TUF 20 Episode 9 up to 637,000 viewers

November 25, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the adjusted viewership ratings for last Wednesday’s TUF 20 episode 9 drew the viewership to 637,000.

The adjusted viewership is a 67% increase from the Live + SD rating of 381,000.

TUF 20 Episode 9 DVR

The Live + 3 rating average for this season is793,000.  The average increase from the DVR bump is 283,000 viewers.

Bellator 131 replay: 617,000 viewers

November 25, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Friday night’s encore presentation of Bellator 131 drew an average viewership of 617,000 viewers peaking with 821,000 viewers.

Bellator 131 featured Tito Ortiz narrowly defeating Stephan Bonnar in the main event.  The event was the largest for the promotion as it drew the highest attendance in franchise history with 8,243. Bellator 131 drew 1.4 million viewers including Live + 3 viewership (1.2M viewers in overnight viewership)

Payout Perspective:

The 617,000 viewers is a very good replay rating considering it was the third on Spike TV.  Still, it shows that the promotion of the event and Tito Ortiz can draw fans to watch an event.

UFC Fight Night 57: 903,000 viewers

November 25, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 57’s main card drew an average of 903,000 viewers.  In addition, the prelims had a considerable jump to 777,000 viewers.

The main card featured a Frankie Edgar-Cub Swanson feature with Edgar getting the submission in the 5th round.  The event peaked with 1,021,000 viewers. It was the most watched show on FS1 on Saturday.  In the adult 18-49 demo, there was an increase of 16% from UFC Fight Night 56 with 582,000 (vs. 503,000 for FN 56) average viewers in this segment.

UFC Fight Night 57

Preceding the main card, the Prelims drew 777,000 viewers which is way above the FS1 Fight Night Prelim average since the launch (468,000).  In the adult 18-49 demo, it drew an average of 445,000 viewers.

Saturday night’s fights were well received as shown through the FOX Sports Live postfight coverage which drew an average of 446,000 viewers for the first 30 minutes after the fights.  This reflects a 137% jump from that show’s normal average.  Notably, there was an overrun of 15 minutes from the fights but still people kept the network on (perhaps hoping to see Paige Van Zant).

Payout Perspective:

The UFC Fight Night main card average for 2014 is at 799,000.  Although Frankie Edgar is not a PPV draw, he did well on Saturday night as it appears that the main event did well and it transitioned over to the postfight programming.  The ratings for the prelims were a big surprise as it appears a lot of people tuned in.  The event did compete with the Pacquiao fight for those that decided to purchase the PPV.

UFC Fight Night 57 attendance, gate and bonuses

November 23, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the UFC Fight Night 57 attendance, gate and bonuses.  Frankie Edgar, Oleksiy Oliynyk, Paige VanZant and Kailin Curran all earned $50,000 bonuses for their work on Saturday.

VanZant and Curran earned Fight of the Night while Edgar and Oliynyk earned Performance of the Night bonuses.  Edgar won for his late 5th round rear naked choke/neck crank of Cub Swanson and Oliynyk won for his sudden KO of Jared Rosholt.

The event drew 10,131 for a live gate of $670,022 according to the UFC after the event.  The event took place at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. The capacity for the venue ranges from 16,540 for basketball to 17,900 for concerts.

Payout Perspective:

It was a competitive night of fights with Edgar subbing Cub Swanson in the main event.  It was interesting that the VanZant-Curran fight was not pegged for television as it aired on Fight Pass. The attendance was better than its last visit to Austin when it drew 7,724 for a gate of $595,900 in September 2010.  Notably, Austin native Yves Edwards was on that 2010 card.  He was on the card Saturday night too in perhaps his last fight.

With Pacquiao fight Saturday, ongoing question of whether PPVs are sustainable

November 22, 2014

With Manny Pacquiao returning to PPV Saturday night, the standard question of whether PPVs are worth it surfaced.

In a Newsday column published this week, there are quotes from both boxing and UFC executives which address the question of PPV as a viable platform. The conclusion appears to be that it takes a big event for people to purchase PPV.  This is something most of us already knew.  The column acknowledges that with the internet and social media, there are more ways to follow a PPV card without purchasing it.  Also, more people are content with highlights they may be able to obtain legally online.

