February 11, 2013
MMA Fighting and the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer has filed a certification of UFC PPV numbers in a recent filing in the Eddie Alvarez-Bellator lawsuit. Meltzer, filing on behalf of Alvarez, attests to UFC PPV buy rates and makes an estimate on buy rates featuring GSP and Jon Jones.
Notably, in the January 24, 2013 certification, he testified that cards headlined by GSP average 770K PPV buys excluding UFC 100. Jon Jones’ average between 500-525K buys. His Certification also includes a breakdown of UFC PPV buys over the last 3 years. The premise is that Alvarez would have appeared on a card which headlined GSP or Jones.
In the Certification, he indicates that he is “one of the best, if not the best, source of pay per view buy rates in mixed martial arts.” Meltzer states that he has reviewed the Declaration of Ray Longboard as it relates to Mr. Longboard’s opinion that Alvarez would not have received 200K PPV buys if he were to appear on a UFC PPV. Mr. Longboard’s Declaration was filed in conjunction with Bellator’s opposition brief to Alvarez’s request for a preliminary injunction.
Meltzer states that the UFC has averaged between 450K to 475K PPV buys over the last 3 years. Only twice did the UFC draw 200K or below in those 3 years according to Meltzer.
Meltzer stated that if Alvarez appeared on a PPV with GSP, the buy rate would exceed 680K PPV buys. He stated that a Jones PPV with Alvarez participating would exceed 450K PPV buys.
Meltzer indicates that the “buy rates are an approximations which are calculated from various other indicators, but are generally accepted as accurate throughout the mixed martial arts industry.”
Interesting. In addition to the Certification, Meltzer includes a list of PPV buys (which he lists as “UFC PPV Estimates”) over the past three years. MMA Payout has updated our Bluebook and you can view them here. This is a very interesting turn of events as the Certification opens up the issue of how PPV buys are estimated. Although the Certification does not go into detail about how buy rates are approximated, this method will come out during a deposition and/or other phase of discovery. The question will be whether Mr. Meltzer will divulge his methods and/or sources. This brings up journalistic ethics versus the law. Would a Court require Meltzer to divulge a source and/or would Meltzer risk being in contempt? At this point, Bellator would argue that the methods of Meltzer are undefined and that his opinion of the PPV estimates lack foundation and call for speculation.
The discovery phase of the Alvarez case just got a little more interesting. We will see the extent as to how much Bellator will try to pull back the curtain on PPV buys.
February 4, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 156 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Aldo sends Edgar to third straight loss
Thud. The leg kicks of Jose Aldo last night were reminiscent of those he delivered to Urijah Faber at WEC 48 which (IMO) was his coming out party. To Frankie Edgar’s credit, he was able to deal with most of those with an effective counter. Aldo’s cardio issues were evident in rounds 4 and 5. But, he had done enough to stop Edgar.
For Aldo, the first couple rounds showed his dominance that he had in the WEC. He was quicker, had the counter and snuck in the devastating kicks to Edgar’s legs. Will Dana White take the request of Anthony Pettis and give Showtime a shot to fight Jose Aldo. What about Ricardo Lamas? The guy who beat the guy (Erik Koch) that was supposed to fight Aldo for the title shot. What about the Featherweight rankings?
For Edgar, its his third loss in a row. The dip to Featherweight now looks like a waste unless he’s willing to take a couple fights before getting another shot at Aldo. For Edgar’s benefit, a couple fights to get back some confidence would help. Losing three straight decisions has to be hard on him.
Bigfoot Silva KOs Overeem
And that’s why haters are going to hate. Alistair Overeem wore a shirt to the weigh-ins saying, “Haters Going to Hate.” The end result was a reason why people hate. A classic case of underestimating your opponent. Overeem had the first two rounds with ease although a couple shots at the end of the second round gave Bigfoot some momentum. And then, Bigfoot laid hands on Overeem and that was all she wrote with Silva talking smack over a prone Overeem.
