June 18, 2014
MMA Fighting reports the PPV buys for UFC 173 is in the 200K to 215K range. UFC 173 was the Memorial Day weekend show which saw TJ Dillashaw upset Renan Barao.
According to Dave Meltzer’s report, the PPV buy rates are based on independent sources.
Last 5 Memorial Day Weekend UFC PPVs
5/29/10 – UFC 114: Evans vs. Rampage 1,000,000
5/28/11 – UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill 325,000
5/26/12 – UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Mir 560,000
5/25/13 – UFC 160: Cain vs. Bigfoot II 380,000
5/24/14 – UFC 173: Dillashaw vs. Barao 200,00-215,000
PPV buys via MMA Payout Blue Book
The UFC 173 PPV buy rate number was to be expected. A combination of factors contributed to this number but the lack of star power and the fact that weight classes under 155 do not draw PPV buys are the two main reasons. Obviously a lot has changed since 2010 in the UFC. There are a lot more cards and a lot more MMA on television. Fans can pick and choose when they want to pay $55 for fights. But, the PPV buy trend reflects the decreasing buy rates. Not only was this year low, but UFC 160 did less than the prior year.
June 16, 2014
The July 12th PPV between Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara will be shown in movie theaters as well as on Showtime PPV. In conjunction with Fathom Events, the Showtime/Golden Boy card will be in over 200 theaters across the country.
Fathom Events is the company that has worked with putting UFC PPV events in theaters in the past. Tickets in my area are going for $18 per ticket. It provides fans another option to ordering another $60 PPV.
The move to put this PPV in theaters reflects an effort to promote Canelo Alvarez as the top star in its stable. Alvarez-Lara does not sound like a huge selling PPV event to the casual boxing fan despite the popularity of Alvarez. However, giving Alvarez as much exposure as possible is the likely reason for the extra investment. With more boxing PPVs this year, the theater option gives some fans an option in watching this fight.
June 16, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 174 from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada where Demetrious Johnson showed why he is the pound for pound best fighter in the UFC.
Mighty Mouse outclasses Bagautinov
Rousey may be the biggest draw, Jones may be the face, Weidman may be the most liked, Cain may be the most devastating but Demetrious Johnson has to be considered the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC. Johnson showed his technical acumen and lightning quick speed in shutting out Ali Bagautinov in the 5 round main event. Johnson’s array of moves and speed were too much for the fourth-ranked fighter in the Flyweight division.
Johnson has cleaned out all the proven contenders in his division and maybe a rematch with John Dodson is next for Mighty Mouse. However, would a move up the 135 be something to look at down the road? Johnson’s only UFC defeated came at 135 at the hands of Dominick Cruz in October 2011.
MacDonald impressive over Woodley
There are times that Rory MacDonald looks disinterested in his fights, and there are times where he looks like the guy who wants to be champ by 25. On Saturday MacDonald looked like a contender by dominating Tyron Woodley. It was a dominating victory over a fighter that had the momentum to be considered for a title shot with an impressive win over the hometown MacDonald.
MacDonald likely will stand in line while waiting for a welterweight title shot behind the winner of the Matt Brown-Robbie Lawler matchup.
Attendance and gate
Although we do not know the exact configurations for Saturday’s UFC event, the Rogers Center holds 18,630. UFC 174 drew 13,506 for a gate of $1.14 million. This is noticeably down from UFC 131, the last time the organization came to the Rogers Arena. That event had 14,685 for a gate of $2.8 million. Prior to that, in 2010, UFC 115 at GM Place had 17,669 fans for over $4.2 million. UFC director of Canadian operations Tom Wright was quoted in the Vancover Sun on Sunday that the UFC was happy with coming to Vancouver and would be back.
According to SeatGeek, there was a lack of demand for the event as it saw seats on the secondary market selling below face value. The average resale for a ticket was $175.
The $50K bonuses were as follows:
Tae Hyun Bang: $100K for Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night
Kiichi Kunimoto: $50K Performance of the Night
Kajan Johnson: $50K Fight of the Night.
