May 31, 2015
It’s back. Show Money Episode 4 with Bloody Elbow’s John Nash and Paul Gift discuss the Reebok deal.
May 26, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 187 taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with two title fights on the card.
Cormier wins Light Heavyweight title
Despite getting knocked down in the first round, Daniel Cormier dominated Anthony Johnson eventually getting a submission over the exhausted Rumble in the third round. Johnson was visibly gassed by the second round and Cormier took advantage of Johnson when the fight went to the ground. It’s a great story, as the 36 year-old Cormier finally earned the Light Heavyweight Championship after the UFC stripped Jon Jones of the title.
Cormier gets Ryan Bader next and while Bader’s post-fight press conference antics may have drawn some sparks, not many think Bader has a chance against Cormier. The real question will be whether Jon Jones will be back by the end of the year for another fight with Cormier. Perhaps in New York?
Weidman destroys Belfort
Chris Weidman established his dominance in the middleweight division by dispensing of Vitor Belfort. Weidman had been critical of the drug testing leading up to the fight and made a comment about Belfort’s testosterone levels at the weigh-ins and perhaps that spurred him to KO Belfort.
Weidman should face either Luke Rockhold or Jacare Souza next. The native New Yorker hopes that his next fight take place in the state if it is made legal in Albany next month.
Attendance and Gate
UFC 187 was the best event in Vegas (considering attendance/gate) this year outdoing UFC 182 and 183. It was announced at the post-fight press conference that the event drew 12,615 for a gate of over $5.1 million.
The numbers are very good despite tickets still being available through Ticketmaster on Friday night and the secondary market “get-in” price softened during fight week (i.e., the demand went down).
Fight night bonuses were awarded to Travis Browne, Andre Arlovski, Chris Weidman and Daniel Cormier. Browne and Arlovski earned Fight of the Night while Weidman and Cormier drew the Performance of the Night. All received the standard $50,000 bonus.
The Octagon sponsors included Bud Light, the movie “Entourage,” MusclePharm, Harley Davidson, Air Force Reserve. Fram, MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Draft Kings, Bud Light and Monster Energy Drink had the center of the Octagon.
Draft Kings had the fighter prep point. Harley Davidson sponsored the fighter arrivals. Rumble Johnson sported a pink bowtie upon arriving to the arena while Daniel Cormier wore sponsor DipYourCar.com.
Donald Cerrone indicated in an interview that he would be losing $60K in sponsor money due to the Reebok deal. At least for one more fight, Cerrone was able to rep his array of sponsors including Monster Head Phones, DipYourCar.com, E-Z Go, Qore24, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Monster Energy Drink, Budweiser, Greenlee, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Red Digital Cinema. It appears that having Kevin Harvick’s agency representing Cerrone has helped him with sponsors as the Cowboy has a lot of them. Cerrone will likely be able to keep official UFC sponsors, but he will be losing out on the others unless he can coordinate agreements outside of the Octagon and UFC fight weeks.
Fear the Fighter owner, John Makdessi, did not wear his clothing brand but was sponsored by Topps.
Joseph Benavidez was sponsored by Sling Shot. In the link, you can see what the product does. Very interesting sponsor for Benavidez.
Odds and ends
The UFC Prelims were threatened to be shuttled to FS2 due to an extra innings MLB game but it abruptly ended right before the first Prelim fight started. Despite a 5 or 6 minute delay in broadcasting, no fights were lost on the FS1 broadcast.
With the NBA and NHL Playoffs starting during the last hour of the UFC Prelims, it will be interesting to discover the ratings for the event.
Best shot of this set of Embedded episodes: Anthony Johnson sitting next to an old woman in the waiting room of a colonics center.
What became of the agent/manager meeting this week?
It was interesting that the UFC promoted the Periscope App as the promotion wanted fans to follow Dana White and his videos. Of course, many people are using Periscope to shoot video of the event itself. It will be the next big First Amendment issue in sports.
Joseph Benavidez announced he let go of his management team and fought the fight without a manager. His move could be a new trend in the future as the Reebok deal goes into effect.
UFC 187 drew 200K plus google searches last weekend. It was second in the U.S. on Saturday to Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. In comparison, UFC 182 drew 400K searches and UFC 183 drew 500K searches.