Overeem’s loss messes up the UFC’s hope for a Cain-Overeem fight. For Silva, a Velasquez fight will not happen although JDS might be a good matchup to see which heavyweight gets back into the title picture.
Attendance and gate
MMA Junkie reports that the attendance for UFC as released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission was 10,275 for a gate of $2.437 million.
The Bonuses drew some eyebrows as it was only $50K per bonus as opposed to $60-65K which had been the standard in 2012.
The bonuses were as follows:
Fight of the Night: Aldo-Edgar
KO of the Night: Bigfoot Silva
Submission of the Night: Bobby Green
Interested that they did not give sub of the night to Dustin Kimura with a Rear Naked Choke for the sheer fun of announcing Kimura won with a Rear Naked Choke.
Promotion of the Fight
The UFC decided to promote Frankie Edgar’s move down to Featherweight as the main sell point for the PPV and touting Edgar-Aldo as a “Superfight.” Certainly, the battle of a past and present champion has some juice but the UFC also had a Heavyweight battle between the returning Alistair Overeem and Bigfoot Silva. It also had Rashad Evans, a proven PPV draw go up against a veteran in Little Nog. We also know that Frankie Edgar is not a PPV draw. And, at this point, neither is Aldo.
Notwithstanding what we know now, (that Overeem may be overrated and that while Evans brings a big event feel walking to the Octagon,he showed little in it on Saturday), it gave the lighter weight class the top bill. Strategically, the UFC could be giving its lighter weight classes the opportunity to show what it could do. With Aldo out, the Featherweight title has not been defended since last January. Marketing the PPV around Edgar-Aldo will be a test to see where the fan base is with respect the lighter weight classes.
The octagon featured UltimatePoker.com, Xyience, MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, the movie Dead Man Down, MusclePharm, Tapout and Bud Light in the center. Dodge also sponsored stats during the PPV as well.
Dead Man Down had the corners of the Octagon. One had to wonder if there was hope that a fighter would be knocked out in one of those corners. In fact, Overeem went down up against the Dead Man Down signage. How appropriate.
Based on his wearing his headphones after the fight, Jose Aldo is sponsored by a headphone maker although I could not make out the brand.
Rashad Evans had top level sponsors as always. Notable sponsors included Jaco, Corn Nuts and Bony Acai. The last two are official UFC sponsors.
Little Nog signed a deal with Venum prior to UFC 156. He also was sponsored by Bony Acai.
It appears that the UFC was sponsoring Frankie Edgar last night. He had the UFC brand on his shorts and in a prominent spot on his fight banner. He was also sponsored by FeartheFighter, Alienware, MicroTech, Wild Wing, Virtustream and Gaspari Nutrition.
Buy My Autographs.com was the most intriguing fight sponsor of the night. The website, established in 2012, offers signed MMA memorabilia.
F3 Nutrition was a sponsor with big name fighters (Overeem and Rashad) wearing its logo that did not do so well with their outcomes.
Post-UFC 156 Headlines
Aldo versus ? – We will see if Aldo will take on Anthony Pettis for the Featherweight crown. Pettis just introduced himself to the nation on Fox last month and will have to wait for a lightweight shot after Bendo-Gil fight on Apri 20th. What better way to stay busy than a title fight? It would be an interesting scenario for the UFC to consider.
Cain’s next challenger – The UFC had hoped that Overeem would have beat Silva to get it to Cain versus Overeem in a big matchup that it could set for this summer. Now, we will see what is in store for the Heavyweight Champion.
Odds and ends
It was a good night for Brazilian fighters. A lot of Brazilian sponsors on many fighters tonight as well.
Fitch/Maia was a fight that went unnoticed by the media hype for this card but was intriguing from a tactical standpoint. It was not a fight for people liking standup but for those grappling folks, it was outstanding control by Maia over Fitch. Maia could be close to a welterweight title shot soon.
Evans and Little Nog had the best walk in music of the night but the worst fight of the night. In the words of Joe Rogan, “That was not an entertaining fight.” To complement that fight, at the end they showed Wilmer Valderrama and JWow. It was as if the UFC wanted to make sure you knew that fight sucked.
