February 28, 2014
Earlier in the day, the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone treatment therapy (TRT), just a few hours after that announcement was made, UFC teased a big announcement would be aired on FOX Sports Live tonight.
Fox Sports Live reported that Vitor Belfort would not be applying for a Nevada license for UFC 173, which is scheduled to take place on May 24th, due to the NSAC ruling to ban TRT. His replacement was announced to be Lyoto Machida after his recent win against Gegard Mousasi, which means the new UFC 173 headliner will be Weidman vs Machida.
Belfort claimed that he would now make the efforts to get off of TRT and continue to fight in the UFC without the testosterone therapy since other athletic commissions in the US would most likely follow the NSAC’s ruling.
Today’s NSAC ruling on banning TRT will have a ripple effect on MMA for years to come. We got some of that today already, as Belfort’s announcement today to pull out of his fight three months in advance will cement his status as the face of the TRT era in Mixed Martial Arts and in the UFC. The UFC is already in a tough spot to find headliners this year due to injuries and the impromptu departures of Georges St. Pierre (infinite leave) and Anderson Silva (injury), two of their biggest stars.
The buzz for a Weidman vs Machida main event in Las Vegas will not have the same feel as previous major events during the Summer time. This news puts even more pressure on Ronda Rousey to keep things going in 2014 as a number of UFC champions will continue to be sidelined from injuries suffered last year. As far as PPV numbers go so far in 2014, UFC 169 was estimated by Dave Meltzer to be in the low 200,000′s while UFC 170: Rousey vs McMann figures to do somewhere on the lower to mid end of 300,000 buys. Factoring in today’s news of Belfort pulling out of UFC 173, it looks like it will be a tough first half of the year for UFC PPV sales.
February 24, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 170 held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Knee, not armbar, stops McMann
Ronda Rousey didn’t need her patented armbar to stop Sara McMann, but a knee to the liver downed the former Olympian. While there may be some controversy about the stoppage, things were not going well for her. Granted, she did mark up Rousey’s face. Rousey did appear to be in dominant control after the knee.
Rousey will juggle movies and training as while it’s not clear who will be her next opponent will be and when that fight may happen.
Cormier makes short work of Cummins
There was sufficient hype for Patrick Cummins in short time to give folks the belief he could give Cormier a good fight. In the end, Cormier was mad that he was hit twice by Cummins as the fight was a classic example of a mismatch. Surprisingly, Cormier still put over Cummins in that he would still have an future in the UFC.
Cummins had a good enough story (walk-on to wrestling team at Penn St., working at coffee shop) that the UFC pushed which glossed over the fact that he was incarcerated for some time.
For Cormier, he should be close to a shot at the 205 title and may have one more fight in the division before he gets the shot.
Attendance and Gate
The attendance for the event was reported at 10,217 for a live gate of $1,558,870. The announced gate was one of the lowest in Vegas for a PPV in several years.
Dana White was surprised by the gate as he proclaimed on Thursday that it would do $2.1 million.
The NSAC will have final numbers sometime later this week.
We previously reported, Ronda Rousey, Rory MacDonald, Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson received the $50,000 bonuses for the night. MacDonald and Maia was the Fight of the Night and Rousey and Thompson received the Performance Bonuses. As I stated, in the previous post, Erik Koch could have staked claim to one of the Performance Bonuses.
The salaries were announced earlier than usual and are here. Notably, Daniel Cormier had the biggest base salary ($80K and $80 to win). Rousey earned $55K to show and $55 to win for a total of $110K. She also earned the $50K performance bonus and thus earned $160K for the night – the same as Cormier. Rory MacDonald was the third top earner of the night with $150K ($50K/$50K plus bonus).
Pre-UFC 170 Issues
Three newsworthy issues occurred in the run-up to this event.
The first was the Jessica Eye situation. Eye tested positive for marijuana after her October 2013 fight which caused her win to be changed to a no-contest. Instead of admitting this and showing contrition, she took to twitter to attack those reporting about her failed drug test. Then she went on The MMA Hour to give a vague denial of the situation. In fact, after her interview with Helwani, the Texas test results that she tested positive and waived her right to an appeal, she had some explaining to do. To the UFC’s credit, it attempted to protect its contract fighter.
