December 8, 2013
The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reported the ratings of this past season’s Ultimate Fighter and addressed the reasons for its 22 percent viewership drop in its first season on FS1. But Fox execs are not worried as it is assessing the overall consumption of the reality show.
According to the article, the overall consumption of the series is up 8 percent over last year when it was on FX.
TUF 18 featuring Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate had hoped to make a splash by having men and women fighters in a house. The belief would have had viewers excited by the novelty of men and women sharing the same house and coupling that with the fierce rivalry between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. They also had hoped it would make a big splash on the new network FS1. Instead, many were turned off by Rousey’s behavior during the show. The ratings did not reflect the hope that it would gain traction with fans. For a while, the viewership reflected the interest in the women’s fights as there was a spike each week the women fought.
According to the SBJ, TUF 18 averaged 648K viewers which is down from 832K viewers last season when it ran on FX. Fox sports execs are viewing the ratings differently as it is not assessing the overnight ratings as it would a live sporting event. Rather, the tact is to view the ratings in total which would include the DVR usage and re-airs.
When taking into consideration the total numbers, TUF attracted “14,844 million viewers this year through 163 airings on two sports channels plus DVR users,” according to the SBJ report. In comparison TUF 17 pulled in 13.8 million viewers through 24 airings on FX and DVR users. Same day viewership is off 22 percent but live plus 7 day viewership is down only 10 percent and it increased its male 18-49 and male 25-54 demos according to the senior vice president of programming and research of Fox Sports.
Spin or correct reassessment of programming by Fox? As most know, the TUF series has taken a downturn in ratings since the UFC left SpikeTV. But the article suggests that the TUF franchise is not going anywhere and with the launch of two new all-sports networks, it is willing to be patient with the show as well as look at the overall picture of how it is contributing to the ratings.
Certainly, a 7pm start time on the west coast with no same night replays on FS1 does not really help the overnight ratings. The west coast is known for having higher viewership for MMA programs. While there’s nothing definitive that would suggest that TUF has higher ratings on the west coast, the fact that there are a lot of MMA fans out west would make Fox look to all of the airings of TUF and not just the live version. In the future, perhaps programming might also look to same night reruns as well as this might boost viewership for FS1
December 8, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that the World Series of Fighting will be airing two events on NBC in 2014. Coming off of its seventh event last night, WSOF says it will hold 8 to 10 shows in 2014 with its other scheduled events occurring on NBC Sports Network.
WSOF president first told the Huffington Post on Friday and the news was confirmed by Ariel Helwani from WSOF’s executive vice president Ali Abdel-Aziz. The first event on NBC will take place in the “early summer” according to Abdel-Aziz.
As MMA Fighting points out, WSOF becomes the fourth MMA promotion to land on network television and it will be the first time that NBC will air MMA on its network. Notably, NBC has had boxing (which airs quarterly on NBCSN) air a couple events on its network in the last year with success as over 1 million viewers have tuned in. CBS experienced the same ratings success with boxing on the network last December. Certainly, NBC hopes that it can achieve the same success with MMA.
With international expansion into markets and a couple events moving to network television, does WSOF have a better business plan than Bellator? Assuming that WSOF puts on these events on network (and does well ratings-wise), can cultivate talent and capitalize on stories like Nick Newell, it will be in a good position to compete with Bellator as the second organization in MMA.
December 7, 2013
The attendance drew 11,393 for a live gate of $1.785 million as announced at the post-fight press conference. UFC Fight Night 33 occurred at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Australia.
The bonuses were $50,000 each and were no-brainers. Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva earned the $50,000 Fight of the Night Bonus and Shogun Rua won the KO of the night bonus. While the prelim fight between Takeya Mizugaki and Nam Phan fight were early contenders for FOTN and was rerun on the main card just before the main event, Hunt-Silva blew away the crowd, viewers and people on twitter with their fight.
If nothing else, the last fight of the night was well worth wading through the 5 plus hours of fights. The attendance figure shows that there are many fight fans down under. Of course, many supported Mark Hunt and other local fighters on the card.
December 6, 2013
MMAPayout will be covering in detail the FOX – UFC TV deal, quarterly and weekly, in order to analyze the performance of both properties throughout the lifespan of the TV deal. In this week’s edition, we will be looking at the UFC on FOX sports network ratings for the week of 11/25 – 12/01.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (11/27):
- UFC Tonight: 156,000 viewers.
- UFC Unleashed: 285,000 viewers
- The Ultimate Fighter (repeat): 216,000 viewers
- The Ultimate Fighter (new episode): 635,000 viewers
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Saturday (11/30):
- Big 12 College Football (lead-in for TUF Prelims): 464,000 viewers.
- The Ultimate Fighter Finale Prelims: 938,000 viewers.
- The Ultimate Fighter Finale Main : 1.129M viewers.
Other Key Programming Notes :
- The Ultimate Fighter Live Weigh-ins (11/29) on FS2 drew 31,000 viewers.
