UFC 203: Payout Perspective

September 11, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 203 from Cleveland, Ohio where CM Punk’s debut and Stipe Miocic’s title defense were the headlining events.

Gall mauls CM Punk

We all knew that this was going to happen.  3 pro fights in and Mickey Gall looks like a top prospect.  Of course, his opponent was former pro wrestler CM Punk.  Despite being a huge favorite, Gall had a game plan which was to take down and grapple Punk.  Gall is a brown belt, Punk is a white belt as astutely pointed out by Joe Rogan.  Gall had his way with Punk on the ground and eventually choked him out in round 1.

Mickey Gall wants fellow pretty boy Sage Northcutt next.  Please UFC, book this.  As for Punk, he gave a very nice speech about dreams and believing in yourself.  Certainly this was a huge risk for a person in his late 30s but if he does continue his MMA dream it appears that it would be on a smaller, regional card.  Or Bellator.

Stipe stops Reem

Stipe Miocic successfully defended his UFC 203 heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem in one of the best and craziest rounds of this year.  Miocic was in trouble early in the first and almost was submitted (Reem thought there was a tap) by Overeem.

It looks like that Stipe gets Cain Velasquez next.  So long as the fight is at sea level, this will be a tough fight for Miocic.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Cleveland came out for the UFC as the company reported a sell out for the event where the Cavaliers play.  The event drew 18,875 for $2.6M.

Bonuses went to Miocic-Overeem for Fight of the Night and Yancy Medeiros and Jessica

Promotion of the Fight

ESPN aided the UFC with the promotion as it had Stipe Miocic on Sportscenter talking up the fight.

Of course, there was the 3-part series on FS1 for CM Punk.

Miocic and Jessica Eye did local promotions since they are from the area.

The Cleveland Cavaliers through their support behind Miocic and Eye.

They also let Dana White handle the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Eye had a chance to throw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians home game as seen on Embedded.

There were tons of tweets from athletes, celebrities and pro wrestlers throwing their support for CM Punk.

Sponsorships

The newest sponsor in the Octagon for this PPV was IrishFireVodka.com.  The company is based out of Dallas, Texas per its web site. Aside from that, there were the usual sponsors including MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light and Monster Energy Drink in the center.  They also promoted the UFC 204 PPV in the octagon.

MetroPCS had the fighter prep point.  Throughout the PPV, they had voiceover ads for Topps Fighter Trading Cards App.

Odds and Ends

UFC offered a 10% discount on purchasing this PPV if you had previously filled out a survey regarding UFC Fight Pass.  I’m sure they offer this periodically.  It’s just another subtle way to get consumers to gravitate to the UFC web site as opposed to PPV cable and satellite distributors.

CB Dolloway was involved in an elevator accident after the weigh-ins which caused his fight to be cancelled.  Expect a lawsuit.

Jessica Andrade looks like a legitimate title contender for the 115 pound women’s division.

What went on in that Browne-Werdum fight?  If a fighter asks for a halt to the fight without the referee first calling it, shouldn’t that be a verbal submission?  Then there’s the fracas with Edmund Tarverdyan post-fight.

Embedded showed Ronda Rousey’s dog with Travis Browne, but no Rousey.  She was in Cleveland as she was present for a pro wrestling show the night before to support her friend and former MMA fighter Shayna Baszler.

The Ohio Athletic Commission allowing the CM Punk license was one thing.  Its explanation for doing it was another.  Punk has publicly admitted to several concussions while wrestling, is 37 years old and the OAC waived its license requirements citing he was a top end pro wrestler.  But, to show its force, it stated it would investigate the Jessica Eye-Bethe Corriea shoving incident at the ceremonial weigh-ins.  It also fined Alistair Overeem $500 for being late to the weigh-ins.  Speaking of the Browne-Werdum fight, why did the referee allow for Browne to call an injury timeout on his own and not know that if Browne called for a stop to the fight, the fight was over.  Will the OAC look into that debacle?

After Joe Rogan interviewed Stipe Miocic who thought he was knocked down by a kick (instead of a punch) and then Overeem believed Miocic tapped to a guillotine, Rogan made the comment that maybe he shouldn’t interview guys after a fight.  Especially those that have been knocked out.  Makes sense to me although this is unlikely to happen.

