December 6, 2013
MMAPayout will be covering in detail the FOX – UFC TV deal, quarterly and weekly, in order to analyze the performance of both properties throughout the lifespan of the TV deal. In this week’s edition, we will be looking at the UFC on FOX sports network ratings for the week of 11/25 – 12/01.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (11/27):
- UFC Tonight: 156,000 viewers.
- UFC Unleashed: 285,000 viewers
- The Ultimate Fighter (repeat): 216,000 viewers
- The Ultimate Fighter (new episode): 635,000 viewers
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Saturday (11/30):
- Big 12 College Football (lead-in for TUF Prelims): 464,000 viewers.
- The Ultimate Fighter Finale Prelims: 938,000 viewers.
- The Ultimate Fighter Finale Main : 1.129M viewers.
Other Key Programming Notes :
- The Ultimate Fighter Live Weigh-ins (11/29) on FS2 drew 31,000 viewers.
- Ultimate Insider (11/26) on FS2 drew 7,000 viewers.
- The Ultimate Fighter Finale Prelims (11/30) on FS2 (FS1 delay due to CFB): 109,000 viewers.
- Golden Boy Boxing (11/26) on FS1 drew 263,000 viewers.
- PAC-12 College Football (11/29) on FS1 drew 2.179M viewers.
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals:
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 514,000 (last week: 289,000)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 14,000 (last week: 9,000)
It looks like Fox Sports 1 has something to be very thankful for this week, which just happens to be Thanksgiving weekend. The PAC-12 Friday night CFB game drew an eye-popping 2.179M viewers, which was followed up by the TUF Finale UFC event which pulled 938K viewers for the prelims and a remarkable 1.129M viewers for the main card. The TUF Finale main card marks the first time the UFC has gone beyond 1M viewers since the debut show back in August. The UFC had 3 of the top 5 most watched FS1 programs for the week.
TUF rebounded with an increase of viewership of 25% (635,000) from the previous week to finish culminate the season by averaging 639,000 viewers for the 13 episodes. With NASCAR wrapping up, the UFC, CFB, and CBB have so far done a great job at rebounding this week. Now with TUF over and no weekly Wednesday night fights on FS1, it will be interesting to see what the viewers will do from here on out. There is an UFN coming up today (Friday) and UFC 168 coming up to close-off the year, so observing the MMA viewer behavior during this downtime should give us some insight on whether the network can retain the MMA fan during the TUF off-season.
December 3, 2013
MMAPayout will be covering in detail the FOX – UFC TV deal, quarterly and weekly, in order to analyze the performance of both properties throughout the lifespan of the TV deal. In this week’s edition, we will be looking at the UFC on FOX sports network ratings for the week of 11/18 – 11/24.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (11/20):
- UFC Tonight: 136,000 viewers.
- Big East Basketball: 114,000 viewers.
- The Ultimate Fighter (new episode): 510,000 viewers.
- Fox Sports Live 104,000 viewers.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Sunday (11/24):
- Ultimate Insider: 28,000 viewers.
Other Key Programming Notes :
- UFC Reloaded (11/21) on FS2 drew 59,000 viewers (most watched program on FS2).
- UFC Unleashed (11/20) on FS2 drew 45,000 viewers
Note: UFC’s regular Wednesday night block programming did not air on FS1 due to the Big East college basketball game, which drew 114,000 viewers. The college basketball game was the lead in to TUF this week.
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals:
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 136,000 (last week: 289,000)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 28,000 (last week: 9,000)
This was a very slow week for UFC programming on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, and the viewership numbers for the week indicated just that. With no UFC events and The Ultimate Fighter dropping to 510,000 viewers, Fox Sports 1 saw its third week in a row of declining primetime viewership. In the past three weeks, the network’s primetime viewership has dropped from 630,000 (two weeks ago), to 289,000 (last week), to 136,000 (this week). That’s a substantial drop off after setting their primetime viewership record just two weeks prior (630,000).
On the other hand, Fox Sports 2 was able to increase their primetime viewership from 9,000 last week to 28,000 this week. That can be attributed to showing UFC programming during their primetime blocks every week. Seven out of the top 10 shows on Fox Sports 2 were UFC programming, where UFC Reloaded drew the most viewership for any programming on Fox Sports 2 with 59,000 viewers.
The numbers should pick up some this week with the TUF Finale episode, which aired on Wednesday, and Saturday’s TUF Finale event.
November 25, 2013
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective where we take a look at the return of Manny Pacquiao as he took on Brandon Rios at the Venetian Hotel on the island of Macau off the coast of China.
Pacquiao outclasses Rios
As many had expected, the speed of Manny Pacquiao was too much for Bam Bam. While the threat of the one punch KO was there, the movement and angles of Pacquiao muted any thought of a left hook from Rios.
Let’s pump the brakes on any talk of Floyd Mayweather. First, there’s the Top Rank/Golden Boy-HBO/Showtime schism which would prevent any such fight from happening Pacquiao looked impressive and it appears that the 11 months away has helped. Rios is a dangerous fighter but nowhere near the skill level of a Mayweather. However, a Timothy Bradley fight seems the most logical and reasonable next fight for Pacquiao.