UFC exec Marshall Zelaznik is quoted in the piece and stated that it’s up to the UFC to “figure out how to create and develop content that will make people not want to miss it.”  He went on to say that the UFC has to do “the right job to respect the consumer, to give them something that’s valuable and worth paying for.”

Dana White recently acknowledged this year’s PPV buy rates have been low and Floyd Mayweather’s PPV reputation has been affected with the underwhelming business done under the Showtime banner (except of course for The One).  Still, one big PPV event can mean a major windfall for the company.

On Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao is on PPV once again against an unknown in Chris Algieri.  Conspicuously, there has been little done in terms of promoting the fight.  Unless it has gone under the radar, there are no Tecate promotions and $25 rebates this time around.  The usual three rounds of HBO 24/7 has been limited to just one.  Even the replays of past Pacquiao fights have been limited on HBO and the Audience Network as Bradley-Pacquiao II is replayed.  Additionally, Algieri-Provodnikov has been replayed.

Payout Perspective:

There’s nothing new in the column related to the current state of PPV except the quotes from the execs.  It’s clear that the challenges of getting fans to buy PPVs are getting harder considering the amount of content out there, social media and the ability to see highlights that will satisfy one’s need to watch the event.  Are there too many PPVs?  Boxing has added several PPVs to the mix this year which may sway your mind about that question.  Certainly, many MMA fans have their opinion on the UFC PPVs.  As for Saturday’s event featuring Pacquiao, it will be interesting to see how many Pacquiao die hards will pay the $70 to watch.

Senator Reid denies parts of SOPA attached to NSA reform bill at request of UFC

November 22, 2014

Tech news web site Techdirt reported earlier this week that Nevada Senator Harry Reid is attempting to attach a portion of the Stop Online Piracy Act to the USA Freedom Act as a favor to the UFC.  Although the bill did  not pass, there has been some criticism of Reid for “coat-tailing.”

Essentially, Reid attempted to include portions of the SOPA bill which would lead to criminal consequences for copyright infringers.

The UFC were strong proponents of SOPA.  The bill allowed U.S. law enforcement to combat online copyright infringement.  Other companies including the WWE, were in favor of this bill.

The USA Freedom Act  essentially addressed surveillance of individual’s phone records as well as the bulk collection of Americans’ metadata.  The bill arose after Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting telephone metadata.  The bill fell in the Senate this week.

Senator Reid’s office responded to the Techdirt story indicating that the inference that the Nevada senator attempted a surreptitious amendment for his UFC constituents was not true.  Techdirt responded to the response saying Senator Reid’s office was incorrect.

Payout Perspective:

It is no secret that Senator Reid and the UFC are friendly.  The senator is also a fan of Manny Pacquiao and in the past, Pacquiao has supported his campaigns for reelection.  Politicians befriending companies/athletes seeking influence and vice versa is ingrained in American politics.  The addition to include portions of the SOPA bill is nothing out of the ordinary as well (even though it was likely out of context based on the rest of the legislation) and while the truth may be inclusion of these portions of SOPA was done at the request of the UFC (and maybe other companies that were proponents of the SOPA bill), there does not appear to be any real wrongdoing here despite the inference that there was (e.g.,  The Daily Beast).  As many who follow politics know, things of this nature occur with little fanfare.  The only part that is of note is that it was the UFC.

UFC and Fathom Events to show more PPVs in movie theaters

November 21, 2014

The UFC and Fathom Events are teaming up once again to show UFC’s PPVs in movie theaters.  A joint press release announced that UFC 181 will be the latest to be shown in theaters with additional PPV events in 2015 to be jointly shown via PPV and also in nearly 500 select movie theaters across the U.S.

UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier, UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz and UFC 184:  Weidman vs. Belfort will also appear in local theaters.  The latest PPVs to movie theaters were announced at the UFC’s #TheTimeisNow launch.

Promo poster at Bellevue, WA theater

Promo poster at Bellevue, WA theater

It appears that the move, which restarted with UFC 180, will be a constant throughout the first two months of 2015.

