Guillard hears Reebok deal discontent from teammates

August 27, 2015

Bellator lightweight Melvin Guillard had some interesting things to say about his previous employer in light of the Reebok apparel deal.  Guillard, who was cut by the company, states that it will likely lose fighters due to the lost revenue by fighters from sponsors.

Guillard has not been with the company since his last fight in March 2104.  However, he states in a recent MMA Fighting interview that some of the UFC fighters he trains with at American Top Team are “unhappy with how things went with the UFC.”  Guillard stated that the “UFC is really just dropping the ball on a lot of guys.  They’re going to lose a lot of talent.”

Prior to the UFC sponsor fee, Guillard stated that a fighter could make $50K to $60K per fight from sponsors.  However, restrictions on sponsors which required they pay a fee to the UFC in order to sponsor a fighter curtailed many brands from sponsoring a fighter.  The Reebok deal which went into effect this July, has received criticism from many fighters that have indicated it has cut their ability to earn money from sponsors.  While some fighters have taken up the side of the UFC, there are many fighters that are put off by the new payouts from Reebok.

Guilard, who had a stint with WSOF, is now in Bellator and is set to fight this Friday for the organization at Bellator 141.

Payout Perspective:

Guillard’s comments could be seen as a former fighter expressing his opinion after being let go by the UFC and thus feels free to say what he wants about the organization.  Guillard’s comments about what his teammates are saying might be hearsay and might be a way that UFC contracted fighters are expressing their discontent with the new era of sponsorship revenue for fighters.  Until there are actual numbers out there that he is making more money overall than he did when he was with the UFC, it’s hard to conclude that UFC fighters would jump ship to other organizations due to the Reebok deal.

Bellator MMA announces November tentpole event

August 15, 2015

MMA Fighting reports that Bellator MMA has announced a November tentpole event set for Saturday November 6th in Saint Louis.  It will be the fourth quarterly event since Scott Coker took over.

The event will feature a featherweight title fight between Patricio Freire and Daniel Straus.  Will Brooks will defend his lightweight championship against Marcin Held.  In addition, Michael Chandler and Bobby Lashley are expected to be on the card as well.

On September 19th Bellator MMA will cross-promote an event with Glory Kickboxing as the event will feature a cage and ring to accommodate both types of fights.

Payout Perspective:

The tentpole events for Bellator MMA have been an overwhelming success on Spike TV.  Last November, Bellator 131 produced the best ratings for the organization and was surpassed by this June’s tentpole event. We shall see if it will continue with the quarterly momentum with September’s cross-promotion and November’s Bellator event.

Bellator 140 DVR + 3 increases to 774K

July 24, 2015

As an update to Bellator 140 ratings from last Friday, the adjusted viewership from DVR +3 numbers grew the viewership to 774,000 and a peak of 1,041,000.

Last 3 Bellator events on Spike TV
Bellator 138: 1,580,000 overnight, 2,100,000 peak; DVR +3: 1,700,000, 2,900,000 peak
Bellator 139: 764,000 overnight, 988,000 peak; DVR +3: 819,000, 1,200,000 peak
Bellator 140: 722,000 overnight, 977,000 peak; DVR +3: 774,000, 1,041,000 peak

Payout Perspective:

The Bellator 140 ratings increase reflects a 7% increase in viewership which is approximately 52,000 viewers.  The adjusted ratings bring this year’s Bellator shows (132-140) to 6 events with a peak viewership over 1 million.

Fedor looking to return to MMA

July 19, 2015

This past week it was reported that Fedor Emelianenko is considering a return to MMA with many speculating UFC and Bellator as the most interested suitors. The question many want to know is whether he’s worth it.

It has been almost 4 years since Fedor’s last significant MMA fight as you might recall Dan Henderson came back to KO Fedor at a Strikeforce event in late July 2011.  That event drew only 571,000 with a peak of 778,000 Showtime subscribers which made it the fourth watched Strikeforce event of all-time.  Earlier that year, a Strikeforce event featuring Bigfoot Silva versus Fedor scored the highest-viewed Showtime event with 741,000 viewers.

