May 1, 2013
ESPN Business Reporter and UFC head Dana White went back and forth on twitter on the state of UFC business. The UFC drew the scrutiny of ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell. If you didn’t know, Rovell covers the business of sports and is as active on twitter as Dana White. Rovell sent a tweet out the following tweet after UFC 159.
UFC is starting to lose a little bit of its edge. Might need to have fewer events. Know guy who paid $50 for a $553 face seat tonight.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 28, 2013
This drew the ire of UFC fans, media and eventually got back to Dana White. And in usual form, he escalates the criticism to make it personal.
Rovell didn’t seem pleased about the “ESPN” remark and defended his reason for inquiry.
After a query to substantiate the numbers that the UFC was still on the rise, White indicated to Rovell that he’d get him those numbers
On Wednesday, three days after the initial back and forth, Rovell received his request. It appears to either be a cut and paste of a Fuel TV press release, a hastily put together word document and/or both. You can click on the pic to see it close up. As you can read, White tells Rovell that Zuffa is a private company.
The following tweet is a lesson in making sure you read what you tweet. White’s response to Rovell.
Rovell did concede that the UFC had some strong indicators of improvement.
Rovell then addressed the data White provided to a follower that believed White had shown the reporter up.
Rovell did make a back-handed complement about the back and forth with White.
He then makes the most sense in the following tweets in requesting information that most would ask about a company’s financials.
Prior to receiving the data from White, Rovell ran a poll for his twitter followers. Its something he does periodically to create engagement. The poll asks whether UFC has mainstream potential. As you can read, a little over half don’t think so.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 29, 2013
POLL RESULTS: 55% of respondents say they don’t think the UFC has the potential to go mainstream sprts.bz/17rLdRl
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 29, 2013
You can also head over to Storify to see the original version of this.
Its an interesting back and forth between a mainstream business reporter and White. Certainly, there are errors on both sides of the conversation. Rovell frames the questions differently. He first states that the UFC has lost its “edge” based on the anecdotal evidence that a friend bought a ticket for substantially less than face value. He then asks about the UFC slowing down financially and would like to see its net profits. White responds over the top. Rovell baits him to provide him data that the UFC is doing better and then White gives him something that can’t be substantiated. Being a reporter, Rovell is upset and White relies on the “private company” safe harbor to protect the UFC from having to release its numbers.
At times, Rovell uses financial information to dampen the mood for fans. For example, when a player drops in the NFL Draft, he’s the first to tweet how much money that player is losing. Still, Rovell is being a journalist here and it would have looked better if White could have just said granted him an interview to talk about it or provided him information that did not look like it was a press release.
April 30, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 159 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey where Jon Jones defended his Light Heavyweight title against Chael Sonnen.
Jones takes care of Sonnen, now must heal toe
It was the outcome that most had expected. Despite Sonnen’s promos, Jones did what was needed to stop Sonnen with a few seconds left in Round 1. It was a good thing, because if he didn’t, it would have been interesting what may have happened for Round 2. Jones could not have gone out there with his toe pointed in an opposite direction.
Now, the question is how long will Jones be out and who will be next for him. Anderson Silva? Lyoto Machida? Alexander Gustafsson? We will see.
For the “Gangster,” I hope to see him in a suit as an analyst.
Nelson KOs Kongo
Jones does what he does and Nelson does what he does – knock people out. While Nelson asked for a title shot, it’s likely he gets at least one more fight before there’s serious consideration.
Bisping beats Belcher after eye poke
Michael Bisping showed once again why he should receive a title shot. The TUF alum beat up Alan Belcher but the fight was stopped after a nasty eye poke which was the second gruesome thing on the PPV next to Jones’ toe.
Bisping must now wait in line once again for a shot.
Attendance and Gate
As reported earlier, attendance at UFC 159 placed second in terms of UFC events at the venue with Hardy vs. GSP being first. UFC 159 reported attendance of 15,227 fans for a $2.7 million gate.