Via Fox Sports:
Eye was caught in a lie and there was no getting around it, but UFC president Dana White defended the fighter on Thursday saying that she honestly meant no harm in the matter. White knows that Eye got caught up in not telling the truth in one interview, and then it just spiraled downhill from there and before you know it a snowball turned into an avalanche.
In the end, Eye should have received some media relations advice on addressing the situation and decide whether or not to appear on shows to discuss the situation. Moreover, attacking press for a story that was for the most part factually correct is never a good idea. The media relations and public relations part of the business is not as easy as it looks.
The second is the injury to Rashad Evans and the subsequent replacement of Patrick Cummins. Cormier wanted a fight with someone since he had worked so hard to drop down to 205. Cummins, according to the UFC, was the only one willing to take the fight on such short notice. The UFC scrambled to create some buzz for the fight and did so with Cummins violating the unspoken rule of revealing that he made Cormier cry during training. This created ample buzz as it made the fight a little more interesting since it drew the ire of Cormier.
The third was how the PPV was promoted regarding the Olympics resume of its main eventers. The belief was that since the Winter Olympics were ongoing The UFC commercial promoting the Olympians was a dubbed Mike Goldberg voiceover which stated that Rousey was the first woman to win a medal in Judo. Of course, this could not be the case since Olympic medals have been awarded in women’s judo since the 1992 Summer Olympics. As BE points out, she was the first American women to take home an Olympic judo bronze.
Goldberg’s voiceovers are always manipulated for PPV promos in order to promote what needs to be promoted. Whether it was a willful omission or a blunder, the commercial was factually incorrect. Whether this persuaded anyone to purchase the PPV or not is de minimus yet since this was identified by the press it puts the UFC marketing folks look like they dropped the ball.
USA Judo was the notable new sponsor in the Octagon. Obviously this was due in part to Rousey’s involvement. In addition the usual UFC sponsors were in the Octagon including MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Xyience, UltimatePoker.com, Harley Davidson and Bud Light. Also, History Channel’s series “Vikings” had signage in the Octagon as well as EA’s UFC video game coming this spring.
Cage Fighter had a coming out party of sorts for its sponsorship of Daniel Cormier and Sara McMann in the top two fights of the night. The “Rise and Grind” moniker which is associated with CF was somewhat misappropriated by Mike Goldberg during the PPV.
Cormier was wore an “Ultra Lube” hat which relates to industrial, agriculture, auto/truck, household and outdoor uses.
Training Mask, Dynamic Fastener, AutoShopper.com and PeopleFinder.com were prevalent sponsors on multiple fighters during the night.
Rousey wore a Muhammad Ali Roots of Fight t-shirt at the weigh-ins. Dana White also said some nice things about the clothing brand in a tweet. It’s a good brand which features many notable fighters, boxers and martial artists from the past.
— Dana White (@danawhite) February 20, 2014
I actually purchased a Roots of Fights T-Shirt in Vegas. Unfortunately, it came with a preset ink stain. Ugh.
Odds and Ends
A lot of talk at the pre-fight media scrum on the state of sponsorships.
Was it planned for Rousey to down McMann in front of the USA Judo signage in the Octagon?
Were you offended by Marlon Wayans’ Tweets? Comedians have no bounds so jokes like these are expected. Or should they be?
The Rock sent out his support of Rousey:
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) February 23, 2014
— THREE (@DwyaneWade) February 18, 2014
Cormier’s performance at the pre-fight press conference was great as he was articulate, introspective and funny. The revelation that he never had a salad before this training camp was as shocking as White not knowing the attendance figures before they were announced. His breakdown of why street fights don’t last long (built on emotion) was great as well.
After Cormier’s admission of his love for Popeye’s Chicken, the chain provided his family with a meal after his decisive win. But, no sponsorship from the company?
If any fighter wants to brand themselves, they should check out Patrick Cummins’ web site. It tells his story in a short span and he has a memorable t-shirt he sells on his site. That is what I found when I did a google search on him. I did not find out about his jail time until later.
The UFC actively promoted using twitter. Reading tweets from the #UFC170 hashtag seems to be the newest thing to involve social media.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk, Nick Diaz and Will Smith were notables attending the event. Please no more CM Punk to MMA talk.
