April 23, 2015
The UFC issued a statement regarding the situation. The statement in part reads:
Due to contractual issues, DISH Network will not be offering UFC 186: Johnson vs. Horiguchi on Pay-Per-View this Saturday. While all other providers in the U.S. have come to an agreement on renewal terms, DISH Network has elected not to renew its distribution agreement with UFC.
Via MMA Junkie:
The industry leader signed a multi-year deal with Dish that ended on Jan. 31, though an extension was inked for March’s UFC 185, according to a person familiar with the UFC’s agreement. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
A Dish Network rep confirmed the impasse with the UFC and that it would not offer the pay per view to its subscribers. It did indicate that the two sides were in negotiations for further events.
According to this Broadcasting & Cable article in which Dish inked a deal to carry the Weather Channel, Dish Network is a notoriously difficult negotiator. Of course, the UFC probably is seeking a bigger percentage of the PPV revenue. At this point, it has some leverage in a new deal since it had a big first quarter of 2015 with its PPVs and Dish has lost PPV revenue due to the WWE Network. You may also argue that due to the bigger cut HBO/Showtime is taking from PPV revenues from distributors, Dish is not seeing returns via PPVs. Thus, the UFC is seeking a better contract. Of course, UFC 186 is one of the weakest cards (on paper) despite the return of Rampage Jackson to the card. We will see if the two sides will be able to come to an agreement by UFC 187 which looks to be a big show.
April 18, 2015
The New York Times reported on the unusual need for a central system to be used for the logistical payouts for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather with respect to the long-awaited fight coming May 2nd.
The article primarily relies on quotes from Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum with respect to how the gross revenues will be divided between the two fighters and other ancillary entities.
For Pacquiao, he is on the wrong-end of a 60-40 revenue split but should clear over $100 million when all is said and done. Of course, the IRS will take its share from Pacquiao (and Mayweather we assume) right off the top.
Rival networks, HBO and Showtime are co-producing and co-distributing the PPV event. They have dueling shoulder programs on its respective networks and in a unique production agreement, each of the networks’ broadcast teams will participate in the event (including dueling ring announcers). The two sides have created a central accounting system to ensure what one might believe is “integrity” in splitting the revenues from what should be the biggest event in boxing history (at least from a gross profits standpoint).
The central system will distribute the revenue in accordance with the contracts of the two fighters.
All revenue from the fight would be put into the central accounting system. This would include foreign broadcast rights, closed-circuit income, ticket sales, sponsorships, merchandise sales, etc. The estimate of these monies per the NYT is at $130 million. In addition, PPV revenue which could gross $300 million also goes into this pot.
Most of the PPV revenue will go to the fighters minus 15% (7.5% each for HBO and Showtime). You may recall that HBO and Showtime were in vigorous negotiations with the satellite and cable companies regarding the PPV distribution for the event.
A “wrinkle” pointed out by Arum is that the winner of the fight will receive a 51-49 percent split for revenue between $160 million and $180 million. Thus, ideally the winner will receive $10.2 million while the loser gets $9.8 million. The amount over $180 million reverts to the 60-40 split in favor of Mayweather.
Despite the lofty price point for this PPV, it is believed it should break the PPV record. Similarly, the $72 million gate at the MGM will break a record as well. One might assume the same for international rights, closed-circuit money, sponsorships and merchandise. It’s clear that the logistics for splitting up the revenues required a central system (we assume with necessary checks, balances and protocols).
April 9, 2015
A copy of the court opinion by Judge Karen Suter which granted Bellator MMA’s injunction in its lawsuit against Rampage Jackson was made public.
After oral argument on April 2nd, the Court issued its opinion on April 7th. MMA Fighting provides a copy of the lawsuit here.