Bradley’s career has ascended since he won that controversial fight over Pacquiao in June 2012. Most recently, he dispatched of Pacquiao’s arch-nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez. Thus, promoting this fight should not be too hard considering this would be a rematch of a controversial decision. With his post-Pacquiao fights, Bradley has proven that he belongs in the upper tier of boxing. A return match against Pacquiao could serve as “passing the torch” to Top Rank’s next superstar or will serve as another reason for all parties to wait out Floyd’s Showtime contract.
Zou Shiming Shines
In terms of importance of a boxer winning Saturday, Shiming was a close second behind Pacquiao. The reason for this is the overarching theme of tapping the Chinese market. Shiming has the amateur credentials but has not really showed whether he could be a star as a pro. He dominated his 6 round fight over Juan Tozcana in which the announcing crew questioned whether the fight should have been stopped.
If Shiming could show continued improvement, he has a built in audience and could ascend quickly. Of course, at 32 years of age, the plan is for him to ascend quickly.
Attendance at the Venetian Hotel in Macau where the event was held was a sellout of 13,200. No gate figures yet although front row seats were selling for three times the amount that it usually would in Vegas.
In comparison, Pacquiao’s last fight in December 2012 against Marquez had an attendance of 15,430 for a gate of $10.8 million. However, based on the front row seats going for three times what they do in Vegas, we can see a comparable gate here.
Manny Pacquiao will receive a guaranteed $18 million with the potential for $30 million and does not have to pay the 39.6% U.S. tax since the fight did not happen in the states. Rios, however, will receive $4 million but will need to pay Uncle Sam because he’s a U.S. citizen.
The incident in the gym between Freddie Roach, Robert Garcia and Alex Ariza provided some “propaganda” for the fight. Was the dustup manufactured? It received press and drew some emotions but looked bad for both camps. But, we all can assume the Roach-Ariza bad blood is genuine based on how Pacquiao’s team dispatched of Ariza and he was picked up by Rios.
The 24/7 series was well-done as always. It seems hard to come up with angles to cover Pacquiao each series although the typhoon and the aforementioned ill-will between camps provided some topics. We also learned that Rios curses a lot.
The ring sponsors included Smart Communications, a Philippines mobile phone and internet carrier, the movie “Grudge Match” starring DeNiro and Stallone and Tecate. Tecate ran its usual promotion of offering rebates with a purchase of its product. What was not present was the usual run up for a Pacquiao fight in the states which usual includes in-store promotions and sponsor activation.
Rios wore a Sigue Corporation shirt at weigh-ins. Sigue is a money transfer company specializing in US-Mexico transaction.
As always, Nike sponsored Pacquiao however this article by footwear blog Sole Collector details the little buzz from the swoosh over the Macau fight. In fact, the online Nike store only has one shirt (from last year) from Pacquiao on sale. This from a company that rolled out shirts, sweats and shoes for the boxer before past fights. This time, it seemed like the brand was in a “wait and see” mode. Of course, it also could be due to Pacquiao’s newfound faith in which media outlets have interpreted (or misinterpreted dependent on how you view it) Pacquiao’s stance against gay marriage. Nike supports gay marriage. There were also the comments made by UFC president Dana White claiming the Beaverton, Oregon Company had dropped Pacquiao.
Odds and Ends
As predicted, the price point for Pacquiao in HD was $70.
Due to the time difference, the fight actually took place around lunchtime local time on Sunday which made fight day customs a little skewed.
NY Times writer Greg Bishop had a great piece preceding the fight correlating Pacquiao’s in-ring downturn with the rejuvenation of his religious faith and commitment to his wife. There is something to be said for the lack of perceived hunger in Pacquiao if you were to compare him now as opposed to pre-Oscar de la Hoya. Pacquiao was young and reckless socially which mirrored his fighting style. The style in the ring amounted to interest and success, the style outside of the ring nearly cost him his marriage. After “returning to form” on Saturday, can we say that Pacquiao is born again boxing-wise?
Bishop also wrote an informative article on the logistical obstacles HBO and Top Rank faced in producing a PPV abroad. This included bringing 300 cases of equipment by air and water to the location.
There were some that thought that the Carl Froch-George Graves fight should have been picked up by HBO to use as an appetizer for the fight later that night. It would have been nice but would have run the risk of being “UFC”-like in having too much boxing on in one day.
Despite the lack of buzz and usual American “over the top” promotion, “The Clash in Cotai” had a purpose. First, it was to reintroduce the world to Manny Pacquiao. The statement was that he was back to his “old” self. More importantly, it was an opportunity to enter the fertile Macau market with its casinos bringing in $38 billion in 2012 and likely more this year. Bob Arum would like to open up this region as a way to leverage it against Vegas as an option to hold a fight here. Certainly, it would benefit Pacquiao as its closer to home and he saves on paying U.S. taxes if his fights are held outside of the U.S. That being said, the costs for HBO/Top Rank to hold a show outside of the U.S. along with Pacquiao’s hefty payout may be something it needs to consider before committing time, money and resources to another fight in Macau.
For its first time holding a PPV overseas, it’s likely that Pacquiao’s return will grab at least 850,000-950,000 buys.
