October 6, 2014
Bill King of The Sports Business Journal reports on the UFC’s need for its next PPV star. It has compiled a list of the top PPV draws in its history and the top of the list may (or may not) surprise you.
Although we cannot produce the entire list and/or article, it can be seen in this week’s Sports Business Journal’s issue which is through subscription only.
The list compiled by the SBJ factors in fighters’ PPV draws based on them fighting as one of the top two fights on a card dating back to January 2006. Per the SBJ process, the list includes only fighters who were co-featured in at least three bouts and looks at their PPV averages as the headliner.
The top of the list has Brock Lesnar, GSP and Rampage Jackson who narrowly edged Chuck Liddell for the third spot. To show how significant Lesnar was as a PPV draw, his average as a headliner (which can also be found at MMA Payout’s Blue Book), is at 1,021,000. GSP, who ranked second, averaged slightly over 688,000 PPV buys. Jackson averaged 613,000 and Chuck Liddell placed 4th and averaged 605,000.
The rest of the top 10 in order goes Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Randy Couture, Anderson Silva and B.J. Penn.
Cain Velasquez, Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey missed out on the top 10 spot.
One interesting fact from the article: UFC PPV business went from 45% of the UFC’s revenue in 2009 to 30 % in 2013 but the overall business grew by about 50% driven by international TV rights.
The article is a very good analysis of what the UFC is facing with more shows and less draws for its PPVs. If you are to look at the top 10, only Lyoto Machida may be considered as active on the UFC roster (hard to think Evans will be a headline on a PPV in the future). The UFC has to hope (and think) that Cain, Jones and Rousey will surpass some of those names in the top 10s as they continue to star on PPV. One ominous point shown from the SBJ article is that Demetrious Johnson’s 3 main events on PPV had him pull in an average of only 175,000.
October 2, 2014
Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer (subscription recommended) reported that UFC 177 which featured T.J. Dillashaw defending his bantamweight championship against late replacement Joe Soto netted an estimated 125,000 PPV buys.
The numbers are more than most had expected considering that Soto replaced Renan Barao the day before the fight. It’s the second lowest output this year but considering the circumstances, the reported number is a pleasant surprise.
Going into the Saturday of UFC 177, there was concern that it would beat UFC 174 for lowest PPV buy rate in years.
I was of the opinion that this number would never come out due to the potential for a disastrous PPV number. The Google metrics that many go by in anticipating a buy rate were non-existent. However, if correct, the 125,000 PPV buys reflects that there is a base (as discussed by Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez on their podcast) audience that will order UFC PPVs regardless of the fights on the card. Realistically, the advertised card rivaled a Fight Night card with the exception of a title fight.
September 29, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. In this edition, we review UFC 178 which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where Demetrious Johnson took on Chris Cariaso in the main event.
Johnson outclasses Cariaso
Despite the lack of fan support (i.e., PPV buys), Demetrious Johnson can legitimately stake a claim to being the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC. It was clear in the first minute that Johnson was the better fighter and ended Cariaso in the second round with a submission.
Johnson is getting prime placement on UFC shows and it’s the second PPV he’s headlined this year. One should also stress the fact that Johnson has not been hurt during his title reign and is not an outside-the-Octagon problem. So, why don’t people buy his PPVs?
Cowboy welcomes Eddie to UFC
The skeet shooting and wakeboarding training regimen pre-fight aside, Donald Cerrone is an extremely good fighter. In what was one of the more entertaining fights on the card, Cerrone defeated Eddie Alvarez. It was the long-awaited debut for the former Bellator champ and the first round he showed why the UFC wanted to acquire his services. Yet, Cerrone moves on looking for another fight before 2014 closes.
McGregor makes quick work of Poirier
You would have thought that this was the main event based on the crowd reactions. The hype, trash talk and vitriol between the two (especially during any face off promoting the fight) was classic in what to do to have people interested in purchasing your fights. The Conor McGregor experience continues and likely his most impressive fight on the biggest platform so far. McGregor easily handled Dustin Poirier in the first round. It’s clear that McGregor is ready for a title shot after Saturday night.