While google searches are not definitive as to PPV buys, it is a good indicator. If that is the case, UFC 187 likely did not fare well. Even with two title fights, the buzz for this weekend was just ok. How much would have Jon Jones added to the card? If Weidman can remain healthy and fight on a consistent basis, he could be a PPV attraction. At this point, he’s a wait and see fighter. While the google searches indicate a low PPV buy rate, I am predicting it does somewhat better: 450-500K PPV buys.
May 21, 2015
Silva’s attorney, Ross Goodman, was pleased with the court’s ruling that Silva’s punishment was overturned but no happy with its ruling that it had jurisdiction over Silva. With the court ruling, Monday, Silva would have to go back before the commission to determine his punishment for fleeing a drug test last year.
Silva argues that the commission had no right to drug test him since he was not licensed at the time. The commission counters that it has oversight over combat sports within the state and thus had the right to test Silva.
The appeal to the Supreme Court for the state of Nevada is a calculated risk but worth it. The district court ruled in Silva’s favor but he still must go before the commission to be punished. If Silva wins on appeal with a finding that the commission never had jurisdiction, his name is cleared. It would also spur an amendment to the laws in Nevada. Silva has a good chance with his appeal to the Supreme Court as the commission’s argument sought a very broad interpretation of the laws of the state. Reading the laws plainly, one could see Silva winning the appeal. We will see what happens.
May 18, 2015
ESPN.com reports that a Nevada state district court judge has reversed and remanded the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s lifetime ban and $70,000 fine issued against Wanderlei Silva last year. Judge Kerry L. Earley determined that while the NSAC had jurisdiction over Silva, the punishment was “arbitrary, capricious and not supported by substantial evidence.”
Judge Earley’s decision orders a new hearing by the commission to find a proper punishment for Silva’s violation of evading a random drug test in lead-up to his fight against Chael Sonnen at UFC 175.
The court indicated that a decision would be handed out by May 11th but the decision came a week later.
According to the ruling (as reported by ESPN, we will attempt obtain a copy), the court agreed with the NSAC’s argument that it had jurisdiction over Silva but not with the method the commission determined the penalty. If you watched the commission hearing, you may recall that there was an ad hoc moment where the commission determined a penalty based on what they knew of Silva’s pay.
Silva’s attorney, Ross Goodman, applauded the reversal of the suspension and the re-hearing but may consider an appeal of the ruling with respect to jurisdiction.
As a quick procedural background as to how the decision made its way to state superior court, as in many jurisdictions, the process for appeal of an administrative decision is to the state court.
While I believed that the court may have found jurisdiction, Goodman’s potential appeal may not be as far-fetched as you might think. The ruling means that we should see the commission re-evaluate Silva’s penalty. It’s unlikely it will be able to impose the recommended guidelines it passed last Friday although one might surmise the commission will have this in the back of their minds. Ironically, the NSAC discussed not wanting its decision to be overturned at the hearing (and cited in Silva’s petition for judicial review) for being “outside of the norm” of what the commission has done in the past. It looks like the court has found it did overreach with its penalty.
May 14, 2015
The Wrestling Observer (subscription recommended) reports the PPV estimated buy rates for the last two UFC events. UFC 185 drew 275,000 while the much-maligned UFC 186 garnered somewhere between 100,000-125,000 buys. It also updates the estimate for UFC 184.
The PPV estimates are based on information obtained from Dave Meltzer. UFC 185 featured two title fights with Rafael dos Anjos winning the lightweight title from Anthony Pettis and Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s victory over Carla Esparza for the women’s strawweight title. Yet, it failed to break 300,000 PPV buys.
Most expected the poor PPV buys for UFC 186 so the 100,000-125,000 PPV buy rate estimate seems appropriate and might even be better than anticipated. It’s the second time that Demetrious Johnson has main evented a PPV with such low PPV buy rates. His fight at UFC 174 against Ali Bagauitinov mustered just 115,000 PPV buys. UFC 186, taking place in Montreal, was hindered by the cancellations of the rematch between TJ Dillashaw and Renao Barao and then the Rory MacDonald-Hector Lombard fight was called off. On top of that, there was the removal of Rampage Jackson from the card only to be added back onto the card after a trial court’s injunction was overturned by a New Jersey appellate court during fight week. UFC 185 featured Demetrious Johnson taking on Kyoji Horiguchi.
