MPO Year in Review: No. 6 Down year for UFC PPVs

December 29, 2017

It was a disappointing year for UFC PPVs as 4 UFC PPVs did not surpass 200,000 PPV buys.  The absence of Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and lack of another UFC star to appeal to the mainstream hurt this year’s events.

UFC 208:  200,000

UFC 209:  300,000

UFC 210:  300,000

UFC 211:  300,000

UFC 212:  167,000

UFC 213:  150,000

UFC 214:  850,000

UFC 215:  100,000

UFC 216: 120,000

UFC 217:  875,000

UFC 218: ~230,000

The estimated buy rates would mean the UFC averaged 326,000 buys per event.  Only UFC 214 with Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier II and the promotion’s return to MSG (along with the octagon return of GSP) drew over 800,000 buys.  Perhaps the concerning factor this year was that there were no PPVs which averaged between 300,000-500,000 buys.  There were 3 events that estimated 300,000 PPV buys and 6 events that drew 200,000 PPV buys or less.

The buy rates reflect the fact that the casual MMA fan is not tuning in unless it’s a big event.  In fact, they are skipping events due to the lack of interest.

There are many reasons for this decrease in the buy rate.  First, Conor McGregor focused on boxing this year.  In 2016, McGregor’s 3 appearances drew over 1 million PPV buys.  UFC 200 featured the return of Brock Lesnar and drew another 1 million buys. December 2016’s return of Ronda Rousey also drew 1 million buys.  Notably, UFC 203, which featured the debut of C.M. Punk produced a strong 450,000 buys.

In 2015, there were 2 PPVs over 1 million buys, McGregor (UFC 193) and Rousey (UFC 194) were in the main events, and 2 more over 800,000 buys (Jones-Cormier I at UFC 182 and McGregor-Mendes at UFC 189).

Second, the lack of cultivation of UFC stars reflects in the lack of PPV buys.  Perhaps most disappointing was the lack of drawing power for stars such as Stipe Miocic, Holly Holm, Tyron Woodley and Amanda Nunes.  In addition, the Diaz brothers sat out this year.  Even though they are not true contenders for a title, they are big draws.

Finally, the injury bug sprang up once again as Amanda Nunes was a late scratch for her main event at UFC 213. While it may not have impacted PPV buys, Demetrious Johnson’s fight against Ray Borg was scratched at UFC 215.  Ironically, Nunes stepped into the main event against Valentina Shevchenko.  Also, Khabib Nurmogomedov and Tony Ferguson’s fight never came to be due to Khabib’s weight cutting issues.

The good news is that Francis Ngannou is stepping up as a force in the Heavyweight division and his fight with Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 should draw some mainstream appeal.  Also, Dana White has indicated that Conor McGregor may be back in the summer of 2018 which means another big event that will likely headline International Fight Week.

One Response to “MPO Year in Review: No. 6 Down year for UFC PPVs”

  1. Jesse on January 2nd, 2018 10:04 PM

    bad year for the ufc.

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