Johnson and Bang were awarded FOTN. Kunimoto pulled off an upset of Daniel Sarafian during the prelims portion of the card. Arguably, MacDonald and OSP could have been in the running for POTN as well as Letourneau-Phillips for FOTN.
Promotion for the Fight
The UFC Embedded series once again complemented the UFC Countdown show. The Embedded series is just like the 24/7/All-Access series the UFC had done in the past except this one is shorter and likely cheaper. While the online series focuses on White and then the featured fighters instead of vice versa, it’s still an interesting look behind the scenes of fight week.
White also spoke to the Vancouver Board of Trade.
There was coverage of the UFC in the local press. As well as a post-fight review by a columnist in the Vancouver Sun expressing her displeasure for the sport. While we try to be unbiased in reading opposing views to this sport, this column does a disservice to its readers by painting a picture with purported evidence which, if you dig into, does not support the writer’s initial thesis.
Since it was close to his hometown, Demetrious Johnson took the UFC belt over to the Seattle Seahawks training facility to meet some other world champions. He met All-Pro Safety Earl Thomas and it made the Seahawk Facebook page. He also made appearances in Seattle the week before fight week to promote the fight.
The octagon sponsors included Fram, Las Vegas.com, Xyience, Boston Pizza, XboxOne, EA Sports’ UFC video game, UFC Fit and Bud Light in the center. EA Sports also had the fighter prep point. Its interesting to note that some of the usual Octagon sponsors did not have signage in the octagon tonight although most of the usual sponsors had other parts of the PPV (e.g., Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, etc…)
Las Vegas seems to be doing more promotion in lieu of International Fight Week. Boston Pizza is a UFC sponsor that is big in Canada. Xbox One is the one and only sponsor of Demetrious Johnson.
The biggest recognition for a sponsor for the night has to go to Tyron Woodley and his sponsor, Dude Wipes. DudeProducts.com make a wipe that doesn’t make dudes smell. The good news, the logo was placed directly on Woodley’s rear end and received a lot of response so much so that it was trending on twitter. The bad news is that Woodley lost.
Odds and Ends
The Prelims were on FX instead of FS1 which adds to the fact that this event might be one of the lowest viewed in a while.
Although this happened a couple weeks ago USA TaeKwonDo had its logo on the Octagon mat at the New Mexico Fight Night. Benson Henderson has a black belt in TKD which may be one of the reasons for its sponsorship.
Remember when Tim Tebow was a well-liked football player? Tebow was in attendance to little fan-fare from the Canadian crowd.
Who had the worse looking eye on Saturday night? Valerie Letourneau or Boxer Chris Algieri.
Feijao had a sponsor blacked out at weigh-ins. With his performance on Saturday, that sponsor is likely happy it had its name blacked out.
Going into this event, it did not seem like this would be a good viewing weekend. The last three years, June PPVs have been one of the weakest of the year. UFC 174 will carry this trend. While Johnson is one of the best around, he’s not a draw and there was nothing else on the card that would compel a casual viewer to pay to watch this card. Although not necessarily a correlation of the buy rate, the attendance for this event was lower than in 2011. A buy rate of 150,000 would not be out of the realm of possibility.
May 29, 2014
Sports Illustrated reports that the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana fight on May 3rd received 900,000 PPV buys. According to the Chris Mannix article, the PPV buy rate is from multiple industry sources.
ESPN Dan Rafael had previously reported that the fight sold between 800-900K PPV buys. Thus, the estimate was right on track. The SI article points to the lack of promotion for “The Moment” as opposed to “The One,” the September 2013 fight with Canelo Alvarez which drew 2.2 million PPV buys. This time around, there was no press tour which was due in part to the fact that Maidana was not a known boxing name for the casual viewer. If a rematch were to happen this September, we could expect more promotion surrounding a second fight now that fans know of Maidana and his style.
900,000 PPV buys is nothing to be upset about but Mayweather fights have an expectation of lofty PPV buys. It could be the lack of known opponents that is hurting the Mayweather PPVs. Canelo Alvarez is a widely popular star in Mexico and thus his drawing power plus the promotion for their September 2013 fight equated to the huge buy rate. So, the question is who out there is a big enough star that fans would pay $75 to see fight Mayweather.