The court made it abundantly clear that it was not deciding the merits of the case and specifically that it was not deciding whether the contract between Bellator and Rampage was breached. However, it made clear that Bellator had proved its case
Although the Court referred to several cases involving boxers that sign promotional agreements and then seek additional help from other promoters, the Court distinguished this case based on the exclusivity of Bellator’s agreement with Rampage. It sided with Bellator in its argument that it was likely that Rampage breached its contract despite the arguments raised.
As previously stated, the Court found “clear and convincing” of the following on behalf of Bellator. The four factors in determining a preliminary injunction are as follows:
- A substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case;
- There is a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted;
- The “balance of harms” (threatened injury) weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction;
- Granting an injunction would serve the public interest.
Some interesting points from the 25 page ruling.
- The Court emphasized the exclusivity of the contract between Bellator and Jackson. It also stressed the fame and notoriety of Jackson as evidence that Bellator would suffer injury if Jackson were allowed to participate at UFC 186.
- The Court did not buy the argument that Bellator breached its contract since it did not provide Rampage or his management with PPV summary report. The Court indicated Bellator had substantially complied with the information and that not providing the PPV summary was not a material breach of the contract.
- Rampage’s claim that his fights were not adequately promoted by Bellator and the need to obtain the PPV summary was necessary fell flat. The Court ruled that there was no marketing provision setting a certain amount of money that was required to promote his fights. Even without producing the summary report for PPV, there would be no breach since the actual compensation Rampage received was not in dispute. Furthermore, the Court opined that Rampage offered no rationale for why Bellator would not want to market and promote one of the company’s top stars.
- The Court sided with Bellator with its argument that if Rampage were allowed to fight at UFC 186, it would harm Bellator more than just monetarily, but from a reputation and brand standpoint. Bellator argued that the “MMA community” would denigrate Bellator if Rampage were allowed to leave for the UFC. Moreover, Bellator argued that denying the injunction would be a sign to other fighters and their managers that they could just “ignore their contracts” and leave for perceived better opportunities. Bellator also argued that if Rampage were to leave, Bellator would have lost out on the time and money it had invested in promoting him.
- The opinion also notes that on December 4, 2014 Scott Coker claims to have notified the UFC that Rampage was still under contract while negotiations by Rampage to the UFC were ongoing. This seems to call into question how much the UFC knew about the Bellator-Rampage contract dispute. It also calls into question the UFC’s decision to sign him and then put him on a card prior to a legal determination.
In the end, Rampage and his legal team may win this court battle, but the first big decision out of this case falls in Bellator’s favor. The Court opinion preventing him to fight at UFC 186 is not a good indicator of things to come. Certainly, the Court made it clear it was not ruling on whether a breach occurred, but the threshold for proving a preliminary injunction is warranted is high (“clear and convincing” as opposed to “more likely than not”). We will see what Rampage’s legal team decides on whether it will appeal the decision.
Another issue that was raised in passing was the knowledge that the UFC may have known about the contract issues with Bellator. There could have been potential legal action between Bellator and UFC regarding interference with a contract but it seems as though Bellator did not want to pick that fight just yet.
MMA Payout will keep you posted on this.
April 1, 2015
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that May 2nd’s long-awaited PPV fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will have a price point of $99 HD and $89 SD. It will be the highest priced PPV ever.
The previous high for a sport PPV was “The One” which featured Mayweather fighting Canelo Alvarez. The event which drew a record $152 million in PPV also had the highest price point, $74.95 HD ($64.95 SD) for a PPV prior to next month’s event.
HBO and Showtime are handling the negotiations with pay-TV distributors and had sought an advantageous split on behalf of Mayweather and Pacquiao. With a normal split of 50/50 for PPVs, HBO and Showtime were looking for a 70/30 split of the PPV revenue. Of course, pay-TV distributors balked at the proposal.
The key distributors involved are iN Demand and DirecTV. The other distributors that the networks must reach agreements with are Dish Network and Vubiquity, the entity that handles negotiations for AT&T and others.
The WSJ report indicates that distributors will concede a split in the favor of the networks but not as much as the 70% proposal.
