UFC Fight Night 62 draws 617,000; Prelims on FS2 draw 280,000

March 24, 2015

UFC Fight Night 62 drew an average viewership of 617,000 on Saturday night on FS1. In addition, the Prelims which aired on FS2 drew 280,000 according to Nielsen sources.

The main card which went slightly over its 3 hour window from 7:00pm-10:pm PT featured Demian Maia taking on Ryan LaFlare in the main event from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Maia won via unanimous decision. The prelims preceded the main card and aired on FS2 from 5:00pm-7:00pm PT.

UFC Fight Nights 2015
Main Card Prelims
UFC Fight Night 59 (FOX) 1,700,000 908,000
UFC Fight Night 60 913,000 775,000
UFC Fight Night 61 1,200,000 813,000
UFC Fight Night 62 617,000 280,000
 *UFC FN 62 Prelims on FS2

UFC Fight 62

Payout Perspective:
The ratings are the lowest for Fight Nights in 2015 although it may have been expected considering the card went opposite the NCAA Tournament on TNT and TBS. Moreover, the move of the Prelims to FS2 due to NASCAR was the key culprit in the lower ratings for the undercard. Of course, the lack of known fighters on the Prelims coupled with basketball was the other factor in the lower ratings.

Lombard suspended one year, fined by Nevada

March 24, 2015

Hector Lombard has been suspended one year, fined $70,490 which accounts for his entire win bonus and 33 percent of his show money.  The ruling was handed down at the Nevada Athletic Commission’s monthly meeting held on Monday per MMA Fighting.

Lombard tested positive for the anabolic steroid desoxymethyltestosterone (DMT) after his UFC 182 fight on January 3rd.  Lombard did not contest that DMT was found within his sample.

Lombard expressed regret and apologized for the failed drug test.  He indicated that he took something under the belief that the medication was “all-natural.”  But, the commission did not buy the ignorance argument or the mitigating argument that he never failed a previous test.  The commissioned ruled that the 37 year old fighter cannot fight in the state until January 3, 2016.

Payout Perspective:

A stern ruling from the commission but based on the information it’s clear that Lombard had taken DMT and did not report it.  With the rash of fighter’s testing positive for PEDs, it was natural for the commission to issue the ban without any leniency.  It does not appear that Lombard will appeal so we will see what that means for his career.

Rousey heads to Albany to lobby legalization of MMA in state

March 23, 2015

Ronda Rousey is heading to Albany to lobby the legislature for the legalization of MMA in New York this week. In addition to heading to the state capital of New York, Rousey made an appearance on “The View” on Monday as well as “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Monday night.

Rousey indicated to the NY Daily News that she wanted to make the trip to Albany “a priority” despite her busy schedule of promoting her upcoming movie release, “Fast & Furious 7,” as well as her August fight in Brazil against Bethe Corriea. She also stated that, “[i]t’s pretty ridiculous that MMA is not regulated here [New York].”

Rousey’s appearance on “The View” Monday morning did not mention New York but was more of a general interview in which the show aired her complete fight from UFC 184 (it was just 14 seconds). She did promote her UFC 190 fight this August against Bethe Correia.

Payout Perspective:

As is always the case, the momentum for MMA in Albany picks up steam with appearances by UFC talent, but will it mean that the bill will actually be put to a vote this year. With a new speaker in the General Assembly, and Zuffa picking up some key endorsements in the past couple weeks, this year could be different from years past. Rousey’s appearance in Albany this week will be a good source of mainstream news and perhaps grab a little more momentum for MMA’s cause in the state.

UFC Fight Night 62 attendance and bonuses

March 22, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses for UFC Fight Night 62 from Brazil.  There was no Fight of the Night bonus as four fighters were awarded Performance of the Night honors.

The following received $50,000 bonuses.  Gilbert Burns, Godofredo Pepey, Kevin Souza and Fredy Serrano all earned the awards on a night where there were 9 stoppages.  In addition, Dana White stated that Erick Silva and Amanda Nunes would receive an extra check for their performances on Saturday.

The event drew 7,707 fans at the Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The event was less than Mendes-Aldo II from UFC 179.  That event drew 11,415 in the same venue.