Conclusion

Saturday night’s event drew over 1M searches for UFC 203 and another 200,000 for “UFC 203 Fight Card.”  Certainly, the attendance at the event was great as it was pushing for Miocic and Eye as hometown favorites. But was the allure of CM Punk reason for casual viewers to purchase the PPV?  It may have received a bump from pro wrestling fans but unlikely to move much with the rest.  Although the PPV had a heavyweight title fight, Miocic-Overeem are not PPV draws.  Since there was a little more marketing behind this event, I think we could see about 325-375K PPV buys.

UFC 202 PPV buys estimated at 1.65M

September 7, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that UFC 202 is currently estimated at doing 1.65 million PPV buys.  The number puts it ahead of UFC 196 in PPV buys.

Prior to this year, the top PPV event for the UFC was UFC 100 which posted 1.6M buys on July 11, 2009.  In the main event Brock Lesnar faced Shane Carwin.  GSP was also a co-main event on the card.

UFC 202 featured Conor McGregor versus Nate Diaz II.  McGregor won a majority decision.

Not only did the PPV buys generated from the satellite and cable distributors reflect strong viewership but the direct buys on UFC Fight Pass were strong as well.  The buys from the UFC site are not factored into the buys.

The news is better than the estimated 1.2-1.5M PPV buys as previously reported.

Payout Perspective:

Although the buzz might not have been as strong overall, the buys show that people knew about the event.  The buys confirm that Conor is valuable commodity for the UFC and likely worth his reported $3M per fight.  He’s drawn over 1.2M PPV buys in his last 3 PPV events.

Can Lesnar push UFC to record PPV buy rate?

July 6, 2016

At UFC 100, Brock Lesnar’s defeat of Frank Mir helped the company set a record with 1.6 million PPV buys.  Can Lesnar’s fight on the UFC 200 main card help the company set a record yet again?

Things have changed since July 2009 when Lesnar manhandled Frank Mir in two rounds.  However, the UFC is banking on the Lesnar PPV success to continue 7 years and 100 PPVs later.

Before we discuss UFC 200 surpassing UFC 100 in PPV buys, one has to recall UFC 100 also included Georges St. Pierre defending his welterweight title.  In addition, a young Jon Jones fought on the preliminary card.  Arguably, UFC 200 has a better lineup with 3 title fights as well as Cain Velasquez and Travis Browne in the main card opener.

Lesnar is a PPV magnet and despite the fact he’ll likely be fourth on the card behind the three title fights, many people are buying the card to watch him.

Back in 2010, MMA Payout deduced that Lesnar was the biggest UFC PPV draw.  We note that the post occurred in August 2010, prior to Lesnar’s defeat at UFC 121 to Cain Velasquez.

With Lesnar in the main event, it’s clear that he’s been an overwhelming boon for business.

UFC 91, November 15, 2008: Lesnar v. Couture: 1,010,000 PPV buys

UFC 100, July 11, 2009: Lesnar v. Mir: 1,600,000

UFC 116, July 3, 2010:  Lesnar v. Carwin: 1,060,000

UFC 121, October 23, 2010: Lesnar v. Velasquez: 900,000

UFC 141, December 30, 2011: Lesnar v. Overeem: 535,000

You might recall that UFC 141 was on a Friday night due to New Year’s Eve which likely detracted from the buy rate.  Despite that, the rest of Lesnar’s fights averaged 1,142,500 PPV buys.

In October 2014, the Sports Business Journal compiled a list of the biggest UFC PPV draws.  Lesnar topped that list as well.  GSP, Rampage Jackson, and Chuck Liddell followed in that order.

If we were to factor the Conor McGregor cards, he would crack the list of top PPV draws but Lesnar is still the top draw for the company.  Ronda Rousey events average around 680,000 PPV buys (excluding the co-main event cards with Chris Weidman).

With UFC 200 so stacked with fights for the casual to the hardcore fan, Saturday night’s event should flirt with the company PPV record of 1.6 million PPV buys.  The company’s decision to include Lesnar on this card could help it propel it to near 2 million PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

It’s been 5 years since Lesnar last fought but Saturday’s event is stacked.  Jones-Cormier, Edgar-Aldo and Tate-Nunes would have given this card nearly 1 million PPV buys but the addition of Lesnar should put this event over the top.  We shall see if Lesnar would like to step back into the octagon after his fight with Mark Hunt Saturday.  Certainly, based on the anticipated huge buy rate, the UFC wouldn’t mind Lesnar coming back to the heavyweight division.