Estimates claim that the PPV could garner 3 million PPV buys which may almost double the previous PPV record.
It’s unlikely that $100 will deter many wanting to see this fight. Although the price is steep for a fight that many believe should have happened years ago, it is still an attraction that is unique and features the best known boxers in the sport. It was no surprise that HBO and Showtime sought a bigger piece of the pie in these negotiations as both are trying to maximize the revenues as they have agreed to partner in this event.
March 17, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 185 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas where two UFC titles were on the line.
RDA wins Lightweight Title
Rafael dos Anjos earned his unanimous decision against Anthony Pettis. It was total domination by the challenger as he topped Pettis with his striking and grappling. It was an impressive win considering the complete manhandling of Pettis and the post-fight news that he had a knee injury coming into the fight.
Up next for RDA is the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone this May. But with RDA’s knee injury, we may not see this fight until December.
Joanna J destroys Cookie Monster
It was a mismatch. And the Champion looked to be in trouble from the start. Joanna Jedrzejcyzk controlled Carla Esparza and the “Cookie Monster” did not look like a Champion defending her title. Jedrzejcyk’s Muay Thai background defeated Esparza’s wrestling and it was an easy win for the fighter from Poland.
In the end, the referee was looking for a way to stop the fight in the 2nd round. Jedrzejczyk has the personality to promote fights in her division. But, will there be anyone in her division that can match her?
Attendance and Gate
Attendance at the America Airlines Center drew a reported 17,160 fans for a gate of $2.155 million as announced at the post-fight press conference. Despite the good number, it was still the lowest of the three PPVs held at the venue.
Previous Attendance for UFC PPVs at American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX (via MMA Payout Blue Book)
UFC 103 – September 9, 2009 – Rich Franklin-Vitor Belfort Attendance 17,428, Gate: $2.4M
UFC 171 – March 15, 2014 – Johny Hendricks-Robbie Lawler Attendance 19,324, Gate: $2.6M
For the second PPV in a row, there was no Fight of the Nights. The four Performances of the Night went to RDA, Jedrzejcyk, Ross Pearson and Beneil Darush. Each received $50,000 bonuses. There were a lot of stoppages to choose from but one would have to concur that these four stood out.
For the second straight PPV in a row Monster Energy Drink had the center of the Octagon moving Bud Light to the Octagon bumpers. In addition, MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Corn Nuts, DraftKings, Fram, MusclePharm and Toyo Tires.
Fram also had the fighter checkpoint.
Notably, Pettis was sponsored by Reebok, Corn Nuts, Monster Headphones and Monster Energy Drinks. Interesting enough, no Wheaties logo worn by Pettis or in the Octagon.
Reebok sold Showtime’s gear prior to the event at UFC 185. Wonder how sales are post-fight.
— Anthony Pettis (@Showtimepettis) March 13, 2015
Monster Headphones also had a campaign centered on Pettis.
-The UFC saw the crowning of two new champions. Who will have the longest title run? Moreover, who will the UFC be able to sell to fans?
-Does Hendricks get another shot at the title? With the win over Matt Brown, should Hendricks get the winner of Lawler-MacDonald?
-Henry Cejudo made weight and won a unanimous decision over Chris Cariaso. Could he be on the fast track to a 125 pound title shot?
Odds and ends
-Ben Askren and CM Punk were in the corner for Anthony Pettis.
-Interesting enough, Erik Koch made a cameo during the first UFC Embedded which one might think unusual if you read “Thrown.”
-Carla Esparza wore a wrestling singlet which was a nice touch. Both Esparza and Jedrzejcyzk were sponsored by Alienware.
-Alienware, a UFC sponsor, has been active of late with its activation with the UFC. There is a lot more visibility in sponsoring fighters as well as sponsoring the UFC Embedded online episodes.
-For the first time that I recall, the Embedded episodes had a sponsor, Alienware (“Powered by Alienware”). It was the umpteenth time we saw an Embedded episode where someone was at a barbershop getting their hair cut. This time it was Showtime at his barber shop.