This event’s bonuses were $65,000 each as opposed to the UFC standard of $50,000. As reported earlier the bonuses were as follows:
Fight of the Night: Healy vs. Miller
KO of the Night: Nelson
Submission of the Night: Healy
-The Octagon included the usual sponsors: TapouT, MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Xyience, UFC Gym, Harley Davidson, Dodge, MusclePharm, Alienware, UltimatePoker.net and Bud Light. It also included local sponsor Modell’s Sporting Goods.
-UFC Gym sponsored the prep point. UFC Fit was also prevalent last week at UFC on Fox 7. The move into fitness is a reason that Reebok may be a potential sponsor. Could this be one of the reasons why Dana White met with Reebok officials? Also interesting that a potential Reebok deal may happen and just a few months ago Rampage Jackson could not wear Reebok logos in the Octagon for his last fight.
-Representatives from Doritos were also present as it may have a potential interest in sponsorship.
-Ronda Rousey was featured in a MetroPCS commercial shown during the Prelims. It was also revealed that she signed a one year deal with Xyience
-Jones was sponsored by Nike and had his signature shoes released the week before the event. The shoes sold out quickly although there were limited quantities. Jones actually threw out his shoes to the weigh-in crowd on Friday. He also wore Monster headphones, another UFC official sponsor, at the weigh-ins, to the ring and even when he sat on the stool being interviewed post-fight.
-Sonnen wore a TapouT blue ring robe with a Modell’s patch on the arm. It was reminiscent of boxers or pro wrestlers and appropriate for Sonnen.
-An ironic sponsor for Sonnen was VA Mortgage Lending. As you may recall, Sonnen plead guilty to money laundering in a mortgage fraud case during his realtor days in Oregon. While Sonnen’s actions were not related to VA Mortgage Lending, its still strange that you would want to have it as a sponsor because it reminds people of what happened in the past.
-Phil Davis had a couple throwback sponsors: Affliction and Lugz
When you talk about hype, Chael Sonnen comes to mind. The Ultimate Fighter was to serve as the 12 week promo piece for this fight but it was actually Sonnen’s banter the week or so after the TUF Finale that served as the real promotion for UFC 159.
I really enjoyed the UFC Countdown show this time around especially the Alan Belcher-Michael Bisping back and forth. Perhaps, Bisping can pick up the “King of MMA Smacktalk” when Chael Sonnen retires.
This card produced a couple interesting articles on the issue of race. Tim Marchman wrote an article on Deadspin and Tomas Rios wrote one for The Pacific Standard which explores the issue and whether Chael Sonnen uses race to gain fans. We explore the public relations aspects of Sonnen here. When challenged on the subject of race on ESPN’s Dan LeBatard show, Sonnen deflected the direct issue and seemed genuinely uncomfortable about talking about it. This was something unusual for Sonnen who was on in each appearance he did for the promotion of UFC 159.
Odds and Ends
- Darren Rovell sent a tweet Saturday night which stirred the pot for defenders of the UFC. Rovell indicated that the UFC may have lost its “edge” based on the fact he knew someone that purchased a ticket for $50 with a face value of $553. UFC PR’s Dave Sholler tweeted defending the UFC and its attendance indicating that it mattered and then Dana White sent a tweet professing that its numbers are improving and would prove it by sending it to the ESPN Sports Biz guy. We will see if Rovell gets that information. We’ll have more on this interesting story later.
- The card was deemed “cursed” by Joe Rogan for the various stoppages due to injury. This started with two stoppages due to injury during the Prelims and continued with Alan Belcher’s eye poke and then Jon Jones’ toe. And of course, we get a full on brawl in the stands caught on camera during Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” No word on the deep voiceover between rounds during Bisping-Belcher but it seemed fitting for what happened during the night.
- Sarah McMann v. Sheila Gaff was aired on the prelims twice on FX as a result of filler. But, the fight was the first women’s fight not hyped for the fact it was a women’s fight in the UFC. McMann disposed of Gaff quickly.
