rousey in just 48 seconds. The first openly gay champion for the sport, Nunes is the reigning women’s bantamweight champion with a 15-4 record. Nunes has an endorsement deal with TEN spring water.”

In 2016, Jose Aldo made the annual list for sports figures.

Payout Perspective:

Nunes should be more of a star than she is and hopefully the Forbes lists helps with her celebrity.  Her pulling out of UFC 213 may have put her in the UFC doghouse.  After destroying Ronda Rousey, you would have thought she would be the next woman fighter to make it to mainstream appeal.

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