-With Monster Energy as a new UFC sponsor, it appears we will see the return of awkwardly holding a soda can in the Octagon after a fight.
-UFC Prelims was on FX due to college basketball. We shall see whether the network change will affect ratings.
-There were over 100,000 Google searches for the UFC on Saturday which was far less than UFC 184 and Ronda Rousey during the same time frame.
-Texas did not do any “out of competition” drug testing for this event.
Prior to the PPV, we wrote whether Anthony Pettis could be the next big PPV draw for the UFC. If he does, it will be in pursuit of the belt he just lost. The card seemed like one more for the solid base of UFC fans that usually purchase PPVs. Yet, with the solid success of UFC PPVs this year, could we see another good PPV buy rate from the company. There was less buzz for this event than the previous three this year. This could reflect in PPV buys as I would assume that we get a PPV buy rate of around 325,000-350,000.
March 11, 2015
The Wrestling Observer indicates that UFC 184 drew an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 PPV buys. The preliminary report underscores the great start the UFC has had this year as well as the drawing power of Ronda Rousey.
UPDATED: In its 3/12 podcast, Meltzer indicated that the numbers reflect that UFC 184 will do more PPV buys than UFC 183.
Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez first discussed the initial numbers during their March 5, 2015 podcast (subscription recommended).
It appears that the estimate is based on anecdotal information from DirecTV as well Google trend searches.
If the initial buys for UFC 184 which featured Ronda Rousey versus Cat Zingano in the main event, the UFC will have one of the best starts of a year in PPV.
UFC 182: 800,000 PPV buys
UFC 183: ~600,000-700,000 PPV buys
UFC 184: ~500,000-600,000 PPV buys
The average for 2015 at this point is around 684,000 PPV buys which far exceeds what the UFC has been seeing. Last year it averaged just 256,000 PPV buys and in 2013 it averaged 468,000. Realistically, the UFC cannot keep producing these buys throughout the year. But, it’s built up three good buy rates for 2015. Added the fact it PPVs are now at $60, the UFC is making up PPV revenue from 2014’s atrocious numbers.
Whether it’s the booking or promotion, the 2015 PPV strategy for the UFC is holding up despite the drug problems. Also, UFC 184 initially included Vitor Belfort- Chris Weidman as the co-main event.
The other part of the news is that the UFC Prelims have had much higher ratings this year in comparison to where it was last year.
UFC 182 Prelims – 1.03M viewers
UFC 183 Prelims – 1.546M viewers
UFC 184 Prelims – 1.205M viewers
Meltzer speculated that Rousey was one of the reasons why the UFC 184 Prelims drew the high ratings. This argument may also support the fact that women’s MMA is generally accepted and may be on a roll as of late. Note, Miesha Tate’s fight against Sarah Kaufman at the UFC 183 Prelims almost drew 2 million viewers on FS1. This was a boon for Tate’s sponsors as she actually lobbied that she be on FS1 rather than on the PPV card.
UFC 184 was all Ronda Rousey and it’s a good sign for the UFC ast the organization has found another PPV star. The card under Rousey-Zingano was not strong considering that Belfort-Weidman dropped out. Thus, the entire buzz was based on Rousey. After her quick fight on Saturday, many mainstream sports outlets picked up on Rousey and gravitated toward the comparisons to Mike Tyson in his prime. The potential bad news here is that there are not many interesting fights for Rousey coming up (unless Cyborg is able to make weight). Also, Rousey’s star power outside of the Octagon is gaining momentum. She is already taking time away from the Octagon to do a movie and the more offers she receives from Hollywood, the more we may not see her in the Octagon.
Can the UFC continue its momentum this Saturday with UFC 185? We shall see.
March 4, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 184 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. In the main event, Ronda Rousey fought Cat Zingano.
Gone in 14 seconds
Zero strikes but a scramble that had Cat Zingano’s arm caught by Ronda Rousey and a straight armbar ended the night very early for the challenger.