- Leonard Garcia-Cody McKenzie was the only fight not aired. McKenzie indicated he was going to take some time off for personal reasons. Garcia may be on his way out of the UFC.
The card was not as interesting on paper as last week’s UFC on Fox 7 and it played out that way in reality. Sonnen did his usual work to hype the fight but many believed that it was a mismatch from the start. The unusual issues during the card confirmed its demise as probably one of the strangest in some time. Although Nelson’s KO and Healy’s submission were highlights, the rest of the night proved so-so. A buy rate of 500K would be a success here and many probably bought it because they were fans of Sonnen and/or Jones as the supporting card lacked intriguing matchups.
April 28, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that the attendance announced for UFC 159 was 15,227 fans for a gate of $2.7 million. In addition, bonuses were $65,000 each up from the “standard” $50,000 which were announced earlier this year.
The attendance was second highest at The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey with UFC 111: GSP v. Hardy ($4 million/$17,000). UFC 159 placed right in front of UFC 128 where Jones won the title against Shogun Rua at UFC 128.
Bonuses were up to $65,000 each and as follows
Fight of the Night: Pat “Bam Bam” Healy vs. Jim Miller
KO of the Night: Roy Nelson
Submission of the Night: Bam Bam Healy
A good debut for the Strikeforce alum Healy as he gets an extra $130K to take home.
Darren Rovell sent out an interesting tweet Sunday about the event and whether the UFC has lost its “edge.” Not surprisingly, it received a return tweet from Dana White. I’ll let you wonder how that went. We’ll discuss this a little later this week. But, a part of the discussion had to do with attendance at events. Based on the announced numbers, it does look like the card did well financially. As for the bonuses, I did not read an explanation for the raise but good for the fighters.
April 25, 2013
Variety reports that Wrestlemania 29 set a record in earnings with $72 million. This year’s event bested last year’s Wrestlemania in Miami which earned $67 million.
The $72 million figure includes ticket sales and PPV buys. The event was up $5 to $70 (in HD). Early PPV estimates have it at 1 million with the possibility of it hitting 1.2 million PPV buys. Attendance at MetLife Stadium set an attendance record of 80,676 fans.
Payout Take: Obviously, the increase in the PPV price may have helped bolster the earnings figure. Also, tickets for the event were likely more than the usual WWE event. Still, the $72 million figure is a good number for the event and should help jump start the fiscal year. We shall see with the earnings report coming out next Thursday.
April 20, 2013
MMA Junkie reports the attendance and gate for the UFC on Fox 7 was 13,506 for a gate of $1.333 million. In addition, $50,000 bonuses were given for Fight of the Night and two KOs as there were plenty of knockouts but no submissions.
The bonuses were as follows:
Fight of the Night: Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein
KO of the Night: Josh Thomson
KO of the Night: Yoel Romero
A great prelims and main card that was certainly PPV worthy. An interesting night with no submissions and a healthy amount of KOs. Not a good night for the Skrap Pack as Nate Diaz took a stiff leg kick from Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez lost a tough split decision to Benson Henderson. Overall, an exciting night of fights on FX and Fox.
April 16, 2013
Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post. In this edition we take a look at the post-Wrestlemania 29 numbers and problems with its live stream during the event.
Wrestlemania 29 Attendance 80K plus
According to The Wrestling Observer (subscription required), attendance at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey was announced at 80,676. The figure would place it second among Wrestlemanias only second to the famed 93,000 plus at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit for WMIII.
The live gate was $11.3 million which is a pro wrestling record. The gate falls short of UFC 129 ($12,075,00) in Toronto in terms of all-time MMA/Pro Wrestling gates.
No PPV buy numbers have been revealed although with the higher price ($70 for HD), its likely to break any PPV buy revenues. WWE officials had predicted the event to do 1.3M buys. One may recall that last year it was reported that Wrestlemania 28 received 1.3M PPV buys only to have it lowered twice to somewhere between 1.1-1.2M buys.