Payout Perspective:

Here, there are at least 6 movie theaters within the Seattle area that will be showing it. Tickets are $15.  The latest move appears to be a way for eyes to see its events and also an attempt to garner some additional revenue from sagging PPV buy rates.  Based on the latest S&P move to downgrade Zuffa’s outlook to negative, it looks like the UFC is trying to turn around its financial outlook any way it can in the first quarter of 2015 to avoid another credit downgrade.  It would seem that putting the PPVs in theaters siphons away potential PPV buyers.  Then again, with the downward trend in UFC PPVs, this is an option for fans on the fence of buying an event.

TUF 20 Episode 9: 381,000 viewers

November 20, 2014

MMA Payout has learned via a Nielsen source that Wednesday night’s 9th episode of TUF 20 drew a rating of 381,000 viewers. The rating represents the lowest-rated episode of the season.

In the fight of the episode, Randa Markos defeated Felice Herrig via armbar.

TUF 20 Episode 9

Last season’s TUF 19 had two episodes below 400Kviewers.  Wednesday night’s episode represents a new low.

UPDATED:  According to Nielsen source, the late night replay airing 10pm/1am drew an additional 122,000 viewers for the episode.

Payout Perspective:

The actual show started 8 or so minutes late as there was overrun from college basketball (Oklahoma-Creighton).  It was the coach’s challenge episode which usually is very entertaining.  This time around was not as good since the UFC decided to hold off on a physical challenge due to Anthony Pettis’ knee injury.  The episode was the lowest of the season and brought down the season average to 509,000 viewers.

Standard & Poor’s revises Zuffa outlook to negative

November 20, 2014

The Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service has revised Zuffa, LLC’s financial outlook to negative from stable on weaker operating performance.  It has indicated that it anticipates a 40% decline in EBITDA in 2014 and credit measures will weaken due to the decline.

In a press release disseminated by S&P, it stated that the negative rating reflects its “belief that Zuffa’s operating performance will deteriorate significantly in 2014, resulting in very weak leverage in the high-5x area.”

In addition to the change to the negative outlook it is affirming its “BB-“corporate credit rating.  The “BB-“ credit rating was assessed last month.  The concern for Zuffa is that a negative outlook may mean that S&P may lower Zuffa’s “BB-“ rating.

More from the press release:

“The negative outlook revision reflects our updated forecast for 2014 EBITDA to decline approximately 40% (compared to a decline of 30% previously), primarily due to a change to a marquee fight card in the fourth quarter of 2014 as a result of another fighter injury causing anticipated pay per view (PPV)  buys and event ticket prices to decline further, as well as higher remarketing expenses for the event, and additional costs related to the company’s international expansion,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Stephen Pagano.

S&P now expects Zuffa’s cash flow/debt leverage to increase to the “high-5x area at the end of 2014.”  In its October 2014 report, it had predicted Zuffa to be in the 3 range.  The cash flow/leverage is based on a scale of 1-6 with 1 being minimally leveraged to 6 being highly leveraged.  Zuffa is now pegged as 5 whereas S&P had forecasted it being a 3.

Payout Perspective:

Obvious bad news for Zuffa as the change in outlook is based on Cain Velasquez’s injury forcing him to drop out of UFC 180.  It ties in directly to the assumption that the PPV buy rate will be low once again – an issue that Dana White recently acknowledged.  What the change in outlook to negative means is that it will increase the cost of borrowing by Zuffa.  As the company falls deeper into debt, its ability to obtain credit will get harder.  The forecast painted by S&P reflects the fact that it no longer believes that the company will be able to turn it around this year or next to address its debt obligations.

With the new lower, negative outlook on its debt, Zuffa will have a lot of pressure to forge new television pacts overseas and push the profitability of Fight Pass.  We may also see initiatives like a formal drug testing policy put off if costs are too high.  We will also see if Zuffa attempts to address the issue of fighter injuries which causes the instability and uncertainty of events.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

TUF 20 Episode 8 numbers up to 840,000 viewers

November 19, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that last week’s TUF 20 episode 8 drew an additional 262,00 viewers in Live +3 ratings.  Episode 8 total viewership including adjusted average is now at 840,000 viewers.

TUF 20 Episode 8 DVR

Payout Perspective:

The average viewership after the adjusted ratings is at 812,000 viewers. After the 8th episode, the average boost in viewers from the Live rating to the DVR rating is down slightly at 287,000.

Next Page »