According to Google Trends, Ronda Rousey was the third hottest search on Saturday with over 100,000 searches. She was behind Justin Timberlake at 2 and El Chapo Guzman at 1. Does this equate to PPV buys? It’s hard to say but UFC 170 will be a test on whether Ronda Rousey is truly the top draw for the company at this point. The fact that the Cormier-Evans fight fell through did not help. UFC 157 did a buy rate of around 500K and while UFC 168 did over 1 million buys this is partially due to the Silva-Wiedman rematch. Based on the late buzz, we could see this event doing 400,000 PPV buys.
February 23, 2014
MMA Fighting reports that Gilbert Melendez will remain with the UFC as it has matched the contract offered by Bellator. In addition, Dana White announced that Melendez will be the next coach on TUF opposite Anthony Pettis with the two meeting for Pettis’ title.
Dana White made a subtle announcement via twitter attaching the UFC press release announcing Melendez’s re-signing and that he would be a coach on Season 20 of TUF opposite Pettis. As you may recall, TUF 20 will feature the 115 pound strawweight women’s division. The press release states the show will debut September 10th.
Here are the new coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter http://t.co/7iUMzsKSc0
— Dana White (@danawhite) February 24, 2014
MMA Fighting identifies some key issues with Melendez’s new UFC contract:
Per the terms of the agreement, according to several sources, Melendez’s deal guarantees that at least 75 percent of the 31-year-old’s fights will be contested on pay-per-view moving forward. Additionally, income earned from Melendez’s contracted pay-per-view points will kick in at a lower minimum buy rate than for any contract in UFC history, meaning Melendez will still earn pay-per-view point earnings on an event that performs poorly at the box office.
Regardless of Melendez’s placement on the card, he will receive his PPV points.
While no terms of the deal have been released, the article indicates Melendez’s UFC contract will make him one of the highest paid fighters in MMA.
Not only does Melendez get a very good PPV upside package, he ensures that most of his fights will be on PPV and he gets an immediate title shot while getting exposure on TV.
Although Bellator loses out on Melendez, it shows a newfound strategy in attempting to acquire top-notch UFC talent. The UFC matched the offer which was likely much more beneficial for Melendez than whatever the last offer the UFC gave him before the Bellator signing. This has to put the UFC on notice that it will no longer have as much negotiating leverage as it once had.
Based on the intriguing contract details revealed in the article, we might see more fighters seeking representation from more traditional sports and entertainment agencies. It was clear that Dana White was not happy with Melendez’s reps which included Rodolphe Beaulieu (GSP’s agent) and CAA. Still, they got the job done and the contract terms appear to be advantageous for Melendez since it’s one of the most lucrative in MMA. Certainly the contract reveal will be taken notice by all others in the MMA business.
MMA Payout will have more as details develop.
February 22, 2014
UFC President Dana White discussed several topics during the UFC 170 pre-fight presser scrum, notably an update on the current status of Gilbert Melendez and recent fighter complains about fighter pay and sponsorships.
“It’s not my f— problem,” White told Iole and the media. “Getting sponsorship is a problem. It’s tough. It’s hard to do. That question is ridiculous. If a guy fights on Fight Pass, first of all, he’s getting paid to fight. That’s what he’s getting paid for. That’s what he does. How sponsorship works out for a guy is not my problem. That is not my problem. He’s a fighter, he gets paid to fight, period, end of story. Whatever extra money he makes outside of the UFC with sponsors and all that s—, that’s his f— deal.”
Dana White came under a lot of heat during the scrum, specifically on the topics of fighter pay and sponsorships. During the scrum, White’s insistence that fighters sponsorship money was not his problem troubled a number of fighters and media members. MMAFighting’s Luke Thomas solid piece in response to White’s tirade titled “Actually, fighter sponsorships are the UFC’s problem” hit the nail on the head. The UFC is now saying that this is not their problem now, but they have previously trumpeted fighter sponsorship as a rebuttal for fighters not getting paid enough. They have also created an environment for fighters which makes it very difficult for sponsors to jump on board after paying a sponsor fee and determining how many viewers their brand will actually reach.
At a time when UFC has broken into a certain level of mainstream in the US after monumental TV deals with FOX, Globo, and other major sponsors, fighters are finding it now harder than ever to find sponsors. As the article points out, there are many contributing factors that led to the current situation, but nearly all were self-inflicted by the UFC. Specifically, the creation of the sponsor tax and the banning of multiple lower-end sponsors have really hurt a large percentage of lower end fighters. In addition to the restrictions placed on the fighter-sponsor relationship, the UFC has continued to place it’s product on media platforms that have continued to drop in viewership and exposure throughout the years, such as the move from Spike TV, to FX & Fuel TV, to now FS1, FS2, and Fight Pass.
