November 20, 2015
UFC 193 is on track to be the second-largest PPV in company history according to Lorenzo Fertitta. In speaking with Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports Fertitta indicated that it was currently tracking third but would finish behind only UFC 100.
UFC 100 drew 1.6 million viewers in July 2009. Fertitta confirmed that UFC 193 sold in “excess of one million on pay-per-view.” It appears that early PPV estimates have it around 1M-1.2M buys per Dave Meltzer.
UFC 189 was originally reported at hitting 1 million PPV buys but that estimate was scaled back to 825,000. The last time that a UFC PPV hit 1 million PPV buys was UFC 168 which featured Weidman-Silva II and Tate-Rousey II (via MMA Payout Blue Book).
Ronda Rousey’s last PPV fight at UFC 190 drew 900,000 viewers.
Notably, UFC 193 Google related searches hit 9 million and was the most search topic on Saturday and Sunday. It should be noted that the search experienced a slight dip on Friday but obviously surged ahead for Saturday.
In comparison, Mayweather-Pacquiao hit about 12 million google searches the weekend of their fight this past May.
Also to consider, UFC 193 Prelims on FS1 drew 1,394,000 viewers. It was the most-watched Prelim event on FS1 with Ronda Rousey on the PPV main event.
It’s clear that if these indicators are correct, UFC will have its best PPV year to date with UFC 194 probably adding to a huge year of PPV business for the company. It shows the attraction of Ronda Rousey. One should expect that a rematch will garner big PPV numbers again. The question will be whether Holly Holm can maintain the PPV momentum of Rousey.
November 19, 2015
MMA Junkie reports that Zuffa’s Standard and Poor’s business outlook has been elevated from “negative” to “stable” based on its success in its Pay Per View business in 2015. The company’s corporate credit rating remains the same at BB negative which is below investment grade.
Standard & Poor’s Financial Services publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds as well as being one of the Big Three credit-rating agencies. It issues credit ratings for the debt of public and private companies. S&P serves as a resource to investors for a key measure of its success.
In October 2014, S&P downgraded Zuffa, LLC from BB to BB-as a result of “greater EBITDA volatility.” It had maintained a “BB rating” since December 2010. It was previously downgraded in November 2007 from BB to BB-. A couple weeks later, it downgraded the business outlook from “stable” to “negative.”
In October 2014, it identified Zuffa as having $535 million in credit with $60 million in “senior secured revolving credit facility due in 2018 and a $475 million senior secured term loan due 2020” per that S&P report.
Monday’s news is a good sign that the company is recovering from its dip in 2014. While a lot of the numbers are kept under wraps and we’re forced to cobble together how much the company makes, the PPV buys have rebounded from the past couple years on the strength of the first three PPVs of 2015 as well as July’s UFC 189 and Ronda Rousey’s fights at UFC 190 and 193. Also, the international expansion and the assumed proliferation of UFC Fight Pass have provided additional revenue streams for the company. Obviously, you have to offset these gains with its expenses which include the new anti-doping policy implemented with the help of USADA and three big legal battles it is currently involved in (the UFC antitrust lawsuit in Nevada, the appeal of the November 2011 lawsuit against New York and the new lawsuit against the state of New York filed this past September seeking a preliminary injunction to hold an event in New York in April).
Also, on the same day that this news came out, Bloody Elbow unveiled its third installment of its deep dive into UFC finances.
November 14, 2015
After a UFC weigh-in which featured a brief skirmish between main eventers Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm as well as a Rousey “promo” on Holm after, search interest for the fight has trended down.
UPDATED 4:31pm: As you can see from the graph, that keeps updating, searches are back up.
As you can see from the graph over the past 7 days, interest spiked on Friday afternoon but looks to have receded since then.
Via Google Trends as of Saturday morning:
Obviously the unfortunate happenings in Paris probably detoured social media searches and interest. Will the trends mean that the great run on Rousey PPV success end tonight? Google trends is a scientifically unscientific way to predict PPV buy rates. While the graph appears to reflect a downturn in interest, this trend is likely an anomaly. One would think there’s an uptick in searches as the day goes on today.
November 1, 2015
UFC 192 drew a reported 250,000 PPV buys according to Dave Meltzer’s latest Wrestling Observer newsletter. The event featured Daniel Cormier defending his UFC light heavyweight championship against Alexander Gustafsson.
