More on Bellator’s debut in New York

March 23, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator will promote its June PPV separate from Bellator 180, which will be at the same venue on the same night.

The PPV, which is being branded as “Bellator:NYC” is scheduled to be 5 fights which is headlined by Chael Sonnen taking on Wanderlei Silva.  In addition, the rescheduled bout between Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko will serve as the co-main.  Also on the PPV portion will be a lightweight title fight between Brent Primus and Michael Chandler.

Bellator 180 will preceed the PPV fight card at MSG in New York City.  It will be a 2-hour card on Spike TV on Saturday, June 24th.

Payout Perspective:

This won’t confuse anyone.  Essentially, Bellator 180 will serve as a “UFC Prelims-type” show to entice viewers to purchase the PPV.  With the 5 fight PPV card taking shape, one hopes everyone stays healthy and can make the fights.  Also not yet announced, expect newly signed Ryan Bader to make his debut on the PPV or on the Bellator 180 card in addition to Bellator’s top names including King Mo, Rampage Jackson (assuming they are healthy to turnaround that quickly) and Spike TV’s ratings magnet Cheick Kongo.  Notably, Lance Pugmire reports that Lorenz Larkin will face Douglas Lima on the June 24th card.

Early returns show GGG-Jacobs PPV draw between 130-150K PPV buys

March 21, 2017

Lance Pugmire of the LA Times reports that the early returns on the GGG-Jacobs PPV is between 130,000 to 150,000 buys although the GGG camp says that the final tally will be higher than 150,000.

Pugmire cites an industry source for the report as HBO has yet to provide an official tally.  Notably, the last GGG PPV,  GGG-Lemieux in October 2015 drew 150,000 PPV buys.

Pugmire notes that the gate for last Saturday’s event was $3.7 million as compared to $2 million for GGG-Lemieux.

Payout Perspective:

Even if the fight draws over 150,000 PPV buys, it likely won’t go much higher than that.  The PPV buy rate is not favorable for GGG as he possibly seeks a big fight against Canelo Alvarez in September.  The event went up against the NCAA Tournament but it was big fight and Jacobs was a much more marketable name than David Lemieux.

Sonnen-Silva headline Bellator’s second PPV

March 20, 2017

Bellator returns to PPV with Chael Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva as the main event.  The event will take place on June 24th at Madison Square Garden in New York.

It will be the second PPV in the company’s history.  In May 2014, Bellator 120 featured Rampage Jackson-King Mo and Michael Chandler-Eddie Alvarez.  The event drew 100,000 PPV buys.

Sonnen is coming off a loss to Tito Ortiz this past January in Los Angeles.  Silva has yet to fight for the promotion as he is serving a three-year suspension retroactive to May 24, 2014.  He will be eligible for reinstatement to May 25, 2017.

The Associated Press first reported the event.

Bellator intends to debut some of its free agent signees in New York as well.

The event comes a week after a UFC Fight Night in Singapore and two weeks before International Fight Week.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement is a departure from the company intending to stay on cable TV.  Sonnen-Silva is a long-time grudge match dating back several years and if the two remain healthy and available, the promotion and fight should draw more than the last time Bellator was on PPV.  The news comes on the same day that Ryan Bader officially signed with the promotion.  Expect Bader, Rampage and other former UFC fighters to be on the card.

UFC sets PPV record in 2016, but where are big cards in 2017?

January 23, 2017

In the latest Wrestling Observer (subscription recommended), the PPV buys have been recalibrated to 1,009,000 buys.  The original estimate had the July event at 1.1 to 1.2M PPV buys.

Despite the downgrade of PPV buys for the July event, the UFC set a PPV record with 5 events in a calendar year going over 1 million PPV buys.  Boxing had two years (1996 and 2011) where 3 PPVs topped 1 million buys.

UFC 196, UFC 200, UFC 202, UFC 205 and UFC 207 all went over the 1 million mark.  Conversely, three shows (UFC 198, UFC 201 and UFC 206) drew less than 250,000 (see MMA Payout Blue Book).

