Ward-Kovalev draw 160K PPV buys

November 29, 2016

The Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev PPV drew just 160,000 PPV buys as first reported by Kevin Iole.  TheRing.tv also reported the PPV buy rate for last Saturday’s event.

Ward defeated Kovalev in somewhat of a controversial decision as unofficial scorers had the fight for Kovalev.

The ratings are lower than the reported Pacquiao-Vargas PPV buy rate earlier this month which drew 300,000 PPV buys.  It was the first time that Top Rank distributed its own PPV in some time.  The Ward-Kovalev bout was distributed by HBO.

Boxing PPVs 2016

April 9, 2016 – Pacquiao-Bradley III: ~400K PPV buys

May 7, 2016 – Alvarez-Khan: ~450K-600K PPV buys

July 23, 2016 – Crawford-Postol: 50K-60K PPV buys

September 17, 2016 – Alvarez-Smith: >~300K PPV buys

November 5, 2016 – Pacquiao-Vargas: ~300K PPV buys

November 19, 2016 – Ward-Kovalev – 160,000 PPV buys

Payout Perspective:

The PPV buy rate for Ward-Kovalev might have been impacted by the Pacquiao fight and UFC 205 as it would have been the third PPV this month for combat sports fans.  The buy rate may reflect the casual boxing fan’s consumer interest.  Among those in the boxing community, Ward-Kovalev was a matchup of two of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport today.  Yet, it drew less than most UFC PPV events.  The PPV buy rate ends a down year for boxing PPVs as it tries to move beyond Mayweather and Pacquiao on PPV.

Pacquiao-Vargas draws “a little over 300,000” PPV buys

November 16, 2016

USA Today reports that the November 5th fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas deliver “a little over 300,000” PPVs according to Bob Arum.  The event was the first event in years without support without HBO as its PPV distributor.

Pacquiao defeated Vargas via unanimous decision and won a welterweight title in the process.  Arum indicated that the buy rate was similar to Pacquiao-Bradley III last April.  The initial report from ESPN on Pacquiao’s fight last April was between 400-500K PPV buys.

Pacquiao-Vargas: ~300K PPV buys

Pacquiao-Bradley III: ~400-500K PPV buys

Pacquiao-Mayweather: 4.4M PPV buys

Pacquiao-Algieri: ~300K PPV buys

Pacquiao-Bradley II: ~750-800K PPV buys

Payout Perspective:

Arum intimated in the article that he will not need HBO as its PPV distributor based on the results of this event.  If you saw the PPV, Arum is focusing on Asia for Pacquiao in terms of sponsorship and revenue.  The card was stacked with Asian fighters and Chinese sportswear maker, Anta, was a visible sponsor for the event.  We shall see if Top Rank can recoup some of its losses in the domestic market with international gains.

UFC 205: Payout Perspective

November 14, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at UFC 205 taking place at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

McGregor wins lightweight title from Alvarez

Conor McGregor once again backed up his talk as he stopped Eddie Alvarez in the second round to win the UFC lightweight title.  He now holds the featherweight and lightweight titles.

It was rather easy work for McGregor who displayed his power and showed no fear against Alvarez including dropping his hands and putting them behind his back.

McGregor cut a promo which included calling the UFC “cheap” for not providing him two belts immediately and apologizing to no one.

In all likelihood, McGregor’s next fight will be at 155 and he’ll likely have his choice of Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmogomenov.

Woodley, Wonderboy goes to a draw

Sometimes you have to wonder about coaching.  Tyrone Woodley dominated Stephen Thompson in the first round on the ground and you could argue that his dominance deserved a 10-8 1st round.  Yet, he neglected to attempt another takedown throughout the rest of the fight.  Instead, Thompson was able to utilize his length and standup to stifle Woodley standing with the exception of a couple shots in the 4th round that almost stopped the fight.

An immediate rematch seems like the most logical thing although it seems unfair to a patient Demian Maia.