UFC 196 trending to be biggest PPV ever

March 11, 2016

The UFC has indicated that UFC 196 is trending to be the biggest PPV in the company’s history according to a press release sent out by the promotion.

UFC 196 had the highest digital PPV sales of all-time in addition to a record 4.9 million viewers for the UFC’s Embedded series.

Dana White has claimed that the event sold 1.5 million PPVs.  The UFC record is UFC 100 with 1.6 million reported PPV buys.  Of course, UFC PPVs are $60 now as opposed to back in 2009.  Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer stated early estimates are over 1.2M PPV buys.

Notably, there were 5M google searches for UFC 196 on Saturday which seems to infer that a lot of people were seeking the event out.  Tracking google searches have become a source of predicting PPV sales.

The Prelims drew the second-highest rating on FS1 ever.  The peak for the UFC 196 prelims hit 2,082,000 viewers.   It was the most-watched PPV Prelim card in the history in the adult 18-49 demo with 1.074M viewers per Fox Sports.

Payout Perspective:

The digital sales were likely aided by a special offer on UFC Fight Pass for subscribers receiving 20% off of the PPV.  The job by the UFC to sell the McGregor-Diaz fight after RDA dropped out was excellent.  One has to wonder if RDA stayed in the event whether the PPV sales would have been the same, less or more.  The UFC has now had three of its past 4 PPVs draw 1 million buys or more.

UFC 193 estimated at over 1M PPV buys, second best ever per Fertitta

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

Can UFC 188 break the June swoon for PPVs?

June 13, 2015

With UFC 188 set for Saturday, we shall see whether the event featuring Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum improve upon June’s usual dismal PPV buy rates.

Based on the info compiled by MMA Payout:

2011 UFC 131, Vancouver, BC – Dos Santos vs. Carwin – 330,000

2012 UFC 147, Belo Horizonte, Brazil – W. Silva vs. Franklin – 140,000

2013 UFC 161, Winnipeg, Manitoba – Evans vs. Henderson – 140,000

2014 UFC 174, Vancouver, BC – Johnson vs. Bagautinov – 115,000

This year’s June event takes place from Mexico City, Mexico.  The card is stacked with Mexican and/or Mexican American fighters.

One would think that the return of Cain Velasquez as he takes on the interim Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum would draw more than the 181,000 average for June PPV buys the past 4 years.  Moreover, Gilbert Melendez versus Eddie Alvarez is a real strong co-main event.  Yet, there seems to be a lack of buzz for the event.  Notably, despite a sellout in Mexico City last October, the PPV buy rate drew just 185,000.

Payout Perspective:

The last time a June PPV surpassed 500K buys was Chuck Liddell’s last UFC fight against Rich Franklin in 2010.  UFC 115 drew 525,000 PPV buys.  With the big July card up next, June’s PPVs seem to be overlooked.  This time, June’s PPV offers some big fights.  The question is whether fight fans will tune in to pay for it.

PPV History – Looking at UFC 175 headliners Weidman and Rousey

July 4, 2014

As we await Saturday’s UFC 175, let’s take a look at the headliners and their PPV history.

Chris Weidman

Despite Ronda Rousey’s popularity, it’s Weidman that is on top of the marquee Saturday when he faces Lyoto Machida.  Weidman’s PPV and gate numbers have been impressive in his last two outings.  Of course, those two fights were against Anderson Silva.  Still, the advance appears to be strong and could be one of the biggest of not just this year, but of all time.

UFC        175        v. Lyoto Machida – ?

UFC        168        v. Anderson Silva – 1,025,000 PPV buys

UFC        162        v. Anderson Silva – 550,000 PPV buys

There’s quite a difference between 162 and 168.  Obviously, 168 had a better card but it was the rematch versus Silva that everyone was interested in seeing.  At 162, many believed that Weidman did not have a chance against Silva.  No one knew that Silva would act like he did.  Still, Weidman took advantage and the championship.  This card may help in determining how big a star he is.  While Rousey may help some, Weidman is the main attraction here.

Ronda Rousey

UFC 175               v. Alexis Davis – ?