Silva was very thoughtful in his post-fight interview when he said knocking out Overeem was the biggest in his career since it was the UFC. Obviously, he was thinking his Fedor knockout as bigger but since it was in Strikeforce and he is now in the UFC, why insult your employer.
Would you check a kick from Jose Aldo?
As I alluded to earlier, this PPV will test to see whether the lighter weight classes can carry a PPV. It will also test again whether Frankie Edgar can be a PPV attraction. Last week’s Dodson-Johnson main event on Fox scored 5.2 million viewers. Did the commercials featuring a closeup of Edgar’s face do enough to draw people to buy the PPV? Aldo has been out for a while and is still relatively unknown. But there may have been enough buzz for it to get to 500,000 PPV buys.
February 1, 2013
As we head into the annual Super Bowl weekend PPV, MMA Payout takes a look at the previous PPV history of the main and co-main eventers.
We start with the challenger to the Featherweight title, Frankie Edgar. For purposes of this discussion, we look at his PPV appearance since winning the Lightweight title in Abu Dhabi from B.J. Penn.
Frankie Edgar PPV Buy History
UFC 112 – v. Penn – 500K PPV Buys
UFC 118 – v. Penn II – 535K PPV Buys
UFC 125 – v. Maynard II – 260K PPV Buys
UFC 136 – v. Maynard III – 225K PPV Buys
UFC 144 – v. Henderson – 325K PPV Buys
UFC 150 – v. Henderson II – 190K PPV Buys
A look at Edgar’s last 6 opponents shows that he’s had 3 rematches. His fight history also reflects the popularity of BJ Penn as those PPVs hit 500K and 535K PPV buys respectively. What I find disappointing is UFC 136 and UFC 150. Those rematches should have received better buys considering the quality of the first matches. UFC 136 stands out because it had a good supporting undercard (Aldo-Florian and Sonnen-Stann).
Jose Aldo PPV Buy History
UFC 129 – v. Mark Hominick – 800K PPV Buys
UFC 136 – v. Kenny Florian – 225K PPV Buys
UFC 142 – v. Chad Mendes – 235K PPV Buys
Aldo transferred over from the WEC and his first UFC appearance was at UFC 129. The 800K is due in large part to the huge stadium show for the UFC which featured GSP. Thus, its not like Aldo was a PPV feature although he was a part of the co-main event (he also faced Canadian Mark Hominick). The other two shows Aldo appeared on are not strong PPV numbers (which include being on the same card as Edgar at 136). Random fact: Aldo has yet to fight in Vegas for the UFC.
Rashad Evans recent PPV Buy History
UFC 98 – v. Lyoto Machida – 635K PPV Buys
UFC 108 – v. Thiago Silva – 300K PPV Buys
UFC 114 – v. Rampage Jackson – 1.05M PPV Buys
UFC 133 – v. Tito Ortiz – 310K PPV Buys
UFC 145 – v. Jon Jones – 700K PPV Buys
We take a look back at a recent history of Rashad Evans. As you can see from his headlining fights, Evans has been a reliable PPV draw. UFC 108 was injury-plagued as Lesnar-Carwin and Anderson Silva-Vitor Belfort were scheduled to be on the card at one point or another before the event. As for 133, Ortiz was a late injury replacement.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira recent PPV Buy History
UFC 114 – v. Jason Brilz – 1.05M PPV Buys
UFC 119 – v. Ryan Bader – 295K PPV Buys
UFC 140 – v. Tito Ortiz – 480K PPV Buys
Little Nog was on the same card as Evans when he finally got a chance at Rampage Jackson. Notably, that PPV went over 1M PPV buys. After that, his performance was memorable only for the fact that it was against Tito Ortiz on a card where Jon Jones defended his title.
