April 27, 2017
The second episode of TUF 25 drew 372,000 viewers Wednesday night on FS1 according to ShowBuzz Daily. The event drew 0.17 in the adult 18-49 rating.
The second episode featured a fight between Eddie Gordon and Tom Gallicchio. The Dan Henderson-trained fighter, Gialicchio bested the former TUF winner Gordon via rear naked choke. The episode also featured another confrontation between Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw. Also, in the verbal sparring was Urijah Faber as they argued over Dillashaw’s departure from Team Alpha Male.
The ratings are almost a 25% increase over this season’s debut episode. In comparison, it did better than the second episode of TUF 24 (347,000) and close to TUF 23’s second episode (387,000).
Gallicchio’s telling his story on the show is the reason why viewers first found why this show was compelling. A guy with nothing to lose, seeing the end of his career, but willing to give it all he has for his dream. The viewership was up this week despite going up against the NBA and NHL Playoffs once again.
April 27, 2017
Zuffa and Dana White have filed a motion to stay discovery in the Mark Hunt case pending the company’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit which will be heard on May 15, 2017 in Nevada. According to the court filings, Brock Lesnar is likely to join the motion.
Joining the motion essentially places the party in the same place as the entity that filed the motion. Thus, Zuffa and Lesnar (the law firm of Campbell & Williams represents Zuffa and Howard Jacobs represents Lesnar) would seek to stay the discovery sought by Hunt.
Hunt filed this lawsuit in Nevada federal court in early January claiming that Zuffa and Dana White violated the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Fraud, False Pretenses, Breach of Contract, Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Negligence and Unjust Enrichment. The premise of the Complaint is that the UFC allowed Lesnar to fight at UFC 200 while providing the WWE wrestler with an exemption from the UFC’s anti-doping policy. Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance in both an out-of-competition and in-competition drug test. Lesnar had been tested by USADA on several occasions prior to the positive tests.
The current motion argues that the defendants (Zuffa, White and Lesnar) should not have to expend money to conduct discovery until the Court decides the merits of their Motion to Dismiss. Essentially, why spend money on starting discovery if the lawsuit will be dismissed. In a conference between the parties, the defendants asserted a request to stay discovery but the plaintiffs opposed a stipulated stay. Hence, the motion.
Similar to the UFC antitrust lawsuit, the company is seeking to stay discovery pending the Court decision. This makes sense from the defendant’s standpoint. See if you can save some litigation expense if you can. From Hunt’s perspective, you need to be as aggressive as you can in starting the process of obtaining discovery. Thus, you force the Court’s hand to make a decision here. Hunt wants to obtain discovery because it might obtain information that might aid its claims. In the alternative, it might obtain information which might need to amend its lawsuit. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
April 26, 2017
The first episode of TUF 25 for this season scored 500,000 viewers in DVR +3 ratings on FS1 per Nielsen. It shows an increase of 74% from its live + same day rating.
The two-hour debut this past Wednesday was the lowest-ever in the series franchise. The DVR viewership has been an increasing metric used when tracking TUF as it is being deemed more of an episodic series rather than live sporting event.
The increase from the overnight ratings reflects a larger slice of individuals recording the show for viewership than in past seasons. Also, we do not have the additional information from a replay on Sunday night which I’m sure FS1 execs hope to capture more viewers. One thing we will try to track this year is to see whether the amount of DVR viewers have increased over seasons.
April 25, 2017
UFC Fight Night 108 drew 745,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday per ShowBuzz Daily. The prelims which aired on FS2 drew 320,000.
The prelims, which aired on FS2 from 5pm-7pm PT, drew 178,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo. The prelims were moved to FS2 due to MLB on FS1. The main card which actually started on FS2 due to the MLB overrun started at 7:32pm PT on FS1. The event drew 415,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.
|UFC Fight Night 2017|
|Main Card||A18-49 demo||Prelims||A18-49 demo|
|UFC Fight Night 103||1,090,000||612,000||824,000||361,000|
|UFC Fight Night 104||1,158,000||590,000||834,000||420,000|
|UFC Fight Night 105||907,000||435,000||760,000||330,000|
|UFC Fight Night 106||946,000||531,000||860,000||379,000|
|UFC Fight Night 108||745,000||415,000||320,000||178,000|
Note that UFC Fight Night 107 was a Fight Pass only card.