Payout Perspective:

The obvious concern for 2017 is without McGregor (for a portion of the year) or Rousey, where will the UFC find a PPV that could draw over 1 million PPV buys.  Certainly, July’s International Fight Week should bring a show close to 1 million with the return of Jon Jones and perhaps a couple title fights.  But, there does not seem to be another big card on the horizon.  With the new owners having an earnings mandate of $275 million in EBITDA by June 30th to receive a contingency payment of $175 million.  It will be hard to do this without any big events in the first quarter of 2017.

UFC 207 early PPV estimates: 1.1M buys

January 6, 2017

UFC 207 looks to have done well on PPV as initial estimates by The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer have the PPV at 1.1 million buys.

UFC 207 featured the return of Ronda Rousey as she faced Amanda Nunes for the UFC bantamweight title.  Nunes stopped Rousey in the first round.

The 1.1 million PPV buys ties UFC 193 as the largest buy rate for a Ronda Rousey headlined event.

UFC 193 – 1.1M

UFC 190 – 900,000

UFC 184 – 600,000

UFC 170 – 350,000

UFC 157 – 450,000

Payout Perspective:

The buy rates do not include the events where Rousey was the co-headliner with Chris Weidman (UFC 162 and UFC 168).  UFC 168 drew 1.025M buys but was the return of Weidman-Silva.  It was also Tate-Rousey.  UFC 207 reflects the Rousey demo.  The PPV was not hurt due to the PPV being on Friday night or the fact she did not do the regular media rounds to promote the fight.  You probably cannot turn your back on the media all the time but the fact that Rousey was returning provided some extra interest for her fans.  It also shows the niche that she has carved out and if she were to retire, would there be another woman fighter that could garner this much attention.

UFC 207 Prelims on FS1 draws 1.511M viewers

January 3, 2017

The UFC 207 Prelims on Friday night drew 1.511 million viewers on FS1 per Sports TV Ratings.  It was the fourth highest PPV of 2016 and the sixth prelims telecast to go over 1 million viewers.

In addition, it drew 813,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 category.  The featured fight on the prelims was Johny Hendricks versus Neil Magny.  Magny earned a unanimous decision.

The average for 2016 was 1,097,000.  In comparison, 2015 drew an average of 1,069,000.

In addition, the pre-fight broadcast on FS1 which preceded (4:00-5:00pm PT) the UFC Prelims drew 572,000 viewers and 281,000 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight drew 404,000 viewers and 234,000 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight event went from 9:50pm-11:07pm PT.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are very considering the prelims took place on Friday night.  The big viewership number likely reflects a big PPV buy rate.  All of the prelims except UFC 195 drew over 1 million PPV buys.  With Rousey on the PPV card, expect a buy rate over 1 million.

UFC 206 replay on Fox scores big Christmas Eve

December 26, 2016

The replay of selected fights from UFC 206 earlier this month drew 4.7 million viewers on Christmas Eve according to Television By Numbers.  It also drew a 1.6 rating and a 6 share in the Adult 18-49 rating making it the second highest viewed UFC show on Fox since UFC on Fox 1.

The replay was the most-viewed show Saturday night and drew the biggest share among adults 18-49 across the board on the network.

The fights on the 2-hour replay Saturday included Lando Vannata versus John Makdessi, Cub Swanson versus Doo Ho Choi, Donald Cerrone versus Matt Brown and Max Holloway versus Anthony Pettis.

Nielsen reports that the peak viewership occurred during the Swanson-Choi fight which many consider a Fight of the Year frontrunner for 2016.

Only the November 2011 fight featuring Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos scored more viewers when the company’s debut on Fox drew 5.7 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The obvious takeaway here is that the UFC has found a niche and its likely Fox will be open for this slot for next Christmas Eve.  Even on a night when many people were doing holiday activities and spending time with family, many people tuned in.  This is great for the UFC as the actual card only did 150,000 PPV buys.

