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.

UFC 189 world tour set for 8 cities promoting Aldo-McGregor

March 16, 2015

MMA Junkie reports an 8 city press tour to promote the July 11th fight between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo.  The tour is one of a kind considering it features the company’s 145 pound fighters.

The UFC is heavily investing in Conor McGregor once again as he challenges Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title at UFC 189.  The tour, dubbed the “UFC 189 World Championship Tour” includes stops in Rio de Janeiro, Los Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, London and Dublin.

The official schedule via Junkie:

  • March 20: 2 p.m. news conference, Maracanazinho Arena, Rio de Janeiro. Free and open to the public, streaming on UFC Fight Pass
  • March 23: Press tour, Las Vegas
  • March 24: Press tour, Los Angeles
  • March 25: 5:30 p.m. news conference, The Strand Theater, Boston
  • March 26: 5 p.m. news conference, Beacon Theater, New York. Free and open to the public
  • March 27: 4 p.m. news conference, Eaton Centre (MAC Court Fountain), Toronto. Free and open to the public
  • March 29: McGregor to attend 2016 Qualifying round of UEFA European Championship: Republic of Ireland vs. Poland, Aviva Stadium, Dublin
  • March 29: Jose Aldo to attend FIFA International friendly: Brazil vs. Chile, Emirates Stadium, London
  • March 30: News conference, TBA, London
  • March 31: Fan event, Convention Centre Dublin. Free and open to the public

Payout Perspective:

The UFC has done press tours in the past but none with so many cities and focusing on just a single fight (although certain cities will include promotion of other fights upcoming).  As it did with McGregor’s fight in January, the UFC is pulling out all of the stops.  I would look for Fox’s involvement once again with shoulder programming to include filming during this tour.  It will be interesting to see how these two do for the tour and the reception they will receive in each city.  Obviously, McGregor’s persona will carry the tour and we’ll see if Aldo will play along.

UFC 185 attendance, gate and bonuses

March 14, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC 185. Once again there were four Performance of the Night bonuses but no Fight of the Night bonuses.

The bonuses went to Rafael dos Anjos, Joanna Jedrzejcyk, Ross Pearson and Beneil Dariush. Each stopped their opponents and received $50,000 bonuses. It was the second straight PPV where there was no Fight of the Night.

UFC 185 drew a reported 17,160 fans for a gate of $2.155 million according to Dana White at the post-fight press conference. The attendance was down from the previous two UFC PPV events at the Arena.

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

Payout Perspective:

The attendance and gate are down from the prior two visits despite two title fights on the card. This is slightly disappointing considering that Hendricks was on the card again and he drew very well last year. The primary market of tickets indicated that much of the lower part of the arena had sold out with a smattering of tickets available in the upper parts of the arena. Still, the official attendance is lower than the previous two times the UFC visited the arena.

There were a couple other stoppages on the card (including Elias Theodorou breaking his opponents arm with a kick) but you cannot deny the four from receiving bonuses.

Can Showtime keep UFC’s PPV momentum going?

March 14, 2015

As we get ready for UFC 185, we take a look at whether Anthony Pettis can be a future PPV draw for the company.  This will be the first event where Pettis will be the advertised main draw for a PPV.

For UFC 181 this past December, Pettis co-headlined with Johny Hendricks-Robbie Lawler II as the last fight on the card. Arguably, Pettis was the most impressive on the card scoring a submission against the former Strikeforce Champ Gilbert Melendez.

The good news for this PPV is that Johny Hendricks will be on the card fighting Matt Brown as well as the inaugural defense of the women’s strawweight title.  Despite the lack of superstar power as we had with the previous 3 PPVs, this is a solid UFC card with 3 very good fights at the top.  You might also add Alistair Overeem versus Roy Nelson and the interest of seeing former Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo and you have a PPV that you may be ok with spending $60 on.

The draw of this PPV has to be Pettis (although the women’s fight should be entertaining). He has the looks and talent to be one of the top draws for the UFC.  Pettis already has the individual sponsorships from Reebok and Wheaties. He’s also donned the box of cereal maker as well.  A big part of the UFC’s Embedded series for this event was Pettis preparing for the fight.

Previous UFC PPVs with Pettis in co-main or main event

UFC 164 vs. Benson Henderson – 270,000 PPV buys

UFC 181 vs. Gilbert Melendez – 400,000 PPV buys

The PPV buys are not too impressive right now but with the right promotion for Showtime, he can be a true superstar for the UFC.  One need only reference the “Showtime Kick” to know that he has an appealing fighting style that can attract fans.  And if you recall his backstory from “World of Jenks,” he’s overcome a lot in his personal life to be where he is now.  Will this equate to a following that would be willing to automatically purchase UFC PPVs when he’s fighting?

Solid interest in UFC 185?