At 39 years old, Fedor would fit into a UFC Heavyweight division with many of its top fighters over the age of 30. But, many probably have concluded that he may sign with Bellator and Scott Coker.  Since taking the reigns of the Viacom-owned property, Coker has designed events centered around fighters with past fame.  Notably, Bellator 131 featured Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar.  June starred Ken Shamrock and Kimbo Slice.  It also centered events around Rampage Jackson and just signed Josh Koscheck and immediately paired him against Paul Daley for a rematch of their infamous UFC fight.

The ratings for the tentpole events of 131 and 138 show that fans are drawn to the events.  Coker is able to draw and past triumphs of fighters to grab attention in the present.  Its an uncanny knack of the old making something out of nothing.

Despite being a recent brand ambassador for Bellator, Fedor’s camp is saying that it will not have any bearing on where he signs.  But what will determine where he signs is the money. If he signs with the UFC, he will look for top dollar.  This would likely include PPV upside.  Since the UFC-Reebok deal, Fedor would lose out on that revenue stream unless he is able to strike an individual deal with the UFC’s official sponsors.  Bellator would welcome him as he could easily be slotted into the main event at a tentpole event.

But could a Fedor fight improve upon the ratings he received in 2011?  Certainly, he’d have more exposure as Showtime is limited to its premium subscribers.

Payout Perspective:

While Fedor’s representatives remain open to fighting anywhere, Bellator seems the most likely place for him to return.  The landscape of MMA has changed and even though the UFC would be happy to take Fedor, past negotiations with him have proven to be difficult.  Still, the UFC may be in the market to keep him away from Bellator.  Of course, the UFC has passed on fighters in the past.  We shall see where he ends up.

Viacom sued by early investor in Bellator MMA

July 15, 2015

An early investor in Bellator MMA is suing Viacom in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that the company has diverted revenue from the organization while leaving investors in the dark about its finances.  The Hollywood Reporter provided details of the lawsuit.

Koloni Reklam, Sanyi, Tcaret LTD/STDI (“Koloni”), a Turkish company, invested $1 million in Bellator in March 2009 according to the lawsuit. At the time, the company was owned by Bjorn Rebney.

In December 2010, Viacom purchased a 50% stake in Bellator.  It made an additional purchase of a controlling interest in Bellator in December 2011.  It also made further purchases in January 2013, April 2014 and June 2015 per the Complaint.  Based on its purchases it amassed a 97% interest in Bellator.  Viacom, the plaintiff in the lawsuit and two others not named in the lawsuit comprise the ownership of Bellator.  Viacom owns a 97% controlling interest while Koloni has a 1 percent interest.

An Operating Agreement manages the structure of ownership.  Koloni claims that Bellator “acted in a manner contrary to the Operating Agreement by causing Bellator to breach provisions of the Operating Agreement to Viacom’s benefit and at the expense of the remaining members.”

Specifically in the Operating Agreement, Koloni claims that Viacom was to provide unaudited financial information to its members which included “unaudited balance sheets, unaudited income statement, cash flow statements, and changes in the Members’ equity.”  This information was to be supplied to Koloni on a “monthly, quarterly, and year-end basis.”  Koloni claims that prior to May 2015, they had not been provided a report in a year and before that there was a 15 month gap in statements.

The Complaint claims that in May 2015 Viacom “hastily provided financial statements that only highlight Viacom’s failure to pursue all profits Bellator would be entitled to if Viacom had been acting in Bellator’s interests rather than its own.”

In addition, Koloni claims that Viacom diverted sponsorship revenue from Bellator to its own interests and subsidiaries.  Essentially, Viacom is using its subsidiary to breach a licensing agreement which would divert revenue tied to Bellator in-show sponsorship integrations.  Per the terms of the licensing agreement Bellator should receive 50% of “net sponsorship revenue” received from ads that “integrate multiple methods of promotion, such as televised commercial break advertisements combined with in-show logo placement on cage mats” according to the Complaint.  Koloni claims that ad revenue for in-show sponsors “run tens to hundreds of millions of dollars” and that Viacom has obscured the terms of these ad contracts so as to divert money owed to Bellator to its other affiliates.