Attendance and Gate
The attendance and gate announced at the post-fight press conference was 10,544 for a gate of $2.2 million. Out of 9 PPVs this year, it ranked 7th in attendance.
The bonuses of $50K each were awarded to Yoel Romero-Tim Kennedy for Fight of the Night and Dominick Cruz and Conor McGregor for Performances of the Night.
Promotion of the Fight
The Embedded episodes continue to be popular as the UFC has found a formula to promote the fights digitally. For the most part, viewers got to see Cowboy Cerrone wakeboarding and skeet shooting prior to his fight with Eddie Alvarez, Conor McGregor get a haircut, Demetrious Johnson getting a shave and Dustin Poirier at the Whole Foods at Vegas. The one thing really missing from the embedded episode was a profile on Chris Cariaso. The Countdown show did have a profile on Cariaso but it seemed incomplete. Even if it was a foregone conclusion that he would likely lose (which happened), it would have been nice for them to have elevated his profile for this fight. It seems to get better reviews than the UFC Prime Time episodes because they are short and can be viewed whenever people want to see them.
Conor McGregor did a good amount of pre-fight press.
Mighty Mouse appeared on the local Fox affiliate in Seattle last week hyping UFC 178.
Salaries have been disclosed via MMA Junkie:
Demetrious Johnson: $183,000 (includes $54,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Cariaso: $24,000
Donald Cerrone: $126,000 (includes $63,000 win bonus)
def. Eddie Alvarez: $100,000
Conor McGregor: $150,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus)
def. Dustin Poirier: $34,000
Yoel Romero: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus)
def. Tim Kennedy: $70,000
Cat Zingano: $18,000 (includes $9,000 win bonus)
def. Amanda Nunes: $15,000
Dominick Cruz: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Takeya Mizugaki: $32,000
Jorge Masvidal: $90,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. James Krause: $15,000
Stephen Thompson: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Patrick Cote: $33,000
Brian Ebersole: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. John Howard: $21,000
Kevin Lee: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Jon Tuck: $10,000
Manny Gamburyan: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Cody Gibson: $10,000
Some interesting figures including Demetrious Johnson being paid like a champ (base of $129K). The last official report of his purse was at UFC on Fox 9 where he made a base of $125K (notice a bigger bonus for that Fox event). You might assume that June’s UFC 174 he made a base of $127K although those salaries were never officially reported. Eddie Alvarez was paid $100K (show) for his first UFC fight. You might recall when he was originally offered a UFC contract which precipitated the Bellator lawsuit, he was offered $70K for his first match in the UFC. Conor McGregor is already up to $75K base. Cat Zingano only made $9K/$9K which is only a $2K bump from her last fight in April 2013 against Miesha Tate.
The octagon sponsors included MusclePharm, MetroPCS, Alienware, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Fram, UltimatePoker.net, Assassin’s Creed’s latest game, Matefit.me and Bud Light in the center.
Missing from the octagon was long-time sponsor, Xyience, which was purchased by another company that quickly pulled the sponsorship with the UFC.
Yoel Romero was sponsored by likeaboss.com. I’m not sure what they do.
Cain Velasquez appeared in a promo for Harley Davidson Motorcycle’s “Hometown Throwdown.”
Mighty Mouse had his traditional sponsor of Xbox 360. The only sponsor for Johnson, his fight banner told folks to pre-order an Xbox One. I thought those were already available? If you were wondering, on his recent Wrestling Observer podcast, Dave Meltzer did not know how much Johnson is receiving from Microsoft.
Cariaso was sponsored by Mountek. Really.
Dominick Cruz was sponsored by the Phoenix International Raceway which stuck with him despite Cruz being on the shelf for a long time. It paid off as PIR had a prominent logo on Cruz as he was demolishing Takeya Mizugaki. He also wore the shirt in his post-fight interview.
