Dana White to make an appearance on Twitch live stream Tuesday

May 21, 2018

Dana White will be appearing on Twitch with Daniel Cormier, Matt Serra, Michael Bisping and Chris Weidman on Tuesday night at 6:30pm PT.  White will host an EA Sports UFC session with YouTube Influencer KSI.

They will be playing EA Sports UFC 3 on Twitch live stream.  Select fans will be able to join the live stream via their Playstation 4 during the event.

Payout Perspective:

The event will be an interactive event on Twitch.  It’s a foray into the world of esports and it will be interesting to see how many people will tune in.  The event is promoting the video game which has not seen robust sales yet in a time where everyone is turning to esports/video games as a source of promoting the league brand and revenue, the UFC’s move was anticipated.

Report: Fox pays 5 year, $1 Billion Dollars for WWE’s Smackdown

May 21, 2018

Fox and WWE are close to a 5-year $1 Billion Deal for the ‘Smackdown Live’ show currently airing Tuesday night’s on NBC Universal-owned USA Network.  The deal may have ramifications with the future of the UFC’s TV deal.

First reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell and the details provided by a report on The Hollywood Reporter, the deal is close to being complete and would pay the WWE $205 million annually and is expected to begin in October 2019.  It is 3 times what NBCUnversal currently pays to air the two-hour weekly show on the USA network.

Unlike its last television rights deal, there seems to be more of an appetite for the company’s content as The Hollywood Reporter notes that there is an even higher bid from a third party.  But, the WWE chose Fox as it will commit to promoting Smackdown in its sports portfolio which includes MLB and NFL.

The WWE’s anchor show, Raw, will remain with NBCUniversal’s USA Network.

During the upfront presentation to advertisers last week, the WWE introduced Ronda Rousey which was likely spurred interest in the package.

NBCUniversal has had SmackDown since 2010 and reportedly paid $30 million for the franchise.

As a result of the news, WWE stock has jumped up to $57.87 as of 4:01pm EDT, up almost 12.5%, which is outstanding as it trades near its 52 week high.

Payout Perspective:

Rousey is currently on the Raw brand although it’s clear she’ll likely switch to SmackDown to be on Fox starting in October.  The deal likely has some impact on whether the UFC renews with Fox.  While it has forged a digital package with ESPN’s new OTT platform, the TV deal still remains up in the air.  If Fox is willing to spend $205 million annually for the WWE, will it still open up its bank account for the UFC?  The likely play is that the programming is similar and the UFC will now look elsewhere and perhaps the unnamed highest bidder that the WWE has turned down.

UFC Fight Night 129 attendance and bonuses

May 20, 2018

UFC Fight Night 129 from Chile took place on Saturday.  UFC executive Dave Shaw announced the bonus winners and attendance.

Gabriel Benitez, Claudio Puelles, Andrea Lee and Veronica Macedo earned the $50,000 fight bonuses.  Benitez and Puelles earned Performance of the Night while Lee and Macedo earned the Fight of the Night.

The event, its first in Chile, took place at Movistar Arena in Santiago Chile.  It drew 11,082 fans.  No gate was announced.

Payout Perspective:

The attendance is very good for a new market for the UFC.  It is second to only London’s UFC Fight Night 127 this year in terms of attendance.  Aside from the main event, the fights on Saturday were good.

Bellator 199 payouts: 3 earn $150K

May 18, 2018

The California State Athletic Commission released the purses from Saturday night’s Bellator 199 in San Jose, Caliornia.  Three fighters earned $150,000 each.

The breakdown by MMA Junkie:

  • Ryan Bader $150,000 (no win bonus)
    Muhammed Lawal: $150,000 (no win bonus)
  • Jon Fitch $120,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus)
    Paul Daley $30,000
  • Aaron Pico $70,000 (includes $35,000 win bonus)
    Lee Morrison $12,000
  • Cheick Kongo $150,000 (no win bonus)
    Javy Ayala $30,000
  • Adam Piccolotti: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
    Carrington Banks $14,000
  • Deron Winn $2,400 (includes $1,200 win bonus)
    Ahmed White $1,200
  • Justin Tenedora $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)
    David Rivera $1,200
  • Gaston Bolanos $5,000 (no win bonus)
    Malcolm Hill $1,200
  • James Terry $6,000 (includes $3,000 win bonus) def. Danasabe Mohammed $1,500
  • Amber Leibrock $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
    Janay Harding $10,000
  • Jordan Williams $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)
    Brandon Hester $1,750
  • Hyder Amil $2,400 (includes $1,200 win bonus)
    Elias Anderson $1,200
  • Ignacio Ortiz $2,400 (includes $1,200 win bonus)
    Matt Aragoni $1,200
  • Mark Climaco $2,400 (includes $1,200 win bonus)
    Daniel Oseguera $1,200
  • J. Okanovich $2,400 (includes $1,200 win bonus)
    def. Hugo Lujan $1,200
  • Thomas Ponce de Leon $2,400 (includes $1,200 win bonus)
    Dominic Sumner $1,200
  • Hohelin Hernandez $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)
    Josh San Diego $2,000
  • Josh Paiva $5,000 (includes $2,500 win bonus)
    Adam Antolin $2,500
  • Cass Bell $2,400 (includes $1,200 win bonus)
    Khai Wu $1,200

