UFC-Joe Hand renew PPV distribution partnership

June 29, 2016

The UFC announced a multi-year’s partnership with commercial PPV distributor Joe Hand Promotions.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

Joe Hand Promotions will continue as the exclusive domestic distributor for UFC PPVs.  The company serves as the agent for the UFC in selling UFC PPVs to bars, restaurants and casinos.  It essentially sells licenses for businesses to air PPVs.  The fee varies per size of commercial establishment.

Via UFC.com announcement:

“Our relationship with UFC is one of the longest and most valued in the history of Joe Hand Promotions. The UFC is the largest Pay-Per-View provider in the world with unparalleled leadership and we are proud to be their partners,” Joe Hand Jr. said. “We look forward to growing our customer base together and bringing the excitement of the UFC to even more commercial locations.” ` `

In light of UFC 200, Joe Hand is offering a free conference call to help commercial owners effectively market next Saturday’s PPV.

Payout Perspective:

While its rarely discussed as we mainly focus on PPV buys, it’s Joe Hand’s job to sell UFC PPVs to commercial establishments.  As we indicate, the fees vary based on the establishment.  As we head into the biggest week of the year for the UFC, Joe Hand is expected to maximize the number of establishments that purchase a license to show 200.

UFC 197 PPV buy estimated between 375K-450K

May 19, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that uFC 197 drew between 375,000 to 450,000 PPV buys.  The event featured Jon Jones taking on Ovince Saint Preux.

The PPV buy rate estimates are very good but reveals what we know about Jon Jones.  While he may be the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC, he is not a top draw.  Clearly, you can say the same about Demetrious Johnson who was also on the card.

UFC PPVs for 2016

UFC 195: 1.032 million

UFC 196: 1.5 million

UFC 197: 375,000 to 450,000

Notwithstanding his showdown with Cormier last January, Jones has put up marginal PPV buys.  UFC 172 against Glover Teixeira drew 350K PPV buys and his UFC 165 against Alexander Gustafsson drew 310K.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a respectable number considering that there were only 50,000 google searches for UFC 197 after the weigh-ins.  Recall that this event was to be Jones-Cormier.  But, with Cormier needing to pull out, the top of the card took an extreme hit.  With Johnson not being a draw, Jones stayed on the card and OSP was the fighter the UFC picked to face him.  Jones has not had a huge PPV buy rate since 182 when he faced Cormier.

Canelo-Khan PPV buys reported between 460-600K

May 13, 2016

There are conflicting reports on the PPV buys for the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan fight this past Saturday. ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports the fight drew around 600,000 PPV buys according to Golden Boy’s Oscar de la Hoya.  Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports indicates that it drew 460,000 PPV buys based on information from cable and satellite companies.

Alvarez knocked out Khan in the 6th round in the feature bout from Vegas.

The Rafael accounting comes from Golden Boy and HBO from satellite services and basing them on historical figures.  The 600,000 figure is not a final number but appears to be a good initial estimate on how the event fared.

Iole notes that 145,000 PPV purchased from DirecTV, “about 230,000 on cable and about 60,000 on Dish Network.  The other buys were from other companies such as Verizon Fios per Iole.

Alvarez, the true featured fighter from Saturday night, drew 900,000 PPV buys for his fight last November against Miguel Cotto.

Payout Perspective:

It’s not fair to compare the PPV buys to last May’s “superfight” between Mayweather and Pacquiao.  As we know, the “retirement” fights for both fighters drew between 400-500K PPV buys.  Depending on who you believe, the 600K PPV buys is a very good draw considering that Khan is a “name” for an opponent but there was truly no real threat.  If you believe the 460,000 number, it might be a little low for a fighter that Golden Boy/HBO hopes to propel them in a post-Pac/May PPV boxing market.

Disappointing PPV buy rate for Pacquiao-Bradley III

April 20, 2016

The Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley trilogy did poorly on PPV according to Bob Arum in a report from ESPN’s Dan Rafael.  The Top Rank promoter admits that the PPV did between 400K-500K buys and that the event lost money.

Arum admitted that the April 9th event will be closer to 400K PPV buys than 500K and that the PPV numbers are terrible.