Odds and ends
-Didn’t mention this earlier, but Cat Zingano-Amanda Nunes fight was the way to start a PPV. Zingano has been through a lot and it appears that she will be the next for Ronda Rousey.
-MMA Fighting has backstage footage of Tim Kennedy confronting Yoel Romero about the extra time he took to get up from his stool in between rounds.
-Interesting that the UFC are rolling out different types of Bruce Lee t-shirts. Hopefully some of the money that I suppose the estate is receiving from licensing his likeness is going toward this.
-Dominick Cruz won me over in just the 61 seconds of work. First, his Jay Z/Cypress Hill remix entrance, Then, the plain black CRUZ sweatshirt. Easily the best thing anyone has worn to the octagon in the history of this sport. Finally, his “Alpha-Fails” drop is probably one of the best post-fight lines in a while.
-UFC on Fox YouTube channel has the whole 61 second Cruz return fight.
-Some argument as to whether Cruz fight should have been on PPV. You can see it as perhaps a concession to boost FS1 ratings. In hindsight, all of the fights on the PPV were great and hard to see replacing one.
-The good news is that the clay pigeons that Cerrone shot during that Embedded episode were not real as they were made at the same place that Floyd Mayweather got his fake weed from All Access.
-Not surprising, but according to Google Trends, Dublin and Ireland were the most interested city and country for search term “UFC 178”.
This was to be Jones-Gus II. But after that was scrapped, it was Jones-Cormier. After the Jones-Cormier media day brawl in August, one could have made the argument that UFC 178 would be the second-biggest PPV event of the year after UFC 175. But with Jones getting injured, the need to adjust the lineup probably hurt the buy rate. Overall, this card was very solid with every PPV fight being an entertaining one. However, selling the Johnson-Cariaso was tough and you might infer that most of the pre-fight hype was for McGregor-Poirier. Although McGregor could be a breakout PPV star, he is not one yet.
While Google Trends saw an uptick in searches for UFC 178 from Ireland, it’s worth to note that the US was the 4th interested country for the event. In the end, a buy rate of 300,000-325,000 seems reasonable.
September 23, 2014
The WSOF has announced what it believes is a “Game Changer” in the MMA PPV business with the introduction of a PPV revenue sharing model set to be put in place with its foray into PPV in the second half of 2015. The model would provide featured fighters with 50 percent of all of the PPV net revenue from the event.
Per portions of the WSOF press release:
LAS VEGAS (Sept. 23, 2014) – In a radical move that could forever change the earning potential of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, World Series of Fighting (www.wsof.com) has announced that it will enter the pay-per-view business in the second half of 2015 with an unprecedented revenue sharing model that will pay 50 percent of all net revenue earned from live pay-per-view events it produces, to the fighters featured on the telecasts.
“This is a proud day for the sport of mixed martial arts and our organization and one that we hope will create a better opportunity for the fighters who put everything on the line every time they step inside the cage,” said World Series of Fighting President, six-time world champion and two-time Hall of Famer Ray Sefo.
“Until now,” continued Sefo, “one of the main things holding this sport back from becoming even bigger than it is today has been fighter compensation and the inability of the sport’s top athletes to earn on par with top-level professional athletes in other sports.
“If fighters can’t earn a fair share of the money at the top,” said Sefo, “the fighters lose hope or become disenchanted with the sport, which impacts their commitment to training and preparing properly for title fights. That is about to change, thanks to this major step we are taking now fighters will train harder than ever to become a champion giving the fans some epic championship bouts to enjoy. We want to thank NBC Sports and NBC for giving us such an amazing stage to grow World Series of Fighting since its debut.
Since it launched its live event series on Nov. 3, 2012 with a stellar six-bout fight card on NBC Sports Network that reaches over 80 million homes, World Series of Fighting has effectively been building its brand and on July 5, the promotion made its debut on broadcast television before a live NBC audience of nearly 1 million viewers.