Payout Perspective:

King Mo, Ryan Bader and Cheick Kongo earned the most for this card.  Kongo should not be a surprise with his earnings as he’s an established veteran that is a ratings magnet.  We will see if fighters earning six figures becomes more of a common happening for Bellator.

TUF 27 Episode 5 draws 176,000 viewers

May 17, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 27 Episode 5 drew 176,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The telecast saw Team Stipe Miocic get its first win of the season as Mike Trizano defeated Team Cormier’s Thai Clark.

The event drew 0.06 in the A18-49 demo.

TUF 27 Episodes

Ep                         Live + SD          DVR+3               Change

1                           201,000              298,000              +48%

2                           186,000              296,000              +59%

3                           246,000              366,000              +48% 

4                           207,000              357,000              +72%

5                           176,000

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the viewership is being gained via DVR watching.  Episode 5 was the lowest of this season and its likely due in part to the shift in viewership habits to recording the episode and watching later.  Last year’s Episode 5 of TUF 25 drew 301,000 viewers and TUF 26’s Episode 5 drew 220,000 viewers.

HBO’s BAD draws 711,000 for Munguia-Ali main event

May 17, 2018

HBO’s Boxing After Dark 711,000 viewers for the main event which saw Jamie Mungia stop Sadam Ali to win the WBO world junior middleweight title.

The fight peaked with 779,000 viewers according to Nielsen. It also drew 289,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.  The other fight of the telecast saw Rey Vargas defeat Azat Hoyhannisyan via unanimous decision.  The fight drew 619,000 viewers and peaked at 740,000 It also drew 230,0000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Saturday night was a busy night for combat sports as we’ve already discussed.  HBO’s viewership did well likely due to the fact that ESPN’s Top Rank Boxing was already finished by the time BAD took to the air.

Brian Stann joins PFL to lead Fighter and Competition/Rule Committee

May 17, 2018

The Professional Fighters’ League announced that Brian Stann has joined the  promotion on the Fighter Competition/Rules Committee.

Via PFL press release:

The Professional Fighters League (“PFL”) today announced that former MMA star and veteran Brian Stann will help lead the league’s 2018 Fighter and Competition/Rules Committee, bringing his expertise to the first “true sports format” MMA league. Stann will play a major leadership role on the Fighter and Competition/Rules Committee in its efforts to support fighters by developing procedures and making recommendations with respect to competition format and rules, fighter care, and athlete conduct. Under Stann’s leadership, the Committee will play an important role in the “fighters first” league as it debuts its 2018 regular season live on Thursday, June 7, at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In 2017 Stann left his post as a commentator for UFC events to pursue a position as a COO at a real estate firm and also going to school to pursue his Masters in Business Administration.

Payout Perspective:

Stann’s addition brings a level of credibility to a promotion that desperately needs to have a great year for a multitude of reasons.  We will see how much of a role he has once the PFL events begin and whether he will remain on with the promotion.

UFC 224: Payout Perspective

May 16, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.

Nunes defeats Pennington

In reality, we all knew this was a mismatch on paper and it played out.  There was nothing much Pennington had to worry Nunes.  The challenger’s nose was busted open and she did not want to go into the 5th round although her corner talked her into it.  But, Pennington,  did not make it out of the 5th as Nunes stopped her in the last round.  There is a lot of controversy regarding whether Pennington’s corner should have let her go another round although she wanted to quit.  A fighter’s safety is paramount, but there is also the unfortunate stigma of quitting.  Also, this fight almost forecloses Pennington from another title shot even if she were to go on a successful winning streak.

Gastelum takes fight from Jacare

Somewhat of a surprise that Kelvin Gastelum was able to take a split decision victory over Jacare Souza in Brazil.  It was an entertaining bout and Gastelum’s standup is great to watch.  Jacare tired dramatically after the first round and Gastelum took advantage.  He should be the next in line to fight for the middleweight title with Romero and Whittaker fighting next month.

Attendance and Bonuses

The event drew 10,696 at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The event was the lowest attended since UFC 142 which saw a Aldo-Mendes main event.  The bonuses went to Gastelum-Jacare for Fight of the Night and Lyoto Machida and Oleksiy Oliynyk with Performance Bonuses.