May 28, 2014
MMA Fighting reports that Bellator 120’s PPV has surpassed 100,000 buys. Despite losing its main event, Bellator exceeded most expectations with the amount of buys.
Greg Savage of Sherdog first reported the buy rate. The initial buy rate floated out there was 65,000 buys according to Dave Meltzer on his Wrestling Observer podcast with Bryan Alvarez on Tuesday. According to the Sherdog article, the buy rate will be available in Viacom’s SEC filings later this year.
Bjorn Rebney told MMA Fighting:
I won’t be discussing specific PPV buy rates, but what I can say is that with one of our main events falling out just seven days before our first PPV, a six figure plus buy rate is a good starting point. But, it’s just that, a starting point. My focus is to continue working with our partners at Spike to create the type of big event experience that we created on the 17th.
The news of a 100K plus PPV buy rate after Eddie Alvarez had to pull out is a great achievement by Bellator. It is really good considering it competed with HBO Boxing that night with Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado.
What propelled the 100K plus buys? Rampage Jackson-King Mo? Tito Ortiz? Whatever it was, the buy rate means that Bellator will definitely plan additional PPVs in the future. Certainly, Rampage-Tito, Alvarez-Chandler or Brooks would be good choices to headline the next Bellator PPV.
The UFC is the standard for MMA PPV with few others attempting it. As MMA Fighting notes, only Affliction’s PPV in July 2008 (Fedor v. Sylvia – 100K buys) has put on a PPV with a buy rate hitting 100K. WEC also had a PPV (Aldo v. Faber) in April 2010 which did 175K PPV buys. However, the UFC owned WEC at the time.
May 26, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time around we take a look at UFC 173 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada where T.J. Dillashaw pulled off the upset of Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao.
Dillashaw upsets Barao
Renan Barao was thought of as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the UFC. He had his way in the Bantamweight division and going through Dillashaw seemed like a sure thing especially with most odds having the former TUF cast member as an 8 to 1 underdog. However, Dillashaw controlled the whole fight from the first round and left no doubt by finishing Barao in the fifth.
I would say Serra-GSP still is the top upset in the UFC simply because Serra had to win a reality show to get the title shot. Dillashaw was an injury replacement but was still on the radar in the division.
The good news here is that the UFC now has a marketable U.S. Champion. No offense to Barao, but one of the unfortunate knocks on him was that he was from Brazil and his lack of English limited his ability to reach out to the U.S. fans. Now, the UFC can rally around the underdog story of Dillashaw and maybe revive the division.
Cormier dominates Hendo
Daniel Cormier served notice that he will be a formidable opponent for Jon Jones when and if Bones gets past his rematch with Alexander Gustaffson. Henderson fought without TRT but that would not have mattered as Cormier totally dominated Henderson. After winning, Cormier called out Jon Jones in a tasteful, pro-wrestling style way.
Attendance and gate
At the post-fight press conference it was announced that the attendance at the MGM Grand was at 11,036 for a gate of $1.7 million (via MMA Junkie). The number will be confirmed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission later in the week.
As we reported on Saturday, ticket demand on the secondary market was sparse. Since 2011, it was the second least expensive ticket ($239) for a UFC event at the MGM Grand Arena. Thus, not much demand from people that couldn’t buy (or did not want to buy) a ticket through the box office or Ticketmaster. For those wondering, the least expensive ticket ($168) since 2011 was UFC 141 which featured Brock Lesnar versus Alistair Overeem. You may recall that it was on a Friday due to New Year’s Eve.
The bonuses were $50,000 each and Dillashaw received two for Fight of the Night with (Barao) and Performance Bonus of the Night. Mitch Clarke won the other bonus with his submission over Al Iaquinta.
The UFC started new shoulder programming taking viewers behind the scenes with a series called, “Embedded.” The series is in the same vein as HBO’s 24/7 or ESPN’s “The Life” for those that remember that show in the 2000s. I am a fan of these behind the scene shows so I thought they were interesting although I can understand folks that think them a little tedious.