Jedrzejczyk dominates Kowalkiewicz

Joanna successfully defended her strawweight title with a 49-46 unanimous decision over Karolina Kowalkiewicz.  It was a one-sided, 5 round fight with Kowalkiewicz winning a couple skirmishes but Jedrzejcyk earning 4 rounds.

Joanna Violence does not know who’s next but she plans to fight sometime mid-2017.

Attendance and Gate

UFC 205 eclipsed the previous record gate from UFC 129 in Toronto of $12 million. The Madison Square Garden debut drew $17.7 million with 20,427 in attendance according to a UFC official post-fight.

Bonuses

Conor McGregor, Yoel Romero, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson earned the bonuses.  McGregor and Romero won performances of the night and Woodley and Thompson won for Fight of the Night.

Promotion to the Fight

The UFC went all out for its debut including an ESPN Car Wash and various articles in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.  There was local as well as national coverage promoting the event.

The Embedded episodes gave us a glimpse of the fighters getting ready for the fights focusing on the 3 championship fights.  You have to wonder with all of the episodes at hotels the UFC does not have a partnership with a hotel chain.

Sponsorships

Budweiser sponsored the 6-episode Embedded series.  It also had the fighter prep point.  Notably, Twinzz.com and IconicFace.com were in the Octagon as well.  Both made appearances at UFC 204 in England.  Twinzz.com is a hat manufacturer while IconicFaceoff.com appears to be a fantasy sports web site.

Qalo, a wedding ring manufacturer that touts silicone rings for the active person was a sponsor in the Octagon last night.  It worked with Chris Weidman in leadup to UFC 205.

In addition, Monster Energy Drink had the center as well sharing a corner with 7-Eleven.  MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Geico and Budweiser.

The upcoming movie, “Bleed for This,” the story of boxer Vinny Pazienza was featured during the PPV.  The movie was introduced by Michael Bisping.

Tyron Woodley and Conor McGregor sported the Monster logo on their Reebok kits.

Reebok introduced New York-specific UFC 205 merchandise for this event.  It also sold Conor McGregor-specific shirts including a “I Whoop People for Truckoads of Cash” shirt.

Odds and Ends

Probably the best UFC Prelims ever as the fights could be its own PPV.  Look for it to eclipse the record-setting ratings of UFC 200.

Are MMA purists ok with the WWE-style promotion that McGregor has provided for this event?  The fur coat and faking like he was going after Alvarez with a folding chair seems very much spectacle than reality.

Miesha Tate’s retirement seemed out of nowhere.  She was still a top-ranked fighter but maybe she sees other opportunities on the horizon.

There should be a rule that all interpreters should not have man-buns as Yoel Romero’s did.

Kevin Gastelum did not make weight once again which eliminated his fight with Donald Cerrone from the card.

Despite the talk about blue chip sponsors partnering with the UFC, there were no big surprises.   Budweiser the only real change although Bud Light has been a part of the UFC sponsorship.

One of the storylines from the newfound regulations in New York is the requirement that combat sports promoters needing to provide $1M coverage for brain injury for each fighter on the card.  The UFC paid $1,675 per athlete which came out to $40,200 for UFC 205.  Boxing promoters have been outspoken in speaking out against this measure which was a part of the law that would legalize MMA in the sport.

Apparently, Bruce Buffer knew he was reading the wrong decision in the Woodley -Thompson fight.  However, he can only read what is on the judge’s scorecard.  This is why he left the cage to confer with the judges.

No Trump at UFC 205, but there were other luminaries in the crowd including Demi Lovato and Odell Beckham, Jr. (the NY Giants WR also made a cameo in meeting Tyron Woodley on an episode of Embedded.)

Does McGregor really demand an ownership stake in the UFC, or is this just pure hype and bluster?

UFC 205 pulled over 2 million google searches on Saturday night which usually means a healthy PPV buy rate.  Also over 1 million searches on Saturday were Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey.  Rousey searches likely due to the unveiling of the very good promo for her return on Friday, December 30th.

Conclusion

This event should flirt with the PPV record of 1.6 million PPV buys.  Certainly, college football and the fact that many fans purchase the event at UFC.com could detract from the overall number.  However, with 3 title fights on the main card including the company’s biggest PPV star, Conor McGregor, we should see a PPV buy rate around 1.5-1.7 million PPV buys

Are we still interested in a Pacquiao fight?

