November 19, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the World Series of Fighting 15 Saturday night on drew 179,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network up against stiff competition from both the UFC and Bellator.
The main event featured David Branch defeating Yushin Okami via TKO. In the semi-main event, Justin Gaethje defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision.
Once again a WSOF event occurs on the same day as another event by a major MMA organization. On Saturday, it went up against Bellator and the UFC. The 179,000 viewers is the lowest WSOF rating since WSOF 7 (which drew just 94,000 on tape delay), yet fair considering that both Bellator and UFC had fights on during its event. The previous low was WSOF 6 which drew just 161,000 viewers.
November 19, 2014
MMA Payout has learned form a Nielsen source that the UFC 180 Prelims on FS1 Saturday drew an average of 624,000 viewers for its two hour show between 8:00-10:00pm (5:00-7:00pm).
The prelims on Saturday peaked in the 9:45-10pm quarter hour (6:45-7pm west coast) with 771,000 total viewers (Live + SD) according to Nielsen.
UFC PPV Prelims since August 2013 (FS1 unless specified)
UFC 164 809,000
UFC 165 722,000
UFC 166 628,000
UFC 167 998,000
UFC 168 1,554,000
UFC 169 933,000
UFC 170 936,000
UFC 171 305,000 (FS2)
UFC 172 750,000
UFC 173 697,000
UFC 174 784,000 (FX)
UFC 175 1,000,000
UFC 177 436,000
UFC 178 698,000
UFC 179 536,000
UFC 180 624,000
The UFC Prelims provided some very good action but a lot of names we did not know and thus it was one of the reasons it likely fell to Bellator. The prelims did feature the Fight of the Night as well as a submission and an ear almost falling off (Leslie Smith). UFC 180 did improve upon prelim rating for UFC 179. The current average of UFC Prelims for 2014 is at 699,000.
November 17, 2014
The UFC hyped up a big announcement for Monday afternoon. However, the news came as a disappointment to most as the UFC released its 2015 calendar with Dana White making a subtle reference that the big announcement did not get done in time.
It was disappointing that there was no follow up (at least from when I was listening) on what that announcement would have been. Instead, we were treated to a general press conference with many of the fighters that will be in upcoming fights on the stage.
One had to think there was going to be more as Ronda Rousey took over the E! Network’s Instagram account to promote the event.
— Ronda Rousey (@RondaRousey) November 17, 2014
The list of UFC events for 2015 is below:
In the end, most of the press conference shed little light on anything new although there were several entertaining moments. Most of those included Conor McGregor or Nick Diaz.
One has to think that there was more than just a general schedule announcement today but White spoke the truth when he stated it (whatever “it” was) didn’t happen in time for the press conference. Why would Ronda Rousey take over the Instagram account for the E! Network if it was just announcing a schedule? The UFC is not the NFL. Further, Bellator jumped the UFC with its announcement of its 2015 first quarter of events with its Saturday announcement. We did get an online press conference. But, in the end, the UFC failed to deliver.
November 17, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 180 from the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City.
Werdum wins interim Heavyweight title
It was to be Cain Velasquez fighting in Mexico City against Fabricio Werdum. However, an injury to Cain allowed Mark Hunt the chance to step in and seize the title. Hunt looked good until a well-timed knee spelled the beginning of the end for Hunt.
Werdum wins the title and will eventually get to face Cain Velasquez to unify the titles.
Gastelum ascends while Ellenberger descends
Kelvin Gastelum defeated Jake Ellenberger with a rear naked choke in the first round. The win should propel the former TUF winner into the top 10 of the welterweight division while it showed the Ellenberger maybe a broken fighter. Gastelum secured a rear-naked choke with ease as it appeared that Ellenberger did not defend his neck despite his back being taken. The win should mean a step up in fights for Gastelum while Ellenberger is teetering on the cusp of being cut.
Initial reports in August had UFC 180 a sell out in just 8 hours after the announcement of Velasquez-Werdum and the launch of TUF in Mexico (which drew 7 million viewers on Televisia according to Yahoo! Sports). The announcement made post-fight had the attendance at 21,000 although no official gate was given.