On the bright side, UFC 184 PPV featuring Ronda Rousey’s quick tapout of Cat Zingano is up to 590,000 buys.
Below are the PPV buy rate estimates this year so far:
While the UFC had a great first quarter of PPVs, it has produced two shows that many believe underperformed and/or underwhelmed. Even with two title fights and hometown favorite Johny Hendricks on the UFC 184 card, it still did not produce on PPV. UFC 185 was expected to draw low PPV numbers based on the constant shuffling on the card and the stark reality that Johnson just does not draw PPV buys. We should see a bounce back with next week’s UFC 187. Even without Jon Jones, we should see a decent buy rate with Weidman-Belfort and Cormier-Johnson heading the card.
May 12, 2015
Yahoo! Sports reports that the official PPV buys for the May 2nd fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao drew an astronomical 4.4 million PPV buys that equates to more than $400 million in revenue. The numbers shatter the old PPV buy rate record set by Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 and the revenue record set by Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez in 2013.
The live gate for the event also drew more than $72 million which also did better than the previous record set by Mayweather-Alvarez. According to the NSAC, Mayweather-Pacquiao drew 16,219 for a gate of $72,198,500. May-Alvarez drew 16,146 for a little over $20 million.
The PPV outdid the 2.2 million PPV buys set by Mayweather-De La Hoya in 2007.
Kevin Iole’s Yahoo! article also indicates that May-Pac sold more than 46,000 closed-circuit seats in Clark County, Nevada which pushed total revenue to more than $500 million.
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe attributed Mayweather’s star power as well as social media as well as the mainstream media push. Of course, Pacquiao’s presence probably assisted in the interest in the fight too.
It’s clear that despite some negativity surrounding the fight did not diminish any of those wanting to purchase the PPV or watch the fight in person or closed-circuit. Social and mainstream media probably helped with the promotion of the fight but the pro-active nature of the cable and satellite distributors to push subscribers to purchase the PPV ahead of time also helped with the buy rate. The revenue records were likely considering the $100 PPV price point for HD or $90 for SD. Also, the high ticket prices and lack of comps were also factors for the record-setting gate.
May 6, 2015
The UFC has issued its pay structure for its Reebok sponsorship deal which goes into effect in July. UFC fighter Cody Gibson tweeted a photo of what appears to be a letter with the pay structure listed. The lowest tier for fighters with 1-5 fights is $2,500.
The next tier for fighters with 6-10 fights is $5,000, 11 to 15 fights get $10,000, 16 to 20 fights gets $15,000 and fighters with 21 fights or more in the UFC get $20,000.
Fighters with 1 to 5 bouts will receive $2,500 per fight; 6 to 10 bouts get $5,000; 11 to 15 bouts get $10,000; 16 to 20 bouts get $15,000; and 21 bouts and above get $20,000. As it previously indicated, title fights would receive more. Challengers will receive $30,000 and Champions will receive $40,0000.
How does this compare to what UFC fighters once made through sponsorships? Take the case of Brendan Schaub who indicated that he made twice as much from sponsors than he did from the UFC. If we are to assume this is true, he would have made over $60,000 from sponsors. Based on this structure, he would receive $10,000 as he would fall into the 11 to 15 fight tier based on his 11 fights in the UFC.
Recently, the UFC announced a change to the payment structure as it moved from a pay structure based on media rankings to one based on the number of fights with Zuffa. The new Reebok sponsorship deal has drawn criticism from fighters and managers. It will go into effect in July with UFC 189.
At this point, the UFC has yet to comment publicly (the letter received by Gibson was sent to all contracted fighters) on the payment structure and its rationale. It’s clear that this is a hit for some (if not most) fighters that had deals with sponsors that it will now lose due to the Reebok deal. Schaub indicated he was losing 6 sponsors. Probably the same for many established fighters in the UFC. We will see what the fallout will be in the coming days.
May 3, 2015
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at what was dubbed as the “Fight of the Century” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada as Floyd Mayweather took on Manny Pacquiao.