November 22, 2013
MMAPayout will be covering in detail the FOX – UFC TV deal, quarterly and weekly, in order to analyze the performance of both properties throughout the lifespan of the TV deal. In this week’s edition, we will be looking at the UFC on FOX sports network ratings for the week of 11/11 – 11/17.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (11/13):
- The Ultimate Fighter (repeat): 130,000 viewers
- The Ultimate Fighter (new episode): 561,000 viewers
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Saturday (11/16):
- UFC 167: GSP vs Hendricks Prelims: 998,000 viewers (prelim record).
- UFC 167: GSP vs Hendricks Post Fight Coverage: 249,000 viewers.
Other Key Programming Notes :
- UFC 167: GSP vs Hendricks Live Weigh-ins (11/15) on FS2 drew 21,000 viewers.
- UFC Presents Mark Hunt (11/17) on FS1 drew 27,000 viewers and 51,000 on FS2 for the replay.
- UFC Tonight (11/13) on FS2 drew 29,000 viewers (aired on FS2 due to CBB game on FS1).
- Ultimate Insider (11/17) on FS1 drew 48,000 viewers (usually airs on Wednesday block).
- UFC 167 Primetime Ep. 3 (11/11) on FS1 drew 95,000 viewers.
Note: UFC’s regular Wednesday night block programming did not air on FS1 due to the Big East college basketball game, which drew 67,000 viewers. The college basketball game was the lead in to the shortened UFC programming block this week.
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals:
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 289,000 (last week: 630,000)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 9,000 (last week: 16,000)
Two weeks ago, Fox Sports 1′s achieved its most successful week in terms of viewership. This week, without having two UFC events and a blockbuster college football game all on the same week, differed greatly. The primetime viewership for FS1 fell from 630,000 to 289,000 viewers, or 54%. FS2 also had a dramatic decline from 16,000 to 9,00, or 43%. Of course, this is not unusual for a sports network, where it is not enough to have the license to a certain sport or league, but also airing the games/fights that people want to watch.
Other key notes from last week was the UFC 167 Primetime special, which wrapped up the three part series by drawing 95K viewers. That puts the average viewership for the series at 97,000 viewers. With costs estimated between $1-2M per primetime special, you have to wonder whether drawing an average of 100,000 viewers is enough. The purpose of the Primetime special, back when it was on Spike TV anyways, was to convert viewers into PPV buyers. Spike TV’s Primetime’s would typically be in the 500K-1M range. With a mere 100,000 viewers on average, and a big portion being hard-core fans who are already ordering the event, the ROI (return on investment) should be carefully analyzed going forward. UFC 168 next month is also set to have a three-part primetime special.
In more positive news, the UFC 167 prelims viewership of 998,000 was huge success for the UFC on FS1, considering the networks limitations. It now stands as the second most watched UFC program on FS1 since the August 17th debut on the network. This was a good sign for the event as a whole, and could shine some light on the PPV buy projections, though the two have shown in the past not to have a direct correlation.
November 19, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. In this edition, we take a look at the big 20th Anniversary Show of UFC 167 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bruised and battered but GSP wins split decision
If you disagree with the decision review the 1st round because it appears that is the round where two judges scored it for GSP and 1 for Hendricks. The rest of the rounds the judges agreed. It was a close call, but ties go to the Champion. Of course that’s not how it’s scored but many probably came to that conclusion on Saturday night.
Who do we blame? The Nevada State Athletic Commission for the judges? The judges themselves? Hendricks’ corner for not telling him to keep pressing? Or do we chalk this one up to a bad decision? Then again, was it a bad decision?
While the judging may have been suspect, based upon how the 10-9 scoring system, it was a plausible outcome.
Two items from the actual match between GSP-Hendricks. There was the theory of a phantom tap by Hendricks during the match spotted by many. But GSP did not stop and did not argue a tap. Looking back at Bendo-Pettis, even if a tap is not detected by the referee, the fighters would likely have stopped themselves. You may recall that Bendo lost his title this past August when he verbally submitted to Pettis although the ref did not stop the fight immediately. It seems like guys like Hendricks and GSP would have the sportsmanship to admit if a tap had occurred.
Also, it appeared as though Hendricks had yelled out that GSP was either holding the fence or his shorts on the ground as a way to keep position during a scramble on the ground in the 5th round. Yet, there was nothing done in that instance. Perhaps this was some desperation by GSP in trying to keep position on Hendricks.
And now for the post-fight story. Give Joe Rogan credit for not giving the stock platitudes in the post-fight interview and actually pressing GSP. Even though he didn’t get the answer, Rogan saw GSP wanted to say something and followed up with questions.
One of the reasons Dana White was so hot at the post-fight press conference was that he was not given (official) notice that GSP was leaving. Thus, he was mad at the commission and its judges. If Hendricks won, White would not have been steamed. He would have had a new marketable champion and could give GSP the time off to do what he needed. According to reports, White was able to speak with GSP after the post-fight press conference (GSP was not at the press conference at the beginning). One might deduce their discussion was an attempt to get to the bottom of the cryptic statements GSP made in the Octagon and persuade him to not take a leave of absence. TMZ has reported the alleged personal issues of GSP (which is in part being denied according to a report picked up by Bloody Elbow). We shall see what becomes of this situation and how GSP will address what now is becoming a public story.