In addition, FS1 aired its usual “UFC Countdown” show along with “UFC All Angles” which was another behind-the-scenes show featuring Daniel Cormier.
Dana White was a recipient of a UFC friendly feature in the Washington Post.
The octagon sponsors included MusclePharm, Alienware, MetroPCS, Ultimate Poker, Air Force Reserve, Toyo Tires, EA Sports’ UFC video game (which comes out in June), Harley Davidson, the video game by Ubisoft, “Watch Dogs,” and Bud Light had the center.
Ultimate Poker had the fighter prep point.
People Finder and The Memory Tag were notable sponsors for T.J. Dillashaw as he won the Bantamweight Championship.
Odds and Ends
Popeyes Chicken crept into UFC 173 talk with the light-hearted dig at DC’s favorite fast food stop. One of the behind-the-scenes UFC spots had Hendo delivering Popeyes to DC during a training session. DC took it as a joke and did not seem to take real offense to Hendo’s “gesture.” For his part, Hendo seemed to do it as a joke and less of an insult on DC’s chicken habit. There was debate as to whether the subtle undertones of racism could be scene (and used) by opponents of MMA (i.e., Culinary Union). This seems unlikely as Cormier did not seem offended and he had admitted to liking Popeyes.
KFC, a UFC sponsor on TUF, cannot be happy with Popeyes being talked about without even having to pay.
Chico Camos sported Nike Foamposites at the weigh-ins. It’s the second PPV in a row someone has sported the sneaks at weigh-ins.
Dana White had the most unfortunate auto-correct in a twitter debate when trying to explain that Renan Barao finishes people. His tweet read “fishes” people. Of course, this was picked up on quickly.
It looked like slicker inset promos during the PPV hyping future events especially UFC 175.
According to Google Trends, Canada, Brazil and the United States were the top regions (in that order) searching for UFC 173. On another note, TI-Mayweather was generating more hits than any UFC search term on Sunday.
Great scene after with Duane Ludwig and T.J. Dillashaw embracing after Dillashaw ended Barao.
The Memorial Day Weekend show for the UFC had been one of the company’s bigger shows of the year. Even with last year’s big Heavyweight fights, it did not live up to expectations. In fact, last year was down in attendance and PPV buys. One might expect the same here. Barao-Dillashaw was not a marquee fight going in despite the great action that occurred and Cormier-Hendo is not a main draw. So what for the PPV buys? It’s hard to say but 200,000 buys would be a good estimation here.
May 18, 2014
ESPN’s Dan Rafael indicated in a Sportsnation Chat with fans that the PPV buy rates from the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana fight sold between 800,000 to 900,000 PPVs. Golden Boy and Showtime have yet to make an official announcement.
The news of the buy rate based on Rafael’s sources are disappointing considering it’s a Mayweather fight. It is also a departure from the 2.2 million buys this past September.
While no official announcement on the PPV has been made, Rafael’s comments during the fan chat make sense. If the buy rate news was good, Golden Boy and Showtime would have made an immediate announcement. However, with no information given since the May 3rd fight, one might assume that Rafael’s estimation would be correct.
The 800K-900K is still an impressive number but not the 1 million PPV buys that Golden Boy/Showtime and Mayweather had hoped. If there’s any positive from the promoters’ perspective, the figure shows that Canelo Alvarez is a legitimate PPV draw. The 2.2 million buys was due to a huge contingent of Mexican fans cheering Alvarez. Marcos Maidana is an entertaining fighter but does not have the broad appeal of Canelo Alvarez. Then, there’s the fact that there was less marketing push behind this fight in comparison to the Alvarez fight.
With Manny Pacquiao producing another Pacquiao PPV “disappointment,” we may have to start to re-calibrate what a successful big event boxing PPV draws.
May 12, 2014
ESPN reports the PPV rate for the rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley received between 750,000 and 800,000 buys. The estimated buy rate was a “disappointment” according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum.
The ESPN article noted that HBO did not produce a formal release but did confirm that the event generated $49 million in gross PPV revenue. Arum cited the “absence of [a] Mexican or Hispanic opponent” and the lack of support for Timothy Bradley from the African American community as contributing reasons for the porous PPV numbers.