Payout Take: Its unusual to think that the PPV lasted 4 hours yet ran out of time as one match was scrapped and carried over until the next night. While the attendance figures may be augmented on behalf of the WWE, the gate numbers are a better indicator of the revenue generator by just the event. Moreover, the PPV buys will likely surpass all records for the organization as not much has been said of consumers passing on the event based on the price increase.
Digital Issues with Online PPV during WM 29
WWE.com experienced outages during its biggest event of the year. The WWE App also crashed during the event and thus foreclosed those who wanted to order through the app. Although the issues were rectified in time for the replay, the frustration of not being able to watch an event that you paid for live is an issue that organizations wanting to put on events online must handle.
Payout Take: The problems with online live streaming. Invicta fell victim to this issue when it first attempted to charge viewers on UStream. Its second time around was much better. There were also issues with at least two wrestling iPPVs during Wrestlemania weekend. Obviously while the technology is there, the issues remain which will deter consumers from attempting to use the platform. Until problems are rectified, it remains an uncertain option.
April 14, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that the TUF 17 Finale drew a live attendance of 5,549 for a live gate of $569,000. The event was held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The main event had Urijah Faber defeating Scott Jorgenson. But the Fight of the Night went to Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate as Zingano KO’d Tate to win the coaching spot opposite Ronda Rousey on TUF 18 which will be on Fox Sports 1.
The number of comps were not revealed.
In addition, the bonuses (via MMA Junkie) were $50,000:
Fight of the Night: Tate-Zingano
KO of the Night: Travis Browne
Submission of the Night: Daniel Pineda
Unlike other Finale events, this show had its share of good fights highlighted by Cat Zingano defeating Miesha Tate. This event improved over the TUF 16 Finale which was held at The Hard Rock (2,500 attendees, $318,525 gate). The move out of The Palms may have helped the TUF Finales with attendance and gate figures (although no comps were revealed). Of course, the hype of Zingano-Tate and the TUF Finale may have added to the interest.
April 7, 2013
Attendance at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden were 14,506 for a live gate of $2,710,530. The first show in Sweden which featured Alexander Gustafsson was higher attended at 15,428. Unfortunately, Gustafsson had to pull out with a cut.
Bonuses were as follows:
FOTN: Brad Pickett vs. Mike Easton
KO: Conor McGregor
Submission of the Night: Reza Madadi
Conor McGregor stole the show with his knockout of Marcus Brimage. Also, Diego Brandau could have won for Sub of the Night with a slick arm triangle of Pablo Garza. Fortunately, Gegard Mousasi was willing to fight Ilir Latifi on very short notice or the show would have been in dire straits. Its interesting that the bonuses were raised for this event. Maybe it was a way to motivate the fighters to give a good performance.
March 20, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 158 from the Belle Centre in Montreal where GSP defended his welterweight title against Nick Diaz.
GSP dominates Diaz
In a much anticipated match, Georges St. Pierre controlled Nick Diaz for 5 rounds and earned the unanimous decision. Diaz and GSP shared pleasantries after the fight in which Diaz once again stole the show with the post-fight Octagon interview by inferring that it seemed like GSP knew his game plan and that he was retiring.
It was nice to see Diaz raise GSP’s hand when the final horn sounded and for GSP to put over Diaz. Of course, this was sullied with Nick Diaz as he later stated he wanted a rematch and that he was not impressed with GSP’s punching power.
Hendrix stakes claim to No. 1 Contender slot
Johny Hendrix used a mix of wrestling takedowns and his trademark left hand to turn back Carlos Condit to earn the next shot against GSP. The fight displayed the high level of competition that the UFC wishes it had in every main event. Hendrix proved that he should be the next in line to challenge GSP.
Despite losing 2 in a row, Condit is still in the upper echelon of the welterweight division.
