PFL 8 draws 144,000 viewers

October 24, 2018

The Professional Fighters League playoffs this past Saturday on NBC Sports Network drew 144,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The 8th event this season took place in Washington, D.C. on Saturday with the winners heading to the New Year’s Eve Finals in New York for a chance at the $1 million price for each weight division.  Saturday night’s event was highlighted by welterweight Ray Cooper as he won his welterweight semifinal matchup against Handesson Ferreira via first round TKO.  Cooper will face Magomed MagomedKirmov who defeated Bojan Velickovic in the other semifinal on Saturday.

PFL 1: 116,000 viewers

PFL 2: 150,000 viewers

PFL 3: 146,000 viewers

PFL 4: 101,000 viewers

PFL 5: 112,000 viewers

PFL 6: 138,000 viewers

PFL 7: 136,000 viewers

PFL 8: 144,000 viewers

While they are not the biggest ratings, Saturdays numbers improve upon the first set of semifinals in Long Beach.   The event went unopposed from Bellator or the UFC so this likely helped the bump in viewership.

PFL 7 draws 136,000 Friday night

October 11, 2018

The Professional Fighters League did 136,000 viewers on Friday night on NBC Sports Network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  Friday night was the start of the promotion’s playoffs.

Kevin Hart, one of the famous silent investors in the PFL, did a promo for the show.

PFL 1: 116,000 viewers

PFL 2: 150,000 viewers

PFL 3: 146,000 viewers

PFL 4: 101,000 viewers

PFL 5: 112,000 viewers

PFL 6: 138,000 viewers

PFL 7: 136,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Unfortunately for the PFL, UFC 229 overshadowed the start of the playoffs.  136,000 viewers is a decrease from the last show this past August.  Hopefully, the company will be able to gain some traction as the playoffs continue.

PFL 6 draws 138,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network

August 18, 2018

The Professional Fighter’s League on NBC Sports Network drew 138,000 Thursday night in its sixth event in the current season format.  The event improved upon PFL 5.

PFL 6 took place in Atlantic City and was capped by an impressive 18 second ref stoppage by Rey Cooper III to earn the number 1 seed in the welterweight playoffs.

Also on the telecast was Kayla Harrison as she earned her second pro victory in the third round over Jozette Cotton.

PFL 1: 116,000 viewers

PFL 2: 150,000 viewers

PFL 3: 146,000 viewers

PFL 4: 101,000 viewers

PFL 5: 112,000 viewers

PFL 6: 138,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Good ratings for a tough night of programming on cable as the NFL Preseason is back and the top cable telecast on Thursday night was ESPN’s game between the NY Jets and Washington.  FX’s Snowfall (923,000) and A&E’s Nightwatch Nation (1.437M) are among the shows that drew higher viewership in the same time slot.

PFL 5 on NBC Sports Network draws 112,000 viewers

August 6, 2018

The PFL on NBC Sports Network drew 112,000 viewers on Thursday night.

The event featured Nathan Schulte defeating Jason High in a lightweight matchup.

PFL 1: 116,000 viewers

PFL 2: 150,000 viewers

PFL 3: 146,000 viewers

PFL 4: 101,000 viewers

PFL 5: 112,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The event increased from a season-low of 101,000 viewers.  The ratings are still not on par with WSOF ratings.  We will see if viewership will increase before PFL gets to the playoffs.

Fourth telecast of PFL draws 101,000 viewers on NBCSN

July 20, 2018

The Professional Fighters League drew 101,000 viewers on Thursday night on NBC Sports Network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The event was the lowest-rated event thus far in the PFL season.  The event featured Lance Palmer as he defeated Jumabieke Tuerxun via submission.  Also, Andre Harrison defeated Nazareno Malegarie via unanimous decision.

PFL 1: 116,000 viewers

PFL 2: 150,000 viewers

PFL 3: 146,000 viewers

PFL has aired its prelims on Facebook Watch and then the main card airs on NBC Sports Network.

Payout Perspective:

While its early the PFL ratings are not that great.  The points concept that PFL is implementing is interesting and one would hope for the company that it starts to catch on as the summer goes on and heads into playoffs this fall.

World Series of Fighting and PFL file appeal against former officers of WSOF

June 20, 2018

The World Series of Fighting litigation continues in Nevada.  Despite re-emerging earlier this month as the Professional Fighters’ League, the lawsuit(s) continue over the power struggle between individuals, entities and now with a new investment group, more litigants. In this instance, the lawsuit hinges on a licensing agreement which contained an arbitration provision.