Mayweather takes care of Pac Man
It was the likeliest of outcomes despite the wagering line drawing down as many bet with their hearts and not with their heads. Mayweather muted Pacquiao’s flurries with well-calculated right hands to counter his attacks. It was a comfortable decision for Mayweather amid many voicing their displeasure for a variety of reasons. Of course, we could have done without the Pacquiao excuse of injury despite the fact it may have been the truth.
The unholy alliance of Showtime/HBO and Mayweather/Arum will likely never come to pass again. Yet, the mission was accomplished. Without an official tally, one need only eyeball the dollar amounts with egregious amounts of zeros to know that the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was the highest grossing boxing event in its history.
Attendance and Gate
The goal was $74 million and with the astronomical prices for seats and the decree that there would be no comps, it likely made it. Even Pacquiao paid $3-$4 million for tickets for his hefty entourage to attend.
With the 60-40 split of the fight purse, Floyd Mayweather should take in $180 million. Pacquiao will pocket $120 million. As we reported, the amount of gross revenue favored the winner between $160-$180 million with 51-49 split.
Promotion of the Fight
The unique co-promotion between rivals was to the benefit of fight fans from one perspective. It saw a week with past fights from Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao on cable television. CBS Sports Network replayed most of Mayweather’s fights under his current Showtime contract and it aired the one Pacquiao fight he did with Showtime – a battle with Shane Mosley.
With the co-promotion, both networks worked with distributors in pro-actively targeting satellite and cable customers that had order past PPVs to pre-order this event. Essentially, making sure that their customers ordered Mayweather-Pacquiao. The question is how many people actually pay for the PPVs a day or two ahead of the event? Yet, it appears that the strategy worked.
Although there was no full blown HBO 24/7 or Showtime All Access 360, both networks aired shows to promote the fight.
The Pac-May press conference did better ratings-wise than the second episode of TUF last Wednesday.
Of course, there were tons of media, both sports and mainstream, too numerous to mention.
Pacquiao’s camp reported that he would receive over $2 million in sponsorship money from ad space on his trunks. The sponsors included Wonderful Pistachio, Smart Communications, Nike and Butterfinger. Butterfinger leveraged its sponsorship with a social media campaign which included tweets specifically from Pacquiao. He also had a deal with Samsung which was a reason why Freddie Roach took a selfie with Manny during the walk-out.
— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) May 3, 2015
Mayweather, who usually has little if any sponsors aside from his TMT clothing brand, had luxury watch-maker Hublot and Fan Duel on his trunks. He also wore Reeboks. Also of note was the Burger King walking out with Mayweather.
Freddie Roach forged a sponsorship with Geico. In addition, Buboy Fernandez, Pacquiao’s second, wore a ton of sponsors on his shirt including the use of long sleeves to include the SoCal Mitsubishi sponsors.
Odds and ends
The dual use of ring announcers and the mixed broadcast team was unique and awkward at the same time.
The replay will be aired at the same time on Showtime and HBO on Saturday night May 9th. It will be interesting to see the ratings for each network.
What are we to make of the Michelle Beadle and Rachel Nichols credential-gate? The fact that Beadle continues her own story by doubling down with stating she no longer supports WWE because Triple H is a fan of Mayweather one must wonder how much Beadle was a fan of WWE. Why was she unaware that Triple H once walked down to the ring with Mayweather and that he was involved in Wrestlemania?
Jimmy Kimmel dressed as Justin Bieber > Burger King dressed as Burger King.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 3, 2015
For the first time, fans were charged $10 to attend the weigh-ins and even those were being sold for more on the secondary market.
HBO Sports confirmed that the fight was delayed “about 45 minutes” to help fix PPV issues.
Seems like the first weekend in May (with boxing, Kentucky Derby and NBA and NHL Playoffs) is bound to be the best Saturday of the year in sports.
For those wondering, the PPV buy record is 2.48 million (Oscar de la Hoya-Mayweather) and PPV revenue record is $150 million (Canelo-Mayweather). These numbers will fall with ease.
For all of the hype and promotion, this was one event that was too big to fail. Even though PPV distributors experienced some technical difficulties last night, the overarching issue was that people were trying to get in and order the $100(HD) PPV. We should see this fight eclipse PPV records.
But do you think it goes over 4 million PPV buys as Kevin Iole predicts?