One of the biggest concerns right now for fighters is being placed on a Fight Pass card, which typically takes place out of the country with a limited stream viewership. MMAJunkie’s Steve Morocco got a glimpse of what a fighter has to consider now when taking a fight as he spoke to UFC fighter Zach Makovsky.
“They were like, ‘You can turn it down and we can get you on later, but that could be on a card on Fight Pass in Brazil, against a Brazilian,’” Makovsky said. Such a booking would have brought a hit to his pocket book in the form of flying his coaches to the fight and selling sponsors on the still-developing digital network. “I think this was the best scenario,” Makovsky said. “I always wanted to fight in Vegas.”
There is no denying that the UFC is looking towards the future with the sponsorship tax fee, the rumored uniform, and the the Fight Pass digital network. It does not appear that they were quite ready yet to make this transition as they are cutting the bottom half assuming that they will reap from the top, which does not appear to be the case yet. It may also not be the case 5 years from now and may take longer than they have anticipated, but they must workout some type of agreement with the fighters before the benefits of becoming an MMA fighter start to appear less and less beneficial for the lower end fighters.
February 19, 2014
The Beaverton, Oregon based sports gear maker Nike filed a lawsuit against MMA sportswear brand Venum last month alleging trademark infringement and other violations of trademark law. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Oregon claims that Venum’s mark infringes a previously filed Nike-owned trademark, Venom.
Nike sued DBV Distribution, Inc. and Dragon Bleu, Sarl (“Dragon Bleu”), the owner of Venum, in early January stemming from the MMA brand’s use of the “Venum” trademark. The Complaint claims that Nike has owned the “Venom” trademark since 2002. The mark, according to the Beaverton, Oregon company, has been used in connection with athletic apparel and equipment since at least 2002. It has depictions of the purported infringement included in the Complaint including a bat, bat bag and apparel which is associated with Kobe Bryant shirts, shorts and warm-ups. It also includes “Venom” women’s sportswear.
Nike claims that the “unlawful activity” stemmed from Venum selling athletic apparel and equipment on its Venum web site and also http://www.dragonbleu.fr. Nike alleges that Venum “intentionally attempt to draw associations.” One of its arguments is that Venum offered Nike boxing shoes on its Dragon Bleu web site.
The lawsuit filed in Oregon District Court also brings up that the U.S. Trademark Office initially refused registration of the “Venum” mark due to the “Venom” trademark. Dragon Bleu argued that there is no “likelihood of confusion.” At the time, the “Venom” mark was in connection with “ski and snowboard gear” whereas “Venum” related to MMA sportswear thus the assertion was there could be no confusion. To buttress its argument, it cited that other “Venom” marks were allowed which related to sporting goods but were readily distinguishable due to the fact that they were associated with different sports. The Trademark Office agreed and granted it the “Venum” mark.
The legal quarrels may have begun due to Dragon Bleu suing Nike in France in November 2013 seeking a preliminary injunction for an alleged infringement by the swoosh for a soccer boot it called, “Hypervenom.” This was brought up by Nike in its Complaint against Dragon Bleu. Nike claimed that in that lawsuit, Venum argued that the Venum mark and the “Hypervenom” mark were “practically identical and that consumers are likely to be confused by Nike’s use of Hypervenom.’” Nike asserts that its Hypervenum trademark and Venum trademark can “co-exist in Europe without any likelihood of confusion.”
Nike argues that Venum cannot have it both ways in opposing Nike’s Hypervenom soccer boot infringes its brand but then “argue their use of VENUM on apparel and equipment for mixed martial arts and related sports in the United States does not infringe Nike’s VENOM marks in the United States.”
Nike is requesting that the Court ordering the Cancellation of the Venum trademark and destruction of all infringing products.
Venum’s counsel filed its Answer to Nike’s Complaint on February 10, 2013. Notably, Venum admits that it sold authentic Nike products on its Dragon Bleu web site. Aside from this admission, the answer was standard.
As a sidenote, Venum’s counsel previously served as in-house at Adidas. No correlation or insinuation here, just an interesting tidbit.
(H/t: MMA Mania)
While it may be a viable assertion to believe that Nike’s lawsuit is a way to get Venum out of the UFC marketplace just in time for UFC uniforms, I would contend that this is not the reason.