Alistair Overeem UFC PPV Buy History
UFC 141 – v. Brock Lesnar – 535K PPV Buys
Antonio Silva UFC PPV Buy History
UFC 146 – v. Cain Velasquez – 560K PPV Buys
The last two co-main eventers have a limited UFC history. Alistair Overeem scored a win against Brock Lesnar in a squash. Silva was battered by Cain on a card which featured JDS v. Mir.
Numbers via MMA Payout’s Blue Book
The purpose of this exercise was to take a quick look at the PPV draws of the main event fighters. Its interesting that the UFC decided to bill Aldo-Edgar as a “superfight” without giving much billing to Evans-Little Nog or Overeem-Silva. Certainly, the UFC could be making an effort to push the Featherweight divisions. With the success of last week’s UFC on Fox event, it would make sense. Yet, its the names and the heavyweights that seem to make the PPVs. Overeem’s lone appearance on UFC PPV was against Brock Lesnar. That PPV drew 535,000. While not astronomical, its a decent figure that one would think the UFC could push with his return. Although a popular fighter, Frankie Edgar is not a draw on PPV. Jose Aldo is not either.
But, if a card with Edgar-Aldo does well, the UFC will have proved its marketing correct and the prior PPV history numbers a thing of the past. It would be a good pattern for the lighter divisions considering Mighty Mouse-Dodson hit a high of 5.2 million viewers on network television. We’ll watch and see.
January 30, 2013
MMA Mania reports that Quentin “Rampage” Jackson claims that the UFC misstates its PPV numbers to its fighters. Jackson’s statement is part of the on again, off again relationship he has had with the company.
In an interview with MMA Heat Jackson indicated that Zuffa is taking advantage of its fighters by telling the fighters one number on PPV buys while representing to the press a higher number. This affects fighters that are receiving a percentage of the PPV buys. Thus, the claim is that UFC is not paying its fighters with PPV upside in their contracts the true PPV buys.
Sour grapes by the outgoing Jackson? He was really mad that he was prevented from wearing Reebok, a new ‘Page sponsor, but he wore it anyway. He even held his shoe up to the camera before entering the octagon. His PPV claim probably perked the ears of Bellator’s legal counsel in its current litigation with Eddie Alvarez. As we know, PPV buy rates are an issue and Jackson’s statements hold him out as a potential witness for the lawsuit. It also holds him out to potential liability if Dana White, et al. want to sue Jackson for defamation. UFC can sue, if it wants to disprove Jackson’s statements. But, with the UFC usually holding its numbers close would it be willing to do it to prove that in a public lawsuit?
January 25, 2013
The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey denied Eddie Alvarez’s request for a preliminary injunction so that he might be able to appear at UFC 159. The court held that Alvarez could not satisfy his burden of proof for a preliminary injunction.
The Court heard oral arguments this morning and rendered its decision this afternoon. The Court held that Alvarez could not satisfy the first 2 elements for issuance of a preliminary injunction. First, the Court held that Alvarez could not show a reasonable probability of success on the merits. Second, he could not show irreparable harm.
The Court held that Bellator had satisfied its matching rights of Zuffa’s contract. It would not look into the word for word matching of terms but determined that it would apply a “common-sense interpretation to the word “match.””
Notably, the Court would not examine the issues regarding weighing Fox versus Spike TV or the issue of Zuffa’s PPV offer. Rather, it stated that while Alvarez may prevail at a later date, it would not today.
In a footnote, the Court indicated that it would not and could not find Bellator in breach of contract if it doesn’t provide its own PPV. So, despite the fact that Bellator has not put on a PPV and there have been no indications of a PPV outside of these legal negotiations, the Court would not decide on an event that may or may not occur in the future.
Even if the Court ruled in its favor with element 1, it did not determine element 2 to satisfy the burden. The Court held that Alvarez was basing the fact that he would be irreparably harmed on speculation. Specifically, the argument that Alvarez would lose out on “notoriety, endorsements and a wider exposure to viewers” would require the Court to make speculative assumptions on what might or might not happen as a result of his participation on April 27th.
