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.
July 29, 2013
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC on Fox 8 from the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington where hometown fighter Demetrious Johnson turned back challenger John Moraga.
Johnson armbars Moraga in 5th
Demetrious Johnson earned a 5th round submission of John Moraga in front of the hometown crowd. Johnson was cruising up 4-0 going into the 5th round built on a relentless motor in which he outwrestled, outgrappled and scored more strikes than the challenger. Moraga was game and defended numerous submission attempts until the eventual end. But it was obvious that Johnson far superior than the former Arizona State collegiate wrestler.
Jake and Rory both lose
Rory MacDonald won a unanimous decision in the Octagon in a fight that most in attendance hated in total. Dana White blasted both fighters in the post-fight press conference which may have been a sign that MacDonald wouldn’t get a title shot (and thus calming any tension with the need to answer the question of fighting his friend, GSP) with this win. Ellenberger looked as though he froze and didn’t press MacDonald at all. In a fight which many thought to be the real main event, it was the least entertaining of the night.
Ruthless Robbie back in title hunt?
Robbie Lawler used a headkick to dispose of late addition Bobby Voelker. For Lawler, its a career resurgence. With the stinker of a de-facto #1 contender fight between Ellenberger and MacDonald, Lawler could find himself in the mix for a title shot in 2014 if the cards fall right.
Carmouche outclasses Andrade
Liz Carmouche was one of the most popular fighters on this card. Similar to the Lawler fight, she dominated the whole fight. Carmouche went from mount to back and it was a matter of time before she ended this fight.
Attendance and Gate
We discussed the attendance and gate in an earlier post. The unofficial totals had it at 7,816 in attendance with a gate of $735,000. Attendance was down from the last two shows in Seattle but this was largely due to the card. As noted earlier, a lot of empty seats on a picture perfect day outside.
The bonuses were $50,000 each with the only controversy being that Melvin Guillard received the KO of the Night over Robbie Lawler which received a highlight on Sportscenter.
FOTN: Trevor Smith-Dave Herman
Sub: Demetrious Johnson
The overnight rating for UFC on Fox 8 was a 2.04 for a 0.9 rating in the 18-49 demo. This made it the lowest rated UFC on Fox since it began on the network. Still, it won its demo for the night and it aided in launching Fox’s late night adult cartoon shows.
The octagon sponsors included the usual: MusclePharm, UltimatePoker.com, MetroPCS, TapouT. Dodge Ram, Alienware and Bud Light in the center.
Head and Shoulders and UFC official sponsor Corn Nuts were also on the Octagon mat and bumpers respectively.
As always, Mighty Mouse had XBox 360 as his sponsor. He also sported tights by Australian sports company Body Science. It also touts Ironman Triathlete world champion Craig Alexander (and someone I saw at Lake Stevens, WA at a 70.3 earlier in the week) as an endorser.
Jake Ellenberger sported Virus Athletic Clothing and also longtime sponsor Lunar Pages. He stated in the Seattle Times live chat that he got the Lunar Pages sponsorship after meeting its CEO. It was also announced during the week a sponsorship with Body Glove Surge, an energy shot product.
Promotion of the Fight
The normal UFC Road to the Octagon show the Sunday before the Saturday night fight was excellent in detailing Demetrious Johnson’s training and family life while introducing the audience to John Moraga. In addition, it looked at Ellengerger, MacDonald, Lawler and Voelker. Out of all the fighters it was the Moraga portion that was compelling and made you want to pull for the guy.
Locally, buses in and around Seattle had the UFC on Fox signage with Johnson/Moraga as the headliner for months. During fight week Jake Ellenberger participated in a Q&A session with the Seattle Times. He also had a get together for a sponsor in which fans could attend earlier in the week.
There were multiple ticket giveaways at MetroPCS stores in the area. Most of them were in Puyallup, Parkland and Tacoma…basically Johnson’s neighborhood. Matt Hughes and Ronda Rousey also had signings at MetroPCS stores. For those wondering, the headquarters for T-Mobile (the company that has acquired MetroPCS) is in suburban Seattle, Washington. MetroPCS was the only sponsor with a table promoting itself at the KeyArena.