As explained here, it’s likely that Nike would like to market its “Hypervenom” brand of soccer boot. With the World Cup happening this June, it would behoove Nike to market these shoes before, during and immediately after the event in Brazil. If it could broker a settlement with Venum for use of the “Hypervenom” mark in Europe, it’s likely that this lawsuit goes away.
The one big issue question that I had was why did Dragon Bleu sell Nike gear on its web site? If we assume it received this from a Nike supplier one would think Nike would eventually find this out. Knowing that Nike had a filed for the “Venom” mark prior to its filing, and had to respond to an office action regarding the “Venum” mark it should have been put on notice of possible issues. Of course, filing a lawsuit against Nike last November may have drawn Nike’s ire as well.
We shall see whether this lawsuit goes away as quickly as it came. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
February 4, 2014
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 edition, we will be looking at the UFC on FOX sports network ratings for the week of 1/06 – 1/19.
Week: (1/6 – 1/12)
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (1/08):
- Big East Basketball: 73,000 viewers (7:00-9:00 PM)
- Best of UFC 2013: 160,000 viewers (9:00-11:00 PM)
- Fox Sports Live: 50,000 viewers (11:00 PM – 12:00 AM)
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Friday Night Block (1/10):
- Daytona Preseason: 320,000 viewers (1:00-5:00 PM) **
- Crowd Goes Wild: 55,000 viewers (5:00 – 6:00 PM)
- FOX Football Daily: 43,000 viewers (6:00 – 7:00 PM)
- Daytona Preseason: 130,000 viewers (7:00 – 8:00 PM)
- UFC Reloaded: 367,000 viewers (8:00-11:00 PM) *
- Fox Sports Live: 38,000 viewers (11:00 PM – 12:00 AM)
* = FS1 highest viewership of the week… ** = FS1 second highest viewership of the week.
Other Key Programming Notes :
- Ultimate Insider (1/11) on FS1 drew 48,000 viewers.
- Best of UFC 2013 (1/8) on FS2 drew 52,000 viewers. ^
- Best of PRIDE FC (1/06) on FS2 drew 13,000 viewers.
- Golden Boy Boxing (1/06) on FS1 drew 113,000 viewers.
- Supercross (1/11) on FS1 drew 283,000 viewers.
^ FS2 viewership high for the week.
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals (1/6 – 1/12):
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 168,000 (last week: 182,000)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 25,000 (last week: 13,000)
Week: (1/13 – 1/19)
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (1/15):
- UFC Tonight: 123,000 viewers (3:00-4:00 PM)
- UFC Fight Night Pre-fight Show: 89,000 viewers (4:00-5:00 PM)
- UFC Fight Night Prelims: 220,000 viewers (5:00-7:00 PM)
- UFC Fight Night: 629,000 viewers (7:00-10:00 PM) *
- Ultimate Fighter Nations: 371,000 viewers (10:00-11:00 PM) **
- Fox Sports Live: 259,000 viewers (11:00 PM – 12:00 AM)
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Friday Night Block (1/17):
- Barrett-Jackson: 242,000 viewers (2:00-9:00 PM)
- Ultimate Fighter Nations (repeat): 109,000 viewers (9:00-10:00 PM)
- UFC Main Event: 200,000 viewers (10:00-11:00 PM)
- Fox Sports Live: 40,000 viewers (11:00 PM – 12:00 AM)
* = FS1 highest viewership of the week… ** = FS1 second highest viewership of the week.
Other Key Programming Notes :
- PAC-12 College Basketball (1/16) on FS1 drew 318,000 viewers.
- Ultimate Insider (1/19) on FS1 drew 41,000 viewers.
- UFC Unleashed (1/14) on FS2 drew 46,000 viewers.
- Barrett-Jackson (1/14) on FS2 drew 106,000 viewers. ^
- Best of PRIDE FC (1/13) on FS2 drew 22,000 viewers.
- Golden Boy Boxing (1/13) on FS1 drew 143,000 viewers.
- Supercross (1/18) on FS1 drew 284,000 viewers.
^ FS2 viewership high for the week.