November 4, 2016

For those not aware, Manny Pacquiao will be taking on Jessie Vargas at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday.  Without much buzz, Pacquiao returns to the ring which makes one wonder how many in the US will buy the PPV?

There are several factors that contribute to the general disregard for this event.

First, this is the first event in some time in which HBO has not been a part.  HBO PPV has been the primary distributor of Pacquiao events with just one detour to Showtime (2011’s fight against Shane Mosley).  HBO’s shoulder programming, primarily its 24/7 shows have helped promote his fights.  Despite the fact that the story lines for the shoulder programming became repetitive and stale, they were still vehicles to promote the fight.  On the bright side, Bob Arum will not have to pay the 7.5% fee (per Yahoo! Sports) it paid to HBO.

Despite the fact that the undercard has some interesting fights including China’s Zou Shiming and former fighter of the year Nonito Donaire, most (at least those in the US) seem to be passing on the PPV.

HBO is transitioning from Pacquiao as it searches for its next boxing star.  Later this month, HBO PPV will air Sergey Kovalev versus Andre Ward in as big a fight as there can be this fall.  HBO indicated that its budget limited it to invest in only one of the November fights and it chose Kovalev-Ward.  While this excuse seems sound, it’s clear that the Pacquiao fight was less appealing.  If Pacquiao would have agreed to fight Terrance Crawford, it would have been realistic to think that HBO would have found the necessary budget to do 2 PPVs in a month.

Secondly, Pacquiao’s comments about same-sex relationships has turned a portion of his fan base against him.  Pacquiao bases his viewpoints on his religion and tried to backtrack from his offensive remarks.  Yet, the damage was done as he lost his longtime sponsor, Nike, and HBO distanced itself from Pacquiao.  The casual boxing fan may have been turned off by these comments and will boycott Pacquiao as a result.

Finally, Pacquiao’s PPV star is fading.  Pacquiao is no longer the fierce, exciting fighter he used to be.  Perhaps the fourth fight (which was likely his last exciting fight in recent memory) with Juan Manuel Marquez where he was knocked unconscious took it out of him but he no longer has the traits of the old Manny Pacquiao.  Instead, he is the old Manny Pacquiao.  After JMM, he has knocked down an inferior Chris Algieri (UPDATED: he did knockdown Bradley twice in April) but has not threatened to stop an opponent since.  Notwithstanding his fight with Mayweather, Pacquiao’s last 4 fights have failed to muster more than 500K PPV buys.

It might be unfair to criticize an aging boxer for not being as good as he once was but it feels as though Pacquiao is hanging on to his career for monetary need.  Of course, that is the story of boxing.  His purse for this fight will be far less than his prior guarantees and Top Rank is banking on the fight being more of an international success in China than it will in the United States.  Pacquiao will continue to fight and he will still have a core fan base that will support him.  But, it’s clear that the days of his wild popularity of past him.

UFC 204 PPV Prelims draws 678,000

October 11, 2016

The UFC 204 Prelims drew 678,000 viewers on FS1 on Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings.  It is the lowest rated FS1 PPV Prelims thus far this year.

The event, which was held in Manchester, England featured Brad Pickett and Iuri Alcantara in the final event of the FS1 Prelims.  Alcantara won via submission.  The event also was featured at the end of the PPV telecast.

The event also scored 368,000 viewers in the Adult 18-49 demo.

ufc-204-prelims

*Note that in the above chart UFC 201 aired on FS2 and not FS1.

The PPV prefight show which aired prior to the prelims on FS1 drew 277,000 viewers and 114,000 in the Adult 18-49 demo.  The post-fight show which aired on FS2 from 12:25am-2:00am drew 37,000 viewers and 16,000 in the Adult 18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The viewership was down which may be due in part to college football and the card.  It is a decrease from the other prelims which have averaged over 1M viewers (minus 201 and thanks to some big cards this year).  FS1 had bundled the prelims along with college football in its ads leading up to Saturday.  However, it appears that a lot of the casual viewers watched college games.