Dana White also had two ticket giveaways which occurred near KeyArena. One was near the International Fountains for those of you familiar with the Seattle Center area.
Odds and Ends
Maybe these summer events should be in the Eastern time zone. It was sunny and 75 degrees when the first fight started at 1pm. The fights ended and there was still 1.5 hours of sunlight left. Sparse crowd for early fights whereas the last two events had more fans in their seats for the prelims.
Probably not seen on television but Germaine de Randamie and Jessica Andrade were very emotional on their walk outs.
Did you know that there’s a UFC Gym in Seattle? I didn’t until Friday at weigh-ins.
New hero, Manolo Hernandez, the trainer for Liz Carmouche. Very entertaining at open workouts.
At what point does Melvin Guillard have to drop the “Young” from his nickname?
So Seattle fans thought it dodged a boring fight when Brendan Scaub/Matt Mitrione were taken off the card. Then, we get Ellenberger/MacDonald.
Fighters in attendance that did not fight on Saturday night: Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, Dan Hardy, Joseph Benavidez, Pat Healy, Cub Swanson, Mark Munoz (coached Ellenberger) just to name a few.
Dana White met Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll during fight week as the Hawks began training camp this week.
A very entertaining afternoon of fights. Sure, the attendance and ratings were low but you have to think that the UFC knew that this was a possibility. Seattle is a very good market for the UFC and while Demetrious Johnson didn’t draw, its not like there was support on the card for the event.
July 28, 2013
Television By Numbers reports that UFC on Fox 8 overnight ratings scored a 0.9 rating/4 share (in 18-49 demo) for an average viewership of 2.04 million viewers. Its the lowest rating for the UFC on the Fox network.
The ratings do not include the overrun which was approximately 15 minutes over from its time slot. The ratings reflect a 40% ratings decrease from UFC on Fox 7 in April.
Comparing this to UFC on Fox 4 which was last year’s summer show which received an average viewership of 2.14 million and a rating of 1.1. That show was headlined by Shogun Rua versus Brandon Vera.
The ratings were expected and seems to be on par with what it put on last year on the network.
The UFC did win its demo for the night with a card that was not attractive to most fans. It also served as a way to grab the young male audience for its late night Animation Domination programming. So, despite being the lowest rating ever for shows on Fox it did do enough to grab its core demo and essentially served its purpose.
July 3, 2013
The Sports Business Daily (subscription required) reported on Tuesday that Wall Street analysts are bullish on the launch of Fox Sports 1 and it may positively impact 21st Century Fox stock. The network’s expanded sports programming is said to accelerate sales and contribute to the growth.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer broke word that Wall Street analysts were “very excited” about Fox Sports 1 and its potential for “21st Century Fox stock.” Credit Suisse analysts cite to “Fox Sports 1 and FXX (another new Fox network focusing on the 18-34 male demo) to take advantage of expanded international networks and the acquisition of programming.” The assessment by Credit Suisse is that the investments will impair short term earnings but it expects “these investments to yield solid long term returns.”
21st Century Fox stock (FOXA) is a result of the split with News Corp. It is the entertainment part of the News Corp. division and opened trading on July 1. It has a target stock price of $34 according to analysts and has been given an “outperform” rating. On Wednesday it closed at up for the day at $29.65.
An interesting report on what Wall Street thinks of the new network. While the feeling is that it will never surpass ESPN, it will be a competitor that will be profitable. The UFC will be an anchor tenant in the FS1 lineup and will help in the success (or non-success) of the network.
April 21, 2013
MMA Fighting reports the ratings for UFC on Fox 7 were down slightly from UFC on Fox 6 as it received an average of 3.31 million fans for a 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demo.
The fast national ratings gages the 8-10pm timeslot and does not cover the overrun in which most of the main event took place. Moreover, it does not calculate the west coast time zone as it only looks at what Fox showed between 8-10pm and not 5-7:40pm, the actual time the event was shown live.