The estimated 250,000 PPV buys is the second-lowest buy rate for 2015. The 250,000 estimated PPV buy rate is slightly better than the 205,000 PPV buys from last September’s UFC 178 PPV. The rating is lower than the 375,000 for Cormier-Johnson this past May.
The good news for the light heavyweight division is that Jon Jones is back and a forthcoming fight with Cormier should help with DC’s PPV popularity. Still, the buy rate should be thought to be below expectations for a guy like Cormier. Two boxing events on HBO and Showtime and college football that same night may have been a detractor for those thinking of purchasing the event.
October 21, 2015
Early estimates of the Gennady Golovkin-David Lemieux PPV this past Saturday drew approximately 150,000 buys. Sports Illustrated boxing writer Chris Mannix stated that the 150,000 estimated was “in the ballpark” of the estimated buys.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) October 20, 2015
That's a good number. Not the spectacular number promoters were looking for (200K-plus), but a good one for GGG's pay per view debut.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) October 20, 2015
Pay per view is a rapidly declining market. Mayweather just did around 400K. Cotto-Martinez was around 250K. 150K is a solid debut.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) October 20, 2015
Despite the fact that the fight sold out Madison Square Garden with 20,568 in attendance, the fight did not sell as promoters had hoped. GGG’s promoter indicated that 200,000 buys would make it a financial success. It appeared that promoters had modest expectations for GGG’s debut as the top of the card on a PPV.
In comparison, Canelo Alvarez’s first time headlining a PPV against Alfredo Angulo in March 2014 drew 350,000 PPV buys. A PPV featuring Timothy Bradley against Juan Manuel Marquez drew 375,000 PPV buys in October 2013. Last June, a clash between Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez drew 250,000 PPV buys.
Fighthype.com initially reported the 150,000 PPV buy rate.
Was this a success or disappointment? GGG is the next logical fighter to step in to the PPV shoes for Manny Pacquiao as his popularity begins to wane. Roman Gonzalez, who many believe is one of the best (if not the best) pound for pound fighters was the co-main on the card. Thus, two of the top stars in boxing were featured on a PPV but just 150K purchased it. We’ll see how the replay viewership does this Saturday as perhaps we’re seeing boxing skeptics concerned about overpaying “once again” for a boxing PPV. In my opinion, the 150,000 is a little low, but once more fans get exposed to GGG (and Chocolatito), we’ll see more casual boxing fans gravitating toward them and eventually the PPV numbers may increase.
September 16, 2015
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that the Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto PPV drew between 500-600K PPV buys according to industry sources contacted by Rafael. It is the lowest PPV output by Mayweather under his contract with Showtime.
UPDATED: Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that his source says it did “roughly” 400K PPV buys. 145,000 buys come from DirecTV which is always one of the first to report its buys.
PPV industry source on #MayweatherBerto numbers tells me they’re very poor relatively speaking. ‘Being generous is might hit 550,000 buys.’
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) September 16, 2015
The first disclaimer is that these are estimates from industry sources. Showtime’s Steven Espinoza proclaimed that it would never reveal actual PPV numbers after Maidana I. Of course, Espinoza added the proviso that it would reveal the PPV numbers if it set a record. For instance, Mayweather-Pacquiao.
550,000 PPV buys is not bad….for a UFC PPV but when it comes to Floyd Mayweather, it is a disappointment. It’s the last fight on his Showtime contract and we’ll see if he will actual retire.
With the start of college football season and five boxing events on various networks starting the Sunday prior to the PPV fight, one might see why the PPV buy rate was so low. Moreover, many casual fans were not impressed with Mayweather’s last fight against Manny Pacquiao – a fight that cost many $100 to watch. The casual viewer probably did not want to spend another $75 to watch it again. With no real ethnic audience to draw upon and Mayweather’s fighting style, the buy rate (if accurate) seems about right.
August 27, 2015
Dave Meltzer writing for MMA Fighting reports that UFC 190 featuring Ronda Rousey and Beth Correia drew an estimated 900,000 PPV buys. The number would make it the third PPV event this year to draw 800,000 buys.
UFC 189 featuring Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes drew 1 million buys according to UFC.com. Other estimates have the July 11 PPV less than 1 million. Regardless, it’s the second straight PPV that has done well based on just 1 fighter. UFC 189 it was all Conor McGregor and UFC 190 was all Ronda Rousey.