UFC 170               v. Sarah McMann – 340,000 PPV buys

UFC 168               v. Miesha Tate – 1,025,000 PPV buys

UFC 157               v. Liz Carmouche – 450,000 PPV buys

UFC 170 was disappointing for Rousey as the PPV numbers were lower than her previous two events and the gate at the Mandalay Bay was less than expected.  It’s likely that 175 will outshine 170 in PPV buys and gate.  But, no one believes that she will lose against Davis.  Will the fact that she is an overwhelming favorite hurt buys?

Payout Perspective:

Weidman and Rousey are two of the biggest active UFC stars today.  Certainly, having Sonnen-Silva (or Belfort) would have helped this card.  How many more buys would it have pulled?  Who knows, but it would have brought a lot more buzz to the card.  Still, with all of the hype surrounding International Fight Week and the main and co-main event for 175, it’s likely that this card will produce a respectable buy rate.  Will it do as well as last July’s event where Weidman won the title?  Are the lower PPV buy rates with its bigger stars a concern for the UFC?  With tickets being the most expensive this year the UFC should be happy with the attendance and gate.  But, it’s the PPV buy rate that most look to when it comes to the success of an event.  The PPV business has been down and if the reports that UFC 174 did 125,000 PPVs at best, one would think the expectation for 175 have been reined in.

13 for 13: No. 7 UFC PPV Buys Actually Improving?

December 25, 2013

If I were to tell you that the UFC is having a strong year with its pay per view business you would think that someone sponsored this post.  However, the UFC is set to improve over its 2011-2012 PPV averages.

Through 12 PPVs it is averaging approximately 423K PPV buys for 2013.  Even if UFC 168 hits 1 million PPV buys, a benchmark it has not hit since 2010, it would average 467K PPV buys for 2013.  While this sounds bad for the UFC, it’s likely that the company will eclipse its 2012 PPV average of 448K PPV buys (over 13 events) and 2011 PPV buy average of 413K (over 14 events).

Expectations for these events may have overshot the actual PPV buy rates.  UFC 167’s buy rate of 625K has to be a disappointment considering GSP is a reliable PPV star for the company, there was much buildup for the event and the rumors that 167 would be GSP’s last.  Yet, the 625K PPV buys is one of GSP’s lowest since being a headliner.  The GSP-Diaz 950K PPV buys earlier this year has to be attributed to Nick Diaz and “wolf tickets”.  It also shows that UFC events sell much better when there is some animosity between the main event competitors.

Jon Jones has seemingly not produced as expected as a main eventer.  A heated rivalry between Jones and Chael Sonnen did not occur on TUF and while their fight at UFC 159 drew 550K, Jones’ follow up fight against Alexander Gustafsson only drew 325K PPV buys.

Anderson Silva, another fighter that has contributed to UFC PPV success drew 550K in his only fight of the year so far at UFC 162 against Chris Weidman.  The UFC should expect a better PPV average for this Saturday in their rematch.  But with a loss, this could be the downturn for the Spider on PPV.

Ronda Rousey should be another fighter to be on the lookout for in 2014.  She headlined (along with Liz Carmouche) UFC 157 over Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson.  In the end, UFC 157 drew a respectable 450K PPV buys and a lot of mainstream attention.  Will Rousey be a fighter that will attract the PPV crowd?

UFC PPV Buys 2013

Event

PPV Buy Rate

Main Event

UFC 168

????

Weidman-Silva II

UFC167

625,000

GSP-Hendricks

UFC 166

330,000

Velasquez-JDS III

UFC 165

325,000

Jones-Gus

UFC 164

270,000

Henderson-Pettis

UFC 163

170,000

Aldo-Zombie

UFC 162

550,000

Silva-Weidman I

UFC 161

150,000

Evans-Hendo

UFC 160

380,000

Cain-Bigfoot II

UFC 159

550,000

Jones-Sonnen

UFC 158

950,000

GSP-Diaz

UFC 157

450,000

Rousey-Carmouche

UFC 156

330,000

Aldo-Edgar

 

Some interesting notes from the PPV buys this year.  Jose Aldo headlined two PPVs.  Although Benson Henderson does well with Fox ratings, it does not translate to PPV buys.  His rematch with Anthony Pettis only drew 270K PPV buys.  UFC 161 had to revamp its main event due to an injury to Renan Barao but it definitely was a PPV event that UFC fans chose to skip.  The UFC heavyweights did not produce buy rates this year as reflected by UFC 160 and 166.  This is surprising considering that Cain Velasquez going into UFC 160 had averaged 733K PPV buys (over 3 PPV fights) since defeating Brock Lesnar at UFC 121.