Furthermore, Alvarez’s brief cited two cases in which preliminary injunctions were granted on behalf of professional athletes based on the fact that they would be irreparably injured if they would not be able to pursue their career in the manner in which they saw fit. However, those cases differed as in each there was an illegal restraint that necessitated the players to be granted an injunction. The Court held that Bellator was not imposing an illegal restraint on Alvarez and he is not precluded from competing professionally if the injunction were not granted. Thus, Alvarez could not prove element 2.
(H/t: Fight Lawyer)
Bad news for Alvarez as Bellator has won a big battle. The Court punted on two of the more interesting issues in the matching rights debate: comparison of networks and PPV. Perhaps punt is not fair considering the limited scope the Court was willing to evaluate on a preliminary injunction. However, the lack of resolution and definition on the issues leaves it primed for further litigation. As the Court indicated, Alvarez may still prevail in his claims, but he could not obtain a preliminary injunction.
More likely, we will see a settlement of some sort between the parties. Perhaps even mediation to resolve the dispute. Its not clear if we will see Alvarez sign with Bellator or if the parties workout a deal where Alvarez will eventually land in Zuffa.
MMA Payout will continue to follow.
January 12, 2013
TNA Wrestling has announced that it is restructuring its PPVs for 2013 and will only have 4 instead of 10. It will now have PPVs in January, March, June and October.
Late last year TNA had announced that it was reducing its PPVs from 12 to 10. Only a month or so later it announced it would only have 4. However, the wrestling organization announced that it would tape 3 hour specials which would be available on PPV for a reduced rate of $20 a month. This would compensate for the 3 less hours per month of content for its international distributors.
TNA will continue to air its 1 hour Video on Demand programs entitled “Unfinished Business.”
Notably, DirecTV is not carrying TNA’s Genesis PPV on January 13th. Its not clear the reasons for the abrupt change in strategy. TNA Wrestling is still pulling ratings at an average of over 1 million viewers a week nd will be the anchor for Thursday night combat sports viewing on Spike TV. It will serve as the lead-in for Bellator. But, the move away from PPV and focusing on pre-produced content may be seen as a cost-saving measure. The new alternative, “One Night Only” 3 hour specials for a reduced rate might be attractive to the TNA fan interested in seeing more but not wanting to pay the $50 for a PPV.
The “less is more” strategy may help with overall PPV buys as the company can focus on developing its characters and storylines in leading up to the PPVs.
December 13, 2012
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective as we take a look at Pacquiao-Marquez IV. The fourth fight probably will not be the last as Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao.
Marquez Planks Pacquiao
In what was the most intense and violent of the four fights, Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao with a counter right hand on the button with just one second left in the sixth round. The KO gave JMM the first win, and the most devastating in their rivalry.
For Pacquiao, it’s a forgettable 2012 with two straight losses. With such a devastating KO, one wonders if it’s wise to continue to fight. There’s no question that he’s going to fight but it appears that he is fighting more for others than he is for himself. This could prove to be a dangerous proposition for Pacquiao if his heart is not in it anymore.
On a side note, Freddie Roach is having as bad a year as Pacquiao. Not only did his star pupil lose twice this year, but Roach lost Amir Khan after Khan was upset by Danny Garcia and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. lost in his big showdown against Sergio Martinez.
Attendance and gate
Bad Left Hook reports that the attendance and gate figures show a sell out with a $10.8 million gate and attendance of 15,430 with 904 comps. It comes in second this year to the Mayweather-Cotto fight on May 5th which had a gate of a little over $12 million.
Manny Pacquiao will receive up to $30 million for last Saturday’s fight. The $30 million includes a PPV cut of the buys. The night’s winner, Marquez, will only receive $3 million as he took a pay cut from their November 2011 fight. This should likely change if and when we see a fifth fight. It’s likely that Pacquiao will still earn more than Marquez although JMM should get a bigger cut of the pie.
Top Rank streamed a Manny Pacquiao workout from the Wildcard Gym on its web site. In addition, it was aired in Times Square. A good promotion to serve as a reminder for those walking on the street in New York that Pacquiao has a fight coming up.