Perhaps supporting the contention that Ronda Rousey’s star is brighter than ever is that there were no noteworthy fights on the UFC 190 main card. Despite the fact the show went over 3 hours, there was nothing great on the card besides Rousey. There were two TUF Brazil final fights and Shogun Rua-Little Nog. In comparison, UFC 189 did have another title fight between Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler to entice fans to buy the PPV.
UFC 190 joins 189 and 182 as top events that have drawn 800,000 PPV buys or more. No PPV event went over 600,000 in 2014. In 2013, only 2 events (UFC 158 and UFC 168) went over 800,000 PPV buys.
Ronda Rousey PPVs (via MMA Payout Bluebook)
UFC 157 – vs. Liz Carmouche: 450,000
UFC 168 – vs. Miesha Tate (co-main): 1,025,000
UFC 170 – vs. Sara McMann: 350,000
UFC 175 – vs. Alexis Davis (co-main): 545,000
UFC 184 – vs. Cat Zingano: 600,000
UFC 190 – vs. Beth Correia: 900,000
Early indicators from most outlets reflected the fact that UFC 190 did well on PPV. The prelims drew 1.3M viewers and google searches topped 6 million. All of these indicators would point to the fact that Ronda Rousey is, arguably, the top draw in the UFC. The card had little to support her and she was able to garner 900,000 fans. The PPV buy rate also reflects the fact that her star is gaining steam. One might expect her to draw similar numbers when she faces Holly Holm at UFC 195.
August 3, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 190 taking place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
Rousey ends Corriea in 34 seconds
Ronda Rousey showed her dominance once again by knocking out Bethe Corriea in just 34 seconds. It was not the most technical of fights, but Rousey showed power in her hands by flattening Corriea. While many are calling for Cyborg, it looks to be the trilogy with Miesha Tate this December.
It was billed as a rematch of one of the best fights in Pride that occurred 10 years ago. The 10 years took a lot out of each as the first round had a lot of action and slowed considerably over the next two rounds. Many fans thought that a failed guillotine attempt would have won the fight for Little ‘Nog but Rua pulled out the unanimous decision once again. Both will continue to fight but I am not sure if that is the best idea for each.
Although announced as a sellout, UFC 190 at the HSBC Arena drew 14,723. As seems to be a constant with Brazilian cards, a gate was not announced.
Prior PPV events at HSBC Arena
UFC 142 – 10,605 (Aldo v. Mendes)
UFC 153 – 16,844 (A. Silva v. Bonnar)
UFC 163 – 13,873 (Aldo v. Korean Zombie)
Demian Maia, Shogun Rua, Antonio Rogierio Nogueria and Ronda Rousey. Maia and Rouse yearend Performances of the Night while Rua and Little Nog earned Fight of the Night. Each earned $50,000
Promotion of the Fight
The UFC Countdown show offered a little more than usual as Ronda Rousey talked about her father after Bethe Corriea’s comments regarding Ronda committing suicide when she beat her.
Rousey also gave an insightful interview during an Embedded feature.
There had to be some concern about the promotion of this fight since it would be in Brazil. Rousey still did Jim Rome and some other U.S. outlets but not as many as if she were here in the states. Yet, it appears to have done well.
The Octagon sponsors included Budweiser, Fram, Sports Authority, Reebok, the movie, “Straight Outta Compton,” Tai-Chi Panda, Brazilian outlet Combate and TNT Energy Drink (like most Brazilian events) had the center of the Octgaon.
Tai-Chi Panda is a video game. A commercial and its web site featured Ronda Rousey. The UFC women’s bantamweight champion also wore a Monster Energy logo on her Reebok kit. Rousey also had a new MetroPCS commercial which featured her mother and the horsewomen.
“Straight Outta Compton” had the fighter prep point and the trailer was shown prior to the Rousey fight.
Odds and ends
Placing the TUF Brazil Finals on the main card was not the best idea. A lot of discontent from fans and people tuned out. People seemed mad that the Ronda fight did not start until past 10pm PT.
The TUF Brazil contestants wore generic UFC shorts except for a panel which included sponsor TNT Energy Drink. One might assume that this was a deal brokered by TNT and/or TNT paid for the spot on the shorts.
The UFC Fan Voting was shown after each fight as it is another way that the UFC can engage fans during the PPVs.
A lot of tweets from mainstream stars in support of Rousey displayed throughout the night and on Dana White’s twitter feed.