The bonuses of $50K were given to Werdum, Gastelum, Henry Biones and Guido Cannetti. Briones and Canetti put on the Fight of the Night. White indicated that Ricardo Lamas would also be given a bonus although that was unofficial.
Promotion of Fight
Once again one of the main drivers of the promotion was the UFC Embedded series which followed the fighters on the main card. It caught the best moment of the pre-fight hype with Werdum-Hunt singing together.
The UFC also did a photo op with the NBA as the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves played a game in Mexico City earlier in the week.
The Octagon sponsors were without UltimatePoker.com, the Stations Casinos online poker site which was closed down last week. Notably, one of the Octagon sponsors for UFC 180 was Costa Rican online gaming company, BetCris. The sponsors included the UFC Network, UFCStore.com, UFC Fit, MateFit.me, MusclePharm, Toyo Tires, video game FarCry 4, the aforementioned BetCris and Bud Lite in the center of the Octagon.
Gastelum wore the UFC Network logo as did Werdum during pre-fight activities and but wore Bad Boy to the Octagon.
Hunt wore his own clothing brand Juggernaut on his shorts. It’s interesting that Hunt does not have more sponsors. You may recall he had zero as a fill-in when he fought Junior dos Santos at UFC 160. Werdum most prominent sponsor was clothing brand Torque.
Doritos was a prominent sponsor for this event as it banked heavily on the Werdum-Velasquez matchup including producing in-store placement of 2.5 million bags with the fighter likenesses on them. It was described as a “360 degree activation” around UFC 180. With Cain falling out, the campaign likely fell short of its goal.
Post-UFC 180 Headline
Werdum-Velasquez should be next although White indicated that if Cain were to have another injury that forces him from action, he could be stripped of the title.
Odds and Ends
- The WWE collaborated with the UFC during the UFC Prelims on FS1. To be exact, a 2K Sports commercial for the WWE video game, WWE2K15, infused images of the video game and UFC action.
- The main event ended at 8:50 pm on the west coast. Only about an hour and a half of fights before the UFC showed the prelims to fill the time.
- Bellator used the footage of Melvin Manhoef knocking out Mark Hunt from 2008 during its pre-fight hype package to put over Manhoef.
- Jessica Eye almost took Leslie Smith’s ear off but Smith still wanted to fight.
- Google Trends revealed that the top countries searching for UFC 180 were Mexico, Canada, Brazil and the United States in that order.
- The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) ran a story on the Fertittas and Dana White and their ties to Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School in last week’s Sports Business Journal. It was placed “below the fold.” Prominent placement for a rather evergreen story during UFC 180 week.
- Chael Sonnen began his duties with ESPN as an analyst.
It was a good night of fights but the lack of brand-name power was one of the detracting factors about this event. When the Werdum-Velasquez fight was initially announced and the two were TUF coaches, there was much hope that UFC 180 would be one of the bigger PPVs of this year. Entering a new market and the quick sell out appeared to be good signs for the PPV. But, Velasquez’s injury was a significant blow to any hopes that this PPV would do well. Without a good undercard, the UFC was placing its hopes on Cain’s drawing power. Based on Google Trends, we are looking at a buy rate comparable to UFC 174 or 177 which drew between115-125K PPV buys.
November 16, 2014
Dana White announced attendance at 21,000 at the post-fight press conference. No official gate was announced although White indicated that it was the “highest gross in arena history.”
The $50,000 bonus winners announced at the post-fight press conference were Fabricio Werdum, Kelvin Gastelum, Henry Briones and Guido Cannetti. Werdum and Gastelum earned the performances of the night and Briones and Cannetti earned fight of the night. In addition, White stated that Ricardo Lamas would also receive a bonus for his submission victory over Dennis Bermudez.
The top two fights on the card produced the bonus winners last night. Werdum’s knee spelled the beginning of the end for Mark Hunt and Gastelum secured a rear-naked choke over the seemingly broken Jake Ellenberger. The Briones-Cannetti fight was also an entertaining fight and Briones won with an uppercut that downed Cannetti which eventually led to a RNC.
November 15, 2014
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Fertittas have closed down Ultimate Gaming and thereby shutter Ultimate Poker. After 19 months, the company indicated lack of profitability for closing down its business operations.