The event will lose money considering Pacquiao was guaranteed $20 million and Bradley $4 million even before considering pay for the rest of the card.  Although the reported purse for Pacquiao was $7 million, he was guaranteed $20 million.

The replay on HBO did a respectable 750,000 network subscribers without an accompanying live fight.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly there was no appeal to this third matchup and Pacquiao’s comments about same sex relationships hurt this event even more.  Similarly, Floyd Mayweather’s September fight against Andre Berto likely was a money loser as well considering the payouts to fighters and a comparable buy rate (400K-500K).  Maybe its best that Pacquiao fade away as his PPV draw has faded.  Of course, this is boxing so we will likely see him this November.

Replay of Pacquiao-Bradley trilogy draws 750K on HBO

April 19, 2016

The HBO replay of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight from April 8th drew 750,000 network subscribers per Sports TV Ratings.

The event drew 347,000 viewers in the Adult 18-49 demo.

The event was marred by Pacquiao’s controversial comments about same sex relationships which cost him his Nike sponsorship.  Notably, Pacquiao still wore Nikes in his fight with Bradley.  It is also worth noting that Bradley, who was a former Nike-sponsored athlete, was not wearing the swoosh for this fight.  In fact, he had Asics shoes in the ring.

The PPV buy rate seems to reflect that most were not interested in this trilogy as Dan Rafael reported that the initial buy rates were between 400K to 500K buys which is similar to the Mayweather-Berto buy rate.

Payout Perspective:

The last Pacquiao replay was in May 2015 which was ran with a live event featuring Canelo Alvarez taking on James Kirkland.  That event drew the best rating on HBO since 2006 as 2.146 million subscribers tuned in to watch the Alvarez-Kirkland fight and over 1 million watched the Pacquiao-Mayweather replay.  Again, there was a lot of sports on Saturday night and the luster was off of this event despite it may being Pacquiao’s “last fight.”

UFC 196 trending to be biggest PPV ever

March 11, 2016

The UFC has indicated that UFC 196 is trending to be the biggest PPV in the company’s history according to a press release sent out by the promotion.

UFC 196 had the highest digital PPV sales of all-time in addition to a record 4.9 million viewers for the UFC’s Embedded series.

Dana White has claimed that the event sold 1.5 million PPVs.  The UFC record is UFC 100 with 1.6 million reported PPV buys.  Of course, UFC PPVs are $60 now as opposed to back in 2009.  Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer stated early estimates are over 1.2M PPV buys.

Notably, there were 5M google searches for UFC 196 on Saturday which seems to infer that a lot of people were seeking the event out.  Tracking google searches have become a source of predicting PPV sales.

The Prelims drew the second-highest rating on FS1 ever.  The peak for the UFC 196 prelims hit 2,082,000 viewers.   It was the most-watched PPV Prelim card in the history in the adult 18-49 demo with 1.074M viewers per Fox Sports.

Payout Perspective:

The digital sales were likely aided by a special offer on UFC Fight Pass for subscribers receiving 20% off of the PPV.  The job by the UFC to sell the McGregor-Diaz fight after RDA dropped out was excellent.  One has to wonder if RDA stayed in the event whether the PPV sales would have been the same, less or more.  The UFC has now had three of its past 4 PPVs draw 1 million buys or more.

UFC Fight Pass offers 20% off for UFC 196

March 3, 2016

UFC Fight Pass is offering 20% off the UFC 196 PPV price on its digital platform.  As if you didn’t know, the event is this Saturday, March 5th.

This is the latest move in the company’s attempts to highlight this business and attract more subscribers.  Last Saturday on Fight Pass, UFC Fight Night from London featured Michael Bisping taking on Anderson Silva.  It was the largest audience for a live event on Fight Pass according to Senior Vice President and General Manager of UFC Fight Pass, Eric Winter.

In addition to the main card, UFC 196 will have its own Prelims starting at 6:30pm ET.

Fight Pass offer

Payout Perspective:

Maybe this is not news and I’m the only guy that got this offer.  But I doubt it.