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals (1/13 – 1/19):
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 206,000 (last week: 168,000)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 26,000 (last week: 25,000)
From January 6 to January 12, the primetime viewership for FS1 dropped to a lowly 168,000 viewers, a decrease from 182,000 viewers the previous week. In December, primetime viewership on FS1 declined from 514,000 to 144,000, which is roughly a 72% drop. Without any live UFC events this week, FS1 viewership numbers fell below 200,000 once again. The highest rated program for the week was UFC Reloaded, which drew 367,000 viewers. The most watched non-UFC program this week was Daytona Preseason which drew 320,000 viewers. Supercross produced another good number as well as it drew 283,000 viewers on Saturday.
Fox Sports 2 primetime viewership the week increased from 13,000 the previous week to 25,000, which is typical due to the small viewership numbers for the network. The FS2 high for the week was Best of UFC 2013 on Wednesday at 1AM, which drew 52,000.
UFC programming only claimed 4 out of the top 10 most watched programs on FS1 for the week, though they claimed the most watched event for the week on FS1 from UFC Reloaded, which drew 367,000 viewers.
From January 13 to January 19, the primetime viewership for FS1 was 206,000 viewers, an increase from the 182,000 viewers it drew the previous week. With a live UFC events this week, FS1 viewership numbers just climbed over the 200,000 mark once again. The highest rated program for the week was UFC Fight Night, which drew 629,000 viewers and the Ultimate Fighter Nations debut, which drew 371,000. The most watched non-UFC program this week was Pac-12 Basketball, which drew 318,000 viewers. Barrett-Jackson live on Sunday drew 287,000 viewers while Supercross produced another good number, drawing 284,000 viewers on Saturday.
Fox Sports 2 primetime viewership the week increased from 25,000 the previous week to 26,000, which is the typical range due to the small viewership numbers for the network. The FS2 high for the week was Barrett-Jackson, which claimed a viewership high of 106,000 on Tuesday, but also took second (95,000), third (85,000), and fourth place (80,000) for most watched on the network. Coming in fifth is the highest rated UFC show on FS2 for the week, which was a UFC FS1 Fight Night repeat, drawing 68,000 viewers.
UFC programming only claimed 5 out of the top 10 most watched programs on FS1 for the week, even though they claimed the two most watched event for the week on FS1 with the live UFC Fight Night event (629,000) and the debut of TUF Nations (371,000).
February 3, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at the Super Bowl Weekend card taking place at The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Barao handles Faber
To paraphrase Richard Sherman, “Barao is the best fighter in the game, when you put up a mediocre turtle defense like Faber, that’s the result, you going to get. “
A thumbs up couldn’t stop Herb Dean from calling this fight off. Even if the fight would not have been stopped, it likely would have delayed the inevitable.
Aldo demos Lamas
“I’m just ‘bout that action boss. “ – Money Lynch
At least rounds 1-4 Jose Aldo brought the action to Ricardo Lamas. The combinations were devastating as were the leg kicks which were reminiscent of Aldo-Faber from WEC days.
Attendance and Gate
UFC 169 drew 14,308 in attendance for a gate of $1.651 million based on the announcement at the post-fight press conference. The last time the UFC came to New Jersey in April 2013 for Jones-Sonnen, it drew 15,227 for a gate of $2.7 million. The actual numbers announced by the UFC point to a disappointing show when there was opportunity for bigger numbers with a lot of sports fans in the area for the Super Bowl.
Only Jamie Varner and Abel Trujillo received bonuses as there were no submissions on the card. Notably, there were 10 decisions out of 12 fights on the card.
Varner and Trujillo received $75K for Fight of the Night and Trujillo scored the standard $50K for the KO of Varner.
Pre-UFC 169 Promotion
In order to appeal to those coming out for the Super Bowl, the UFC sent out an email to Seahawk fans (and likely Bronco fans) on its mailing lists reminding them of UFC 169 the day before the big game.
The UFC Countdown show worked around the language differences of Jose Aldo and Renao Barao to tell their stories. I think this is a major hurdle in promoting both of these guys. It’s nothing against them but I think many English speaking fans find it hard to get behind them because English is not their first language.
The UFC also brought its championship belt to NFL Super Bowl media day but were quickly muted by NFL PR staff. The NFL thought that the UFC was the WWE and didn’t want it to outshine its day. It was not until Jay Glazer straightened out the situation with the NFL did the staff at media day allow the UFC to stay so long as the belt didn’t get on the podium.
Then, look which belt the Seahawk GM was wearing:
Probably small potatoes here, but shouldn’t he be wearing the UFC belt? According to SB Nation, the picture was taken prior to the Super Bowl so maybe there’s an excuse for the UFC.