All PPV buy rates from MMA Payout’s Blue Book and thanks to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer.

Looking at the PPV History of UFC 165’s main eventers

September 21, 2013

Welcome to another edition of PPV History.  This time we take a look at the main eventers for UFC 165.

Jon Jones

Event Opponent Date Buy Rate Rating
UFC 159 Chael Sonnen (TKO-1)) April 27, 2013 550,000
UFC 152 Vitor Belfort (Submission- 4) September 22, 2012 450,000
UFC 145 Rashad Evans (UD) April 21, 2012 700,000
UFC 140 Lyoto Machida (Technical Submission – 2) December 10, 2011 485,000
UFC 135 Quinton Jackson (Submission – 4) September 24, 2011 520,000

As one of the top fighters in the company, Jones has decent name cache and it’s reflected in the buy rates over the past couple years.  His two biggest PPV fight buys involve Sonnen, who sold the fight after their coaching stints on TUF and the heated rivalry with Rashad Evans.  UFC 145 grabbed some buys as the company did a good job in selling the bad blood between the two fighters.  Its not clear whether his lack of charisma to sell a fight is a detriment to selling a PPV.

UFC_165_poster

Alexander Gustafsson

Event Opponent Date Buy Rate Rating
UFC on Fox: Henderson v. Diaz Mauricio Rua (UD) December 8, 2012 4.4M
UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson v. Silva Thiago Silva (UD) April 14, 2012 197,000
UFC 141 Vladimir Matyushenko (TKO – 2) December 30, 2011 535,000
UFC 133 Matt Hammill (TKO – 2) August 6, 2011 310,000

“The Mauler’s” last two fights have been a coming out party for Gustafsson.   The Fuel TV spot was in Sweden in front of his hometown fans.

Payout Perspective:

UFC 165’s main promo has been the reach of Jones versus Gustafsson’s.  Not really exciting stuff.  It’s a little surprising that they didn’t try to promote the fact that there are two title bouts on this card.  Although Barao-Wineland is not a household fight, it’s still for a UFC title.

PPV History (or lack thereof) of UFC 164 main eventers

August 31, 2013

As we get a UFC PPV just a couple days after a free TV event and a couple days before another one, we take a look at the PPV history of UFC 164 main eventers.

UFC_164_Bendo_vs_Pettis

Benson Henderson

Henderson’s last two fights have been on Fox cards and his last two PPV appearances were against Frankie Edgar.  So, it’s hard to gage how much of a draw he is to PPV.  While the network cards brought good ratings, the PPV appearances against Edgar were sub-par. Henderson was on the big UFC 129 card but not the real attraction for that show.

EVENT OPPONENT DATE BUY RATE Rating
UFC on Fox 7 Gilbert Melendez (w) April 20, 2013 3.7M
UFC on Fox 5 Nate Diaz (w) December 8, 2012 4.39M
UFC 150 Frankie Edgar (w) August 11, 2012 190,000
UFC 144 Frankie Edgar (w) February 26, 2012 375,000

Anthony Pettis

“Showtime” has not been in a main event position since his upset loss to Clay Guida at TUF Finale 13.  Pettis received KO of the Night for his performance against Joe Lauzon at UFC 144 in Japan.  Ironically, the same night Henderson won the title.

EVENT OPPONENT DATE BUY RATE Rating
UFC on Fox 6 Donald Cerrone (w)(KO) January 26, 2013 4.4M
UFC 144 Joe Lauzon (w)(TKO) February 26, 2012 375,000
UFC 136 Jeremy Stephens (w) (split decision) October 8, 2011 225,000
TUF Finale 13 Clay Guida (L) June 4, 2011 1.8M

Payout Perspective:

If you were wondering, the final rating for their famous WEC title match drew an average of 615,000 viewers on Versus.  The fight took place on December 16, 2010 and we still see the highlight everywhere.

As for the rest of the card, Frank Mir-Josh Barnett should be an intriguing fight.  I didn’t go over their respective card histories since Mir is not the same fighter or draw he was at UFC 100 (1.6M PPV buys) or even UFC 140 (485K PPV buys) when he subbed Big Nog.  It’s the Warmaster’s return to the UFC and a step up in opponents.

Is this a card that the casual PPV fan will be interested in, or does the fact its sandwiched between two free cards on FS1 hurt its chances?

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