Payout Perspective:

It’s not too surprising that this event did not draw as well as UFC 179.  In fact, it’s the lowest attendance for a UFC event in Rio de Janeiro since 2012.  One could have picked any number of the stoppages for Performance of the Night as the event had many entertaining stoppages.

Zuffa receives support from NYSAC

March 21, 2015

Zuffa received another show of support for a law legalizing MMA in the state of New York with the New York State Association of Counties expressed its support for the bill this week according to the Auburn Citizen.

According to its web site, the NYSAC’s mission is to “represent, educate and advocate for New York counties and thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.”

The NYSAC’s executive director indicated that “legalizing MMA would generate economic for local municipalities and the state.”

This is the second endorsement of the MMA bill this year as the Business Council of New York state expressed its support for the bill in a legislative memo.

Lorenzo Fertitta acknowledged the support of NYSAC citing that its recognition of the economic potential that MMA would provide for the state.

Payout Perspective:

It appears that the UFC is receiving much more support this year from key stakeholders that it has in years past.  Perhaps the key here is the focus on the economic benefits that MMA events would provide for the state.  This would not only be the UFC, but other organizations being able to conduct MMA events all over the state.  We will continue to monitor Zuffa’s efforts in Albany this year.

UFC announces Rousey to defend title in Brazil

March 20, 2015

The UFC announced that Ronda Rousey will face Bethe Corriea on August 1st in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the HSBC Arena.  Rousey’s next fight, which should headline UFC 190, will be the first outside North America for the bantamweight champion.

The HSBC Arena has been the venue for UFC 142 (Aldo-Mendes, $2.8M gate, 10,605 in attendance), UFC 153 (Silva-Bonnar, $2.55M gate, 16,844 in attendance) and UFC 163 (Aldo-Korean Zombie, $1.5M gate, 13,873 in attendance).

UFC 190 should do well based on Rousey’s popularity at the moment.  Rousey had been rumored to fight on a PPV card in Melbourne, Australia in November.

Corriea is undefeated (9-0) and has beaten two of Rousey’s stablemates (Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke).

Payout Perspective:

I was a little surprised with this announcement.  Despite Rousey’s appeal, one would think that this fight give the challenger a “home” advantage.  Of course, in an effort to extend its global reach, having Rousey defend her title in Brazil would be good for business.  With the UFC not having luck with its August PPVs (recall last year’s was cancelled), UFC 190 should turn that trend around.

UFC 185 Prelims over 1 million viewer average

March 19, 2015

The UFC 185 Prelims on FX drew an average viewership of slightly over 1 million viewers with 1,003,000. The event which featured Ross Pearson versus Sam Stout peaked at 1,147,000 total viewers in the 9:30pm-9:45pm ET quarter hour.

It’s the fourth straight UFC Prelims which drew over 1 million viewers. The 185 Prelims were up 28% from the UFC 174 Prelims, the last time it was on FX (1,003,000 vs. 784,000). It was also up 36% in the A18-49 (532,000 vs. 390,000) since the last time it was on FX. The ratings are Live + Same Day viewership per Nielsen.

ufc 185 prelims

Payout Perspective:

Notably, all of the fights on the UFC 185 Prelims ended in stoppages. The trend of viewership topping over 1 million is a good sign for the UFC. Perhaps this was even a better accomplishment considering the prelims were moved to FX due to college basketball. The ratings reflect the fact that the audience actively recognized the change and decided to watch. FX does have more viewers than FS1, yet one might assume that most tuning in wanted to watch the fights.

Zuffa sued for patent infringement in Texas

March 19, 2015

Zuffa has been sued in a patent infringement lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas by a company that claims that Zuffa is infringing on a patent owned by Orostream LLC.  However, it appears that the lawsuit is one of many filed by the company on the same day.

According to the Complaint, Orostream is a Texas limited liability company with its principal place of business in Plano, Texas. Orostream’s lawyers are based out of Chicago, Illinois. It appears that Zuffa was one of several companies sued by Orostream on the same day: February 23, 2015.  At this point, it appears that Zuffa has requested and the Court has granted an extension of time to Answer the Complaint.