World Series of Fighting has successfully expanded its footprint to over 80 countries and counting with its premier fight programming as part of a multi-year agreement with IMG the world’s leader in sports content distribution.
The assumption of having the PPV in late 2015 is to help build up the promotion to a point where it will have a sufficient television draw and following to be ready by late next year. While Sefo does say some truthful things, it is still the execution of the plan and how much fan interest there will be in the end that will determine whether this business model is a game changer. Recent forays by smaller organizations (e.g. Glory rumored to have only 6,000 PPV buys) have not proven to be big sellers and based on the price point of a PPV (likely between $30-$40), it’s hard to fathom a huge PPV number. Thus, the fighters probably would not be raking in big money from PPV revenue. Overall, it’s a way to incentivize fighters to work harder and help assist in promoting the PPV. But in the end, I do not think that fighters would make more money from the model than they would if they were paid in traditionally. We will continue follow and see how this develops.
September 19, 2014
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the rematch between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana did 925,000 PPV buys.
Mayweather PPV buys under Showtime contract:
Mayweather-Guerrero, May 4, 2013: 1 million PPV buys (although disputed by ESPN’s Dan Rafael (who indicated that the buys were under 1M) and Showtime which stated that the buys were over 1 million)
Mayweather-Alvarez, September 14, 2013: 2.2 million PPV buys
Mayweather-Maidana I, May 3, 2014: 900,000 PPV buys
Mayweather-Maidana II, September 13, 2014: 925,000 PPV buys
Assuming that the Guerrero fight hit 1 million PPV buys, Mayweather’s average for his 4 fights are slightly over 1.25M PPV buys. This, of course, was largely due to the Canelo fight.
The news comes despite Showtime advising that it would not reveal PPV buys after Mayweather’s May fight. But, this may have been a reaction to the beef Showtime has with Dan Rafael of ESPN.
As for the live gate and attendance, RingTV reports (via NAC release) that gate was at $14,899,150 with 14,859 tickets being sold and 1,080 tickets going unused.
Interesting lead from the Yahoo! article which focuses on Mayweather’s comments about Ray Rice but despite Mayweather’s persona outside of the ring, last Saturday’s event shows that he still can be a draw although maybe not a 1M PPV draw all by himself. Based on his fights under the Showtime contract, one might infer that the quality/popularity of the opponent is needed for the event to do big numbers. Perhaps the Guerrero fight was an anomaly, but based on PPV buys, the Canelo fight was the big success under the Showtime contract. Certainly, the buzz and run-up to the event was not as big as “The One” last September yet it did better than May’s fight with Maidana. It could be the fact that people had a little more info on Maidana. In my opinion, I think the free fights aired on CBS Sports Net (including their first fight from May) helped.
September 4, 2014
Former WWE broadcaster Jim Ross and Chael Sonnen will be calling the live PPV telecast of Battlegrounds MMA from Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 3rd. The PPV is $19.95 in the U.S. and Canada.
Via BattleGrounds MMA press release:
Two consummate performers in WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross and recently retired UFC superstar Chael Sonnen have teamed up to form what is bound to be one of the most memorable commentary teams in sports entertainment history, and will call the world-class Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) action on the LIVE pay-per-view telecast of BattleGrounds MMA: ‘O.N.E.’ from BOK Center in Tulsa, Oka. on Friday, October 3.
Headlined by the first one-night, eight-man tournament in Tulsa since UFC 4 in 1994, BattleGrounds MMA: ‘O.N.E.’ will award its welterweight (170 pounds) winner a grand prize of $50,000.
BattleGrounds MMA ‘O.N.E.’ will be distributed at a price point of $19.95 in the United States and Canada by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing, beginning at10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST on October 3 on both cable and satellite pay-per-view carriers iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH and Avail-TVN in the United States and Bell TV in Canada. A pre-show will begin at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST.