It’s too bad considering the Zingano backstory. Even though she was a huge underdog, you would have like to see more of a fight.
For Rousey, she has received mainstream approval and sports people asking if she’s good for the sport. Obviously, the fact that people are talking about Rousey is good for the UFC. The question of who should see fight next is a good question. With Rousey taking time off to do a movie, it will be interesting to see who will be set up as her next opponent. Beth Corriea? Jessica Eye? One fighter not mentioned was Cris Cyborg who fought on the Invicta card the night before.
Holm defeats Rocky
It was not the strongest of debuts for “The Preacher’s Daughter” but she sustained a very good Raquel Pennington for the decision. Holm was one of the most talked about women’s fighters not in the UFC prior to her debut. Now, she seems destined to challenge for Rousey’s belt. Based on Saturday, she’s not ready yet.
Attendance and Gate
According to the post-fight press conference UFC 184 at the Staples Center drew a reported 17,654 fans for a gate of $2.675 million. Of the UFC events held at the Staples Center, only UFC 60 which featured Matt Hughes taking on Royce Gracie did better (14,802 for $2.9 million). The Staples Center capacity ranges from 18,000-21,000 depending on the event.
Cat Zingano ($100K) actually had a higher base salary than Ronda Rousey ($65K) although it was reported by Larry Pugmire of the LA Times that Rousey would probably clear $1 million with her cut of PPV revenues. Also, Rousey was sponsored by Reebok, Monster and Monster Headphones. All are UFC sponsors (presumably Monster Energy Drink has signed with the UFC).
Rousey did make $65K and $65K plus a Performance of the Night bonus to earn a total of $180,000.
In addition, Jake Ellenberger made $68K and $68K plus a Performance of the Night bonus to earn a total of $186,000.
Tony Ferguson and Tim Means earned the other $50K Performances of the Night. There was no Fight of the Night.
The rest of the payouts are here.
Promotion of the Fight
The episodes of UFC Embedded were once again entertaining although I would argue that this time around the portion of the UFC Countdown show focusing on Cat Zingano had to be the best
The pre-weigh-in staredowns included the main eventers wearing evening gowns.
Rousey made the usual media rounds including an appearance on Jim Rome. Something that people picked up on was a dispute between Rousey and Arianny Celeste.
Probably the biggest sponsor for Saturday was the “M” in the middle of the Octagon which replaced the usual Bud Light sponsor. It appears that Monster Energy Drink has signed on as a sponsor for the UFC. The former Bellator sponsor was shown prominently in the center of the Octagon as well as ring posts.
In addition, DraftKings announced a new sponsorship deal this week and was also on the Octagon mat.
Rounding out the sponsors on the Octagon mat included, Bud Light, MetroPCS, MusclePharm, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Air Force Reserve and the movie Run All Night. Harley Davidson had the prep point.
Holly Holm had no sponsors except UFC on her ring gear. Raquel Pennington had a pretty nice “Colorado Rocky” shirt.
Ronda Rousey had Monster, Reebok and the UFC on her ring gear. She also donned Monster headphones upon heading to the Octagon. Rousey also had her jeans sponsor Buffalo on her fighter poster. Maybe Nissan of Omaha was the best sponsor for Cat Zingano as it was clearly seen as she was being submitted. Other notable Zingano sponsors included Sepec and Kalapaki Joe’s.
Odds and Ends
The UFC indicated that the social media campaign around Ronda Rousey did well:
— Shanda (@UFC_Shanda) March 2, 2015
Big search numbers for Ronda Rousey:
Ronda Rousey finished w/ 1M Google searches Saturday. Another 200k for RR plus 200k more for UFC 184 on Friday. 50k for Cat Zingano Thursday
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) March 2, 2015
Darren Rovell took an ad hoc poll on the popularity of the UFC. The fact that Rovell is gaging his followers on its popularity shows that Rousey sparked his interest in the UFC.