The fast overnights for UFC on Fox 6 were 3.77 million and a 1.8 rating for the 18-49 demo.
In the end, UFC on Fox 6 in January received an average viewership of 4.4 million viewers with the main event of Mighty Mouse Johnson versus John Dodson.
Saturday night’s televised card had much more depth and featured a back and forth fight between lightweight champion Benson Henderson edging Gilbert Melendez. It also showed that the audience grew with each fight.
Via MMA Fighting:
The show had consistent growth, with the Jordan Mein vs. Matt Brown fight doing 2.59 million viewers, the Josh Thomson vs. Nate Diaz fight doing 3.18 million and the Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir fight doing 3.73 million.
The show finished second overall among the networks, losing to CBS, which aired a first run airing of Vegas and a replay of The Mentalist in the time slot. But in the 18-49 target demo, over the first two hours, it more than doubled second place ABC (1.5 to 0.7).
The MMA Fighting article suggests that the NFL’s help in promoting its event was a contributing factor in the decrease in ratings. It notes that four Fox events during the NFL season were above 4.2 million whereas Fox events outside of NFL season were only 2.4. Of course, the quality of fights may have contributed to this. Notably, August’s UFC on Fox 4 featured Brandon Vera vs. Shogun Rua and May’s UFC on Fox 3 featured Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller.
In the end, is the UFC gaining on mainstream fans with its Fox relationship? Adam Swift evaluates the relationship and determines that, at this point, the UFC has solidified itself as a good niche sport.
UFC numbers have been solid for FOX. Cost effective niche pgrm w/ a high ceiling. Must be protected, but can win 4 Saturday nights a year.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
Value of FOX to UFC is harder to find. Haven’t made any new stars, diluting PPV cards to meet ratings expectations, no major new sponsors.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
FOX cable platforms have been a step back for UFC compared to Spike. Confused tune-in message and devalued shoulder programming.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
FOX deal was/is a gamble to expand UFC beyond its niche audience into a mainstream sport. Hasn’t happened yet, but doesn’t mean it won’t.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
Worst case scenario $100M in guaranteed TV money cemented UFC as a stable niche sport. Everything else is playing with the house’s money.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
Will the creation of Fox Sports 1 help straighten out the confusion with platforms or continue it? This would depend on whether Fox execs anchor UFC programming on FS1. Moreover, there is still time for the UFC to make inroads into the mainstream. It just has not done so as of yet. The question is whether there is a timeframe that the UFC or Fox has in its projections where the UFC will develop into a mainstream sport. Of course, the definition of mainstream is another discussion itself.
March 7, 2013
Dana White ranks 45th behind Barack Obama in Sports Illustrated’s poll of the 50 Most Powerful People in Sports. As the title infers, the list includes the biggest power brokers in sports.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ranks number 1 and retiring NBA commissioner David Stern is second. Other notables on the list include Eric Shanks (15), the Fox Sports exec who assisted in brokering the UFC-Fox deal, Showtime exec and VP of Sports and Entertainment, Stephen Espinoza (49) and boxing adviser and promoter Al Haymon (42).
No information on this, but Obama is likely placed at 44 because he’s also the 44th President.
The online SI article includes references to HBO’s Game of Thrones (returning later to the network this month) when referring to power in sports. You guessed it, SI and HBO are owned by Time Warner. The fact that an article can be altered to include a reference not truly related to the crux of the article is another example of power. Although the list is subjective, White’s inclusion on this list shows that the UFC is gaining mainstream notoriety.
February 13, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that Comcast and Fox have struck a deal which will allow Fuel TV on Xfinity cable. The deal improves the viewership audience by an estimated 22 million based on the number of Xfinity cable customers.
Terms of the deal were not available but the deal means that a whole new audience of viewers will be able to see Fox’s 20 broadcast outlets including the UFC on Fuel TV.
According to the Comcast press release (via deadline.com), the retransmission deal will include the opportunity for the companies to engage in new multi-platform offerings. Thus, we can expect more collaboration online and other digital media offerings.