Lower ratings than normal although the event had a later start time. Also, the move to FS2 to accommodate baseball probably hurt the ratings as well as Showtime Boxing, NHL and NBA competing for sports viewing interests.
April 24, 2017
Al Iaquinta is not mincing words when he it comes to the UFC. In an interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, he talked about the UFC bonus system and how it controls everybody.
Despite being on an 8-1 win streak since TUF 15, Iaquinta has spoken out about fighter pay and event contemplated retirement. He pulled out of UFC 205 due to a dispute over his pay. Without another UFC post-fight bonus, he tweeted his displeasure with the UFC.
Iaquinta had been banned from post-fight bonuses because of the UFC’s belief that he purposely skipped a UFC fighter summit in Las Vegas.
Iaquinta stated that the $50,000 bonuses is used as a way to control the fighters.
It’s obvious that bonuses are a way to entice fighters. You hear some fighters (mostly those lower on the pay scale) request in their post-fight interview for the $50K bonus. The more exciting the fight, the bigger possibility that a fighter may get the $50K. So, you can see where Iaquinta is coming from. However, this “carrot and stick” happens in all forms of business and not just the UFC. The more interesting issue will be what the UFC decides to do with Iaquinta. Certainly, the easiest thing to do would be to not renew Iaquinta’s deal once it is over and allow him to leave for Bellator.
April 24, 2017
Sports Business Journal (subscription recommended) reports on the current status of Premier Boxing Champions and its strategy of time buys across a broad landscape of networks. The article looks at the ratings over the court of the innovative and risky experiment.
The hope was to turn the time buys into a lucrative “rights fees” deal. This has not happened thus far. Instead, the strategy has seemed to spread the brand thin and ratings have been sporadic. Recently, Spike TV decided not to pick up its option for PBC stating that it would focus more on Bellator.
Per the article, there is still an opportunity for a rights fees deal but with the UFC shopping its rights package, there is some competition. CBS might be a potential landing spot for PBC since it already has a tie-in with Showtime and has a $40 million budget for 2017. In addition, there is the underutilized CBS Sports Network which could use additional live content. In leadup to the last couple of PBC fights on CBS or Showtime, CBS Sports Network has shown previous fights of boxers that have upcoming fights on the networks which has served as good shoulder programming marketing the fighters.
One of the concerns for PBC is the lack of sponsors to spend consistently in the sport. Showtime executive vice president and general manager of sports Stephen Espinoza notes that sponsors is where boxing is “living or dying.” He believes there needs to be more education of sponsors to show that it has a valuable demo to deliver.
PBC has produced 54 cards in the last 12 months that aired across nine channels. The highest average it has produced was 2.75 million viewers on CBS for two shows. Its most-viewed show was a Sunday afternoon fight on NBC in August between Errol Spence-Leonard Bundu which aired immediately after the men’s basketball gold medal game. The fight drew over 4.8 million viewers with a peak of 6.34 million. More recently, last month’s Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia fight drew an average of 3.1 million viewers with the fight drawing 3.74 million and peaking at 5.1 million. In February, the return of Adrien Broner on Showtime drew 779,000 of its network subscribers.
The article notes that PBC is at a crossroads in its business model. Based on the TV ratings, the time buy strategy has not been effective. Despite the fact, the strategy has not produced desired results the article notes the last couple of events for PBC have produced good ratings highlighted by Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia on CBS. We should see some decent ratings for Thurman-Andre Berto on Showtime this past Saturday. Will PBC survive past 2017? Better events, promoting its top fighters and maintaining a focused network strategy should help a turn around. Of course, the networks and sponsors which would infuse PBC with an injection of money would help a business that has seeped money since the beginning.
April 23, 2017
UFC officials announced the attendance, gate and bonuses from UFC Fight Night 108 from Nashville, Tennessee. The event drew the second-highest attendance and gate in events in Nashville.
UFC Fight Night 108 drew 10,144 fans for a gate of $755,180. The event took place at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The multi-purpose venue varies in maximum capacity from 17,000-20,000 depending on the event.