POLL RESULTS (700+ VOTES): Only 23% more interested in UFC than they say they were 3 years ago pic.twitter.com/DgyDjvtLYH
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 1, 2015
Sponsor Mike’s Seafood on Derrick Lewis’ backside was either a good idea or a bad one.
The top three cities on Google Trends that searched for “Ronda Rousey” were Quezon City, Philippines, Los Angeles and New York in that order.
UFC 184 was in theaters once again. There were anecdotal reports of packed sports bars watching the fight.
Mark Munoz did not look good on Saturday. He failed to make weight on his first try at the weigh-ins although he subsequently made it. I would have hoped that he would make it to the Philippines card and then retire. It might be best for him to retire now.
InvictaFC had a card the night before in LA with Cyborg in the main event. Yet no real mention of her after the Rousey fight.
Essentially, the PPV ended at 9:00pm PT due to the quick main event and prelim matches were shown to fill-in time.
Ronda Rousey is one of the big draws of the UFC and based on searches and media coverage she is someone that casual viewers would tune into watch. The fact that ESPN talking head shows and other sports media were talking about her 14 second win on Monday reflects her popularity. But does that mean it equates to people paying $60 to watch her fight? We shall see. The last time Rousey headlined (without another co-main) was UFC 170 which drew 350,000 PPV buys. My guestimate would be somewhere around that mark and perhaps a little more 350,000-375,000 PPV buys.
January 29, 2015
MMA Junkie reports that the UFC has permanently raised its pay-per-view prices $5 due to what the company calls “rising costs in producing live events.” For most, the usual $54.99 HD PPV fans have been accustomed to pay will increase to $59.99.
For those that purchase their PPVs in SD, the price will increase from $44.99 to $49.99.
Prior to this official statement to Junkie, it was thought that the first three UFC PPVs of this year would be $59.99 due to the special nature of the events. In December 2013, UFC 168 increased its PPV price point by $5 as well.
As we discussed earlier in the year, White had previously stated that PPV prices would never go up. The UFC then raised the price for UFC 168. With the relative success of UFC 182, one had to know that the price increase was going to stay permanent. While it may be true that rising production costs may have forced the company to pass along those costs to its fans, the way it has introduced the new prices seems a little disappointing. It’s not that the prices were raised (at least in my opinion), but how it was done. The issue of raising PPV prices had been thought to be happening and there had been no answer from the company, until now, that the UFC would raise prices. Instead, it appeared that the prices would be raised for special events – a form of dynamic pricing. It now will permanently keep the price adjustment and consumers are now upset. While boxing has seen its PPV prices rise as well, there are fewer events to choose from. Still, charging $65 and $75 for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather still has fight consumers upset.
From the UFC perspective, the slight increase in pricing helps its bottom line. A part of the reason why Standard & Poor’s lowered its credit rating and financial outlook were due to 2014’s poor PPV numbers. The additional revenue it may receive from the price increase should mitigate its increasing production costs and help with its overall financial outlook in 2015.
January 13, 2015
As MMAPayout previously reported, the UFC started to charge consumers an estimated $59.99 HD/$49.99 SD for all PPVs scheduled in 2015, which at the time included UFC 182: Jones vs Cormier, UFC 183: Silva vs Diaz and UFC 184: Weidman vs Belfort.
There was some talk that this increase was just for “The Time Is Now” promoted events and that the price point would be lowered to what it was before. That assumption looks to have been an incorrect one, as it appears the UFC will permanently increase their PPV price point this year to $59.99 HD/$49.99 SD as shown on UFC.TV.