Evans pounds out Sonnen
It was quick work by Evans who destroyed Sonnen with a flurry of punches on the ground in the first round. There was a little hope that that this would be a good match considering Sonnen’s last outing against Shogun Rua. Then after Evans took Sonnen down there was little hope that it would last past round 1. Evans looked rejuvenated from a poor outing against Little Nog in February and a so-so performance in June. Does it mean he’s somewhere in the Light Heavyweight title picture? We’ll have to wait. As for Sonnen, he gets a TUF Brazil coaching spot and Wanderlei Silva.
Lawler jumps back into title picture after upset
Not a good night for the Tri-Star Gym. Not only is GSP out indefinitely, its “next in line” was upset by resurgent Robbie Lawler. MacDonald is still very young and will be back but for Lawler it was a definite step forward. Lawler is 3-0 since coming over from Strikeforce. As Lawler proposed at the post-fight press conference, maybe a Hendricks-Lawler fight could be in the future.
Attendance and Gate
As reported, the gate was the best since UFC 148 at the MGM. 14,856 were in attendance for a $5.7 million gate. Although not factored in the actual number, the secondary market had its biggest demand since 2009 with an average of $580 per ticket. But, it does show the demand for this event.
Bonuses were the standard $50,000 each and were GSP-Hendricks, Donald Cerrone for his sub of Evan Dunham and Tyron Woodley for his highlight reel KO of Josh Koscheck.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission released the UFC 167 salaries and as expected Georges St. Pierre topped the payroll earning $400,000 with no win bonus although GSP earned a FOTN bonus making his total earnings $450,000. Johny Hendricks earned $50,000 for his split decision loss but did pick up another $50,000 to top out at $100,000.
While the viewership for the UFC Primetime series has been down since moving to FS1, they were well-done this time around as it introduced you to Johny Hendricks. I think the introduction of the challenger in these programs is important and Hendricks came off as a likeable guy. I also like the spotlight they did on Firas Zahabi as you don’t get to hear too much about the story behind some of the trainers.
The sponsors in the Octagon included Assassin’s Creed IV “Black Flag”, MusclePharm, UltimatePoker.net, Harley Davidson, Dodge, Toyo Tires, the movie Grudge Match, Alienware, MusclePharm and Bud Light in the center. Corn Nuts and MetroPCS had its usual placements within the PPV broadcast.
Reebok signed Johny Hendricks to wear its logo into the Octagon for UFC 167. Hendricks wore Reebok crossfit shorts and had a walkout shirt via Reebok. Also, Hendricks sported its shoes and promoted them via social media. A lot was made that Reebok paid the sponsor fee for Hendricks but did not for Rampage when it was announced Reebok would be sponsoring Hendricks. We will see if Reebok continues to sponsor Hendricks and/or other fighters.
Hendricks did have UFC official sponsors Corn Nuts and Alienware as his sponsors in addition to Bass Pro Shops and “Rags to Rick,” a Comedy reality show.
GSP wore his Hayabusa gi (no controversy this time) to the Octagon and his corner wore Affliction.
It was the first time that I’ve seen PS4 advertised during a UFC broadcast. This may not sit well with Mighty Mouse’s primary sponsor, Microsoft’s Xbox.
Robbie Lawler was sponsored by the Air Force Reserve. It’s an interesting sponsor considering that some pushed to curtail U.S. military sport sponsorships earlier this year.
Interesting sponsor of the night: Rick Story was sponsored by PaleoRanch.com.
What’s going to happen without GSP? An interim title will likely happen if GSP is out for a prolonged period of time. In addition to Hendricks, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit, Matt Brown and maybe Nick Diaz will be names to look for in the welterweight division. The loss of GSP is a hit for the UFC which now may have 3 of its champions out for extended periods of time (GSP would join Dominick Cruz who plans to be back after a long absence from injury and the recently injured Anthony Pettis). This doesn’t even include what may be happening with Jon Jones. We shall see what the UFC plans to do with the welterweight division in GSP’s absence.
It was the 20th Anniversary show and with it came the UFC retrospective show last week on FS1. It was well done and gave some detail of the early years for those of us that picked it up in the Zuffa days. The weekend also included some notable fighters over the years in attendance. The UFC also bought a special advertising section in the Sports Business Journal which told the UFC’s story and gave it some added publicity.
Odds and Ends
-Erik Perez rocked the Lucha Libre mask once again.
-Was this the first time that they dropped the lights during a main event for Bruce Buffer to announce the fighters?
-GSP has been with the company for a while, shouldn’t the UFC have a French interpreter so that Georges doesn’t have to interpret for the entire room during press conferences.
-First time I recall FS1 insets on PPVs. Speaking of FS1, the Prelims did the double screen in between rounds with showing the corner at the top right hand of the screen during a commercial.
-Tyron Woodley made a statement with his KO of Josh Koscheck.
-Seemingly, Rory MacDonald had the most sponsors ever seen on shorts. If the UFC allowed for spats, he could have made a killing.
-Arnold Schwarzeneger was in the crowd…and to the benefit of Ali Bagautinov who admitted at the post-fight presser that he is a big fan.