The Complaint alleges that Zuffa infringed on a patent known as the ‘837 Patent titled, “Computer Network System and Method for Efficient Information Transfer.” The patent was filed on April 15, 1996 according to the Complaint.

The Complaint states that Zuffa has directly infringed the patent “by making and/or using a content distribution system over the internet, including the system and application for the UFC.TV app, which performs a method of transferring target information packets while minimizing additional communication delay between a user node and a master node comprising the steps of monitoring length of time necessary for transfer of each target information packet, and adjusting the rate of target information transfer in response to the monitored transfer time.”

No dollar amount is associated with the lawsuit although Orostream requests that Zuffa pay “all damages to and costs incurred…because of Defendant’s infringing activities…”

Zuffa Patent Lawsuit

The full text of the patent can be found here via the USPTO web site.

H/t to Paul Gift for initially finding this lawsuit.

Payout Perspective:

Although not a patent attorney, reading the patent it appears that what Orostream has is a patent for which a web site disseminates information from an end user customer to the source. It appears to be broad and maybe that’s why on the same day it sued Zuffa, Orostream sued many others, in the same Court. Some of the other entities it has sued are WWE, NFL Enterprises, LLC, NHL Interactive Cyberenterprises and MLB Advanced Media. Notably, Texas courts are “patent-friendly” and the Eastern District is known for going to trial quickly on these cases. Here, Orostream has filed a jury demand along with its Complaint.

Only an opinion, but it appears that the strategy by Orostream is to seek a settlement from Zuffa to pay a settlement and not litigate the case. In patent law parlance, this is known as a “patent troll.” MMA Payout will keep you posted.

WWE partners with DraftKings

March 19, 2015

DraftKings and the WWE announced a partnership on Wednesday which will see the Boston-based fantasy sports operator initiate a contest where a fan will win a trip to the WWE’s SummerSlam which will be held at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York this year.

The winner of the contest will have the opportunity to attend SummerSlam as well as access to a VIP party where they will get to meet WWE Superstars and Divas.

DraftKings will be a promotional partner for SummerSlam which will entail integration within the event’s telecast on the WWE Network and PPV. It will also include integration within the WWE’s digital and social media platforms. DraftKings will also launch an integrated media campaign on WWE’s platforms leading up to this month’s WrestleMania 31.

Via a portion of the WWE’s press release:

“As daily fantasy sports continue to grow in popularity, we’ve seen dramatic growth in interest from fans in the WWE community,” said Jason Robins, Co-founder and CEO of DraftKings. “WWE is extremely creative when it comes to engaging their fans, and has been a great partner for DraftKings in developing contests and one-of-a-kind new experiences that fans are sure to enjoy.”

“We are always looking for innovative ways to deliver unique experiences to our fans,” said Michelle Wilson, WWE Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer. “WWE’s partnership with DraftKings will deliver an extraordinary opportunity to our fans, while providing DraftKings with maximum exposure during two of our biggest global events, WrestleMania and SummerSlam.”

For info on the contest visit here. The contest runs through April 15th.

Payout Perspective:

Until a year ago, I did not know that you could gamble on professional wrestling. Sure, DraftKings is “fantasy sports” but we understand the similarities.  The partnership makes sense from the perspective that the WWE does a great job with its social media and digital platforms and the exposure to a broad audience should assist DraftKings. For the WWE, DraftKings provides another sponsor as well as help assisting it with promoting the two biggest events of its year.

As we know, DraftKings signed a sponsorship deal with the UFC earlier this year.  Activations for each company appear to differ but the general takeaway is that fantasy sports is growing and expanding.

UFC 185: Payout Perspective

March 17, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 185 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas where two UFC titles were on the line.

RDA wins Lightweight Title

Rafael dos Anjos earned his unanimous decision against Anthony Pettis.  It was total domination by the challenger as he topped Pettis with his striking and grappling.  It was an impressive win considering the complete manhandling of Pettis and the post-fight news that he had a knee injury coming into the fight.

Up next for RDA is the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone this May.  But with RDA’s knee injury, we may not see this fight until December.