The $50,000 bonuses handed out for UFC Fight Night 108 went to Cub Swanson, Artem Lobov, Mike Perry and Brandon Moreno. The main event of Swanson-Lobov drew the Fight of the Night while Perry and Moreno earned Performance of the Night bonuses.
It was the second-highest attendance of the four UFC events held in Nashville but the largest grossing of the four. The last time an event was held in Nashville prior to Saturday night was UFC Fight Night 73 in April 2015.
The attendance is on par with other Fight Nights and was helped by having local UFC fighters on the card.
April 22, 2017
USADA issued an official 2 year sanction to former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir stemming from multiple positive tests for a prohibited substance. The tests came from an in-competition test on March 20, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 85 in Brisbane, Australia.
The 38 year tested positive for a long-term metabolite of dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (DHCMT). It is also known as oral turinabol. It is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. He was provisionally suspended on April 8, 2016.
Via USADA release:
Upon learning of the positive results of the sample analyzed in Tokyo, USADA had all previously collected stored samples for Mir reanalyzed at the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah (SMRTL), which had also recently implemented methodology for the detection of newly identified long-term DHCMT metabolites. As a result of the additional analyses, SMRTL discovered that an out-of-competition sample Mir provided on February 5, 2016, which had previously been reported to USADA as negative for the presence of prohibited substances, was also positive for the same long-term DHCMT metabolite found in Mir’s in-competition sample.
Mir had claimed that the positive result may have come from Kangaroo meat which he ate prior to his fight.
The results likely bring an end to Mir’s career in the UFC. It also reflects the need for fighters to be vigilant of what goes in their bodies. Mir does not recall what he may have eaten abroad and does not know if USADA would truly travel to Australia even if he were to list each meat. Regardless, the finding without any defense or mitigating circumstances meant that Mir will be assessed the 2-year sanction.
April 21, 2017
The Ultimate Fighter 25 debut on FS1 drew 288,000 viewers per ShowBuzz Daily. The rating is the lowest-ever for the TUF franchise. T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt serve as the coaches this season.
Prior to Wednesday night’s episode, the lowest-rated debut was last season’s TUF 24 which posted 370,000 viewers.
The two-hour premiere aired on FS1 on Wednesday.
I am actually interested in this season but the ratings continue the downward trajectory of the TUF Franchise. A couple seasons back, FS1 execs noted that TUF should be seen as more of a DVR-viewed show rather than a live event. Still, the ratings show a decline. With WME-IMG cutting costs the company will need to weigh the benefit of TUF’s use versus the expense it takes to produce the show. FS1 does need content for its network so there is some need for it but could the ratings make execs reconsider.
April 21, 2017
South Korean officials are investigating a potential fight fixing issue from UFC Fight Night 79 from November 2015. Fighters Tae Hyun Bang and Leo Kunts were warned by UFC official before their fight on the night per MMA Junkie.
Bang is reportedly under police investigation for allegedly taking a bribe. One South Korean news outlet reported that Bang took $2 billion Korean won (approximately $1.7 million U.S. dollars) if Kuntz would prevail. Another report suggests Bang accepted a bribe of $100 million won (approximately $87,000) while wagering $50 million (approximately $43,000) on his opponent.
Bang went from a slight favorite to a massive underdog in betting lines prior to the fight. The swing in odds may have been the reason that tipped UFC officials to confront both fighters.
Bang defeated Kuntz by split decision.
There have been several other instances in other sports in South Korea where match fixing has been a concern. In 2016, South Korean police charged 21 people including two professional baseball pitchers in the KBO League on suspicion of match fixing. In recent years, the authorities have investigated professional soccer, baseball and volleyball players on suspicion of manipulating game outcomes in return for bribes.
Kuntz stated that he did not know what was going on although he confirmed that the UFC talked to him prior to the fight. He also did not think that Bang tried to lose per comments made to MMA Fighting.
This is the first formal investigation into fight fixing in the UFC. The issue is a concern for the company considering that the sport always discusses gambling lines. It’s not the big fights to be concerned with but the lower-tier matchups because those are the one where a fighter does not make as much and there is less scrutiny unless there is a wide swing in betting lines. Match fixing is an issue in South Korea but the concern also arose at UFC 193 where a betting ban was imposed over concerns with “integrity issues.”