-Boxing fans know Edwin Rodriguez? Despite getting docked $200K for missing weight in his fight with Andre Ward on Saturday he would be the second highest paid fighter on the UFC 167 card. This assumes GSP salary plus PPV upside. Rodriguez made $800K after the $200K deduction.
-Forbes ran a piece on GSP and how he makes $12 million a year. We will have more on that this week.
GSP is the company’s biggest draw. And while we cannot conclude that a higher gate will equate to a higher PPV buy rate, the rumors that GSP could be fighting in his last fight may have prodded folks to pay the money to watch one of the best in the sport in his last match. Additionally, the main event was well-supported on paper by Evans-Sonnen and Lawler-MacDonald. While the UFC had hoped the last four PPVs of 2013 would have done well, it will get 2 of the 4 doing a good number. I would say UFC 167 would do somewhere in the 800K range and GSP once again comes through for the company.
November 15, 2013
MMAPayout will be covering in detail the FOX – UFC TV deal, quarterly and weekly, in order to analyze the performance of both properties throughout the lifespan of the TV deal. In this week’s edition, we will be looking at the UFC on FOX sports network ratings for the week of 11/4 – 11/10.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (11/6):
- Ultimate Fight Night: Fight For the Troops Prelims: 250,000 viewers
- Ultimate Fight Night: Fight For the Troops: 641,000 viewers
- The Ultimate Fighter (new episode): 583,000 viewers
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Saturday (11/9):
- Ultimate Fight Night: Belfort vs Henderson: 722,000 viewers.
Other Key Programming Notes (Fox Sports 2):
- Live Weigh-ins (11/8) for UFN: Belfort vs Henderson event on FS2 drew 7,000 viewers.
- Post Fight (11/8) for UFN: Belfort vs Henderson event on FS2 drew 17,000 viewers.
- Live Weigh-ins (11/5) for UFN: Fight For Troops: Kennedy vs Natal event on FS2 drew 2,000 viewers.
- Post Fight (11/5) for UFN: Fight For Troops: Kennedy vs Natal event on FS2 drew 11,000 viewers.
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals:
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 630,000 (FS1 record)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 16,000
Last week was Fox Sports 1′s most successful week yet in terms of viewership numbers. For one, it finally aired programming that dethroned the UFC on FS1 Shogun vs Sonnen debut on 8/17, which drew 1.782M viewers. Thursday nights game between Oklahoma and Baylor drew an amazing 2.11M viewers on Fox Sports 1. Due to the high viewership numbers for College Football, NASCAR (602,000 high for the week), and airing two UFC events in one week (not including TUF), it all led to Fox Sports 1 celebrating it’s most successful primetime viewership so far in its short lifespan.
November 7, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at Saturday night’s Bellator 106 from Long Beach, California with a main event featuring Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler.
Alvarez wins title on return
For all the “true” MMA fans this was always the main event and not Tito-Rampage. Of course, if this was the true main event, wouldn’t Bellator have kept it on PPV? But I digress. It was an epic 5 round battle that went way past curfew ensuring many that were out on Saturday night only seeing a portion of the fight. From all that watched it, it was one of the better fights of the year and showed why Eddie Alvarez is such a commodity.
With the win, Bellator is put in a sticky position. What happens if Eddie wins the third fight? From all in the know, the trilogy will be the last contracted fight Alvarez will have for Bellator. And it’s likely that if Alvarez wins, he will be heading to the UFC. One can only think of how big a smile Dana White will have on his face if he can sign Bellator’s Lightweight Champion leaving the organization a big hole and a tournament it does not want to hold.
Newton makes it two in a row over Mo
The signing of Mo Lawal came with much fanfare as he would be both a pro wrestler and MMA star. However, neither vocation has gone the way it was planned. Two losses to Emmanuel Newton have made the investment in Lawal a bust so far. We shall see if Lawal turns to pro wrestling training or if he will be re-inserted into a tournament.
Attendance and gate
No attendance and gate were announced although the initial reports were that ticket sales were sluggish and this was before Tito Ortiz announced his injury. Bellator could have comped tickets to fill in the seats so even though ticket sales could have been low, there was still enough people in the arena to make it look like a well-attended show. Once again, we do not know if there was a big influx of ticket purchases right before the event, but with the Ortiz announcement, you would think that this may have hurt people thinking about purchasing tickets last minute.
The California State Athletic Commission released the salaries and potential bonuses for the fighters. Michael Chandler ($95K/$95K) and Eddie Alvarez ($80K/$80K) headed the list with Alvarez picking up the bonus and the top money earner with a total $160K payday. Fight Master winner Joe Riggs picked up a $95K bonus for his victory and received $100K for the night.
Promotion of the Fight
With the last minute switch from Rampage-Tito to Alvarez-Chandler Spike TV had to shift on the fly with programming to promote the Lightweight fight instead of the Light Heavyweight fight.