UFC 204: Payout Perspective

October 10, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 204 from Manchester, England which pitted Michael Bisping defending his UFC middleweight title against Dan Henderson.

Bisping outlasts Hendo

The rematch was 7 years in the making and despite the time in between fights, everyone knew the backstory from UFC 100.  Hendo hit an “H Bomb” that knocked out Bisping and then landed on the Brit with another shot while he was on the ground.  This was the story that sold the fight otherwise the matchmaking never made sense aside from Bisping wanting to avenge a loss.

The fight itself was great.  Hendo almost recreated his KO of Bisping in round 1 and picked his spots which stung Bisping and bloodied his eyes.  However, Bisping’s excellent cardio kept him in the fight and staying on top of the 46-year-old appeared to be the critical factor in the decision.

A matchup with Jacare Souza seems like the most logical matchup for Bisping but we’ll see what happens next.

ufc-204

Mousasi stops Belfort

Vitor Belfort’s days as a top-level fighter are over as Gegard Mousasi had little difficulty with the former champion.  Belfort looked much different in terms of body composition than previous fights and for a black belt did not handle being mounted too well.

Mousasi called out Anderson Silva in his post-fight interview in what you can call a “resume builder” for the middleweight.

Attendance and Gate

The event took place at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England and drew 16,000 for a live gate of $1.96 million.  The attendance was impressive considering the event took place in the middle of the night to accommodate American PPV.

The attendance and gate come in second to UFC 105 held at the same arena.  That event which featured Randy Couture-Brandon Vera drew 16,693 for a $2 million gate.

Bonuses

$50,000 bonuses went to Hendo-Bisping for Fight of the Night and Iuri Alcantara and Jimi Manuwa for Performances of the Night.  Mike Perry and Danny Roberts and Stefan Struve could have won bonuses too.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC did its usual promotional events for the fight.  As seen on the Embedded series, Dan Henderson visited the Manchester City Football Club.  Bisping is a fan of Manchester United, the rival club.

Sponsorships

Monster Energy Drink, UFC Fight Pass and Bud Light were thenotable mainstay sponsors for the night.  In addition, video game Gears of War 4 and “What Now?” the upcoming Kevin Hart comedy also had signage in the Octagon.  Also,  Twinzz.com, a European hat maker was also in the Octagon.  IconicFaceOff.com which features a Conor McGregor commercial on its web site was also on the mat.   Also, UFC 205 signage including it’s “Can’t Wait” tag was in the Octagon.

Odds and ends

UFC 204 had 500,000 plus searches on Friday in the US.  I couldn’t find the number of US searches for Saturday for UFC 204 which might be an oversight or the fact that there were other searches more popular than the event.  However, in the UK UFC 204 registered 200,000 plus searches on Saturday

The post-fight show usually on FS1 was switched to FS2 due to college football.

Brian Stann served as the color commentator in place of Joe Rogan and was fantastic.

The trailer for UFC 205 were shown during the telecast.

Appealing to their apparel sponsor, one of the Embedded showed a picture of a young Michael Bisping wearing a Reebok sweatshirt.  Also, an episode showed Hendo picking out a cup for the fight.

The PPV ended early due to the early stoppages in the first 4 main card fights and the telecast filled it with the Brad Pickett-Iuri Alcintara fight.

Conclusion

Since this fight did not occur in the U.S., it seems that there was less buzz for it.  Then again, if you did not like the main event, there was not much for the casual viewer.  While the Bisping-Hendo fight brought some history and curiosity I don’t think Bisping is a PPV draw unless he’s fighting a name brand opponent.  Hendo is great but he is not a PPV draw.  UFC 199 featuring Rockhold-Bisping drew 320,000 buys.  But, with this happening during college football season, the PPV will likely do 275,000 PPV buys.

UFC 203 PPV buys estimated between 425K-475K

September 19, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that UFC 203 early projections have it between 425,000-475,000 PPV buys.  The numbers would make it the best UFC PPV not featuring Conor McGregor or UFC 200 which brings up the question of whether the CM Punk experiment helped boost the buy rate.