The sponsors in the Octagon included the UFC”s UCasino.com, Dodge, Toyo Tires, Xyience, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Musclepharm, History Channel and Bud Light had the middle of the Octagon.
The History Channel’s series, “The Vikings” was a sponsor for 169 and it showed a promo video that included lots of blood and gore. “The Vikings” logo on the Octagon mat was pretty hard to see.
It appears that Auto Shopper received the same deal as Dynamic Fastener as many fighters had the two sponsors on their shorts. Dynamic Fastener appeared to own the back side of fighter shorts while Auto Shopper had the front of shorts.
MetroPCS offered digital autographs of Urijah Faber.
— UFC (@ufc) February 1, 2014
Post-UFC 169 Headlines
Who’s next for Aldo? Short answer is Anthony Pettis. The cynical question is what to do when/if Pettis gets injured. The Pettis showdown would mean Aldo gives up the 145 belt (I guess you can’t hold belts in two different divisions) and the UFC could hype up a “superfight.”
Anyone left for Barao? Is this the definition of clearing a division? While Aldo may have Chad Mendes left in his division if he decides to stay, Barao has no one compelling to defend his belt against. Maybe Dominick Cruz if he can ever get back but aside from that, TJ Dillashaw?
Odds and Ends
Toyo Tires re-signed with the UFC and will be an official sponsor for the company through 2015.
I wonder if Chris Caraiso earned any extra points from his sponsor, Training Mask, after donning the mask before facing off at weigh-ins.
Speaking of weigh-ins, I do not recall ever seeing so many people excited about making weight.
Faber wearing Uggs at weigh-ins? Does that make him the Tom Brady of the UFC?
Super Bowl Fact. Super Bowl Rings: Dan Marino – 0, Tavaris Jackson – 1
Unfortunately, the greatness of Renan Barao and dominance of Jose Aldo will not mean much when it comes down to PPV buys. In retrospect, when Fox announced that the UFC would be a part of Super Bowl weekend, one would have envisioned much more of a collaborative promotion between the NFL-UFC and Fox. However, there was not much in terms of promotion of this event. Even when the UFC made an appearance at Super Bowl media day, they were not recognized by NFL PR.
The nonperformance of the marketing efforts aside, UFC 169 may not do well in terms of buys simply because of the fighters on the top of the card. Fighters under 155 pounds do not draw on PPV. Is the UFC doing these fighters a disservice by not marketing their divisions correctly? Or, are the fighters not marketable? Urijah Faber could have been that guy but with Saturday’s loss he won’t be able to get another shot unless Barao loses and Faber gets on another win streak. Arguably, the top three fighters in the UFC fight below 155: Aldo, Barao and Demetrious Johnson. But, that does not seem to equate to viewers.
Due to the card and the lack of buzz, UFC 169 will likely do somewhere around 200K PPV buys.
January 31, 2014
MMAPayout has learned from Nielsen sources that UFC on FOX 10: Henderson vs Thomson did a 1.9 national rating and an average of 3.2M viewers.
The 3.2 million viewersship number was upgraded greatly from the initial overnight rating of 2.55M viewers, which did not factor in the overrun and West Coast viewership. UFC on FOX 10 ratings are +12% from UFC on FOX 9: Johnson vs Benavidez (1.8 rating, 2.8M) last quarter, but are -21% from UFC on FOX 6: Johnson vs Dodson (2.43 rating, 4.22M), which aired in Q1 of last year.
For the night, UFC on FOX 10 finished second in total viewers to CBS but was first in the A18-49 demo with a 1.47 rating and in the M18-49 demo doing a very healthy 2.05 rating. Winning the A18-49 demo despite only doing a 0.89 rating in the Women 18-49 demo really shows how strong their pull is with the Male 18-49 demographic.
The prelims for UFC on FOX 10, which aired on FS1 before the FOX portion, drew 713,000 average viewers.
UFC on FOX Ratings:
UFC on FOX 1: 5.70M viewers (3.1 rating)
UFC on FOX 2: 4.70M viewers (2.6 rating)
UFC on FOX 3: 2.42M viewers (1.5 rating)
UFC on FOX 4: 2.44M viewers (1.4 rating)
UFC on FOX 5: 4.40M viewers (2.5 rating)
UFC on FOX 6: 4.22M viewers (2.4 rating)
UFC on FOX 7: 3.70M viewers (2.2 rating)
UFC on FOX 8: 2.38M viewers (1.5 rating)
UFC on FOX 9: 2.80M viewers (1.8 rating)
UFC on FOX 10: 3.22M viewers (1.9 rating)
Average UFC on FOX Viewership: 3.6M viewers.