16 for 16: No. 11 Ronda Rousey returns

December 23, 2016

Ronda Rousey returns to the Octagon on December 30th.  Although this has yet to happen at the time of this post, it still makes the list as one of the top business stories for 2016.

The Rousey rise and fall is well-documented as she went from fan favorite to a polarizing figure among MMA fans and media.  Her recent decision to not do any media in lead-up to her return at UFC 207 has stirred some resentment from MMA folks.  This is likely due to the fact that she has allowed limited access for stories that shed positive light onto her comeback (i.e., Ellen and Ramona Shelburne at ESPN).  It’s controlling the message and not becoming entangled in internet rumors.  In the Shelburne piece, she explains that she had made too many people happy while leaving herself to deal with depression.

Clearly, Rousey hates to lose and her KO loss to Holm has set her into a self-imposed exile and she will resurface on December 30th. Like many ultra-competitive, pro athletes, Rousey hates to lose.  Her methods to return and win are turning the fans against her, but like Conor McGregor when he did not want to do media for UFC 200 for a rematch against Nate Diaz, they do not want any distractions.

With that being said, the Rousey brand is still activating around her return to the Octagon.  She is the star of a new ad campaign for the Procter & Gamble brand.  This summer she was the star of Reebok’s #PerfectNever campaign which nodded at her loss to Holly Holm.  Rousey also did was part of an ad campaign for Carl’s Jr.  So, while Rousey is turning down the usual MMA media requests, her business interests are still working for her.

The UFC has advertised UFC 207 around Rousey’s return and has seemingly left out the champion Amanda Nunes in its marketing.  But, to be realistic, it’s Rousey that is the star here and her proven record of bringing in PPV dollars is the reason why Rousey receives top billing and not the champion.

With UFC 207 being on a Friday night, you might expect a downturn in PPV buys considering the last time a UFC PPV aired on a Friday night it was UFC 141 in 2011.  Brock Lesnar versus Alistair Overeem headlined that card but the event drew 535,000 PPV buys – a low considering Lesnar was featured.  Notably, Nate Diaz-Donald Cerrone were the co-main event.

Rousey drew 900,000 PPV buys in her title defense against Bethe Correia at UFC 190 in August 2015 and her loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 drew 1.1M PPV buys.

Rousey’s mainstream fans which include women should help bolster next Friday’s UFC 207.  Also, the curious, casual fan will likely tune in to see Rousey fight.  You might expect another buy rate around 1 million buys making 2016 the best year on PPV for the company with 5 UFC PPVs (196, 200, 202, 205 and possibly 207) over 1 million buys.

UFC 206 estimated at 150,000 PPV buys

December 17, 2016

Early predictions from last Saturday’s UFC 206 PPV appear to be at just 150,000 buys.  The event featured Max Holloway versus Anthony Pettis for the UFC interim Featherweight title.

The original UFC main event was Daniel Cormier versus Anthony Johnson for the light heavyweight title.  However, there was speculation that Georges St-Pierre was returning to the UFC for this card.  But, as we know that did not happen.

There were indicators of this low mark for this year in UFC PPV.  There were only 200,000 google searches for UFC 206 on Friday night.  The searches are an indicator of interest.  The UFC Prelims drew 771,000 viewers which was second-lowest of the year on FS1 to UFC 204.  UFC 201 drew just 331,000 viewers but that broadcast was on FS2.

Payout Perspective:

One cannot be too surprised with the estimated 150,000 buys as there was nothing special about the main card for casual fans to purchase.  Obviously, Toronto fans proved that they were still interested in the card as it was another sell out for a UFC PPV.  The fights on the card were excellent but there was just not enough fan interest to garner interest.  Of course, with UFC 207 coming up later this month, some fans likely passed on this card and will wait for the end of the year card.

Ward-Kovalev draw 160K PPV buys

November 29, 2016

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

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

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

Boxing PPVs 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Payout Perspective:

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

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