Looking at ticket sales for this event, there are still a number of seats available on Ticketmaster as of Friday afternoon. The “get in” price for the event was $66.72 although the highest price on the secondary market was $1,400. The seats on the primary market are scattered throughout the arena so we will see if there will be a good walk-up for the event that could push this event near a sellout.

Previous Attendance for UFC PPVs at American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX

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

UFC 185 – March 14, 2015 – Pettis–Dos Anjos ?

Notably, the official capacity for the AAC in Dallas is 18,500. But, based on UFC 171, the configurations for the UFC probably allow for more seats. With Hendricks on the card, one might expect the strong attendance.

Payout Perspective:

Anthony Pettis has all the look, swag, talent and ability to be a major superstar for the UFC. The only thing that has held him back has been injuries. If Pettis can keep healthy, he can become an anchor athlete to headline UFC PPVs in the future. We shall see if Pettis can keep the 2015 UFC PPV momentum going.

Edgar and Faber state little info given on Reebok deal

March 14, 2015

According to a recent Bloody Elbow report, it appears that many UFC contracted fighters may be still in the dark on the Reebok deal.  During a press event to promote their upcoming fight in the Philippines Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber indicated they knew little more about the new uniform policy set for July.

Although rules were circulated about the new uniforms, Edgar and Faber stated they knew little details regarding the payouts aside from knowing that the payments from the Reebok sponsorship are tied toward fighter rankings, little else was known by the fighters.

Edgar stated he doesn’t know the breakdown of payments from the Reebok deal.  Faber stated the UFC has “given us zero additional info on the Reebok deal.”

Payout Perspective:

If you are Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber it’s unlikely you are too concerned with payouts from the Reebok deal since both are established fighters that should have money in the bank.  But, if you are managing their careers, shouldn’t you be concerned?  So, the question is who knows about the deal and its details?  While Edgar and Faber are not champions in the UFC, they are mainstays in the company.  One would think that financial information, even at least projections, about the deal would be provided to them.  Unless they are being told not to speak about the details to the media, it’s clear that there is still uncertainty about a component of their earning power in the UFC.

Mayweather-Pacquiao agree to USADA testing

March 13, 2015

The LA Times is reporting that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have agreed to enhanced drug testing by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). While in previous negotiations for this fight, the parties stalled on the issue, this time around the Olympic-style drug testing was quickly accepted.

One of the reasons why the camps for Mayweather and Pacquiao could never put the fight together was due to issues related to drug testing. Mayweather had accused Pacquiao of taking steroids. This led to a lawsuit in which Pacquiao sued Mayweather for defamation. In addition to a settlement in which Mayweather paid Pacquiao a reported $5 million, he also paid Pacquiao’s lawyers over $113,000 in legal fees and costs for evading a deposition.

Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, indicates that Pacquiao has submitted to VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) for years. The organization implements similar drug testing protocol to USADA.

Under USADA, the boxers will submit to urine and blood testing which may happen at any time. Each fighter has agreed to the World Anti-Doping Agency code stipulation which includes a four-year ban from competition if an athlete tests positive for a banned substance.

Payout Perspective:

The drug testing issue is good news and verifies the fact that each fighter should be free of PEDs. The UFC will be looking for a similar drug testing policy by July and an organization like USADA would be very beneficial in cleaning up the sport. Obviously for the UFC, there are a variety of hurdles (legal and political) it must clear before it implements its policy in July.

Fertitta begins lobbying in Albany

March 12, 2015

MMA Fighting reports on the annual pilgrimage to Albany, New York for the UFC to lobby for the legalization of the sport in the state.  Lorenzo Fertitta has stated that if professional MMA is legalized in the state that it will show its commitment to the fans of New York through an “epic series of major events over the next three years.”

Dana White indicated in an interview on AXS TV’s “Inside MMA” last week that it has reserved Madison Square Garden in 2015.  The UFC has reserved MSG in the past with the hope that the sport would be legal but to no avail.

This legislative session Zuffa has the support of The Business Council of NYS, Inc.  The organization identified that the legislation would likely benefit its cause as many of the organization’s members are resorts and sports venues.  Many of these would benefit from the influx of legalized MMA events as one would presume promoters would seek out these venues to hold MMA in New York State.

Fertitta was in Albany on Tuesday to lobby with legislators and advocate for the passage of the MMA bill.  In an interview with the Auburn Citizen, he indicated that the UFC was “cautiously optimistic.”

The current budget proposal by the state of New York includes legalizing MMA.  There’s no guarantee that MMA will be in the final budget.

Payout Perspective:

Hope renews once again in Albany.  Will this be the year that MMA is legalized in New York?  With the legal case in New York potentially coming to a conclusion, Zuffa hopes that it will not have to depend on the ruling.  With a new speaker that has supported previous MMA legislations, we shall see this spring if MMA will come to New York this year.

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