In addition to the mandatory 24/7 series, TNT included an additional program with the NBA on TNT’s Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller to promote the fight. It was shown after the NBA on TNT on Thursday night so it aired pretty late on both coasts. It was heavily promoted and talked about on the post-game show by Barkley and the other studio hosts.
The NBA on TNT also provided in game promos for the fight on its Thursday night prime time games. It helped that Barkley and Miller are fight fans as they talked about the fights even after the promo spots were done.
Reruns of the first three fights were available on the Audience Network and HBO. Although listings indicated that the fights were rerun on ESPN, I did not see them.
A new ad campaign for Wonderful Pistachios featuring Manny Pacquiao launched on Monday Night Football. More on this in the sponsorship section.
Pacquiao made his usual appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. Maybe after these last two losses he decides to go with Leno or Letterman.
There were six official sponsors for the Pacquiao-Marquez fight: Tecate, Wonderful Pistachios, the Cinemax show, “Banshee,” the movie, “Django,” Filipino wireless provider, Smart and Mexican wireless provider, Telcel.
Tecate once again served as the official beer sponsor and offered its usual PPV discount. If anyone has benefited from this, please let me know as I have never seen this offer in my area.
Paramount Farms’ Wonderful Pistachios chose Manny Pacquiao for its “Get Crackin” ad campaign featuring the boxer. Pacquiao joins an eclectic group of pop culture figures including Snooki and Snoop Dogg to sponsor the company. He is the only athlete on the list.
The “Get Crackin” slogan signage was around the ring and on Pacquiao’s shorts. Unfortunately for Manny, the sponsor received a lot of visibility when he lay face down on the canvas.
The pistachio deal is for one year and is in the neighborhood of six figures according to the Sports Business Journal (subscription required).
A pre-PPV buy estimate for this fight had it at 1 million buys which seems about right. There was little buzz for this fight outside of the hardcore boxing/Pacquiao/Marquez fans despite the synergy of Time Warner. With the ending of number 4, a 5th fight would exceed 1 million buys based on how good a fight it was plus the added interest in seeing how Pacquiao rebounds.
October 28, 2012
Earlier this week Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer reported that the preliminary PPV rate for UFC 153 is in the range of 340,000 to 410,000 buys. This would make UFC 153 the highest rated PPV in Brazil in recent history.
UFC 134 – 335,000 buys (Silva vs. Okami main event)
UFC 142 – 235,000 buys (Aldo vs. Mendes main event)
UFC 147 – 190,000 buys (Franklin vs. W. Silva main event)
UFC 153 – ~340K-410K buys (Silva vs. Bonnar main event)
If the numbers hold true, this should be considered a successful card considering the amount of shuffling that went on to keep this card together. Moreover, the addition of Silva and Big Nog probably meant more PPV buys than an Aldo-Koch or an Aldo-Edgar card. Even though Edgar is a popular fighter, his main event PPV card history does not equate to buys.
September 28, 2012
At the UFC 152 post-fight presser, Dana White admonished a Toronto Sun column which questioned the organization’s future. Not only did White assail the columnist at the press conference, he provided evidence that the UFC is not in trouble.
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun penned an article critical of the UFC as it visited Toronto this past Saturday. “UFC a Jugger-Not” takes to task the problems with the UFC: the spate of injuries, the absence of PPV draws GSP and Brock Lesnar and the debacle of UFC 151.
It poses the question of whether the UFC should condense its events due to the rash of injuries and card shuffling. It also suggests the company is “at a crossroads” although he makes clear the suggestion is not one of demise. But, the crossroads assertion makes a point predicated on fighter injuries, attendance and PPV buy rates.