The deal makes sense for both companies and will aid Fox’s rebranding of its networks – notably, Fox Sports 1 and 2. As we know, Fuel TV (and UFC programming) will end up on one or both of these networks. It also opens up more ways for the UFC to engage with viewers. Certainly, there will be online integration as Xfinity customers will have the opportunity to access content on Fox’s websites and application. It will be interesting to see how the UFC and Fox decide how to engage its audience via online content on Fox’s end. Overall, the deal means that the UFC will have a broader audience as Fuel TV will be available to 22 million more potential viewers.
January 24, 2013
Bellator has filed its opposition briefing for Eddie Alvarez’s preliminary injunction. It includes two declarations which supports the contention that the organization had matched Zuffa’s offer.
On Friday, January 25th, the Court will hear Alvarez’s Order to Show Cause regarding a preliminary injunction sought by the lightweight so that he may seek a contract with Zuffa.
Bellator’s opposition includes two declarations. The first is from Main Events boxing CEO, Kathy Duva. Duva’s declaration states that matching rights clauses are commonplace in fight contracts and that guaranteed purses are the customary measure to determine whether a third party has matched terms of the contract. Duva also indicated that she is an attorney-at-law with a law degree from Seton Hall.
The next declaration is from former Showtime exec, and current EPIX TV consultant, Ray Langbord. Mr. Langbord addressed two issues in his declaration. First, he addresses the right to match issue. In reviewing the contracts in question, he opines that Bellator matched Zuffa’s offer and actually offered more non-speculative monetary compensation. Langbord also indicated that matching rights measure is guaranteed payouts as Duva addressed in her declaration. He also goes into a discussion about weighing Fox versus SpikeTV and states that Spike TV is more experienced in MMA than Fox.
Langbord, also an attorney, addresses the PPV issue. He states that despite the fact that Bellator has not run a PPV it still is capable of doing so.
As for the legal brief, we addressed the elements needed to prevail here. The most notable argument is whether Alvarez would likely prevail on the merits. Bellator argues that New Jersey does not require “matching of immaterial terms, or what appears to be the same thing, [and] do not let insubstantial variations between the third party offer and the right’s holder offer to defeat the right.”
Bellator also brings up the issue of a “poison pill” clause that has been addressed by courts in New Jersey. Essentially, poison pill clauses violate the duty of good faith and fair dealing in contracts. Bellator attorneys cite a USA Cable vs. World Wrestling Federation case as authority.
It will be interesting to see what happens Friday. Certainly, Bellator attorneys make a good case against the injunctive relief sought by Alvarez. The declarations are helpful for Bellator but necessarily instructive for the court. Yet, it does support Bellator’s belief that it matched the guaranteed money offered by Zuffa.
The poison pill clause is something that has been used in the NFL and NBA. Jeremy Lin’s contract with the Houston Rockets is an example of such a poison pill. Basically, the poison pill is something in the contract that the other side cannot or will not be able to match.
January 22, 2013
The Sports Business Journal* reports that Fox is restructuring its channels as it plans to unveil two new sports networks later in 2013. In addition, FX will no longer carry sports programming.
The news of a Fox Sports 1 was known for a while but it was not until Fox filed a trademark application for Fox Sports 2 this past November that a second network would be planned. Fuel TV will be repackaged into the second Fox network while the Speed Channel will land on Fox Sports 1.
Similar to ESPN and ESPN2, the Fox Sports channels will share content with the larger events occurring on Fox Sports 1. In comparison, the Speed Channel is distributed to 81 million homes while Fuel TV is available in 37 million homes.
The decision to include a second channel is based on the realization that it had acquired enough content for two channels. Soccer and Fox’s FIFA World Cup rights in 2018 and 2022 seem to be the main driver.
*SBJ requires a subscription
For all of the praises of sustained positive ratings for Fuel TV, the article points to the inability to grow Fuel as a reason to repackage the network. In 2012, Fuel TV and Fox Soccer were two of the three lowest rated Nielsen-rated cable networks in prime time. Its Fox’s hope that converting Fuel to a network with broader programming will help drive distribution.