It also requested Spike TV to reduce the number of Bellator-produced events.

The causes of action includes breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, judicial dissolution and equitable relief for LLC member oppression.

The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial and request monetary damages which include an accounting of finances.  As indicated in the cause of action, one of the requests is for a judicial dissolution of Bellator and/or the request that Koloni is paid out his share of the company.  At this point, dissolving Bellator seems like a far-flung claim.

A copy of the lawsuit is provided by THR’s Eriq Gardner

Payout Perspective:

The lawsuit boils down to Koloni believing that it is not receiving as much as it should be from its investment in the company.  The claim that it has not received updates and there were gaps in reporting from Viacom regarding Bellator’s finances seems to highlight its lawsuit.  Notably, Rampage Jackson’s attorneys are likely interested in this lawsuit for the financial information that might be obtained through the discovery process of the lawsuit. Also of note is the indication that Koloni received financial information in May 2015.  A couple months earlier, Jackson filed a lawsuit against Bellator claiming that he had not received information from the company.  Certainly Viacom will deny these allegations in defending the lawsuit.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Bellator 139: 764K viewers and Friday night boxing numbers

June 29, 2015

Bellator 139 drew an average viewership of 764,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Sports TV Ratings.  The event is down from its tent pole event of a week prior but it still was the second-best rating on the network since February.

In the main event of Friday night, former UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo defeated Alexander Volkov.  The other big news coming out of Bellator 139 was the KO of Joe Schilling by Hisaki Kato.  Per Nielsen sources, the peak for the show was 988,000 viewers during the last quarter hour (10:45-11pm).

Bellator 137 pulls the promotion’s 2015 Spike TV average up to 800,000 viewers.

Overnight Peak
Bellator 132 767,000 1,200,000
Bellator 133 565,000 967,000
Bellagtor 134 872,000 1,200,000
Bellator 135 607,000 922,000
Bellator 136 655,000 900,000
Bellator 137 594,000 768,000
Bellator 138 1,580,000 2,100,000
Bellator 139 764,000 988,000

Bellator 139

Sports TV ratings also notes that boxing on TruTV drew 303,000 viewers Friday night in the 10pm-12am slot.  The TruTV fights are promoted primarily by Top Rank.  Also, boxing on FS1 on Friday drew 129,000 viewers.  The event on FS1 appears to be the last promoted by Golden Boy.  Additionally, Showtime aired a prospect card Friday night although no information on the ratings were available at this time.

Payout Perspective:

There were a lot of viewing options Friday night for combat sports enthusiasts but viewers tuned in to Bellator 139 which should be seen as a positive for the company and Spike.  It’s interesting that it did so well the week after its tent pole event.  The last tent pole event, Bellator 131, did not have a follow event the next week.  In fact, the next Bellator event was not until January 2015.  We could see more follow up events the week after to take advantage of the momentum.

In terms of boxing ratings, the TruTV ratings are surprising and it looks like Top Rank has found a nice way to promote its HBO fights the next night.

Koscheck signs with Bellator

June 26, 2015

Bellator announced the signing of former UFC welterweight Josh Koscheck during its live event on Spike TV Friday night.  The 37-year-old Koscheck ended his UFC career on a 5 fight losing streak but has signed a mult-fight deal with the organization.

We last saw Koscheck in a loss to Erick Silva as a replacement at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. LaFlare in March.  He also lost to Jake Ellenberger at UFC 184 in February.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the fight to make here is against Paul Dailey.  For those that do not recall, Dailey was exiled from the UFC after he sucker-punched Koscheck at UFC 113 in May 2010.  That matchup saw a lot of trash-talking which ended up with Dailey hitting Koscheck after the final bell.  He was dismissed from the UFC and never given a chance to return.  We shall see if Bellator can continue its success of repackaging older, name brand fighters for its shows.  As we know from Bellator 131 and 138, the ratings reflect that it can.