“As a longtime fan of MMA, to be asked to call the fights for the BattleGrounds MMA event is amazingly exciting for me,” said Ross, a 2007 WWE Hall of Fame inductee. From commentator to referee to executive and even occasional wrestler, Ross has played a multitude of roles for the world’s leading professional wrestling league.
“I’ve broadcast NFL and XFL games,” continued Ross, “FOX Sports boxing and WWE action, but MMA is a new adventure and one that I’m enormously excited about contributing to. To launch this phase of my broadcasting career in my home state, and with Chael Sonnen at cageside makes it an ideal opportunity and a bucket list experience.
“This is going to be a TV event that any MMA fan won’t want to miss,” said Sonnen, who recently retired from the sport that he competed in as a professional since 1997. A three-time UFC championship challenger, Sonnen fought his last 11 career bouts inside The Octagon and enjoyed a stint as an analyst for FOX Sports Network. “I am thrilled to be working with a legend like Jim Ross and, together, we are going to make the BattleGrounds MMA event one of the most exciting extravaganzas in combat sports history.”
The card features a one night tournament featuring eight welterweights including former UFC fighters Cody McKenzie, Brock Larson and Luigi Fiorvanti. Obviously the selling point is Ross and Sonnen as the announce team rather than the actual card. It will be interesting to see how many buys this drums up for the organization. One has to think that this has to be a “break even” situation for the company in hopes of future success.
September 1, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective This time we take a look at UFC 177 which took place at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California where T.J. Dillashaw defeated his bantamweight title against Joe Soto.
Dillashaw KO’s Soto in 5th round
It was not Renan Barao, but T.J. Dillashaw was able to end the fight in the 5th round again as he disposed of a game Joe Soto. Dillashaw described himself as a “company man” and there was no issue about whether he’d take the new opponent on a day’s notice. For Soto, it was a solid effort in his debut fight in the UFC. Both fighters are likely in the good graces of the UFC. Who is not on the UFC’s good side? Renan Barao for not making weight. The former champ, who just this past May was praised by Dana White, is now on the outs with the organization for not making the 135 pound limit. White’s distaste toward Barao may be fueled by the already anticipated lack of buzz in this event.
Attendance and gate
Although the initial thought was that this event would pull a small attendance and gate, it actually exceeded the amount of fans that saw Dillashaw-Barao this past Memorial Day weekend. The secondary market reflected the fact that demand was low. But, the amount off walkups and discounted tickets helped with the attendance and gate figure.
As reported, bonuses of $50K each went to Dillashaw, Yancy Medeiros, Carlos Diego Fierra and Ramsey Nijem with the last two awarded Fight of the Night. Despite a slick first round sub on the first fight of the UFC Prelims on FS1, Chris Wade was shut out from reported bonuses.
Sponsors in the Octagon tonight were Las Vegas.com, video game Assassin’s Creed Unity, Fram, Musclepharm, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Corn Nuts, Alienware, MetroPCS, Xyience and Bud Light had the center.
MetroPCS and Harley Davidson were the most notable sponsors with activation surrounding the event. MetroPCS did its usual social media promotion including its “Tale of the Tweet” app. Harley Davidson launched the Hometown Throwdown III promotion in which fans could win the opportunity to have the UFC come to their town as well as throw a tailgate party before the event. The fighters that won their fights on the main card of 177 received a Harley Davidson.
Promotion of T.J. DIllashaw
While many have criticized the card, the one thing that may be overlooked is the great job the UFC did in building the T.J. Dillashaw brand. It’s understandable for the cynical UFC fan to say if the UFC was doing such a great job, this would not be “overlooked.” But, regardless of the fights on the card, the UFC’s shoulder programming has done a great job in building Dillashaw.