In response, White charged back defending his product as one would expect. In an effort to back his defense with evidence he provided a list of current top 5 PPV draws. The list includes GSP, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen. (via MMA Junkie)
The Toronto Sun column was not a hatchet job on the UFC although White’s response seemed like it did. The column was critical and maybe its sole personal attack was referencing Jon Jones’ DUI. Still, the column provides valid points along with the suggestion that the UFC cut back on the number of events in order to prevent replacement cards which equate to lower attendance, buy rates and eventually interest.
As for White’s response, it’s not surprising albeit over the top. The injury bug is a legitimate issue in the UFC especially with the cancelling of two Zuffa events in a month’s time. The continued shuffling of fighters is necessary, yet should not be a constant. The suggestion from the Sun is that eliminating several cards would create cards that are more competitive from the bottom to the top of the card. Thus, if the main event is cut due to an injury, there is enough competitive and name-recognizable fights that the UFC could still hold the card. With the multitude of cards Zuffa runs, there is zero room for fighter injury.
Only Chael Sonnen is questionable as a top PPV fighter named by White. This is in part due to the fact he was in the main event with Anderson Silva for two of his top PPV draws (UFC 117 and 148). Recall that UFC 136 where he fought Brian Stann, only drew 225,000 viewers. So the question is whether Sonnen sold those Silva fights and was the fact that Stann is not a fighter one can readily demonize was the problem with selling that event. He also participated in UFC on Fox 2 which drew 4.3 million viewers (notably Rashad Evans was the main event on that card). Silva is a legitimate draw despite a 335,000 viewer performance at UFC 134 – Brazil. We will see what type of numbers he can draw at UFC 153.
GSP, Silva, Jones and Evans are legitimate PPV draws and despite a blip with a card (e.g., Evans at UFC 133), each of the 4 fighters have a high PPV buy average. Jones is beginning to gain momentum as a PPV draw and we will see what the official buys are for 152 to see if his name added value to the card.
September 4, 2012
It’s no secret that the UFC has been struggling of late in the Pay-per-view department. 2011 was the first year parent company Zuffa saw a decrease in Pay-per-view buy rates—the primary source of revenue for the company.
Some attributed the decline to a rash of injuries causing havoc on fight cards, while others complained about product saturation having an adverse effect on the fan base. Whatever the reasons or combination thereof, the Pay-per-view business was down and the brass at Zuffa couldn’t be very happy.
So how big was the decline in the business from 2010 to 2011? Let’s take a look at the numbers:
There was an overall 27% drop in business between 2010 and 2011. Average Buys dipped 157,500 from 579,375 to 421,875. Total Buys were down a significant 2.5 million which translates to about a $63 million dollar hit on Pay-per-view profits (profit calculations are based on income after costs to distributors/networks).
So what about 2012? Well, the injury bug continues to be a big problem for the promotion. Mike Chiappetta reported that 78 fights have been canceled this year due to injury and five of the cancelled main events were Pay-per-view headliners. Brock Lesnar, the UFC’s biggest Pay-per-view draw has retired from MMA and returned to professional wrestling.
Surprisingly, through the first eight months of the year the Average Buys are up slightly over last year (YTD). This success comes off the back of UFC 148 Silva vs. Sonnen II which reportedly did 1 million buys (the first UFC event to score that many buys since UFC 121 in October 2010). However, Total Buys and Estimated Profits have decreased simply due to the fact of their being one less event this year versus last.
The UFC still has four scheduled Pay-per-views remaining in 2012. But with the cancellation of UFC 151 there will be 2 less events than previous years. In order to finish 2012 with similar results as last year the promotion would need to make up approximately 2.9 million total buys over the remaining 4 events, or approximately 750,000 buys per event. This is something that’s unlikely to happen. On the other hand, Average Buys could hold on and finish stronger in 2012 than in 2011. The end of the year will add some substantial numbers (baring any injuries) as bigger draws such as Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre and Heavyweights Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez are all scheduled to fight by years end. If the Average Buys finish up over last year it’ll indicate a bit of a turnaround for the UFC. Finally some good news in the Pay-per-view department. Perhaps having less Pay-per-view events a year is helping drive a slight increase in the Average Buys per event. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Only time will tell.