Although the PPV buy rate would be good for a big UFC event, it’s the second disappointing outing for one of boxing’s biggest PPV draws. Pacquiao’s November fight with Brandon Rios drew just 475,000 buys. Even in a rematch with some interesting storylines, the fight failed to outdraw their initial fight in June 201. PacBradley I received 890,000 PPV buys.
Arum indicated a return to Macau, China for Pacquiao’s next fight due in part to “huge site fees” and the potential to launch PPV in China which would bolster the sagging domestic PPV revenue.
Could this be the last even Pacquiao fights in the U.S.? With the second consecutive disappointing PPV buy rate from Pacquiao, it appears that Top Rank will focus on the international market and other revenue streams rather than depend on domestic PPV. Last November’s Macau event faced many logistical issues including the fight taking place Sunday morning due to the time difference and did not draw well here in America. If Top Rank focuses on the international market, would it still cater to America with its start time? We will see if this is just talk or if Top Rank will really follow through with having Pacquiao fight outside the U.S.
May 10, 2014
One week away from their PPV debut, Bellator announced today that Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez suffered an injury while training which will force him out of next week’s PPV main-event.
Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez has suffered a head injury before his scheduled May 17th Lightweight Title fight with Michael Chandler and has been removed from the fight card. In his place, Lightweight Tournament winner Will Brooks will now face Chandler for the Interim Lightweight World Title. The nights headlined by the Light Heavyweight Tournament Final between MMA icon Rampage Jackson and King Mo, along with Tito Ortiz battling Middleweight World Champion Alexander Shlemenko, all on Pay-Per-View.
“Injuries are part of MMA, but so are great opportunities, as we move forward with an incredible, must see night of fights this Saturday on Pay-Per-View,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “This is a great card for MMA fans with huge value highlighted as Rampage Jackson is finally getting the opportunity to battle King Mo for a shot at the World Title, one of the most exciting young phenoms in MMA, Will Brooks getting a title shot against Michael Chandler, and of course Tito Ortiz in a crazy fight against Alexander Shlemenko. I can’t wait for this night of fights on May 17th.”
“This has been a crazy few days with a wide range of emotion, but with Will now in the picture, I know we are going to have fireworks on May 17th,” Chandler said. “I wish Eddie the best, and I’m looking forward to finishing our trilogy, but now I’m focused on the task at hand.”
“I’ve always said I’m ready to fight anyone with hesitation, and now this is my chance to back that up,” Brooks said. “I want that belt around my waist more than anyone, and I’m ready. This is just a great opportunity that I’m ready for. I’m ready to jump into the fire.”
The full fight card for the Bellator Pay-Per-View on May 17th is below:
Bellator Pay-Per-View Fight Card:
Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Final: Rampage Jackson (34-11) vs. King Mo (12-3)
Bellator Interim Lightweight World Title Fight: Michael Chandler (12-1) vs. Will Brooks (13-1)
Bellator Light Heavyweight Fight: Alexander Shlemenko (50-7) vs. Tito Ortiz (16-11-1)
Bellator Heavyweight Tournament Final: Blagoi Ivanov (11-0) vs. Alexander Volkov (20-4)
Bellator Welterweight Fight: Rickey Rainey (7-2) vs. Michael Page (5-0)
Bellator Spike TV Fight Card:
Bellator Heavyweight Fight: Cheick Kongo (20-9) vs. Eric Smith (6-1-1)
Bellator Featherweight Fight: Shahbulat Shamhalaev (12-2) vs. Fabricio Guerreiro (19-3)
Bellator Featherweight Fight: Goiti Yamauchi (16-2) vs. Mike Richman (16-4)
Bellator Spike.com Fight Card:
Bellator Featherweight Fight: Zach Underwood (12-5) vs. Austin Lyons (10-3)
Bellator Heavyweight Fight: Justin Frazier (6-1) vs. Mike Wessel (13-7)
Bellator Welterweight Fight: Ben Brewer (6-1) vs. Andy Uhrich (8-4)
Bellator Welterweight Fight: Anthony Lemon (2-3) vs. Codie Shuffield (4-0)
Bellator Bantamweight Fight: Cortez Phelia (2-0) vs. Brain Hall (7-2)
This has to feel like deja vu for Bellator, as an injury to Tito Ortiz forced Bellator to move their first attempt at running a PPV event to Spike TV last November. Although this time around, Bellator has chosen to keep the event as a PPV instead of moving it to Spike TV. Rampage Jackson vs King Mo will be the new main event while Michael Chandler will stay on the card in the co-main event as he takes on Alvarez’s replacement, Will Brooks. The third bout of the PPV event has Bellator Middleweight champion Shlemenko versus ex UFC pioneer Tito Ortiz.