- Ultimate Insider (11/26) on FS2 drew 7,000 viewers.
- The Ultimate Fighter Finale Prelims (11/30) on FS2 (FS1 delay due to CFB): 109,000 viewers.
- Golden Boy Boxing (11/26) on FS1 drew 263,000 viewers.
- PAC-12 College Football (11/29) on FS1 drew 2.179M viewers.
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals:
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 514,000 (last week: 289,000)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 14,000 (last week: 9,000)
It looks like Fox Sports 1 has something to be very thankful for this week, which just happens to be Thanksgiving weekend. The PAC-12 Friday night CFB game drew an eye-popping 2.179M viewers, which was followed up by the TUF Finale UFC event which pulled 938K viewers for the prelims and a remarkable 1.129M viewers for the main card. The TUF Finale main card marks the first time the UFC has gone beyond 1M viewers since the debut show back in August. The UFC had 3 of the top 5 most watched FS1 programs for the week.
TUF rebounded with an increase of viewership of 25% (635,000) from the previous week to finish culminate the season by averaging 639,000 viewers for the 13 episodes. With NASCAR wrapping up, the UFC, CFB, and CBB have so far done a great job at rebounding this week. Now with TUF over and no weekly Wednesday night fights on FS1, it will be interesting to see what the viewers will do from here on out. There is an UFN coming up today (Friday) and UFC 168 coming up to close-off the year, so observing the MMA viewer behavior during this downtime should give us some insight on whether the network can retain the MMA fan during the TUF off-season.
December 6, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that Ronda Rousey has been named to Time magazine’s list of “30 People Under 30 Changing the World.” Rousey joins a list of entrepreneurs, policy makers, inventors and humanitarians.
The only other person on the list related to sports is Parker Liautaud, a Yale student that skied to the North Pole to study climate change. Rousey was chosen because she “is updating the face of female athletics through her tough skills and commercial successes” according to Time.
Despite Rousey’s on-air demeanor last Saturday on the TUF Finale, her accomplishments and the fact that she is an outspoken woman in a sport that is male-dominated is still the narrative to most mainstream media. She recently appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and happily told the story of kicking someone’s ass at a movie. Overall, she presented well on the show. So, while most of the MMA fans in the know may have lost respect for Rousey after some of her antics on TUF, she still can be a media darling and sell UFC 168. Getting on the Time list may not mean much to most, but it is still good publicity for the UFC, Rousey and the sport of MMA.
December 4, 2013
Following in the footsteps of boxing pay per views, UFC is bumping up the price of its PPV for UFC 168 by $5. The cost for the December 28th event will be $59.95 HD and $49.95 SD.
If you are DirecTV subscriber, you may have received your December 2013 “DirecTV Cinema” flyer in the mail. On the back page, there’s an ad for UFC 168 which reflects the price hike.
Earlier this year, boxing hiked up its PPV price points starting with Floyd Mayweather’s return to the ring this fall as he faced Canelo Alvarez. The $75 HD price point did not deter fans as it hit 2.2 million PPV buys. The next month, Juan Manuel Marquez faced Timothy Bradley which received over 375,000 PPV buys and charged fight fans $64.95. The Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios PPV cost $64.95 but the PPV numbers are disappointing for a Pacquiao fight as Bob Arum believes it will end up between 490,000 to 510,000 PPV buys.
The big question is whether the price increase is a one-time thing or the new price point from UFC 168 on. The uptick in price was likely inevitable due to the success of boxing’s price increases this past fall. Obviously, boxing events are spread out more while the UFC puts on PPV events every month. Also, the quality of PPVs varies. However, the UFC is banking on UFC 168 being its biggest event of the year with Silva-Weidman II and Rousey-Tate headlining. We shall see what the price increase does to PPV buys and whether this is an across the board raise in price.
December 4, 2013
TUF 18 Finale on Saturday night scored a pretty remarkable average viewership of 1.129M. In the main event, Nate Diaz stopped Gray Maynard in the first round.
UFC Fight Nights on FS1
UFC Fight Night 26: 1.78 million viewers
UFC Fight Night 27: 824,000 viewers
UFC Fight Night 28: 539,000 viewers
UFC Fight Night 29: 638,000 viewers
UFC Fight Night 31: 641,000 viewers
UFC Fight Night 32: 722,000 viewers
UFC Fight Night on FS2
UFC Fight Night 30: 122,000 viewers
TUF Finale on FS1 (Saturday)
TUF 18 Finale (main card): 1,129,000 viewers
TUF 18 Finale (prelims): 938,000 viewers
Source: Fox Sports
Pretty remarkable numbers for the UFC here. It outdrew any other show outside of the UFC on FS1 debut with less star power and a much weaker card. It also scored the highest prelim rating ever on the network with 938,000 average viewers.
The TUF 18 Finale is comparable to UFC Fight Night 32, which also aired on Saturday night. The big difference may be competition and the Thanksgiving weekend though, as UFN 32 featured much bigger names and only drew 722,000 compared to the TUF 18 Finale’s 1.13M. That is an increase of 56% in viewership between the two events.
