December 17, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that TUF 20 Episode 12 drew an additional 244,000 viewers for a total of 752,000 viewers for the regular season finale.
The increase in the 12th episode of 244,000 viewers brings the average increase in viewers from DVR watching to 275,000. The Live +3 ratings for TUF 20 drew a season average of 788,000 viewers. The live rating for the season was 513,000 viewers.
The average boost in viewership of 275,000 viewers is slightly lower than TUF 19’s Live + 3 average of 278,000, but better than TUF 18’s Live + 3 of 250,000 viewers. It was not the most exciting season although when originally revealed there was a lot of hope for a new women’s division and the coaches for the show. Yet, Pettis and Melendez were not over the top personalities that a viewer would tune in to watch. The TUF franchise is still getting viewers although not at the same clip as we’ve previously been accustomed to on Spike. We’ll see what, if anything, the UFC does its next go round with TUF.
December 16, 2014
Attorneys for plaintiffs on behalf of Cung Le, Nate Quarry and Jon Fitch have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Northern California in San Jose, California on their behalf. A press conference held Tuesday afternoon announced the lawsuit which was filed earlier in the day which may add more plaintiffs to the lawsuit.
Three plaintiffs’ firms with significant experience in antitrust and class action litigation are the attorneys of record with two others assisting as well. At this point, the UFC has issued a brief statement indicating its aware of the lawsuit but has not been served with it or had a chance to review it.
Cung Le, et al. v. Zuffa, LLC is the 63 page Complaint that maps out the claims of a UFC monopoly and monopsony which is in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act according to the Plaintiffs.
Below is a portion of the press release from the announcement today:
The lawsuit filed by fighters Cung Le, Nathan Quarry and Jon Fitch, who seek to represent a class of similarly situated current and former UFC professional combatants, alleges that the plaintiffs are victims of the UFC’s illegal scheme to eliminate its competition in the sport of MMA and suppress compensation for UFC Fighters from bouts and fighter identities and likenesses.
According to plaintiffs’ counsel Benjamin Brown, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, “The UFC was built on the battered bodies of MMA fighters who have left their blood and sweat in the Octagon. Those fighters are entitled to the benefits of a competitive market for their talents.”
The lawsuit targets defendants Zuffa LLC, the Las Vegas-based company that conducts business as the UFC. Zuffa is primarily owned by billionaires Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, along with the UFC’s front-man, President Dana White. White has publicly boasted about the success of the UFC’s alleged illegal scheme, allegedly claiming that “there is no competition” because “I am the grim reaper[.]”
The lawsuit claims that the UFC’s alleged anti-competitive acts, in particular its actions over a period of years,have made and maintainedthe UFC asthe onlyoption for MMA fighters who want to earn a viable living in the profession.
“All UFC Fighters are paid a mere fraction of what they would make in a competitive market,” said Brown.“Rather than earning paydays comparable to boxers – a sport with many natural parallels –MMA fighters go substantially under-compensated despite the punishing nature of their profession.”
Above all, the lawsuit alleges thatthe UFC prevents fighters from working with other MMA promoters, mounting self-promotional efforts of their own or signing with outside sponsors – monopolistic practices that suppress fighters’ incomes.
According to named plaintiff Cung Le, of San Jose, Calif., an internationally acclaimed MMA combatant, “Because of the UFC’s coercive practices, competitive market forces have been strangled, future earnings power of the athletes is stripped away, and purses to the fighters are artificially depressed.”
The lawsuit alleges that the UFC has pursued an aggressive strategy of depriving key inputs to potential rival promoters or merging with them to maintain its monopoly position. The complaint alleges “exclusionary scheme” to impair and foreclose competition, whereby the UFC deprives potential competitors in the fight promotion market access to elite MMA fighters, premium live event venues and sponsors.
According to plaintiffs’ co-counsel Michael Dell’Angelo, of Berger & Montague, P.C., “the lawsuit alleges that the UFC has engaged in an illegal scheme to eliminate competition from rival MMA promoters by systematically preventing rivals from gaining access to ingredients critical to successful MMA promotions, including by imposing extreme restrictions on UFC Fighters’ ability to fight for rivals during and after their tenure with the UFC. The UFC also takes the rights to fighters’ names and likenesses in perpetuity. As a result of the UFC’sscheme, we allege that UFC Fighters are paid fraction of what they would earn in a competitive marketplace.”
The lawsuit alleges that as a result of these and other anti-competitive acts, including the UFC’s acquisition of rival Strikeforce, the UFC has maintained control of more than 90 percent of the revenue derived from live MMA bouts nationwide.
The lawsuit also alleges that the UFC has retaliated against fighters who have worked with or who have announced intentions to work with rival promoters or sponsors by refusing to book their bouts and/or eliminating them from key UFC promotional activities such as advertising campaigns and video games.
“UFC’s threats are taken seriously by fighters because they know that a UFC ban will substantially diminish, if not end, their ability to earn a living at their chosen profession,” said plaintiffs’ co-counsel Joseph Saveri of Saveri Law Firm, Inc.“These MMA professionals deserve the right to take back their careers.”
In their complaint, the Plaintiffs claim that the UFC has been able to suppress compensation “to a very low percentage of the revenues generated from bouts.” The Complaint claims that UFC fighters are paid “approximately 10-17% of total UFC revenues generated from bouts. They claim that all fighters “have had their compensation artificially reduced due to the anticompetitive scheme challenged in this Complaint.
