Johnson wants Dillashaw on big card to maximize PPV bonus

January 25, 2018

Demetrious Johnson told ESPN that he wants a big PPV with T.J. Dillashaw on a “stacked card.”  In the interview, he inadvertently revealed his PPV points bonus with the UFC.


“I’ve seen guys jump on [stacked] PPV cards and make $1.5 million, fighting an inferior opponent than who I’m about to fight. Me and TJ could fight on a smaller card and pull 275,000 buys, get an extra check for $75,000. My management told me, ‘You know what, we’ll hold out for a big event.’

Based on the quote, it would appear that Johnson would be making $1.00 for every buy above 200,000.  This is a common scenario as revealed when Eddie Alvarez’s initial UFC contract was held up in litigation with Bellator.

Eddie Alvarez Contract re PPV upside by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that Johnson understands his drawing power (which is marginal) and being on a card with other top fighters would maximize his potential for a good buy rate so that he could earn extra PPV money.  He was the co-main event with Jon Jones for UFC 197 and on a card with Conor McGregor at UFC 178.  197 drew 322,000 buys while UFC 178 drew just 205,000 buys as the event was before all of the McGregor started.   The balancing act for the UFC is to build cards to compensate 12 PPVs as well as the Fox events.  Johnson-Dillashaw sounds like it would be built as the main event and not one of several.  With the lack of premier fighters that can move the needle, this fight would seemingly be a stand-alone and not on a stacked card.

Report: UFC 219 draws in the range of 340,000 to 380,000 PPV buys

January 13, 2018

UFC 219 is estimated at doing between 340,000 to 380,000 buys according to Dave Meltzer writing for MMA Fighting.  It would make it the third-highest selling PPV of 2017.

The event featured Cris Cyborg taking on Holly Holm.  It’s the first event featuring a women’s bout not including Ronda Rousey that has eclipsed 200,000 buys.  Last February, Holm and Germaine de Randamie drew 200,000 buys and Amanda Nunes-Valentina Schevchenko drew 100,000 buys.  Technically, UFC 200 featured Miesha Tate and Nunes, which drew over 1 million buys, but the real draw was Brock Lesnar’s return against Mark Hunt and a match between Daniel Cormier and Anderson Silva.

Cyborg sent a tweet hinting at the event’s success.

The UFC 219 Prelims drew 949,000 viewers on FS1 and had over 1 million google searches for UFC 219 on the Saturday of the event.  These indicators were signs that the event would do well.

Payout Perspective:

While 340-380K PPV buys does not seem like a success, it is if you consider that those fighters that receive PPV upside kick in starting at 200K PPV buys.  So, if fighters did have points above 200K buys, this would be a great result for them.  The mid-300s is not what you would think of a successful PPV but if you were to compare it over the years to other cards without GSP, McGregor, Lesnar, Rousey or Jones-Cormier, it has to be a positive.

Cyborg tweets out UFC 219 3rd most purchased PPV of 2017

January 7, 2018

Cris “Cyborg” Justino gave a hint about the buy rate for UFC 219.  According to a tweet sent out on Sunday night, she claims that it was the third-highest selling PPV for 2017.

The two big PPVs of 2017 were UFC 214 featuring the rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones and UFC 217 featuring the return of GSP.  According to Cyborg’s tweet, it would come in at number 3.

2017 was a down year for UFC PPVS without Conor McGregor and the lack of big events.

Payout Perspective:

We do not know if Cyborg was basing her information on the UFC only purchases or the information drawn from cable and satellite companies.  We should note that Fight Pass subscribers received a code for 20% off the PPV which may have helped generate sales.  Also, the buy rate chasm between UFC 214 and UFC 217 and the rest of the 2017 UFC PPVs is quite a drop.  Without considering UFC 219, the third highest PPV buy rate before UFC 219 was just 300,000 buys.  Therefore, UFC 219 could have been third highest with just 350,000 buys.  But, I would think that Cyborg would not have tweeted something like that out at the PPV probably scored somewhere between 400 to 500K PPV buys which would be a great success.

MPO Year in Review: No. 6 Down year for UFC PPVs

December 29, 2017

It was a disappointing year for UFC PPVs as 4 UFC PPVs did not surpass 200,000 PPV buys.  The absence of Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and lack of another UFC star to appeal to the mainstream hurt this year’s events.