UFC 185

Joanna J destroys Cookie Monster

It was a mismatch. And the Champion looked to be in trouble from the start.  Joanna Jedrzejcyzk controlled Carla Esparza and the “Cookie Monster” did not look like a Champion defending her title. Jedrzejcyk’s Muay Thai background defeated Esparza’s wrestling and it was an easy win for the fighter from Poland.

In the end, the referee was looking for a way to stop the fight in the 2nd round.  Jedrzejczyk has the personality to promote fights in her division.  But, will there be anyone in her division that can match her?

Attendance and Gate

Attendance at the America Airlines Center drew a reported 17,160 fans for a gate of $2.155 million as announced at the post-fight press conference.  Despite the good number, it was still the lowest of the three PPVs held at the venue.

Previous Attendance for UFC PPVs at American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX (via MMA Payout Blue Book)

UFC 103 – September 9, 2009 – Rich Franklin-Vitor Belfort Attendance 17,428, Gate: $2.4M

UFC 171 – March 15, 2014 – Johny Hendricks-Robbie Lawler Attendance 19,324, Gate: $2.6M

Bonuses

For the second PPV in a row, there was no Fight of the Nights.  The four Performances of the Night went to RDA, Jedrzejcyk, Ross Pearson and Beneil Darush.  Each received $50,000 bonuses.  There were a lot of stoppages to choose from but one would have to concur that these four stood out.

Sponsorships

For the second straight PPV in a row Monster Energy Drink had the center of the Octagon moving Bud Light to the Octagon bumpers.  In addition, MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Corn Nuts, DraftKings, Fram, MusclePharm and Toyo Tires.

Fram also had the fighter checkpoint.

Notably, Pettis was sponsored by Reebok, Corn Nuts, Monster Headphones and Monster Energy Drinks.  Interesting enough, no Wheaties logo worn by Pettis or in the Octagon.

Reebok sold Showtime’s gear prior to the event at UFC 185.  Wonder how sales are post-fight.

Monster Headphones also had a campaign centered on Pettis.

Post-Fight Headlines:

-The UFC saw the crowning of two new champions. Who will have the longest title run? Moreover, who will the UFC be able to sell to fans?

-Does Hendricks get another shot at the title? With the win over Matt Brown, should Hendricks get the winner of Lawler-MacDonald?

-Henry Cejudo made weight and won a unanimous decision over Chris Cariaso. Could he be on the fast track to a 125 pound title shot?

Odds and ends

-Ben Askren and CM Punk were in the corner for Anthony Pettis.

-Interesting enough, Erik Koch made a cameo during the first UFC Embedded which one might think unusual if you read “Thrown.”

-Carla Esparza wore a wrestling singlet which was a nice touch. Both Esparza and Jedrzejcyzk were sponsored by Alienware.

-Alienware, a UFC sponsor, has been active of late with its activation with the UFC.  There is a lot more visibility in sponsoring fighters as well as sponsoring the UFC Embedded online episodes.

-For the first time that I recall, the Embedded episodes had a sponsor, Alienware (“Powered by Alienware”). It was the umpteenth time we saw an Embedded episode where someone was at a barbershop getting their hair cut. This time it was Showtime at his barber shop.

-With Monster Energy as a new UFC sponsor, it appears we will see the return of awkwardly holding a soda can in the Octagon after a fight.

-UFC Prelims was on FX due to college basketball. We shall see whether the network change will affect ratings.

-There were over 100,000 Google searches for the UFC on Saturday which was far less than UFC 184 and Ronda Rousey during the same time frame.

-Texas did not do any “out of competition” drug testing for this event.

Conclusion

Prior to the PPV, we wrote whether Anthony Pettis could be the next big PPV draw for the UFC. If he does, it will be in pursuit of the belt he just lost. The card seemed like one more for the solid base of UFC fans that usually purchase PPVs. Yet, with the solid success of UFC PPVs this year, could we see another good PPV buy rate from the company. There was less buzz for this event than the previous three this year. This could reflect in PPV buys as I would assume that we get a PPV buy rate of around 325,000-350,000.

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