The WWE sent a thank you to Ronda Rousey after she dedicated her fight to Roddy Piper.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) August 2, 2015
Corriea had a good gimmick with stating that she wanted to beat all of the Four Horsewomen including Ronda. But, we all know that Rousey is so much better than her other stablemates. The award for the worst tweet of the night goes to Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza for continuing a trend of leaders of an organization badmouthing another promotion’s event.
Great matchmaking, UFC. Four main event fights, two minutes total. Can’t wait to buy the next one.
— Stephen Espinoza (@StephenEspinoza) August 2, 2015
The award for best tweet of the night goes to the WWE’s Seth Rollins for responding to a tweet from Dana White who was badmouthing (or perceived to be) another promotion’s product.
Guys, cut @danawhite some slack. I mean he’s had a million matches, so his opinion is super valid and should be taken as gospel.
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) August 2, 2015
The tweet from Rollins is in response to White telling a twitter follower that WWE is fake. Rousey had 6 million google searches over the weekend. YouTube highlights also did well:
Revised Google search total for Rousey on Saturday is 6M, so gigantic and unprecedented for MMA but not unbelievably epic.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) August 3, 2015
As far as extrapolating PPV business, 1M of the searches were “Ronda Rousey fight” which looks a lot like pirates trolling for the fight.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) August 3, 2015
— Carleton Curtis (@carletoncurtis) August 3, 2015
UFC 190 will tell us whether Ronda Rousey can carry a PPV. Rousey has not done as much media as she would have if the fight was in the U.S. But, it still received a ton of searches over the course of the weekend. It was the number one trending topic overall in the U.S. during the PPV. Certainly, the casual fan was searching the internet for the 34 second clip of Rousey winning. This may be a problem when it comes to future Rousey PPVs as fans might just wait to see the fight on Vine…or ESPN.
Notwithstanding the future ways of purchasing (or not purchasing) a Rousey PPV, Saturday’s event will be telling as to whether UFC 184 was just one good night. Corriea was not a strong opponent for Rousey despite the trash talk. The question is whether that even matters. It didn’t seem to matter for Conor McGregor at UFC 189.
Dana White indicated that UFC 190 was trending better than UFC 189. It’s hard to say what numbers he might be looking at although one might think pre-buys for the PPV might be one. Couple that with the perceived correlation that google searches equate to PPV success and UFC 190 might be a PPV hit. I was originally thinking that this PPV would do 400K-500K PPV buys. However, it appears that it may well have exceeded this. Anything above 700K would be outstanding considering there was virtually nothing else supporting Rousey’s fight.
July 24, 2015
The fight attracted a record 16,019 fans to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, plus a $7.2-million live gate and 1 million pay per view buys, proving McGregor’s sizable drawing power. Some 3,000 Irish fans converged on Las Vegas and left deliriously happy.
UFC 189 would be the first PPV hitting 1 million PPV buys since UFC 168 which featured Silva-Weidman II and Tate-Rousey in December 2013. Prior to that, you’d have to look to July 2010 and UFC 116 (Lesnar-Carwin) for a PPV to strike 1 million PPV buys.
If the PPV number is correct, it shows that the ratings from the UFC 189 Prelims were an inconsistent indicator of PPV success. UFC 189 Prelims on FS1 drew only 847,000 viewers. The televised Prelims usually entice “on the fence” fans to purchase the PPV. Here, one might conclude that people already were set to buy the PPV because of McGregor. This would be great for the UFC as it has a confirmed PPV star in the new interim Featherweight champion.
It’s interesting that the information on PPV buys was somewhat buried in the bio of McGregor and not officially announced by the UFC. Usually, when organizations do well business-wise there is some release about the information. For instance, Bellator’s tentpole events 131 and 138 ratings were announced immediately when received as the company was happy with the great ratings. Here, no official announcement. We shall see if we get an official announcement soon.
July 16, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take you to UFC 189 which was the biggest event in years for the company taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
McGregor wins interim Featherweight title
The gamble for the UFC paid off. Conor McGregor stopped Chad Mendes with just seconds remaining in the second round to win the interim Featherweight title. McGregor was in trouble early as he could not stop takedowns and was being held down by Mendes. But, McGregor was able to escape a guillotine attempt and used his power to KO Mendes.
McGregor actually has a coaching spot on TUF this fall and then it’s likely Jose Aldo. Mendes showed well for himself considering he did not have a full camp. He is still at the top of the list of challengers for the Featherweight title.