The licensing agreement between the parties described below is related to a prior Settlement Agreement and Operating Agreement between the two sides.  As you might infer, this business divorce is a mess.

There has been a plethora of lawsuits filed by different people and entities and this one is the latest involving the inception of WSOF.  The lawsuit in question pits rival entities over the split up and sale of World Series of Fighting when it was sold to investors that repackaged it as the PFL.

In this lawsuit plaintiffs are WSOF Global and its head Vince Hesser and Zion Wood Obi Wan Trust (Zion) and Shawn Wright (collectively referred to as Plaintiffs).  The defendants include MMAWC, LLC doing business as World Series of Fighting, MMAX Investment Partners, Inc., doing business as PFL, Bruce Deifik, Carlos Silva, Nancy and Bruce Deifik Family Partnership and Keith Redmond, Inc.

The lawsuit claimed that MMAWC, LLC, which did business as WSOF experienced several financial shortfalls during 2012 to 2015.  The plaintiffs had made “extensive loans” to the promotion to allow the promotion to continue and operate.  But, WSOF refused to repay the loans.

Zion Wood Obi Wan Trust Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Additionally, Shawn Wright and Vince Hesser had written agreements with WSOF for other contractual payments and worldwide licensing.  WSOF Global had acquired rights to the intellectual property of WSOF overseas and had invested in the brand under the assumption it was planning to expand.  But, WSOF refused to honor the terms of the agreement per the Complaint.  Zion’s membership interest was 10.5% and WSOF executed agreements that it was non-dilutable.

The dispute was thought to have been resolved after the organizations entered into a Settlement Agreement.  As part of the agreement, Zion agreed to reduce its 10.5% non-dilutable interest in WSOF to 4.50% of the total outstanding ownership units in WSOF, which interest shall remain non-dilutable.  But, Zion believed that Bruce Deifik created a new entity and put all of the WSOF assets into the PFL organization.

Zion did not have an interest in the “Successor Company,” PFL.  As a result, it believed that its shares were being diluted.

The Complaint stated WSOF sold the company for $15 million, but without input from Zion and WSOF Global, Inc., who held shares in the WSOF.  Additionally, Plaintiffs claimed it was being shut out from finding out the real value of the deal which would help them assess the purported amount that they would have been entitled.

The Complaint also mentioned a WSOF event in New York City on New Year’s Eve 2016.  The WSOF reported $0 income from broadcasting rights to New York State.  But, it reported to Zion that they spent $190,000 in broadcasting revenue from NBC to the NYC event.  This would be inconsistent reporting.

But, the big issue here is the licensing deal between Vince Hesser, the owner of WSOF Global, and WSOF.  An Amended Master License Agreement gave Mr. Hesser the exclusive right to license the WSOF brand outside the United States.  A dispute arose over the licensing agreement and was thought to have been subsequently settled.  WSOF Global claims to have rights that “consist of over 100 international events per year, at a cost to produce of tens of millions of dollars, which dwarf the mere 8-10 events per year” from WSOF.

But, when the WSOF sold to PFL, it failed to comply with the licensing agreement.  The obvious breach was the change of the name to the Professional Fighters League which plaintiffs claimed damage them.  The PFL did not grant WSOF Global the right to use the PFL name in the Settlement Agreement and Amended License Agreement.

Prior to the name change, WSOF Global claimed that it was working on a sports partnership to bring MMA content to China.  It claims it received $16 million to further the promotion of WSOF in China and to promote foreign fighters in their events alongside Chinese fighters.  This would appear to be part of the damages to be claimed in this lawsuit.

WSOF stated that the parties should be compelled to arbitration to resolve these disputes and pointed to the clause in the Amended Licensing Agreement.

The arbitration clause in the parties’ licensing agreement compels the Court to dismiss this case and force the parties to arbitration.  But, the plaintiffs contend that they did not specifically authorize the arbitration agreement.  Under the state law in Nevada, a party must grant “specific authorization” that they have agreed to their arbitration provision otherwise it is void.  Plaintiffs cite the lack of specific authorization in the contract to show that the arbitration provision was void.