More ratings from Bellator 138

June 24, 2015

Spike TV has released Live+3 data on Bellator 138 which reveals that 1.7 million viewers watched Friday night’s event.  The Kimbo Slice-Ken Shamrock fight drew 2.8 million viewers and peaked at 2.9 million making it the most watched Bellator event ever.

Adults 18-49 drew a 1.2 rating, Men 18-49 a 1.7 rating and Men 18-34 a 1.3 rating.

In comparison, Bellator 131’s DVR numbers bumped up last November’s telecast to 1.4 million with a peak of 2.246 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

A remarkably good showing by Bellator as the live event showing plus 2 replays drew an average of 8.9 million viewers.  It did much better than Bellator 131 although you might recall it competed with UFC 180 that night.  Without another MMA telecast to compete with, Bellator had its best night on television.  We shall see how Bellator does September 19th with its third “tent pole” event.  It will go up against a UFC card but that is a Fight Pass only event.

Updated Bellator 138 ratings has peak viewership at 2.4M

June 23, 2015

Updated ratings for Bellator 138 are in and as expected the ratings have gone up from its initial ratings yesterday.  Notably, the Friday telecast peaked at 2.4 million viewers at 11:53pm ET during the main event.

Additionally, the fight between Slice and Shamrock drew 2.3 million viewers alone for the 3 minutes it lasted (11:51-11:54pmET).  In addition the replay immediately after the event drew an additional 339,000 viewers.  The next day, another replay on Saturday, June 20th drew 428,000 viewers.

The overall live telecast from 9-12:03pm drew 1.6 million viewers.

A ratings breakdown of some of the fights from Friday (live) are as follows:

Pitbull-Weichel- 1.9 million viewers

Lashley-Charles- 1.8 million viewers

Straus-Corrales – 1.3 million viewers

Chandler-Campos – 1.1 million viewers

Slice-Shamrock – 2.3 million viewers

In comparison, here is the breakdown (in order) of the fights for Bellator 131 last November:

King Mo-Joe Vedepo – 1.1 million viewers

Mike Richman-Nam Phan – 1.1 million viewers

Joe Schilling-Melvin Manhoef – 1.6 million viewers

AJ Matthews-Kyle Bolt – 1.3 million viewers

Will Brooks-Michael Chandler – 1.3 million viewers

Tito Ortiz-Stephan Bonnar – 1.9 million viewers

Payout Perspective:

Viewership is up for Bellator’s second “tent pole” event. The replays drew a modest audience as Saturday night’s replay went up against PBC on NBC as well as US Open Golf.  Still, the average viewership for fight are positive.  The DVR viewership should increase these numbers even more.

Bellator 138 posts biggest ratings in its history

June 22, 2015

Bellator 138 drew 1.58 million viewers on Spike TV Friday night according to Sports TV Ratings.  The event was the largest average viewership in Bellator history.

The previous record was November’s Bellator 131 which averaged 1.2 million viewers.

The main event for Bellator 138 was Kimbo Slice taking on Ken Shamrock.  Slice KO’d Shamrock in the first round.  It drew the highest peak in the company’s history: 2.1 million viewers (11;45pm-12am).

Bellator 138, which aired from 9:0pm-12:03am Friday night, drew an 0.8 rating among adults 18-49 per Sports TV Ratings.

Overnight Peak
Bellator 132 767,000 1,200,000
Bellator 133 565,000 967,000
Bellator 134 872,000 1,200,000
Bellator 135 607,000 922,000
Bellator 136 655,000 900,000
Bellator 137 594,000 768,000
Bellator 138 1,580,000 2,100,000

Bellator 138 ratings

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are great for Bellator as it was second to only US Open Golf on FS1 in cable sports viewing on Friday.  Scott Coker’s “tent pole” event strategy seems to be working as viewers are making sure that they tune in when a big event is on.  MMA Payout will keep you updated on further ratings information as we receive it.

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