The article stated that Stations Casinos is the majority owner of Ultimate Gaming. Online poker revenue “fell far short of once-lofty projections,” stated Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling in the article. Only Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware allowed online gambling and for Ultimate Poker to accept wagers the players must be physically in the state.
UltimatePoker.com was a sponsor of the UFC. It launched in May 2013 but with the limited amount of potential players, the once novel idea, turned to out to be a dud.
The news of the closure comes the week before New Jersey hears oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by sports leagues (i.e., NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB) seeking a temporary injunction from passage of a law allowing the state to accept bets on sports games. Although the NBA opposes the New Jersey law, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver penned an Op-Ed in the New York Times this week supporting legalizing and regulating sports betting. As for the closure of Ultimate Poker, expect Zuffa to look into other ways to monetize the future of gambling. In the meantime, it means one less UFC sponsor in the Octagon.
November 13, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the 8th episode of TUF 20 drew an average of 578,000 in Live + Same Day viewership. Based on the numbers, it’s the best non-DVR average so far this season.
In the fight of the episode, Tecia Torres handled Bec Rawlings in two rounds for the victory.
Episode 8 was the most watched show on FS1 yesterday. It brings the non-DVR average up to 525,000 viewers. For those wondering, last fall’s TUF 18 drew a season average of 684,000 viewers and TUF 19 this past spring received 476,000 viewers. American Horror Story on FX (which aired at the same time as TUF) drew the highest cable rating for Wednesday with a 3.6 million average in Live + SD viewership per Television By Numbers. Notably, the NBA game between the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves from Mexico City drew 1.6 million viewers. It started in the same time slot as TUF.
November 13, 2014
The UFC announced that Alexander Gustafsson will face Anthony Johnson on January 24, 2015 in an arena in Gustafsson’s home country of Stockholm, Sweden for UFC on Fox 14. It will be the first network show of 2015 and first outside of the U.S..
As most recall, UFC 129 was the first stadium show from Toronto, Canada to great success. The promotion is leveraging Gustafsson’s popularity to fill the arena for this show as it anticipates 30,000 fans for the January event.
Via UFC press release:
The bout will take place in front of more than 30,000 fans at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, marking just the second major stadium event in UFChistory and the first in Europe. The previous stadium event was the record-breaking UFC® 129 held at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, as more than 55,000 fans watched Georges St-Pierre defeat Jake Shields.
The last three events in Sweden had the following attendance figures:
UFC on Fuel TV 2 (April 2012) – 15, 428, $2.23M gate
UFC on Fuel TV 9 – (April 2013) – 14,506, $2.7M gate
UFC Fight Night 53 – (October 2014) – 10,026, $1.1M gate
A lot is being put on Gustafsson to sell this show. As we’ve learned from UFC 180, this could backfire if he is forced out due to injury. It’s not a title defense and while Gus may be popular in Sweden, it’s hard to think that he could sell a 30,000 stadium. With Dan Henderson-Gegard Mousasi/Matt Brown-Tarec Saffiedine as the co-main events, it will bring name notoriety but it’s hard to think that this will draw Swedish fans.
November 12, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the adjusted DVR ratings for the seventh episode of TUF 20 drew it up to 764,000 viewers. The number represents a gain of 270,000 viewers from its overnight rating of 494,000 viewers.
The Live +3 average is now at 808,000 viewers whereas the overnight viewership is at 518,000 viewers. The average DVR gain from TUF this season is approximately 290,000 viewers.
November 12, 2014
Per an ESPN press release, Sonnen will join ESPN as a UFC Analyst. Per the release, he has signed on to “a multi-fight agreement as a studio and on-site analyst, providing expert pre-and post-fight insight on Sportscenter’s coverage of major UFC pay-per-view events.” Sonnen will debut this Friday on the network to discuss UFC 180.
If you disregard the drug issues, which ESPN seems to do here, Sonnen is an engaging TV figure and should bolster the network’s coverage of MMA. Signing Sonnen could be a sign that ESPN will return to more coverage of the UFC. It would make no sense for ESPN to mute Sonnen now. He should be on as many platforms for ESPN to talk UFC and MMA in general.