The event drew 10,696 at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  It was the second-lowest attended PPV card this year.  As is common with Brazilian cards, no gate was announced.

Promotion of the Fight

There were 7 UFC Embeddeds this time around although none of them were all compelling.

The Embedded Episodes were sponsored by the upcoming science fiction movie, Hotel Artemis which includes former WWE superstar and one-time MMA competitor Dave Bautista.

Sponsors

Since this was Brazil, there were a new set of sponsors for this event.  This included Brazilian beer Cerpa Export, in the center of the octagon.  Grupo Souza Lima, a human resources company in Brazil was also in the octagon.  Gruntstyle.com had a spot on the mats which was a first.  Hotel Artemis was also in the Octagon. Also, the Volkswagen Amarok had a corner in the Octagon as well as the Amarok V6 on the mats.

Ratings

  • The UFC 224 Prelims on FX drew 574,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The telecast drew 0.21 in the A18-49 demo and 0.29 in the M18-49 demo.
  • The Prefight Show on FX drew 281,000 viewers and the Post-Fight Show on FS1 drew 218,000 viewers.  The Prefight show trended lower than the prior 3 PPVs while the Post-Fight show drew higher than the last 3.

Odds and Ends

It was the first time two openly gay fighters fought for a championship in MMA.  While this fact may have gone under the radar, it’s definitely a positive in the sport for a variety of reasons.

Mackenzie Dern missing weight by 7 pounds is a bad look for Dern and her prospects of being what the UFC wants her to be.  Fortunately, there is a 125-pound women’s division that she can move up to which we assume she will after this fight.

Brett Okamoto reported that UFC 224 staff were robbed at gunpoint in Brazil outside their hotel.  It does not appear any significant injuries as we haven’t heard anything else from the incident.

Maybe the best example of marketing occurred on the Lomachenko-Linares undercard with Teofimo Lopez during the L dance from the video game Fortnite.

Conclusion

It was a very good night of fights for the UFC, but it doesn’t look like this would be an event that will draw too many buys.  It was a heavy night of combat sports with Bellator, Top Rank on ESPN and HBO Boxing After Dark. With so many choices, its hard to suggest that this event did anything more than 250,000 buys.

UFC set to debut in Moscow this September

May 16, 2018

The UFC announced that it will hold its first event in Russia on September 15th.   UFC Fight Night Moscow will take place at the Olimpiyskiy Arena in Moscow.

Via UFC press release:

UFC has experienced a sharp rise in popularity in Russia over the past few years, with a fan base that has grown to more than 22 million, driven by the success local athletes have had in UFC. In just the past few months, Khabib Nurmagomedov captured the lightweight championship; heavyweight Alexander Volkov defeated legend of the sport and former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum; and rising featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov extended his overall record to 15-1, including a three-fight win streak in UFC.

“Russia is a key part of UFC’s international expansion strategy,” commented David Shaw, Senior Vice President, UFC International and Content. “The demand from our fans to bring a live event to Russia has been overwhelming, and with the vast potential this market holds for us, we knew this was the perfect time to bring UFC FIGHT NIGHT® to Moscow.”

As part of UFC’s commitment to the market, Andre Gromkovski has been appointed as Vice President, UFC Russia. Gromkovski brings with him expertise across the media sales, digital, marketing and content distribution landscapes, working with companies such as Universal Studios, FOX, Viacom and Paramount Pictures. Based in Moscow, Gromkovski will be leading the regional strategic plan for UFC Russia, working alongside UFC’s executive team in Las Vegas and the EMEA team based in London.

Payout Perspective:

This will be a major event as the UFC opens in a new market.  One would have to think that Khabib will be in the main event.  Also, Volkov and Zabit (since his fight with Yair Rodriguez fell through).  Although not a PPV, it will be one of the bigger events of the year for the company to test how strong the UFC is in a new region.

Lomachenko-Linares draw 1.024M on ESPN

May 15, 2018

ESPN Top Rank Boxing Saturday night scored 1.024 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The feature bout saw Vasiliy Lomachenko stop Jorge Linares.

The event began earlier than most main events with it starting around 6:30pm on the west coast.

The event scored 0.35 in the A18-49 demo.  It drew 0.51 in the M18-49 demo.

The event drew less than Lomachenko’s December showdown with Guillermo Rigondeux as that fight drew 1.73M viewers.  The December matchup started later in the night and was proceeded by the Heisman Trophy Presentation.  Still, Lomachenko-Linares outdrew the rest of the combat sports going on Saturday night.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are a positive even though they were less than December’s fight.  The glut of combat sports on Saturday night and the earlier start time probably contributed a little to the lower number.  For those on the west coast, it was a little surprising to see the card starting at 5pm and the main event happening in the 6pm hour.  This may have helped those on the east coast but for those on the west coast it may have been hard to catch.

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