Ellenberger stops Marquardt
In another welterweight matchup, Jake Ellenberger showed his power as his stopped Nate Marquardt. Ellenberger’s impressive victory likely catapults him to one or two fights away from a title shot.
Attendance, gate and bonuses
We listed the attendance and gate here. UFC 158 ranked fourth among UFC events at the Bell Centre. Of course, the preceding events were not too bad despite what people think of how poor the undercard may be. I think people go to see the people at the top of the card. Just my opinion.
Only two bonuses were given out since there were no submission of the night. Each received $50,000.
Condit-Hendricks – Fight of the Night
Jake Ellenberger – KO of the Night
Promotion of the Fight
Two Words: Nick Diaz. Two More: Wolf Tickets
We talked about the Media Relations of Nick Diaz previously but his appearance at the teleconference and press conference for UFC 158 was stuff of media magic in a twisted sort of way. Diaz’s unfiltered stream of unconscious talk went from the informed (a sermon on changes in MMA), to the ridiculous (accusing GSP of steroid use) to the unknown (wolf tickets). Diaz did not disappoint with his post-fight comments.
I sort of felt like Joe Rogan needed to help Diaz out with the post-fight Octagon interview as he could tell that Diaz did not want to be interviewed. Still, its Rogan’s job to get the most out of the interview and get out. It seemed to trail in an uncomfortable sort of way.
A UFC Primetime was thought to happen for 158 but Diaz no-showed the scheduled interviews for the shows. This had to anger White as he spent a lot of money on producing a show that never occurred.
Still, the usual mundane teleconference and press conferences became musts to see what Diaz would do or say. For GSP, it looked and sounded like this was all wearing him down. You could also see it as Diaz rattling him but at times GSP had the look as though he didn’t know what was going on. Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks had to wonder why they were asked to come to the conferences when they barely said anything.
Despite the lack of the Primetime show, the UFC Countdown show did its usual job of hyping the fighters.
Meanwhile, the UFC Prelims did very well on FX.
Boston Pizza, Alienware and The History Channel’s new show “Counting Cars” were new addition in the Octagon along with regular sponsors, Harley Davidson, Ultimate Poker, Toyo Tires, Dodge Dart, TapouT, Xyience, Musclepharm and Bud Light.
The broadcast had a preview of the “Counting Cars” show. Anyone else think it was actually about counting cars.
GSP was sponsored by Affliction and Hayabusa. He wore an Affliction shirt and a Hayabusa Gi going into the Octagon. For those like myself that were wondering, Affliction is a lifestyle brand whereas Hayabusa is considered an MMA training brand. It appears that neither brand paid for exclusive rights to GSP. Interesting that GSP’s cornerman, Firas Zahabi has his own deal with Headrush.
Recently we spoke with Elie Deshe of VFD Marketing who is the marketing firm for Nick Diaz. He indicated that despite what people may think of Diaz, he doesn’t have a problem with getting sponsors. As you could tell from Saturday, he had a ton of sponsors on his shorts (more than usual I think), despite just wearing a Stockton pullover to both the weigh-ins and fight.
Sponsor Instaloans was prevalent on many fighters. Some had the logo placed on the hips which I thought was interesting placement.
Johny Hendricks participated in some good will by auctioning off some of his gear for the Wounded Warrior project. He also sent out a pic (h/t: FighterxFashion) of his fight shorts which shows a bevy of sponsors including Bass Pro Shops, Wild Wing, Instaloan, Alienware, Sannation, TRX, MGR Construction Services all on his Ecko Shorts.
Its interesting that MGR Construction Services is involved in MMA sponsorship. It even has a tab on the front page of its web site.
Chris Camozzi made some news by writing a blog post in which he called for UFC fighters to turn down lowball offers from sponsors in order to get what they deserved. We’ll write about his later but its an interesting take on the state of sponsorships. It was interesting that he had two black pieces of tape over each shoulder on his walkout shirt. Perhaps a problem with that sponsor.