We will see what this means for the UFC. It recently switch airing its televised prelims to FX from Fuel TV. It appears that the restructuring will mean that prelims would land on one of the two new Fox Sports networks. There has been no word on whether TUF would move to the Fox Sports network or remain on FX as it can be categorized as reality television.
The restructure could help the UFC in the long run but may hurt them in the short term. Eliminating FX from the mix of networks to show the UFC hurts its opportunity to showcase its product to a broader audience. Elimination of UFC Prelims and other live events (i.e., UFC on FX) would hurt its chances of appealing to a broader audience that may eventually purchase its PPVs. But, if the new Fox Sports networks are a success and can grow in distribution, the UFC can be an anchor in providing content for Fox.
January 10, 2013
MMA Payout has obtained a copy of the Bellator-Eddie Alvarez lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey. The Complaint and Exhibits are interesting pieces which reveal the negotiations between the two sides as well as the inference that the UFC may be pulled in as well.
The Complaint pleads two causes of action: Breach of Contract and Tortious Interference. The Breach of Contract claim is based on Bellator’s claim that Alvarez did not honor the “matching rights” provision in his contract as Bellator literally copied the exact words of the UFC contract Alvarez was offered. A copy of the UFC Bellator contract (with use of Track Changes in Word) is attached as an Exhibit to the Complaint. The cut and paste job appears to be the Bellator strategy to either ensure it would match the offer made by the UFC or call out the UFC if it claimed that Bellator did not match the offer.
The Complaint is requesting declaratory relief (among other things) which requests a court to make a ruling on an issue. Here, determine whether Bellator matched the UFC contract.
After Bellator provided the matching offer it received an email dated December 16th to Bellator’s representatives from Alvarez’s attorney Neil Tabachnick claiming that the Bellator offer was illusory. Specifically, 1) a Fox event (in which it promised Alvarez) would be on network television whereas Spike TV (where Alvarez’s bouts would be shown) is on basic cable and 2) Bellator claimed it would have a PPV by March is contradicted by statements from Bjorn Rebney in the media that it would not have a PPV. Thus, no matching of offers. Although the correspondence indicates that these two issues are not all of its issues with the contract, they appear to be the central ones.
In response, Bellator’s counsel argues that the contract matches the UFC contract. Most telling in the correspondence is the fact that Bellator claims to have a PPV in the works by March of this year. In addition, Bellator offered three “sweeteners” as described by Bellator’s representatives as well as appearances on Spike TV which it believed would aid in Alvarez obtaining personal sponsorships. The monetary total amounted to $125,000 but it appears that Bellator includes the exposure on Spike as additional value. Presumably, this is in response to the $250,000 signing bonus and guest commentating spots the UFC offered Alvarez.
Bellator’s points outs that Spike would replay Alvarez’s bouts at least twice on its network which would grant him more exposure. Bellator argues that an Alvarez bout on Fox is usually not replayed.
While most of us believed that a central issue was that the UFC could offer PPV percentages while Bellator cannot. Bellator indicates that it may have a PPV by March and would offer similar percentages for Alvarez. Also, a title shot by March would be offered on both contracts.
As for the second cause of action for Tortious Interference, it names a John Doe as interfering with the Bellator-Alvarez contract. Generally, a tortious interference claim occurs when a party intentionally damages contractual relationship. In this claim Bellator is requesting injunctive relief which would preclude the “John Doe” (you know who) from interfering with the contractual relationship as it would cause Bellator an economic loss.
Although Alvarez claims to have sued Bellator, MMA Payout has not obtained this lawsuit and there is no listing of a suit in New Jersey. It could be that he will file a counterclaim to this lawsuit and that has yet to be filed.
Its interesting that Bellator does not name John Doe. It could be that they would like to come to some resolution without full blown litigation or that it feels the facts are not sufficient to bring in the party yet. The Alvarez lawsuit reveals the overwhelming leverage the UFC has in negotiation. With the leverage of the Fox contract, it can argue that any other offer made by a rival organization will never suffice. Furthermore, being the only MMA organization on PPV, no other organization could match the buy rate bonuses.
We will keep you posted on any further developments.