Lawler outlasts MacDonald in bloody war
It was the best fight in some time and likely a prime example of why this sport can never gain mainstream acceptance. Robbie Lawler’s lip and Rory MacDonald’s nose exemplified the dedication, discipline, heart and fearlessness it takes to make it to the top of this sport. Although MacDonald was ahead on the judge’s cards, he succumbed to the pain and crumpled to the mat in the fifth round after another shot from Lawler.
For Lawler, Johny Hendricks seems like the next opponent for Lawler. Many have said that this fight may have changed the trajectory of MacDonald’s career forever. We shall see.
Attendance and gate
It was the biggest attendance and gate for a UFC event ever since UFC 129 in Toronto. Attendance stood at 16,019 for a gate of $7.2 million. Dana White stated that ticket sales actually surged after Jose Aldo pulled out of the fight getting the gate over $7 million.
On the secondary market the “get in” price at the start of the Fight Pass Prelims was $665. According to Darren Rovell, the median price paid on Stubhub was $500 which was the highest since Silva-Sonnen II ($450).
Conor McGregor, Thomas Almeida, Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler earned the $50,000 bonuses.
McGregor and Mendes topped the salaries making $500,000 each. The full list is here.
Promotion of the Fight
The promotion of the fight started with the expensive and well-chronicled world tour with Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. The Embedded episodes were entertaining as those occurred this past spring. Most of us were hoping that July would come soon. Of course, the fight did not happen and we were given Chad Mendes. More Embedded episodes occurred to promote the fight and even some controversy as it appeared that an episode featuring Conor training in wrestling was edited out. The theory was that it would give Mendes some advantage.
Dana White appeared on ESPN, the Jim Rome and other outlets. Notably, he stated in a radio interview that Aldo would have made $4 million at UFC 189. He also stated on Jim Rome that McGregor wanted to bet him $3 million that he would knock out Mendes. Apparently, he knew what he was talking about.
This was the first event where Reebok uniforms were exclusively used. Overall, it was not as bad as I had thought although I am sure there are some fight fans that will miss the aesthetic of different sponsors on the shorts as well as fight banners.
The official UFC sponsors were in the Octagon including the movie “SouthPaw,” Draft Kings, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Fram,Bud Light, Corn Nuts, Metro PCS, Musclepharm and Monster Energy Drink had the center.
Reebok presented the Embedded episodes featuring McGregor and Mendes.
In addition to announcing an individual deal with Reebok, Rory MacDonald had a Monster logo on its shorts. Same for Conor McGregor. McGregor also starred in a commercial for Game of War.
Toyo Tires also sponsored Chad Mendes and sent out an eblast about the challenger.
Although it was announced in early June, the UFC announced a partnership with Las Vegas Monorail making it the “Official Las Vegas Transportation of the UFC.” While this seems silly, the fact that so many people from out of town (especially Irish McGregor supporters) likely took it as a method of transportation probably made the sponsorship worth its while.
Odds and ends
The changes in production were subtle but great. While there might be a lot of criticism about spending 6 months and who knows how much money to change the “C” in the UFC, the presentation at the weigh-ins and the actual show were top-notch.
The live singing entrances for the main events were an interesting touch.
It was interesting that this fight was not offered in movie theatres like other events before it.
One critique about new UFC production, rounds now noted by filled in marks like balls/strikes in baseball. I like numbers to tell me rounds.
The uplighting and other stage enhancements for the weigh-ins were great. It gave UFC 189 that big fight feel. Of course, the atmosphere with so many Irish there made it feel that much more electric on television.
This was the first event with the USADA drug testing protocol.
It appears that cutmen have lost their sponsor deals when Reebok took over this month but are not a part of the Reebok deal. We will see where this goes.
Mendes has been stopped in two championship fights with seconds left in a round.
I already booked my hotel for UFC 200 which will be in the new MGM-AEG Arena July 2, 2016
1M Google searches for Conor McGregor and UFC 189 related searches. Another 100k for Robbie Lawler.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) July 13, 2015
Much has been scrutinized about what the PPV buy rate will be for UFC 189. Despite Aldo pulling out late, it appears that it did not hurt PPV sales. The pre-buys for the event appear to be strong which is based on the number of people that purchase the PPV prior to the day of the PPV. The google searches appear strong but the Prelim rating was under 1 million viewers. So, we shall see. My gut reaction is that the PPV did between 550K and 600K buys which solidifies McGregor as a legitimate PPV star.