One would think that the Bisping-Silva fight was the most watched on UFC Fight Pass.  The offer to watch UFC 196 this Saturday marks a test as to how many subscribers would venture to watch via Fight Pass.  There has always been the option but this is a dedicated effort to attract more UFC fans to order through this means.  Although it is said that Fight Pass augments the television side for the UFC, this is a very interesting move as its expected that this event should do very good PPV numbers.  One would surmise that this benefits the UFC as it would not have to split revenue with any distributors (i.e., satellite or cable providers).  The only apprehension are issues with streaming. Winter indicated that there was a brief issue on the “PC-side” of Fight Pass during UFC Fight Night London but that was rectified quickly.  With so many different ways to watch UFC Fight Pass, there is the possibility of issues but so far so good.  I have certainly experienced streaming issues with Fight Pass but one would think that UFC Fight Night London was a test for this Saturday’s event.

UFC 196 moves to FS1

January 26, 2016

Yahoo! Sports reports that UFC 196 has been switched from PPV to an FS1 broadcast.  After the main event of Cain Velasquez-Fabricio Werdum disintegrated when both fighters pulled out within 24 hours, the UFC made the move to scrap the PPV and move it to its broadcast partner.

The FS1 main event will be a welterweight bout between Johny Hendricks and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.  Despite the fact that several UFC fighters indicated that they would volunteer to fight Stipe Miocic, the initial replacement for Cain, the UFC decided to take it off PPV.

The UFC typically runs a Super Bowl weekend card in Las Vegas to capitalize on the hype for the last game of the NFL season.  The loss of the UFC Heavyweight title fight so close to the event led the UFC to make this decision.

Payout Perspective:

With a UFC on Fox event this week, the UFC can now advertise two consecutive weeks of “free” (we get it, you pay for cable) fights on TV.  With so many events upcoming and the UFC still trying to line up fights for its big show in July, UFC 200, there was no way the company could get a respectable fill-in fight at such short notice.  While there may be some issues with its PPV distributors, the UFC would have probably done

15 for 15: No. 1 Ronda Rousey’s ups and downs

January 2, 2016

Ronda Rousey tops the list of MMA Payout’s biggest MMA business stories of 2015.  Her popularity turned polarizing as the year ended with a surprising upset loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193.

Rousey started off 2015 with a quick win against Cat Zingano at UFC 184.  The event, from Los Angeles, had her up against the biggest challenge for her thus far in her UFC career.  Still, it took just 14 seconds for her to submit Zingano.  The event was a surprising PPV success garnering 600,000 buys.  The event showed that Rousey was a draw, if not the top draw for the company.

A social media campaign around her title defense at 184 proved successful.

Rousey only made a base of $65K (and an additional $65K to win).  However, the LA Times reported that she would make $1 million from her fight.

Rousey starred in the movie “Entourage” and is slated to star in several other movies with shooting beginning in the early part of 2016.

She also made an appearance at WrestleMania with The Rock which was a publicity boon.

Rousey returned to the Octagon at UFC 190 in Brazil.  She put down Bethe Corriea in less than a minute.

Rousey’s popularity is not limited just to the UFC or MMA.  Google and Yahoo! Search engines reflect that she is a popular search item.  She was the top trending athlete for Google in 2015 and the 5th rated overall trending search in the United States.  She was also the most searched athlete of 2015 according to Yahoo’s search engine.

At only 28, Rousey released her autobiography, “My Fight/Your Fight,” in 2015.  Rousey also appeared on Good Morning America, a first for a UFC/MMA fighter to announce her fight with Holly Holm (originally for January 2nd but was subsequently moved up).  She also appeared on Ellen.  Notably, Ellen released the promo on her microsite for UFC 193 which featured Rousey prior to it being sent out all over.

Rousey became a very popular and marketable figure.  She was able to open and bridge a new demo for the UFC: women, especially younger women.  She was featured by Cosmopolitan and made appearances on female-centric shows like The View, Ellen and Good Morning America.  She has major sponsor deals with Reebok, Carl’s Jr., Buffalo Jeans, Monster Energy Drink just to name a few.

But other outside issues came under scrutiny.  Rousey got into a media spat with Ariany Celeste at UFC 184.  Her relationship with Travis Browne was questioned as Browne was accused of domestic violence by her estranged wife earlier in the year.  Despite Browne announcing their relationship in an interview, Rousey did not want to talk about it and hung up on a UFC media call when asked about it.  Many questioned her attitude and her outburst at the weigh-ins at UFC 193 as they seemed out of the ordinary.