So, despite months of hype which included Rampage-Tito feuding on TNA Wrestling and a three-part Rampage Jackson special, Bellator had to quickly shift gears. Spike TV tabled the third episode of the Jackson shoulder programming to focus on its new main event. The good news was that it featured a special highlighting the first Alvarez-Chandler fight with their commentary. The other notable thing about the Alvarez-Chandler special was the amount of UFC fighters appearing on the special. Dan Henderson and Michael Johnson were prominent interviews during the special. It will be interesting to see how the UFC handles situations like this in the future (i.e. preventing UFC contracted fighters to promote Bellator fights).
On the Thursday before Bellator 106, Bjorn Rebney rang the “closing bell” at the NASDAQ. Notably, Viacom is on the NASDAQ. The New York presence was also supported with Bellator promos in Times Square.
Victory Motorcycles, Dave and Busters, Polaris RZR, Xbox One video game RYSE and Reebok all had signage within the cage with Miller Lite having the center.
Notably, Reebok’s brand was prominently in the cage as it specifically had logo for its ATV19 shoes. You may recall Rampage shot a commercial for Reebok sporting these shoes. It also recently inked a one fight deal with Johny Hendricks to wear its gear at UFC 167. You can already see Hendricks with Reebok gear during the UFC Primetimes.
As previously reported, Spike TV received a 1.1M viewer average for the event Saturday night with a peak viewership of 1.4M. This was against sports on the network including two college football games and The Breeder’s Cup.
Some other notable info from Spike TV:
- Compared to the time period a year ago, the Bellator 106 telecast was up +40% in the P18-49 demo and +79% in M18-49. It was up +59% in M18-34 and +49% in average audiences.
- Among ad-supported cable networks in the time period, Spike ranked #3 in P18-49 (behind TBS w/Big Bang Theory & Wild Wild West and FX w/Grown Ups; tied with Adult Swim) and #2 in M18-49 (TBS)
Obviously, the fact about the ratings being up from last year at this time is a little skewed considering we do not know whether there was a live event or rerun in this time slot. Still, the point Spike is trying to make is that Bellator is boosting ratings and doing well in its key demos.
Bellator 106 ended with mixed reviews as the Alvarez-Chandler did not disappoint. However, many of the fights were slow-moving and at 3 hours and 45 minutes it was a lengthy card. Still, the ratings reflect the fact that fight fans were going to give it a try. The question becomes whether Bellator will have Chandler-Alvarez on PPV.
It will get its trilogy which it can now give proper time to promote. But can it trust its big names to come through for the company? Even with a great second fight, it’s risky to think that a trilogy could bring in people to pay $35-$45. The bigger implication for the company would be the scenarios it has to run through if Alvarez defeats Chandler once again.
November 5, 2013
Bellator 106 which featured Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez on Spike TV Saturday night scored a 1.1 million viewers. According to a SpikeTV/Bellator press release, the show peaked at 1.4 million viewers.
Per Spike TV/Bellator press release:
The highly-anticipated rematch of two of the best lightweights in the world, Bellator MMA’s Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, delivered record ratings on Spike TV. The telecast delivered 1.1 million viewers (9:00pm-12:45am), the most-watched in Bellator event history and the most watched mixed martial arts show on television this fall.
The “Chandler-Alvarez II” fight card peaked at 1.4 million viewers at 11:17pm and reached its high mark with Men 18-49 with a 1.1 rating for the Alvarez-Chandler bout. The telecast also ranked #2 in cable in its timeslot with Men 18-49.
Big numbers for a show that went really long as it went 45 minutes past its estimated time so a lot of folks that had DVR’d the event did not get to see Chandler-Alvarez. However, Spike is showing the main event before its live show this Friday, November 8th at 8:00pmET/PT It’s a good sign for the company considering it went up against sports on network television including The Breeders Cup on NBC (0.4 share in 18-49 demo/2.8M viewer avg) and the big Miami-Florida State college football game (2.6 share in 18-49 demo/8.12M viewer avg) on ABC and Oklahoma St.-Texas Tech (0.7 share in 18-49/2.43M viewer avg) on Fox (via Television By Numbers). MMA Payout will have more on this soon.
October 25, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that due to an injury to Tito Ortiz, the Bellator PPV is off and now is being switched to Spike TV. Rampage Jackson will not fight next Saturday although he is expected to fight soon.
Despite having Eddie Alvarez-Michael Chandler moving to the top of the card, Bellator and Viacom decided that it would be best to move the card to Spike TV. Bellator head Bjorn Rebney and Viacom’s Kevin Kay told the media about the move in a Friday afternoon conference call.
While the cause of the PPV cancellation was an Ortiz neck injury occurring earlier this month, Rampage and Ortiz were promoting the fight yesterday on TSN’s “Off the Record” according to MMA Fighting.
The mediocre PPV card has now become a very strong Spike TV card. Yet, the news seems very disappointing for the number 2 MMA promotion.
Give it to Bellator for trying to spin bad news into good. While it made the decision to pull its PPV debut, it placed a very entertaining card on cable television. But, it brings up the question as to whether Bellator is really equipped for PPV. This was something that was playing out in the Eddie Alvarez lawsuit before the parties settled. Even though Bellator had argued that Alvarez-Chandler could headline a PPV in the lawsuit, when faced with the reality, it decided to place the entire card on Spike.