In watching the Countdown show and the Embedded vlogs the UFC has introduced people to Dillashaw and you get to see someone deal with all of the responsibilities of being champion. The one plus from my perspective is that Urijah Faber was not used as the bridge to introduce Dillashaw. This may seem absurd, but since Faber is a name and trains with Dillashaw it would make sense for Faber to be the one to introduce him.
Can Dillashaw be a draw? As it currently stands, fans are underwhelmed with the lighter weight divisions. Despite being one of the best in the business, Demetrious Johnson has not sparked the interests of the UFC universe. Jose Aldo has not been healthy enough for anyone to remember how vicious he once was and despite banking blue chip sponsors; Anthony Pettis has not been in the Octagon in ages. If Dillashaw can string some wins together and defeat a guy like Dominick Cruz, I could envision the UFC marketing him much more.
Odds and ends
While I just praised the shoulder programming in the previous section, one of the scenes in the Embedded vlogs was Team Alpha Male doing a ticket giveaway for UFC 177 which foreshadowed the issues with selling this event.
If you were watching the Embedded episodes, Dillashaw did a lot of post-workout work in a hyperbaric chamber and dreamed of having one in his home. I’m sure Dillashaw got his Hyperbaric chamber in his home after this event.
Barao and Cejudo were not paid per Heidi Fang’s tweet and Jorgenson and Anthony Birchak (who was scheduled to face Joe Soto) were given show and win purses despite not fighting per MMA Junkie. Tough time for Birchak who found his home robbed after coming back from Sacramento.
Bethe Corriea’s quest to run through the Horsewomen continues. Really, if the four ladies are going to go through with this gimmick, someone else has to be good in the group aside from Flair. The good news for Corriea, this “Horsewomen” thing has Rousey wanting to fight her. So, yes, pro wrestling is seeping into your pure MMA sport.
Bellator decided to release Soto’s fight against Joe Warren prior to Saturday night.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) August 30, 2014
Just a thought, but as a way to entice or say thank you to those that ordered UFC 177, it could offer them a month’s free use of UFC Fight Pass. I understand that it tacitly admits that the card was not PPV-worthy but if you were to offer something like that, it would build a lot of good will with a loyal fan base. If they have Fight Pass, they tack an extra month for free and if you don’t it gives them a chance to try it for free. I know, probably a lot of administrative headaches with deciphering who ordered the PPV, but it still seems like a good PR move.
Expect a low number for the prelims on FS1. There was one fight in the first hour and lots of filler due to a first round sub. Also, with Henry Cejudo pulling out of his fight with Scotty Jorgensen, there were only three fights set for the two hour time block.
With the first full weekend of college football coupled with the multiple problems with the card, it was the perfect storm for folks to actually “boycott” this card.
Earlier in the week, Dana White landed on a list by GQ naming him one of the sleaziest people in sports. Let’s be honest, any combat sports promoter could be found on this list.
It was likely that if UFC 176 was not cancelled, this event would not have gone forward. But, the UFC could not take the PR hit of cancelling two events in a row. Most importantly, the UFC does not want to confirm what most fans and pundits know; there are too many events. Also, at such a late time for Barao pulling out, it was too late to pull out of the PPV and/or cancel the event. This buy rate will rival that of UFC 174 and maybe even do worse. As an interesting and random note, the first UFC did slightly over 86,000 PPV buys. It would not be surprising that the actual buy rate would rival this number. My take is that we’ll never receive an official number for this event although a range will be given around 90-110K PPV buys.
August 8, 2014
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer reports that UFC 175 did between 500,000 – 545,000 PPV buys according to various cable sources. It’s the best showing on PPV since UFC 168.
UFC 175 featured Ronda Rousey defending her title against Alexis Davis and Chris Weidman defending his against Lyoto Machida. Interesting enough, UFC 168 featured Rousey and Weidman although in higher profile matchups: Miesha Tate and Anderson Silva.
The 500-545K PPV buy rate is the highest for 2014 which saw its lowest PPV buy rate in 10 years in UFC 174.