The key may have been mainly due to the Thanksgiving weekend, which produced some great numbers for FS1 outside of the UFC. Friday night’s Oregon vs Oregon St. drew one of it’s best viewership numbers ever, with 2.2M viewers.
December 3, 2013
MMA Payout has learned from Nielsen sources that Wednesday’s TUF episode 13 received an average viewership of 635,000. The viewership was up from last week’s episode by 25%.
TUF 18 Episodes
Episode 1: 762,000 viewers
Episode 2: 870,000 viewers
Episode 3: 639,000 viewers
Episode 4: 778,000 viewers
Episode 5: 640,000 viewers
Episode 6: 725,000 viewers
Episode 7: 672,000 viewers
Episode 8: 476,000 viewers
Episode 9: 452,000 viewers
Episode 10: 583,000 viewers
Episode 11: 561,000 viewers
Episode 12: 510,000 viewers
Episode 13: 635,000 viewers
Season Average: 639,000
The season finale finally broke the trend of decreased viewership for TUF from the previous three weeks, as it drew 635,000 (0.31 A18-49) average viewers. The number indicates a 25% increase in average viewership from the previous week. The TUF season was culminated appropriately with a woman’s bout as Raquel Pennington and Jessica Rakoczy defeated Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision 30-27 . Rakoczy’s win earns her a shot against semifinalist Julianna Pena for the TUF crown alongside Chris Holdsworth and David Grant for the men’s TUF crown.
TUF ends the season averaging 638,692 average viewers, which is a significant drop-off from TUF 17: Jones vs Sonnen on FX, which averaged 1.2M viewers for the season, which is roughly a 50% decline in viewership. That drop can be attributed to FOX moving the TUF property from the highly rated FX network to the new startup Fox Sports 1.
Topping the night on cable for sports programming was the NBA Wednesday night game between the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavs, which drew 1.856M (0.73 A18-49) viewers.
December 3, 2013
MMAPayout will be covering in detail the FOX – UFC TV deal, quarterly and weekly, in order to analyze the performance of both properties throughout the lifespan of the TV deal. In this week’s edition, we will be looking at the UFC on FOX sports network ratings for the week of 11/18 – 11/24.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday Night Block (11/20):
- UFC Tonight: 136,000 viewers.
- Big East Basketball: 114,000 viewers.
- The Ultimate Fighter (new episode): 510,000 viewers.
- Fox Sports Live 104,000 viewers.
UFC on Fox Sports 1 Sunday (11/24):
- Ultimate Insider: 28,000 viewers.
Other Key Programming Notes :
- UFC Reloaded (11/21) on FS2 drew 59,000 viewers (most watched program on FS2).
- UFC Unleashed (11/20) on FS2 drew 45,000 viewers
Note: UFC’s regular Wednesday night block programming did not air on FS1 due to the Big East college basketball game, which drew 114,000 viewers. The college basketball game was the lead in to TUF this week.
Fox Sports 1 & 2 Weekly Totals:
- Fox Sports 1 Primetime Viewership: 136,000 (last week: 289,000)
- Fox Sports 2 Primetime Viewership: 28,000 (last week: 9,000)
This was a very slow week for UFC programming on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, and the viewership numbers for the week indicated just that. With no UFC events and The Ultimate Fighter dropping to 510,000 viewers, Fox Sports 1 saw its third week in a row of declining primetime viewership. In the past three weeks, the network’s primetime viewership has dropped from 630,000 (two weeks ago), to 289,000 (last week), to 136,000 (this week). That’s a substantial drop off after setting their primetime viewership record just two weeks prior (630,000).
On the other hand, Fox Sports 2 was able to increase their primetime viewership from 9,000 last week to 28,000 this week. That can be attributed to showing UFC programming during their primetime blocks every week. Seven out of the top 10 shows on Fox Sports 2 were UFC programming, where UFC Reloaded drew the most viewership for any programming on Fox Sports 2 with 59,000 viewers.
The numbers should pick up some this week with the TUF Finale episode, which aired on Wednesday, and Saturday’s TUF Finale event.
December 2, 2013
The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) provides further details on the UFC subscription based digital network which will launch in January.
In addition to “more than a dozen” international UFC events, the network will include “behind-the-scenes” programming from all its events and on-demand availability of original international TUF shows. The report cites the company’s “rapid overseas expansion” as the driving force behind this yet to be named network. No price point has been advertised despite the network going live with the UFC Fight Night event January 4th in Singapore.
As we noted the other day, the network will cater to dedicated UFC fans in North America and international markets. The overseas events will be featured in prime time in its respective markets and thus the network will be able to show them live without dealing with concerns of FS1/2 network conflicts. The pricing model will be interesting to see at what price point the UFC will ask its fans to pay for these events. We will see if the UFC will “build out” this network to include more UFC content or if it will focus on just international events with added “Easter egg” type features.