The event’s main event featured Stipe Miocic defending his UFC heavyweight title in his hometown against Alistair Overeem.  But most people were intrigued by CM Punk’s debut against Mickey Gall.

Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting opined that Punk probably brought in an additional 125,000-225,000 extra buys or between $3.75 million and $6.75 million.  This estimate is based on UFC 198’s PPV buy rate which registered slightly under 300,000 PPV buys.

Maybe not a good comparison, but UFC 118 which featured James Toney taking on Randy Couture drew 535,000 PPV buys.  Of course, that event featured Penn-Edgar II at a time that The Prodigy was still a very popular fighter.

Payout Perspective:

One must conclude that the uniqueness of CM Punk’s debut attributed to the buy rate.  While Miocic-Overeem is a good match-up for most hardcore MMA fans, the casual viewer was likely intrigued by the Punk debut.  Does this mean Punk should come back or was this just a one-hit wonder?  We now know Punk’s skills and I would suggest that most casual fans would now pass on Punk’s second fight.  But, the Punk experiment does seem to have paid off for the UFC.

Top Rank to distribute Pacquiao-Vargas PPV

September 14, 2016

The Sports Business Journal reports that Top Rank will not seek a distributor for Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Jessie Vargas on Saturday, November 5th.

There will not be shoulder programming (i.e. HBO 24/7s) to help promote the fight.   Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, could lose out on rights fees from the rebroadcast of the fight.  According to the Sports Business Journal, recent rights fees ranged from $350,000 to $800,000.

On the bright side for Top Rank, not partnering with HBO means it save 3 to 4 percent of the gross revenue from PPVs that it produces and distributes.

Payout Perspective:

There’s a reason that most promoters seek to partner with a PPV distributor.  The marketing and promotion of fight is paid for instead of the promoter in exchange for a cut of the PPV revenue.  We’ve seen the marketing dollars explode for a fight like Mayweather-Canelo three years ago.  Pacquiao-Vargas is not May-Canelo.  The lack of partner reflects more on the lackluster fight put together than an opportunity for Top Rank or the fact that HBO is dedicating its PPV budget on Ward-Kovalev.

UFC 203: Payout Perspective

September 11, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 203 from Cleveland, Ohio where CM Punk’s debut and Stipe Miocic’s title defense were the headlining events.

Gall mauls CM Punk

We all knew that this was going to happen.  3 pro fights in and Mickey Gall looks like a top prospect.  Of course, his opponent was former pro wrestler CM Punk.  Despite being a huge favorite, Gall had a game plan which was to take down and grapple Punk.  Gall is a brown belt, Punk is a white belt as astutely pointed out by Joe Rogan.  Gall had his way with Punk on the ground and eventually choked him out in round 1.

Mickey Gall wants fellow pretty boy Sage Northcutt next.  Please UFC, book this.  As for Punk, he gave a very nice speech about dreams and believing in yourself.  Certainly this was a huge risk for a person in his late 30s but if he does continue his MMA dream it appears that it would be on a smaller, regional card.  Or Bellator.

Stipe stops Reem

Stipe Miocic successfully defended his UFC 203 heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem in one of the best and craziest rounds of this year.  Miocic was in trouble early in the first and almost was submitted (Reem thought there was a tap) by Overeem.

It looks like that Stipe gets Cain Velasquez next.  So long as the fight is at sea level, this will be a tough fight for Miocic.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Cleveland came out for the UFC as the company reported a sell out for the event where the Cavaliers play.  The event drew 18,875 for $2.6M.

Bonuses went to Miocic-Overeem for Fight of the Night and Yancy Medeiros and Jessica

Promotion of the Fight

ESPN aided the UFC with the promotion as it had Stipe Miocic on Sportscenter talking up the fight.

Of course, there was the 3-part series on FS1 for CM Punk.

Miocic and Jessica Eye did local promotions since they are from the area.

The Cleveland Cavaliers through their support behind Miocic and Eye.