Her inner circle had issues too.  Her long-time trainer Edmund Tarverdyan claimed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy citing that he has not made any money despite being Rousey’s exclusive trainer for years.  Notably, prior to the news of Tarverdyan’s bankruptcy, Rousey’s mother spoke out about him.

Despite her loss, she was chronicled by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne in December.  She will also be on the cover of the new EA Sports UFC game which will come out this spring.  Rousey was named to be on the cover with the other spot open for the winner of Jose Aldo-Conor McGregor.

Rousey indicated that she would take a leave from the Octagon prior to her fight with Holly Holm.  This would be due to shooting the remake for “Road House” and not because she is thinking retirement.  With the loss to Holm, one would think that Rousey would like to get back into the Octagon sooner than later.  But, the heir of invincibility is gone.  Will her popularity remain or has Holly Holm usurped this from her along with the UFC women’s bantamweight title?  We should expect Rousey returning to the UFC sometime in 2016 but where and when still seem up in the air.

15 for 15: No. 3 UFC PPV has its biggest year

December 31, 2015

Coming off a poor PPV year in 2014, the UFC looked to come up big with events in 2015.  It did with 7 events over 600,000 PPVs which was 7 more than it did in 2014.

The UFC branded its first quarter, “Welcome to the Show” and its last quarter “Go Big” which seemed to help.  Despite the usual injuries which cancelled or delayed fights (notably Aldo-McGregor), UFC PPVs in 2015 delivered big events which the casual viewer purchased.

The first three PPVs of 2015 set the company off right.  UFC 182 seemed to gain some steam on the basis of the feud between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.  The PPV did 800,000 buys which was the best since UFC 168  in December 2013.  UFC 182 was followed by a great matchup on paper between Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz on Super Bowl weekend which drew 650,000 buys.  The surprise of the first quarter was how well the Ronda Rousey-Cat Zingano PPV did as it was the second time that Rousey was the headliner.  Originally, she was just the co-main event but became the main event.  The event, which actually lasted just 14 seconds, drew an estimated 600,000 PPV buys.  Little did we know that this would be low for a Ronda Rousey PPV this year.

After a couple low buy rates, the UFC spiked once again with Conor McGregor facing Chad Mendes at UFC 189.  On the same card, Rory MacDonald challenged Robbie Lawler for the welterweight title in what was the fight of the year.  Despite Mendes replacing Aldo at the last minute, the event drew 825,000 PPV buys.  It was reported that the event drew 1 million PPV buys.  However, that number was calibrated down.

Despite a traditional slow month for UFC PPVs, UFC 190 on August 1st drew 900,000 PPV buys thanks in large part to Ronda Rousey.  She was featured in the main event against Bethe Correia.  There was some heat between the two which helped sell the fight.  Still, it was all Rousey that drove a PPV which featured two TUF Brazil finals (i.e., 4 fighters many have never heard of) on the PPV.  It was also a rare occasion in which a non-North American PPV event

Rousey’s next fight was moved up to November against Holly Holm.  The event set a record for attendance and gate and scored once again on PPV.  This time, a Rousey fight drew over 1 million PPV buysPer Lorenzo Fertitta UFC 193 was tracking to be the second largest PPV in the company’s history.   Despite losing to Holm, the PPV was promoted around Rousey as she appeared on Good Morning America and Ellen among other mainstream outlets to promote the fight.

McGregor’s third fight of the year (his first was a Fight Night from Boston), the long-awaited showdown with Jose Aldo is tracking at 1 million PPV buys as well.

UFC PPVs 2014

With UFC 193 and 194, the UFC would have for the first time two straight UFC PPVs over 1 million buys.

Not everything was selling well for the company as Demetrious Johnson’s PPVs were the lowest of the year.  Headlining UFC 186 and 191, those events received just 125,000 and 115, 000 PPV buys respectively.

UFC PPVs 2015

The UFC averaged 565,000 PPV buys in 2015 as opposed to 267,000 in 2014.

Has the UFC found a formula for its PPV success?  Or was this one year where it rode the popularity of Rousey and McGregor?  2016 should be a big year with the potential for UFC 198 in New York and UFC 200 in July.  Will there be other big events this year that could keep up with 2015’s success?

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