UFC 208:  200,000

UFC 209:  300,000

UFC 210:  300,000

UFC 211:  300,000

UFC 212:  167,000

UFC 213:  150,000

UFC 214:  850,000

UFC 215:  100,000

UFC 216: 120,000

UFC 217:  875,000

UFC 218: ~230,000

The estimated buy rates would mean the UFC averaged 326,000 buys per event.  Only UFC 214 with Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier II and the promotion’s return to MSG (along with the octagon return of GSP) drew over 800,000 buys.  Perhaps the concerning factor this year was that there were no PPVs which averaged between 300,000-500,000 buys.  There were 3 events that estimated 300,000 PPV buys and 6 events that drew 200,000 PPV buys or less.

The buy rates reflect the fact that the casual MMA fan is not tuning in unless it’s a big event.  In fact, they are skipping events due to the lack of interest.

There are many reasons for this decrease in the buy rate.  First, Conor McGregor focused on boxing this year.  In 2016, McGregor’s 3 appearances drew over 1 million PPV buys.  UFC 200 featured the return of Brock Lesnar and drew another 1 million buys. December 2016’s return of Ronda Rousey also drew 1 million buys.  Notably, UFC 203, which featured the debut of C.M. Punk produced a strong 450,000 buys.

In 2015, there were 2 PPVs over 1 million buys, McGregor (UFC 193) and Rousey (UFC 194) were in the main events, and 2 more over 800,000 buys (Jones-Cormier I at UFC 182 and McGregor-Mendes at UFC 189).

Second, the lack of cultivation of UFC stars reflects in the lack of PPV buys.  Perhaps most disappointing was the lack of drawing power for stars such as Stipe Miocic, Holly Holm, Tyron Woodley and Amanda Nunes.  In addition, the Diaz brothers sat out this year.  Even though they are not true contenders for a title, they are big draws.

Finally, the injury bug sprang up once again as Amanda Nunes was a late scratch for her main event at UFC 213. While it may not have impacted PPV buys, Demetrious Johnson’s fight against Ray Borg was scratched at UFC 215.  Ironically, Nunes stepped into the main event against Valentina Shevchenko.  Also, Khabib Nurmogomedov and Tony Ferguson’s fight never came to be due to Khabib’s weight cutting issues.

The good news is that Francis Ngannou is stepping up as a force in the Heavyweight division and his fight with Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 should draw some mainstream appeal.  Also, Dana White has indicated that Conor McGregor may be back in the summer of 2018 which means another big event that will likely headline International Fight Week.

MPO Year in Review: Bellator NYC does not deliver

December 25, 2017

It was Bellator MMA’s big debut in New York City as it returned to PPV with the long-awaited grudge match between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.  Scott Coker stated that the mid-200,000 (buys) would be respectable.

However, the PPV card disappointed with 95,000 buys.

The event also featured Fedor Emelianenko as he faced Matt Mitrione.

The PPV was split with fights, dubbed as “Bellator 180” airing on 2 different networks and featuring Ryan Bader against Phil Davis.  The MSG event drew 12,133 with a gate of $1,630,314.  The television portion aired on Spike TV and Country Music Television drawing a combined 901,000 viewers.

According to an ESPN story, Viacom’s investment in the event was “20 to 30 times more” than anything put into Coker’s previous “tent pole” events.  The investment came with expectations and based on the PPV numbers did not deliver.

Bellator’s first try at PPV garnered 100,000 buys in 2014.  While the box office did well, the PPV numbers had to be a disappointment considering the belief that the company’s formula of using former UFC stars to headline a Bellator event drew big numbers (e.g., Ortiz-Bonnar).  But, the company foray into PPV still has to be fine tuned as the first two tries have not been good.

Showtime announces Mayweather-McGregor draws 4.3 million domestic PPV buys

December 15, 2017

On Thursday, Showtime announced that the official domestic PPV buys for August’s Mayweather-McGregor fight drew 4.3 million PPV buys which fell short of the record set by Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.

Showtime also announced that it drew over $600 million in total revenue.

The Mayweather-McGregor fight was second biggest gate ever with $55,414,865.79 in ticket sales, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Mayweather-Pacquiao was the biggest with a gate of over $72 million.

Dana White indicated to Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal that the event drew 6.7 million PPV buys globally with it breaking records in Australia, UK, Spain and Canada. The simple math based on White’s comments would be that global PPV drew 2.4 million PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement confirms what many within the industry already knew – the August novelty fight reined in tons of money. It was only a question as to whether it would break the all-time U.S. record set by Mayweather and Pacquiao. Regardless of breaking a record, the PPV buys were enormous considering McGregor had never had a professional boxing match. Regardless of what you thought of the matchup, the fight elevated McGregor’s draw and could make it hard for the UFC to meet his monetary demands in the future.