In its reply to the opposition of moving the case to arbitration, WSOF argued that the parties jointly drafted and authorized the agreement which included the arbitration clause.  Thus, despite WSOF’s assertion that Plaintiffs had knowledge of the clause and the opportunity to point out the issue, it did not.  Moreover, it agreed to the overall agreement.

The Court found in favor of Plaintiffs’ arguments and voided the arbitration provision and denied WSOF’s motion to compel arbitration.  Shortly after the ruling, WSOF filed to appeal the decision.

In its appeal statement WSOF noted, “When the parties finalized the Arbitration provision, however, the parties did not include language and initials or separate signatures to further manifest their agreement to the Arbitration provision…”

WSOF Case Appeal Statement by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Despite the fact that WSOF believed that the Arbitration provision should have been allowed, the Court found it void due to the lack of a “specific authorization.”

The appeal will be heard in the state appellate court in Nevada.  The lawsuit was filed in the District Court of Clark County, Nevada.

Payout Perspective:

While there is the possibility that the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit may amend its RICO claim, it was dismissed by the Court.  However, the case is not going to Arbitration due to the fact the Court voided the provision.  While WSOF may allege that having the parties sign a section consenting to Arbitration is duplicative if you consider they signed the Agreement.  Also, in this instance, the parties allegedly collaborated on putting together the Agreement.  Yet, the Nevada state rules are explicit that there must be a specific authorization which appears to be more than just signing the contract overall but making an affirmative concession to the clause.

As it goes for the overall transaction, it appears that Hesser and Wright are creditors to the WSOF entity and were not privy to the sale of assets to the successor company, PFL.  While there was a transaction to do business under the WSOF brand, there was not one to do under any successor brand.  It would seem that either poor business acumen, lack of communication or a bad business deal has transpired.  Maybe all of the above.

One thing is for certain, both sides have shown errors in contractual drafting.  Plaintiffs should have included clauses that would have protected itself form any sale of assets from the debtor (i.e., WSOF).  For WSOF, it should have drafted an Agreement in compliance with the Nevada state law that would ensure specific authorization for Arbitration.  While Arbitration may have been a faster, cost-efficient way to resolve a dispute, it looks like this case will be litigated.  But first, the appeal.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

PFL kicks off season Thursday night with a lot on the line

June 6, 2018

The Professional Fighters League kicks off on Thursday on NBC Sports Network and Facebook Watch as it seeks to reinvent itself with a season-like year culminating in a bracket-style playoff and $10 million pool of prize money for the champions for each respective weight division.

The PFL will hold its “regular season” events this summer on Thursday nights.  In the fall, the events will switch to Saturday nights for the playoffs and will end with a New Year’s Eve event to crown the champions.  The winner of each division will win $1 million.

The deal with NBC Sports Network is a one-year revenue sharing deal.  Previously, the network aired World Series of Fighting events to modest ratings.  The Facebook deal will be an interesting watch since the PFL succeeded in its one event it aired last year on the platform.

The league will have a uniform policy, but it will allow room for fighters’ sponsors.  The move looks to be a way to appease fighters while capitalizing on negotiating its own sponsor deals.  Arguably, the move looks to build on lessons from the UFC’s Outfitting Policy.

The roster of fighters vying for the $1 million in each division is a mix of prospects, international fighters and former UFC fighters.

The company will draw upon shoulder programming to promote its fighters in hopes of creating personalities for viewers to latch on to similar to episodic television.

Putting the “regular season” on Thursday nights might be a good move considering WSOF was buried on Friday and Saturday nights and seemed to be going up against a Bellator or UFC card.  Thursdays during the summer may be a tactical gamble that may work out.  Moving the day of the show during its “playoffs” may be a risk since it will get bogged down with football.  But, the hope would be that the company would have reeled in a core base that would continue to follow the season.

PFL CEO, Peter Murray was interviewed on the Sports Business Radio Podcast to promote the new season.  Murray, formerly of Under Armour, spoke about meeting with the ownership group of the PFL who were enthused about the product.  He spoke about the ‘season’ and ‘championship’ aspect as what distinguished the PFL from other MMA leagues.  He talked about the distribution deals with NBC Sports Network and Facebook Watch.  He noted that Facebook Watch being a disrupter in the industry.