Tax woes for Diaz. What is becoming a story after 158 is not what happened in the Octagon but once again Diaz’s comments. He indicated that he hasn’t paid taxes and may go to jail. The comments took everyone off guard. Cesar Gracie indicated on The MMA Hour that Nick has paid taxes and that while his brother Nate has an accountant, Nick has not followed suit. His comments created a mainstream buzz and many brought up the name Wesley Snipes. Hopefully, Nick will seek some accounting help and straighten everything out with the IRS. Certainly, announcing not paying taxes may make one susceptible to an audit.
What’s next for GSP? Although I initially thought he would fight Anderson Silva this November at Madison Square Garden, it looks like that Johny Hendricks may get the shot.
Ronda Rousey on the next TUF. Yes, we could not stay away from mentioning that Ronda Rousey will coach men and women on the next season of TUF. An obvious move to grab mainstream fans and take advantage of their asset (Rousey). We’ll see if this will garner ratings as the UFC has tried everything else. In order to pull some ratings for its Prelims show, the UFC waited until the end of the show to make the announcement.
Odds and Ends
- The Mike Ricci-Collin Fletcher fight might have been on PPV as a favor to GSP and the Tri-Star Gym. I do not know why else it would be on the main card and not Patrick Cote. Speaking of Fletcher, he’s someone that could give you nightmares by just his appearance.
- Interesting to hear that there was an argument in the back before the main event that Diaz’s camp claimed there was an issue with GSP’s gloves. Where was Naazim Richardson when you needed him?
- Nick also inferred that there may have been a “mole” in his camp that told GSP his gameplan. Unlikely. Regardless, it wasn’t the reason he lost.
- Did the UFC change the promo poster after Diaz complained of his pic on it?
- Best moment of the post-UFC 158 interviews was the Fuel post-fight where GSP was seen caught off guard and eating pizza while being interviewed.
- Nick Diaz camp posted a video on YouTube of him hitting a speed bag for 23 minutes. Two questions: why did they post it and why did I watch the whole thing.
- Dana White and Vince McMahon could have had a match at Wrestlemania according to White. We’ll have more on this in The Wrestling Post later this week.
- Did anyone else feel like Diaz was going to slug GSP after the fight because he was being too nice? The scene post-fight reminded me of pro wrestling where everyone is a friend and then someone turns.
According to initial reports, the PPV buys were strong. Dave Meltzer had filed a Certification in the Bellator-Eddie Alvarez case where he believed that buys for UFC 158 would range between 750K to 850K PPV buys. Despite what you think of his style and that he hasn’t finished a fight in years, GSP is still the king of the UFC PPV since Brock Lesnar left. As many reports indicate, it will likely hover around Silva-Sonnen II range due to the added heat brought by Nick Diaz. We could see it hitting 900K PPV buys.
March 17, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that UFC 158 at the Bell Centre in Montreal drew 20,145 fans for a gate of $3.71 million. Dana White revealed the figures at last night’s post-fight press conference along with the bonuses.
UFC 158 ranks fourth among six events that were held at the venue. UFC 83 (Serra v. GSP), the night that GSP regained the welterweight title and started his current reign was the main event that night. It scored 21,390 fans for a $5.1 million gate.
UFC 124 drew the most fans with 23,152 for a $4.5 million gate. It ranked third behind UFC 97: Redemption, which featured Anderson Silva versus Thales Leites and Chuck Liddell versus Shogun Rua.
The bonuses announced last night were as follows:
KO of the night: Jake Ellenberger
Fight of the night: Hendricks-Condit
There was no submission of the night. But, if there was a night to hand out multiple KOs of the night, it should have been this one as Jordan Mein and T.J. Dillashaw had impressive stoppages. Ellenberger, Hendricks and Condit received the now standard $50K each.
With the hype, its interesting that UFC 158 ranked 4th among the events held at Bell Centre. Still, the events in front of it were impressive as two involved GSP and the third had Silva and Liddell. Montreal does not get shortchanged with the star power at the top of its cards in its events.