Why is the PPV price increase to UFC 185 such a big deal compared to UFC 182-184? Well, for starters, this event is being headlined by Anthony Pettis vs Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight title. Neither are what you would consider PPV draws. In fact, you could make an argument that the UFC could get away with that price hike for UFC 182-184 due to 182’s big grudge match, 183’s big fight between Silva vs Diaz, and 183’s big fights between Weidman vs Belfort and Rousey vs Zingano. All those cards include UFC’s biggest stars who have done their biggest PPV numbers in the past couple of years. Well, that’s just not the case looking at how UFC 185 is shaping up. UFC 185’s co-main event will now be Johny Hendricks vs Matt Brown, which should be a really good fight, but are those two fights in addition to Nelson vs Overeem good enough to justify it? That’s a question consumers will answer on March 14th with their wallets. What this really means is that the UFC has permanently increased the PPV price in 2015 since lowering their price would only make certain cards stand out as being lesser in value.
As we stated before:
UFC President Dana White went on record (MMAFighting) years ago, stating that PPV prices would never be raised and would stay at their regular price of $54.95/$44.95 SD. That tune changed for UFC 168 in December of 2013, when the PPV price was raised to $59.95 HD/$49.95 SD. Dana White went on the record once again and stated that the PPV price hike was “just for UFC 168”, since it was justified by placing some of UFC’s biggest stars in highly anticipated match-ups (Weidman, Silva, Rousey, Tate). White stated PPV prices would go back down to their regular price after UFC 168’s one-off price adjustment.
Essentially, the UFC is applying ad-hoc variable PPV pricing to their product, which is something the UFC has criticized and has tried to stay away from since their parent company, Zuffa, took over. Fans have demanded variable PPV pricing for years as justification for not purchasing cards that were not as “stacked” as others yet cost the same amount. The UFC’s belief, however, has always been that consumers are buying the UFC experience via PPV, regardless of who is fighting on the card for the most part. The UFC never wanted to admit in the past that some cards have less worth than others, which is a perception that has been shattered the past few years. If the UFC wants to keep that perception that all PPV events have the same value, a uniform PPV price hike may be the next logical step in this experiment, but for a company who has struggled so much recently with their PPV business model, increasing the price on a product that many fans feel is over-saturated and watered-downed may prove to be quite the risky move.
January 5, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at the much anticipated fight between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.
Jones dominates Cormier
In one of the most anticipated fights in some time, Jon Jones dominated Daniel Cormier. It was clear that as the fight progressed, Cormier looked like he lost confidence and Jones had broke his will. Say what you want about the crotch chop at the end, Jones is the best there is right now and he knows it.
This guy may be next for Jones:
— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) January 4, 2015
Then again, there are rumblings that Jones may face Cormier’s training partner and friend Cain Velasquez. Although Cain is a heavyweight, Jones looked huge compared to Cormier.
Cerrone decisions Jury
One might have thought that this fight would have been a great lead-in to the main event. Cerrone is a guaranteed “bonus” of the night, right? Well, not so much tonight. Except for a bunch of meaningless kicks by Cerrone to Jury, this was a forgettable fight. Cerrone was disappointed despite winning.
Attendance and Gate
MMA junkie reports the attendance at the MGM Grand at 11,575 for a gate of $3.7 million. There was no news on comps although the UFC were giving away tickets for the event. The gate failed to crack the top 5 of UFC events at the MGM Grand. Notably, UFC 168, which occurred at about the same time last year, drew 15,650 for a gate of over $6.2 million.
Despite the low attendance, Dana White was bullish about the PPV buys as he indicated that the 750K PPV buys he predicted pre-event were trending to exceed his expectations at the post-fight press conference. Although this cannot be confirmed, there were multiple reports that movie theaters and sports bars were full or near capacity. This will not help contribute to the PPV buys but shows the amount of interest.
Bonuses for UFC 182 went to Paul Felder, Shawn Jordan, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. Arguably, Felder was the most impressive fighter of the night (next to Jones of course) with his spinning back fist KO of Danny Castillo.
For you gamblers, Felder was the biggest underdog to win at +190 according to the MGM Grand.
Cody Garbrandt was shut out of receiving a bonus despite a strong UFC debut against Marcus Brimage. Garbrandt was a +130 underdog.