The cancellation of the PPV due to the Ortiz’s injury can be seen a number of ways. First, it is fortunate as Bellator likely wanted a flawless debut on PPV with its intended main eventers to headline the show. Since it could not do this, it was likely that PPV numbers would suffer and the inevitable bad press would follow. It will likely do better ratings on Spike TV than it would do PPV buys. Simply put, more eyes will be watching Bellator November 2nd than it would if it was on PPV.
On the other hand, the cancellation of the PPV proves that the company is not ready or capable of running a PPV despite the months of planning. It shows that there was not a viable “Plan B” and that a Plan B was never cultivated (i.e., lack of Bellator to produce/market a fighter that could step in for Ortiz). Even though Atilla Vegh was mentioned, how many people knew he was Bellator’s Light Heavyweight champion? Which begs the question, why wasn’t he on the card already? Sure, the UFC has had problems like this in the past but in only one scenario did it decide to cancel a PPV (While the cynicism in us may say the UFC should have cancelled some more.) Here, this was Bellator’s big shot. With the cancellation, it proves that despite the company making strides, it cannot compare to the UFC.
With the PPV cancellation, it begs the question of the Eddie Alvarez situation. Although Alvarez and Bellator have settled their legal dispute and his current contract has not been released, one has to wonder if Alvarez’s contract included a PPV cut. And, if so, how does that impact his participation on Spike TV next Saturday.
In contract law, there is something known as a “Force Majeure,” or “Act of God,” which frees a party from liability if a party does not fulfill an obligation in the contract. In this case, Ortiz having to bow out due to a neck injury does not rise to this level. Thus, if Alvarez had a PPV clause in his contract, and Bellator moved it to Spike from PPV without compensating Alvarez, we may see lawyers get involved again. Common examples of a “Force Majeure” would be strike, crime or riot. Another example would be if an earthquake caused the cancellation of the event. This paragraph is somewhat half-kidding about an “Act of God” but moving the card off of PPV might impact Alvarez’s pay. Again, we don’t know but we assume Alvarez was to receive a PPV cut.
Was this the correct move by Bellator? Or, do you think it should have gone forward with the PPV with Alvarez-Chandler headlining?
October 21, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 166 in Houston, Texas which featured the third fight between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez.
Cain stops JDS in 5th
Despite a couple shots that hurt Cain early, Velasquez dominated the third fight of the trilogy and eventually stopped JDS who was physically spent and visibly beaten. His face looked like their last fight and despite all of his work; JDS could not muster enough offense against the Heavyweight champion. With the win, Cain solidified his top spot within the division. His next opponent is Fabricio Werdum and while it may not seem like Werdum would have a chance, he is still the one that stopped Fedor at a time many though him to be invincible.
Melendez-Sanchez participate in one of 2013’s best fight
Instead of wasting words on Daniel Cormier’s decision over Roy Nelson, we should focus on a fight that lived up to the hype. Gilbert Melendez defeated Diego Sanchez in one of the great fights of 2013. There was little controversy on the winner of the fight but it was more on the storyline that unfolded during the fight. Sanchez was bloodied from the beginning but was willing to exchange with Melendez. In between the 2nd and 3rd round, Sanchez’s corner told him that he’d have to knock out Melendez to win and told him not to let Melendez “take food away from his daughter.” Sanchez’s facial expressions during the 3rd round were exceptional. When he knocked down Melendez in the 3rd you could see Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta rise to their feet.
The win for Gil has him waiting in the wings for a title shot.
Attendance and Gate:
As previously reported, UFC 166 drew a reported 17,238 for a gate of $2.5 million. Dana White indicated that it was the “third-highest gate in the history of the venue” as The Rolling Stones and UFC 69 (featuring the GSP career-altering fight when Matt Serra upset St. Pierre) were higher at the venue.
The bonuses of $60K each were as follows:
Fight of the Night: Gilbert Melendez-Diego Sanchez
Submission of the Night: Tony Ferguson
KO of the Night: John Dodson
There were a lot of KOs to choose from on this night but Dodson was probably the correct choice.
The Octagon sponsors included mainstays Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Dodge, Assassin’s Creed, Alienware and Bud Light in the center. MTV’s Jackass movie “Bad Grandpa”, Prestone, AxsTV and the Air Force were also present with signage in the Octagon.
UFC Official sponsor Corn Nuts sponsored the Tale of the Tape for the fights.
Valvoline sponsored the “Keys to Victory” for the featured event on the Prelims between Tim Boetsch and CB Dolloway.
Junior dos Santos was predominantly sponsored by Nike for this fight. This included new shirts and his own line of shoes. JDS was featured in Nike Pro Training ads (h/t FighterxFashion). If you were wondering where you could purchase a Cigano t-shirt, the UFC store carries them. JDS also signed with sports agency 9ine prior to this fight. We shall see what they will do with him after this loss.
Cain Velasquez was sponsored by Affliction, Oak Grove Technologies and Lugz. These sponsors usually sponsor AKA fighters. The one marked change is that Affliction replaced Dethrone as the apparel sponsor for Cain.
Roy Nelson was sponsored by LunarPages, a sponsor recently sported by Mark Munoz and Jake Ellenberger.
Daniel Cormier was sponsored by Cage Fighter.