Initial reports of this PPV hitting 500K buys appeared to hold up. It should be considered a positive and reflects the successful duo of Rousey and Weidman. The obvious difference from 168 is that the opponents were higher profile. It’s expected that we should get them again in December with Weidman-Belfort and the possibility of Rousey-Carano.
July 21, 2014
Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza has announced that it will withhold upcoming PPV buy rates due to the controversy surrounding the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana PPV. Espinoza told BoxingScene.com that the buy rates will only be released if the event sets a PPV record.
The Mayweather-Maidana PPV reportedly received 900,000 PPV buys although ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported it sold between 800K-900K PPV buys. It should be noted that Espinoza and Rafael have had twitter beef in the past but that does not necessarily mean that Rafael’s report is off.
Espinoza explained his rationale in saying that the PPV buy rate speculation seemed to become “bigger than the event itself.” Basically, Espinoza believes withholding the numbers would reduce misrepresentations about the PPV performance and that certain figures would indicate some sort of failure for the event.
At a time when boxing is starting to feel the PPV strain, it’s an interesting move on the part of Showtime.
Imagine the outrage if Dana White were to tell media that they would not release PPV buy rates or even talk about that speculation. What do you think of the move by Showtime? Does it stop talk about PPV buys? While the move helps control the message, it also doesn’t end speculation. Certainly, not releasing information allows the blanket “you’re wrong” when it comes to any reports of PPV buys. Yet, this tact seems like the company is hiding something as well.
July 14, 2014
Boxing writer Steve Kim of the new Undisputed Champion Network web site wrote an article on whether boxing has too many PPVs on the eve of Canelo Alvarez’s third appearance on PPV within 12 months. The question is not new to UFC fan as they have been asking the question for some time.
For the UFC fan, UFC 174 exemplified the thesis that there are too many PPVs. Preliminary reports have that PPV featuring Flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson anywhere between 95,000 to 125,000 PPV buys. Regardless of where that number ended, it was the lowest output for a UFC PPV since 2006. It reflects the new market for PPV in the UFC. Fans will pick and choose which cards they want to purchase and it’s unlikely we’ll see 1 million PPV buy main events in the near future.
Kim talked to Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza prior to Canelo-Lara:
“I think we’re having a confluence of pay-per-views really, simply because we have three or four fighters who can legitimately carry a pay-per-view and they’ve decided to make the decision to go there,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive VP and GM for Showtime Sports and Event Programming, whose company is distributing this weekend’s event. “As for the network, we’d always prefer to have everything on the network. There’s certain realities which make that unrealistic but ultimately, it’s the fighter and the promoter that make that decision of when they want to go pay-per-view, when they don’t.
Kim also questioned whether boxing can go down the UFC road:
Still, a pay-per-view a month? What is this, the UFC? Does boxing really have that many fights worthy of such a designation?
The cynical MMA fan would say that the UFC doesn’t have that many PPV-worthy cards yet the UFC offers monthly cards on PPV for $55 per event.
For those that follow us, we touched on boxing beefing up its PPVs back in April. If you were to replace boxing with MMA in the article, the issues would be the same with the exception that Espinoza comments place the issue on the fighter/promoter rather than the network. In the UFC, the decision is all on the company whether it runs a PPV event and who will be on the card. In my opinion, a reason for more PPVs in boxing is a trickle-down theory in combat sports. Fighter/promoter payouts can be mitigated if a fight is put on PPV. Essentially profit margins are wider if you charge fans $60 for a fight rather than put it on subscription based television. It seems like this is the strategy rather than the previous strategy of waiting for a big fight with two top names. Certainly fighters have fought on HBO and Showtime in hopes that their career would ascend to a PPV. In recent weeks, boxing has put on some exciting fights on both premium subscription networks. So, the question is whether boxing fan will shell out $60-$75 for a fight that used to be on the networks.