While it was not as expected, the media day brawl back in August was the best thing to promote this fight. Perhaps it would have picked up more steam if the fight actually happened in September than now. Still, the promos for this fight were outstanding. It centered on Jones and Cormier’s brawl and the subsequent ESPN dust-up caught on camera.
The UFC Embedded episodes included Jones attending a high school wrestling practice and Cerrone’s action sports (snowmobiling, car racing and flying). It also included a backstage altercation between Jones and Cormier.
The UFC special Bad Blood featured the Jones-Cormier feud. Although this episode which aired on FS1 and replayed FX drew praise and hype from MMA folks, in my opinion, it amounted to a regular HBO 24/7 episode. There was also a countdown show and an “All Angles” show featuring Cerrone. Essentially, the episode was a “getting to know” Donald Cerrone show.
In addition to the television commercials, there were extensive radio buys which do not usually occur for a standard UFC PPV.
UFC 182 was shown in movie theatres across the country. From surveying social media, it appears that many people actually went to see the event at theatres.
Also, bars across the country seemed to be packed for this event.
The octagon had UFC sponsors, MusclePharm, Fram, MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Cimemax’s Banshee, Toyo Tires and Bud Light in the center. There was also signage for UFC 183 featuring an image of Anderson Silva sitting in a “spider” position. Banshee also had the fighter prep point. There was also a commercial on the Cinemax show during the event.
Cerrone was sponsored by Budweiser and attempted to giveaway beer on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year’s Eve until the UFC stopped the promotion. Prior to the fight, it was announced that he had signed a sponsorship with Fram.
Cormier had “Break Bones” t-shirts for the event which were made by his sponsor, CageFighter.
Odds and Ends
- To the dismay of some people, the UFC increased prices of its PPVs to $59.99 HD for the first three events of 2015.
- The PPV was short on time which is odd since there have been at least two times in recent memory where a UFC PPV has exceeded 3 hours. UFC 181 had five hours squared away instead of the normal four hour block on PPV. One would think if people were going to pay $5 more, the UFC would pay for an overrun to get some in-ring interviews of the co-main and main eventers. Regardless, look for big ratings for the FS1 post-fight wrapup.
- CM Punk was on the FS1 pre-fight show and did a Q&A before the weigh-ins. The company is getting the most out of Punk already and putting him out there for 182 made sense. How much will they use him before he actually fights?
- The commission threatened the fight purses of Jones and Cormier if there was any dustup at the weigh-ins. Thus, the awkward weigh-in staredown.
- Steven Seagal was in attendance and “aided” Daniel Cormier prior to the fight as shown in an “Embedded” episode. Doesn’t look like it helped.
- UFC Heavyweight newcomer Jared Cannonier utilized crowdfunding site GoFundMe to raise money for his training camp. He exceeded his goal of $5,000 by raising $6,100. Unfortunately, he was KO’d by Shawn Jordan.
- Speaking of training camps, Cerrone indicated he paid $20,000 to bring in fighters to spar with him. He is set to make slightly over $100,000 for the fight.
- The UFC announced big additions to its Fight Library with the acquisition of libraries from several promotions.
- We already know, but Conor McGregor is getting a huge promotional push by the company.
- Is the UFC using the “boxing strategy” as many suggest that they highlight one fight to sell for its PPV? This can be done if there is a heated feud, but probably hard to sell as frequent as its PPVs are due to lack of build.
After the event, Dana White indicated that PPV buys were above the 750,000 he predicted pre-event. There were 500,000 Google searches as of Friday which would indicate a big PPV buy rate. However, the cautionary tale of relying on Google searches is that Pacquiao-Algieri fight in November drew 500,000 searches yet only drew a reported 300,000-400,000 PPV buys. But, the promotion of the Jones-Cormier feud alone seemed to create the kind of buzz that got fans that pick and choose purchasing PPV events to buy this one. Any buy rate number hitting 600,000 (or above) will be a great start for 2015 for the UFC.