One has to wonder why Bellator is keeping this card as a PPV this time around, but you have to think that cancelling two PPV events in a row would not be very good business for anyone involved in this matter. In fact, it appears that it’s not really an option for Bellator this time around. Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz ore two big free agents signed recently by Bellator and both have PPV revenue tied to their contract, which may in fact be a prominent reason why the event will go on.
Either way, PPV has seen a huge drop for MMA in 2014 without it’s two biggest draws from last year, Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre. Even if Alvarez would have stayed in the main-event, most MMA insiders predicted a rough road for Bellator’s PPV debut. The Alvarez injury one week away from the event just makes it that much more difficult to convince MMA fans to spend $50 in a market that has been saturated by the UFC over the past several years.
May 8, 2014
Dave Meltzer, from MMAFighting.com, reports the latest estimated PPV numbers from the last two events, UFC 170: Hendricks vs Lawler and UFC 171: Jones vs Teixeira.
According to Meltzer, UFC 171 drew an estimated 300K pay-per-view buys while UFC 172, which featured arguably UFC’s second biggest active star in Jon Jones, did an estimated 350,000 buys. Meltzer talks about some of the issues the UFC is now encountering with their current crop of stars
With Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva out of action, it figured to be a lean pay-per-view year, a business with results that vary wildly based largely on the main event attraction.
For example, in 2013, a successful year which topped 6 million buys according to industry estimates, UFC had two shows that did less than 200,000, and two others that topped 900,000. One was headlined by St-Pierre, and the other by Silva.
The problem is, unless you are St-Pierre, or someone like Brock Lesnar or Chuck Liddell in their primes, the other part of the rule is that it takes two to tango.
Still, after four events this year, UFC is at an estimated 1.23 million buys, which isn’t that much more than UFC 168, the last monster show, did on its own.
The MMAPayout Blue Book has now been updated with the latest numbers.
The PPV numbers have to be a bit sobering for the UFC and the new crop of MMA stars. Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey, who are both currently the UFC’s biggest stars but are not as likable as GSP and Anderson Silva, failed to draw more than 350K PPV buys in their latest efforts. Another UFC emerging star, Welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, only drew 300K buys against Robbie Lawler. All three numbers hover around what the UFC once called their PPV low-end baseline. Times have changed quite bit since the new low-end baseline lies at around 140K-150K PPV buys.
Relief won’t be coming anytime soon either, as UFC 173 and UFC 174 will most likely hover around the 200K buy range. It won’t be until UFC 175, when the UFC stacks their card with Weidman vs Machida, Rousey vs Davis, and Sonnen vs Wandy, until they have their next shot at finally overtaking the now elusive 400K PPV buy line. Just last year, the UFC average PPV buyrate per event was 467K.
The UFC is trying to mitigate this problem hoping to finish 2014 on a positive and carry some momentum into 2015. At the moment, they are working diligently on signing Gina Carano, Holly Holm, and keeping Cyborg as an option for Ronda Rousey. They are also trying to push Anderson Silva for a miraculous return by the end of the year. Cain Velasquez should also be back to headline a big Mexico debut but Cain has never done great in the PPV department.
After four PPV events in 2014, the UFC has an estimated 1.22M PPV’s sold, which is only slightly ahead of what UFC 168 did last year on it’s own or what Lesnar used to average in his UFC prime. At this pace, 2014 is on track to finish with the least number of PPV buys since 2007, or the Early TUF years.