Early estimates of UFC 217 PPV are at 875,000

November 17, 2017

Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting is reporting that early estimates of the UFC 217 drew 875,000 PPV buys in North America making it the biggest PPV show for 2017 thus far.

UFC 217 featured Georges St Pierre’s return against middleweight champion Michael Bisping in addition to two other championship fights.

Google trends reflected strong interest in the PPV.  There were over 1 million google searches on the Saturday of the PPV for UFC 217.  The UFC Prelims drew 1.276 million viewers despite starting on FS2.

Payout Perspective:

Very good result but if you are gaging success by the 1 million PPV buy threshold, it may disappoint.  There were 3 title fights and the return of GSP.  There was more interest in Canada for this PPV but it wasn’t enough to hit 1 million in North America.  The good news that it’s likely the PPV buys worldwide exceed 1 million and shows that GSP is still a draw.

UFC 215 and UFC 216 PPV buy estimates do not impress

October 14, 2017

Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer estimates UFC 215 this past September drew 100,000 buys.  Also, last week’s UFC 216 likely drew around 120,000 buys.

The last two UFC PPVs have been lackluster.  UFC 215 was marred by Ray Borg needing to pull out of his championship fight with Demetrious Johnson.  Ironically, the main event for UFC 215 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes.  In July, Nunes pulled out of her fight due to health issues.  UFC 216 in Vegas featured DJ-Borg and Tony Ferguson versus Kevin Lee.  Last week’s event dealt with the tragedy of the Las Vegas shootings on October 1.  It almost lost its main event as Lee was granted an extra hour to cut a pound.

Only UFC 214, which featured the rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier has drawn significant PPV buys this past summer with an estimated 850,000 PPV buys.  Of course, Jones was flagged once again by USADA which placed an asterisk next to a really good comeback.

UFC 216 – 120,000

UFC 215 – 100,000

UFC 214 – 850,000

UFC 213 – 125,000-150,000

UFC 212 – 167,000

Payout Perspective:

We probably are not surprised by the results of the last two UFC PPV buy estimates as each card had its issues.  The numbers reflect that the casual fan will only come out for big name fighters.  The last several PPV cards have dealt with injuries and last-minute scratches.  These failing will likely come to an end November 4th when GSP returns to fight Michael Bisping in New York.  But, the UFC will need to figure out how it should address some of its PPV cards to address the low buy rates.

Golden Boy says GGG-Canelo drew more than 1.3M buys

September 28, 2017

Golden Boy Promotions has issued a statement in response to the report that the GGG-Canelo PPV drew 1.3 million pay-per-view buys.  It refutes the report stating that it is “north” of the reported number.

Via Dan Rafael of ESPN:

“While everyone at Golden Boy Promotions and GGG Promotions appreciate the media’s recognition that the fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin was an enormous success, the figure that is being cited by some news outlets is simply inaccurate. Not only are satellite operators and cable companies still in the process of compiling data, that number does not include online PPV sales through, Sony Play Station and Sling TV, which far exceeded any previous fight featuring Canelo or Golovkin. The bottom line is that we expect the final numbers to be well north of current reports, and we will make a decision on reporting those numbers when we know they are accurate.”

Payout Perspective:

From the last sentence, it’s not clear if we will ever see the final PPV buys as Golden Boy states it will “make a decision” regarding reporting the final numbers.  Still, the 1.3 million PPV buys is an overwhelming success and I would think that if the number hits 2 million PPV buys we will hear that information.

GGG-Canelo draw 1.2M PPV buys

September 27, 2017

The LA Times’ Larry Pugmire reports that the GGG-Canelo fight taking place on Saturday, September 16th drew 1.2 million PPV buys.  Chris Mannix of SI has also confirmed the number with industry sources.

The fight ended up in a draw which only means that the two fighters should do it again sooner than later.  For Canelo, it’s his second fight this year in which he has been featured and the PPV has gone over 1 million buys.  His fight against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. this past May drew 1 million PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

The PPV buys show that GGG-Canelo were not affected by the The Money Fight which took place a couple weeks before.  Thus, the casual boxing fan was willing to purchase this fight regardless of the Mayweather-McGregor fight taking place a couple weeks prior.  The buy rate shows the immense popularity of the fighters especially Canelo who is becoming the PPV boxing king.  GGG has not had great success on PPV prior to this.  But, the two should draw similar numbers for their anticipated rematch.

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