This is now the second lowest rating for an NFL season promoted UFC on FOX event, only edging out the previous UFC on FOX 9. The problem with the last two numbers is that the next couple of shows will not have the benefit of the NFL season promotion from FOX, which historically indicates that the numbers will dip considerably.
The lack of UFC stars due to injury, retirement, or leaving to sign with Bellator has left the UFC with a limited supply of stars, which has recently impaired the booking of headliners. The next UFC on FOX event, UFC on FOX 11, will be held in Orlando, Florida on April 19th. That event will be headlined by a heavyweight bout between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum, which indicates that no titles will be on the line but perhaps can be promoted as a #1 contender bout for the UFC HW title.
January 26, 2014
Television By Numbers reports the overnight ratings for UFC on Fox 10 on Saturday night. The 10th show on Fox scored an overall viewership of 2.55 million with an average of 1.1 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic.
The event which aired in primetime on the east coast slated from 8:00-10:00pm also had about a half hour overrun which is not equated in this rating. UFC on Fox 10 won the overnight ratings battle among the networks.
Saturday night network television was not too competitive as the UFC went up against reruns of Mike and Molly, Two and a Half men and NCIS on CBS, a children’s movie, “Flushed Away” on ABC and a Shaun White special in preparation for the Olympics on NBC.
List of UFC on FOX overnight ratings:
- UFC on FOX 1: 5.7 million average viewers, 3.1 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q4 2011).
- UFC on FOX 2: 4.57 million average viewers, 2.2 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q1 2012)
- UFC on FOX 3: 2.25 million average viewers, 1.0 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q2 2012)
- UFC on FOX 4: 2.36 million average viewers, 0.9 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q3 2012)
- UFC on FOX 5: 3.41 million average viewers, 1.6 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q4 2012)
- UFC on FOX 6: 3.77 million average viewers, 1.7 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q1 2013)
- UFC on FOX 7: 3.3 million average viewers, 1.6 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q2 2013)
- UFC on FOX 8: 2.08 million average viewers, 0.9 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q3 2013)
- UFC on FOX 9: 2.41 million average viewers, 1.0 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q4 2013)
- UFC on FOX 10:2.55 million average viewers, 1.1 rating in the A18-49 demo. (Q1 2014)
Despite a less than stellar card, the UFC chose the right night to run live programming on the network. The overnight numbers outdid the past two UFC on Fox live events. Notably, the last two Fox events featured Demetrious Johnson in the main event. But Benson Henderson, another Fox television favorite, this was the lowest rating for him in the main event (UFC on Fox 5, 3.41M/UFC on Fox 7, 3.3M)
MMA Payout will have more on the ratings as information comes out.
January 24, 2014
MMAPayout has learned through Nielsen sources that Dana White’s “The Fighters” debut last night on the Discovery Channel drew an average of 347,000 viewers.
The 347,000 viewer average was not good enough to place it in the top 100 cable shows for the day. In fact, there were 9 telecasts on Discovery alone that had a larger audience yesterday.
Simply put, “The Fighters”, whos executive producer is UFC President Dana White, is off to a very rocky start. In terms of competition, History Channel’s Pawn Stars had the highest cable TV viewership last night with 5.17M. In terms of sport & entertainment competition, TNA on Spike TV last night drew 1.56M viewers while NBA on TNT drew 2.65M viewers.
Why the UFC is currently investing time in a Boxing reality TV show is not clear, but there has been quite a bit of talk recently of the UFC perhaps promoting boxing PPVs. There has been constant talk of Roy Jones Jr wanting to box either Anderson Silva or Nick Diaz since last year and even Dana White saying that promoting a boxing PPV is not out of the question. Jumping into the Boxing reality TV venture may be one of trying to take yet another slice of the PPV pie by trying to recreate the magic TUF created for Zuffa’s MMA venture. With recent retirement talk from GSP, Anderson Silva, and many of the UFC’s biggest PPV stars, diversifying their PPV portfolio may not seem like such a big stretch as we head to a rough 2014.