The success of this venture will depend heavily on the entertainment value of the fights and the overarching factor that no one gets hurt and has to withdraw from the tournament and/or a fighter misses weight and cannot compete.  The unknowns that can derail a fight or event are likely a big concern for the PFL.  Everything must go right this season for the PFL to have a second season.  You might infer that NBC Sports Network will remain a partner with the PFL so long as it drawing enough revenue (and ratings) to make it worthwhile.  Facebook Watch is a non-traditional medium which the PFL hopes to capitalize on by helping the platform bolster its content.  Still, the amount of views and how long people stay to watch will be something that execs will keep tabs on.

While the optimist sees potential for the PFL, the pessimist sees a lot of trappings of defunct leagues of the past.

Brian Stann joins PFL to lead Fighter and Competition/Rule Committee

May 17, 2018

The Professional Fighters’ League announced that Brian Stann has joined the  promotion on the Fighter Competition/Rules Committee.

Via PFL press release:

The Professional Fighters League (“PFL”) today announced that former MMA star and veteran Brian Stann will help lead the league’s 2018 Fighter and Competition/Rules Committee, bringing his expertise to the first “true sports format” MMA league. Stann will play a major leadership role on the Fighter and Competition/Rules Committee in its efforts to support fighters by developing procedures and making recommendations with respect to competition format and rules, fighter care, and athlete conduct. Under Stann’s leadership, the Committee will play an important role in the “fighters first” league as it debuts its 2018 regular season live on Thursday, June 7, at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In 2017 Stann left his post as a commentator for UFC events to pursue a position as a COO at a real estate firm and also going to school to pursue his Masters in Business Administration.

Payout Perspective:

Stann’s addition brings a level of credibility to a promotion that desperately needs to have a great year for a multitude of reasons.  We will see how much of a role he has once the PFL events begin and whether he will remain on with the promotion.

PFL announces uniform policy for upcoming season

May 11, 2018

The Professional Fighters League has announced a uniform policy which will begin at the start with its first event this June.  Unlike the UFC’s uniform policy, it will allow up to 2 sponsors in designated areas of the uniform.

MMA Fighting first reported the news of the uniform policy. Sponsors will be allowed to be on warmups including hoodies and hats.

The PFL will supply the fighter with gloves and shorts.  PFL official apparel will be required for walk ins and weigh-ins.  The sponsors must be consistent on the shorts and walkout wear (i.e., hoodies and hat).  Fighters can change sponsors and logos three times throughout the season.

 

Of course, the PFL reserves the right to feature up to two logos of official league brand partners on the fight shorts and other gear.

 

The new policy eliminates banners in the cage and there is also a ban on certain sponsors such as vape, tobacco, condoms, porn and gambling.

 

Payout Perspective:

 

The uniform policy seems to be a compromise of sorts in which the PFL give the fighters an opportunity to solicit sponsors but also has the ability to sell its own sponsorships.  No clothing sponsor was announced although I would think that Under Armour might be in the running since some of the investors are tied to the company.  The most notable thing in the policy is the ban on certain sponsors including vape and gambling companies which would seemingly be big sponsors at this time.  Yet, the policy is a move to create a brand for the promotion.  This seems to be important, especially for this promotion at this time as it starts this new venture.

PFL finds new TV deal with familiar partner

January 29, 2018

The Professional Fighter’s League is back with NBC Sports Network as part of a one year revenue sharing deal according to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal.

Previously the World Series of Fighting, the organization went through a regime change and renamed itself the PFL.  This year it will offer a league setup with the promise that fighters on its roster will get regular fights and offer a league-style makeup for its six weight divisions culminating with a $10 million prize for fighters at the end of the year.

The article indicates that Jon Miller, NBC Sports Networks’ head of programming reached out to the new PFL heads as he has previously worked with PFL Executive Chairman Russ Ramsey and PFL President of Event Production Carlos Silva. Miller was also fond of CEO Peter Murray, who Miller worked with at the NFL and Under Armour.

In addition to NBC Sports network, Facebook has agreed to pick up the streaming rights for the PFL which include events that are not carried by NBCSN and will carry the first three hours of a PFL event before NBCSN takes over.

Payout Perspective:

The deal appears to be better than the previous WSOF “time buys” in which the organization purchased time from NBCSN.  Although no financial terms were not disclosed, it would seem that revenue sharing would mean that at least a portion of the advertising dollars and sponsorships from the televised event would go back to the network.  This may give a little more incentive for NBCSN to promote PFL.  The online streaming proved to be successful with the organization’s fans with PFL’s one event last year.  We still don’t have a solid date for the PFL to start but with this news, we should expect it happening sooner than later.

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