They also let Dana White handle the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Eye had a chance to throw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians home game as seen on Embedded.

There were tons of tweets from athletes, celebrities and pro wrestlers throwing their support for CM Punk.

Sponsorships

The newest sponsor in the Octagon for this PPV was IrishFireVodka.com.  The company is based out of Dallas, Texas per its web site. Aside from that, there were the usual sponsors including MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light and Monster Energy Drink in the center.  They also promoted the UFC 204 PPV in the octagon.

MetroPCS had the fighter prep point.  Throughout the PPV, they had voiceover ads for Topps Fighter Trading Cards App.

Odds and Ends

UFC offered a 10% discount on purchasing this PPV if you had previously filled out a survey regarding UFC Fight Pass.  I’m sure they offer this periodically.  It’s just another subtle way to get consumers to gravitate to the UFC web site as opposed to PPV cable and satellite distributors.

CB Dolloway was involved in an elevator accident after the weigh-ins which caused his fight to be cancelled.  Expect a lawsuit.

Jessica Andrade looks like a legitimate title contender for the 115 pound women’s division.

What went on in that Browne-Werdum fight?  If a fighter asks for a halt to the fight without the referee first calling it, shouldn’t that be a verbal submission?  Then there’s the fracas with Edmund Tarverdyan post-fight.

Embedded showed Ronda Rousey’s dog with Travis Browne, but no Rousey.  She was in Cleveland as she was present for a pro wrestling show the night before to support her friend and former MMA fighter Shayna Baszler.

The Ohio Athletic Commission allowing the CM Punk license was one thing.  Its explanation for doing it was another.  Punk has publicly admitted to several concussions while wrestling, is 37 years old and the OAC waived its license requirements citing he was a top end pro wrestler.  But, to show its force, it stated it would investigate the Jessica Eye-Bethe Corriea shoving incident at the ceremonial weigh-ins.  It also fined Alistair Overeem $500 for being late to the weigh-ins.  Speaking of the Browne-Werdum fight, why did the referee allow for Browne to call an injury timeout on his own and not know that if Browne called for a stop to the fight, the fight was over.  Will the OAC look into that debacle?

After Joe Rogan interviewed Stipe Miocic who thought he was knocked down by a kick (instead of a punch) and then Overeem believed Miocic tapped to a guillotine, Rogan made the comment that maybe he shouldn’t interview guys after a fight.  Especially those that have been knocked out.  Makes sense to me although this is unlikely to happen.

Conclusion

Saturday night’s event drew over 1M searches for UFC 203 and another 200,000 for “UFC 203 Fight Card.”  Certainly, the attendance at the event was great as it was pushing for Miocic and Eye as hometown favorites. But was the allure of CM Punk reason for casual viewers to purchase the PPV?  It may have received a bump from pro wrestling fans but unlikely to move much with the rest.  Although the PPV had a heavyweight title fight, Miocic-Overeem are not PPV draws.  Since there was a little more marketing behind this event, I think we could see about 325-375K PPV buys.

UFC 202 PPV buys estimated at 1.65M

September 7, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that UFC 202 is currently estimated at doing 1.65 million PPV buys.  The number puts it ahead of UFC 196 in PPV buys.

Prior to this year, the top PPV event for the UFC was UFC 100 which posted 1.6M buys on July 11, 2009.  In the main event Brock Lesnar faced Shane Carwin.  GSP was also a co-main event on the card.

UFC 202 featured Conor McGregor versus Nate Diaz II.  McGregor won a majority decision.

Not only did the PPV buys generated from the satellite and cable distributors reflect strong viewership but the direct buys on UFC Fight Pass were strong as well.  The buys from the UFC site are not factored into the buys.

The news is better than the estimated 1.2-1.5M PPV buys as previously reported.

Payout Perspective:

Although the buzz might not have been as strong overall, the buys show that people knew about the event.  The buys confirm that Conor is valuable commodity for the UFC and likely worth his reported $3M per fight.  He’s drawn over 1.2M PPV buys in his last 3 PPV events.

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