December 26, 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 12/09 – 12/15.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (12/11):
- UFC Tonight: 127,000 viewers (7-8 PM)
- UFC Reloaded: 480,000 viewers (8-11 PM)
UFC on Fox Sports Friday Night Block (12/13):
- UFC on FOX Weigh-Ins on FS1: 44,000 viewers (7-8 PM).
- UFC Tonight: 54,000 viewers (8-9 PM)
- UFC Ultimate 100 Knockouts Replay on FS1: 275,000 viewers (9-10 PM).
- Golden Boy Boxing on FS1: 188,000 viewers (10-1 AM).
UFC on Fox Sports Saturday (12/14):
- UFC on FOX Prelims on FS1: 613,000 viewers (5 – 8PM).
- Big East Basketball on FS1: 212,000 viewers (8 – 10PM).
- FOX Sports Live on FS1: 137,000 viewers (10-11 PM).
Other Key Programming Notes :
- Ultimate Insider (12/15) on FS1 drew 37,000 viewers.
- UFC Unleashed (12/15) on FS1 drew 217,000 viewers.
- UFC Breaking Ground(12/15) on FS2 drew 133,000 viewers.
- UFC Road to the Octagon (12/13) on FS1 drew 44,000 viewers.
- Best of PRIDE FC (12/10) on FS2 drew 48,000 viewers (FS2 viewership high for the week).
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals:
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 155,000 (last week: 186,000)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 14,000 (last week: 30,000)
This week is no different than last week, as FOX Sports continued to struggle since TUF and the College Fottball season came to an end. This week, the primetime viewership averaged 155,000 viewers, a drop from the 186,000 average viewers the previous week. In the past three weeks, primetime viewership on FS1 has declined from 514,000 to 155,000, which is roughly a 70% drop. Fox Sports 2 primetime viewership this week also dipped from 30,000 the previous week to 14,000, which is more than 50% but typical due to the small viewership numbers.
Despite the declining primetime viewership numbers for the network, UFC programming claimed the highest viewership on FOX Sports 1 and four out of the top five for the week. What’s even more surprising is that only one out of those 4 were live sport events. Out of the top 5 programs for the week, only the UFC on FOX prelims and the Big East college basketball game on Saturday were live events. The most successful non-live programming was UFC Reloaded, a replay of a previous UFC PPV event, which drew 480,000 viewers.
The most watched non-UFC programming on FS1 for the week was the Big East CBB game on Saturday, which drew 212,000 viewers.
December 17, 2013
MMA Payout has learned from Nielsen sources that the UFC on Fox 9 Prelims held Saturday on FS1 received an average viewership of 613,000. The ratings are off from UFC 167, the previous prelim card airing on the network.
It was the first time that the UFC on Fox prelims aired on FS1.
UFC Prelims on FS1
UFC 164 809,000
UFC 165 722,000
UFC 166 628,000
UFC 167 998,000
UFC on Fox 9 613,000
The prelim card did produce the Fight of the Night and the oddest appearance of the night with Cody McKenzie and his white Nike shorts. Putting up the UFC on Fox prelim ratings next to the PPV prelims may be unfair but it gives some context as to the viewership interest for Saturday’s card.
December 8, 2013
The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reported the ratings of this past season’s Ultimate Fighter and addressed the reasons for its 22 percent viewership drop in its first season on FS1. But Fox execs are not worried as it is assessing the overall consumption of the reality show.
According to the article, the overall consumption of the series is up 8 percent over last year when it was on FX.
TUF 18 featuring Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate had hoped to make a splash by having men and women fighters in a house. The belief would have had viewers excited by the novelty of men and women sharing the same house and coupling that with the fierce rivalry between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. They also had hoped it would make a big splash on the new network FS1. Instead, many were turned off by Rousey’s behavior during the show. The ratings did not reflect the hope that it would gain traction with fans. For a while, the viewership reflected the interest in the women’s fights as there was a spike each week the women fought.
According to the SBJ, TUF 18 averaged 648K viewers which is down from 832K viewers last season when it ran on FX. Fox sports execs are viewing the ratings differently as it is not assessing the overnight ratings as it would a live sporting event. Rather, the tact is to view the ratings in total which would include the DVR usage and re-airs.
When taking into consideration the total numbers, TUF attracted “14,844 million viewers this year through 163 airings on two sports channels plus DVR users,” according to the SBJ report. In comparison TUF 17 pulled in 13.8 million viewers through 24 airings on FX and DVR users. Same day viewership is off 22 percent but live plus 7 day viewership is down only 10 percent and it increased its male 18-49 and male 25-54 demos according to the senior vice president of programming and research of Fox Sports.
Spin or correct reassessment of programming by Fox? As most know, the TUF series has taken a downturn in ratings since the UFC left SpikeTV. But the article suggests that the TUF franchise is not going anywhere and with the launch of two new all-sports networks, it is willing to be patient with the show as well as look at the overall picture of how it is contributing to the ratings.
Certainly, a 7pm start time on the west coast with no same night replays on FS1 does not really help the overnight ratings. The west coast is known for having higher viewership for MMA programs. While there’s nothing definitive that would suggest that TUF has higher ratings on the west coast, the fact that there are a lot of MMA fans out west would make Fox look to all of the airings of TUF and not just the live version. In the future, perhaps programming might also look to same night reruns as well as this might boost viewership for FS1
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.