Adlan Amagov was sponsored by a Law Office in his fight against TJ Waldburger
Promotion of the Fight
UFC Primetime on FS1 did not do very well ratings-wise as the three-part series hovered around 125,000 viewers which likely would suggest that the targeted-fan it wants that would be swayed into purchasing the PPV is likely not tuning in. A part of this could be the lack of promotion for the Primetimes and the fact that FS1 is still is not latching on with many fans. The shows were well-done although it did not do well ratings-wise in comparison to some of the UFC Countdowns on Spike TV.
UFC Countdown also featured JDS and Cain as well as the featured undercards. It is always interesting to me the amount of time the Countdown spends on the main eventers when there is UFC Primetime.
Houston Rockets Dwight Howard took pics with several fighters including Cain, JDS and Diego Sanchez after his fight with Gilbert Melendez. Howard’s pics with Cain and JDS were publicized before UFC 166.
The UFC replayed last month’s PPV on Thursday as part of the run up for this event. It grabbed an average of 449,000 viewers on FS1.
JDS and Cain took part in a global tour promoting this fight.
Post-UFC 166 Headlines
Who’s next for Cain? Fabricio Werdun. The question is what will the UFC do to make this matchup appealing. Werdun can be considered a “giant killer” as he was the one who bet Fedor. But, will anyone buy that he can beat Cain?
Melendez title shot? It was the most exciting fight of the card and while Diego Sanchez received a lion’s share of the appreciation, Melendez left with a solid win and the possibility of meeting the winner of Josh Thomson-Anthony Pettis. While we may argue TJ Grant is due his shot, it’s hard not to think Gil is right there in the mix.
Safety concerns. There were several moments during the event where the athletic commission stepped in to check on fighters including Gil-Diego and JDS-Cain. Whether it cynicism or not, there must be a question whether it would actually have stepped in to stop a fight. Certainly the ref or ring docs could have called off the JDS-Cain fight and the ref in Amagov-Waldburger should have jumped in much sooner. It’s a tenuous balance between saving a fighter from further punishment and giving the fighter a chance. But, it also seems like in some decisions entertainment takes precedence over safety. It’s definitely a hard job to be a ring doc that may be the most hated person in the building if they stop a fight. But, they have a responsibility to the fighter to protect them from themselves. Bloody Elbow has a nice piece on this issue.
Odds and Ends
-The Prelims had some great fights although it may not equate to ratings.
-Does anyone know what Cain’s sponsor Oak Grove Technologies does off the top of their head? Here’s the answer.
-Joe Rogan’s call to stop the fight was echoed by many as TJ Waldburger took some unnecessary shots after he was unconscious before the referee stopped the fight. Shades of Chris Weidman-Mark Munoz although less egregious by the ref here.
-Tough way to go out for Nate Marquardt.
-Diego Sanchez should have copyrighted those “Yes!” chants. Daniel Bryan is making a fortune with that in WWE. I’m half-joking here.
-Speaking of gimmick infringement, Dustin Pague uses the “Diamond” nickname and so does Dustin Poirier.
-If you watched UFC Primetime, you saw Daniel Cormier receive his BJJ Brown Belt the same day that Cain Velasquez received his BJJ Black Belt.
-John Dodson could have hurt his back when he fell on his back on the mat after unsuccessfully doing his run off the cage flip.
-Dodson also had the smoothest move…at the weigh-ins when he took a “selfie” plus 1 with Octagon girl Chrissy Blair.
-Jessica Eye wore a “Straight Outta Cleveland” t-shirt at weigh-ins
-Two Basketball Jersey Sightings at weigh-Ins. First a Dwight Howard jersey and then Sarah Kauffman wearing a retro Hakeem Olajuwon jersey and she even did a “Dream Shake”.
-Not a Yeezy fan? Skip to the Conclusion. As an added bonus I attended the first night of the Yeezus Tour Saturday night featuring Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. Great show although there was a two hour delay for fans to get into the arena due to the set being constructed late. A lot of kinks to be worked out and Kanye must work on his cardio for the rest of the tour as he seemed to gas midway through his two hour set. But, huge props to him for wearing masks during most of his performance.
Cain and JDS have been on the same card the last four times they have been in the Octagon. Their last meeting was at UFC 155.
The last three PPV shows they have been on are as follows:
|UFC 160||May 25, 2013||380,000|
|UFC 155||December 29, 2012||550,000|
|UFC 146||May 26, 2012||560,000|
There’s a trend downward and it will be interesting to see what to expect here. While the card turned out to be one of the best of the year, aside from the Heavyweights at the top, the card didn’t have an attractive undercard unless you were a hardcore fan. With Cain dominating JDS, we could see the start of an Anderson Silva-like run in the division which could help promote Cain as a PPV draw. Moreover, the new deals in Latin America/Mexico and the UFC’s aspirations to have an event in Mexico may prove to help Cain as a draw. Here, attendance does not equate to PPV buys. UFC 136, the last event held in Houston, was to be a big event with an Expo and two title fights including Maynard-Edgar III and the return of Chael Sonnen. Yet, it only mustered 225K PPV buys despite drawing over 15,000 in the building.
Here, I suspect the “Heavyweight factor” and the trilogy aspect gets this PPV up to 500K PPV buys.