I am hearing the PPV for #MayPac is tracking for an enormous number. If trends continue, I expect it over 4 million
— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) May 1, 2015
Despite the last minute decrease in prices and hotel rooms in Vegas, this event drew immense attention and the casual viewer was willing to pay the steep price to see it even though they were not keen on heading to Vegas. I would tend to think this event drew near 4 million PPV buys but would not be surprised if the reports of surpassing 4 million were true.
May 1, 2015
There are reasons why Al Haymon never speaks, one of those may be to prevent the threat of litigation. A recent article about Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions may bring on an antitrust lawsuit involving rival Golden Boy Promotions as chief plaintiff.
A recent Sports Business Journal article featured Haymon’s PBC and went over how funding was structured. Although Haymon did not provide comment for the article, factual information in it allegedly strengthened the argument that Haymon’s business model for PBC violates portions of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.
A draft of the Complaint has been viewed by SI.com and it appears that Golden Boy Promotions is seeking a temporary restraining order and then a permanent injunction against his business practices that violate state and federal laws. It also requests monetary damages against Haymon.
The claim is that Haymon is using his monopoly as a boxing manager to create another monopoly for promoting TV fights.
Golden Boy is hush on if and when this lawsuit may be filed.
Notably, the SI article includes a letter dated April 28, 2015, from the Association of Boxing Commissions (“ABC”) to the Department of Justice in which it claims that Haymon is in violation of the Ali Act. Essentially, through his controlled companies Haymon is acting as manager and promoter which the ABC claims to be a violation of the “Firewall provision” of the Ali Act (specifically section 5(b) of the Act). ABC also calls into question the contracts Haymon fighters must sign. Essentially, ABC believes that they are in “restraint of trade” and “contrary to public policy” as the contracts exceed 12 months. A footnote in the letter notes that UFC, Bellator and other MMA promotions have this contractual model. It also notes that MMA is not covered by the Ali Act.
This will be an interesting lawsuit and with the Zuffa antitrust lawsuit ongoing, we can see some major waves happening in the business of combat sports. Haymon’s boxing business model is unique and received much scrutiny by rival promoters. There have been attempts in the past to sue Haymon but those were summarily dismissed and/or settled. If Haymon and PBC are sued, we may see some interesting information divulged from the factual discovery process in the lawsuit. It could also overturn the current wealth of boxing on multiple networks by PBC. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
April 30, 2015
The WWE announced its results for the first quarter of 2015. In a release from the company, it stated that revenues increased 40% to $176.2 million which is the highest quarterly revenue in WWE history. The results exceeded analyst expectations for the company.
After five consecutive quarters in the red, it’s the first quarter where the WWE has shown a positive operating income. As for the WWE Network, it reached 1.3 million total subscribers, a benchmark it announced the day after Wrestlemania. The WWE reports that its average of network subscribers is at 927,000 at the end of the first quarter. Again, the network’s free promotion, which was February this quarter, contributed to the Network’s growth as 154,000 subscribers converted from free to paid subscribers.
For its quarter ending March 31, 2015, it reported net income of $9.8 million ($0.13 per share) as compared to a net loss of $8.0 million ($0.11 per share) in the first quarter last year.
According to Chief Strategy & Financial Officer George Barrios the positive financial results were “driven primarily by the escalation of our [WWE] television rights fees and the expansion of the WWE Network subscribers.”
The WWE indicated that it will implement a five-part strategy the rest of 2015 for the Network. This includes 1) creating new content; 2) implementing high impact customer acquisition and retention programs; 3) introducing new features; 4) expanding distribution platforms, and 5) entering new geographies.
As for the rest of WWE business, each division, except WWE Studios ($1.5M vs. $4.3M) is up over this quarter last year. The total net revenues for this quarter were $176.2 as compared to $125.6 at the end of the quarter for 2014. The Network segment, which includes revenue generated from Network and PPV increased $19.2 million from the prior year quarter. The Network alone generated $28.6 million in revenue based on an average of 927,000 paid subscribers.
At the time of this writing, WWE stock is down slightly at $14.16 per share.
A good quarter for the WWE. Beating the analyst expectations is a good achievement by the company. Wrestlemania was the likely key driver here especially when you look at the number of converted free to paid subscribers going into March, which was Wrestlemania month. Of course, we do not know how many dropped the network in April. We will see if the WWE can continue its positive momentum and see if its strategy for the network continues to net subscribers.