In addition, the Complaint challenges several clauses that Plaintiffs’ claim exist in standard UFC contracts including the “Exclusivity Clause,” the “Champions Clause,” (allowing UFC to extend a champion’s contract for as long as they are champion), the “Right to Match Clause” (recall Eddie Alvarez lawsuit), “Ancillary Rights Clause” (granting UFC exclusive and perpetual worldwide identity rights of contracted athlete) and the “Sponsorship and Endorsement Clause” (allows UFC sole discretion on approving sponsors and endorsements of fighters).
The attorneys declined comment on how much they would be asking (likely due to the fact that the actual amount of damages has yet to be quantified by an expert) in terms of monetary relief although the statute in which they are suing under allows for treble damages (three times the actual amount of proven damages)
The press conference did not provide a lot of granular information but one must assume that was done on purpose. Since the Complaint was filed today, the lawsuit and everything that comes with it begins. The process for a lawsuit, especially one that will be detailed, complex and may involve more plaintiffs will take years and lots of money to litigate. Cohen Milstein, one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs, was selected as one of the “most feared plaintiffs’ firms for 2013 and 2014 by Law360. Suffice it to say, the attorneys filing this Complaint and litigating this matter are very good at what they do. The UFC will have good lawyers as well.
It will be interesting to see how many other fighters decide to join the class. We assume that there are more that will join based on the amount of law firms that are joining together on this matter. We will see what happens if there is a groundswell of fighters that will join the lawsuit.
MMA Payout will have more info on the lawsuit in the coming days.
December 16, 2014
The UFC announced that Reebok has signed Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey presumably as spokespersons for the brand. The announcement comes on the heels of the recent announcement that Reebok would be the official global outfitter of the UFC.
The deals appear to be individual sponsorship with the brand and both will have the opportunity to provide a measure of input to the new UFC apparel as well as “a new collection of footwear and apparel specifically created for the more than 35 million people around the world who participate in combat training to stay fit,” according to the press announcement.
No financial terms were provided.
Both fighters announced their new sponsor deal on social media.
— Ronda Rousey (@RondaRousey) December 16, 2014
A photo posted by Jon Bones Jones (@jonnybones) on
This is an interesting sponsorship deal considering that all UFC fighters under contract will be sporting Reebok by July. We assume that Jones and Rousey will take more active roles promoting the brand based on the information provided in the announcement. Certainly, these are two of the most high-profile fighters that Reebok could sign on the UFC roster. Currently, Jones and Rousey join Johny Hendricks and Anthony Pettis as UFC fighters with individual Reebok deals.
December 16, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Niesen source that the TUF 20 Finale on FS1 Friday drew an average of 989,000 peaking at 1,219,000 viewers during the main event between Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas.
The Prelims which preceded the main card on Friday night between 7:00pmET-9:00pm ET produced 719,000 viewers.
The TUF 20 Finale main card provided a boost to Fox Sports Live’s Postfight coverage average 300,000 viewers from 11:48pmET-1:00am. The ratings post-fight were a 39% jump from last year’s December average.
Last December, the TUF 18 Finale on FS1 drew 1.13M viewers and the prelims drew 938,000 viewers.
This past July, the TUF 19 Finale on FS1 drew 1M viewers and the prelims drew 774,000 viewers.
It’s the lowest ratings for a TUF Finale on FS1 thus far (main card and prelims). And while the post-fight coverage may have been up this time around, the viewership was down. Of course, this may be due to a number of factors including two UFC events on back to back nights. Also, the previous two events were not on Friday night. TUF 18’s final card was on a Saturday and TUF 19 (which was the second event of a back to back) was on a Sunday. TUF 20 did not have as strong a main event as the previous two TUF Finales (18 had Nate Diaz-Gray Maynard; 19 had Penn-Edgar).
December 15, 2014
MMA Junkie reports the salaries from Friday night’s TUF 20 Finale. The salaries were disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Via MMA Junkie:
Carla Esparza: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Rose Namajunas: $25,000
Charles Oliveira: $54,000 (includes $27,000 win bonus)
def. Jeremy Stephens: $40,000
Daron Cruickshank: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
vs. K.J. Noons: $31,000
Yancy Medeiros: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Joe Proctor: $10,000
Jessica Penne: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Randa Markos: $8,000
Felice Herrig: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Lisa Ellis: $8,000
Heather Jo Clark: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Bec Rawlings: $8,000
Joanne Calderwood: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Seo Hee Ham: $8,000
Tecia Torres: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Angela Magana: $8,000
Aisling Daly: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Alex Chambers: $8,000
Angela Hill: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Emily Kagan: $8,000
A good payday for Esparza as she had a base of $25,000 and a $25,000 win bonus. Adding her Performance of the Night bonus, Esparza made $100,000 on Friday night. Charles Oliveira topped the overall purses for the night at $54,000. K.J. Noons had the highest base pay with $31,000.
December 14, 2014
Television By Numbers reports that UFC on Fox 13 drew 2.27 million viewers in overnight ratings Saturday night. It drew a 3 share and 0.9 rating. It placed second in network viewing with the old holiday classic of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer drawing over 5 million viewers opposing the UFC.
UFC on Fox Ratings
UFC on Fox 1: 5.7 million
UFC on Fox 2: 4.57 million
UFC on Fox 3: 2.25 million
UFC on Fox 4: 2.36 million
UFC on Fox 5: 3.41 million
UFC on Fox 6: 4.22 million
UFC on Fox 7: 3.3 million
UFC on Fox 8: 2.38 million
UFC on Fox 9: 2.9 million
UFC on Fox 10: 3.22 million
UFC on Fox 11: 1.98 million
UFC on Fox 12: 2.5 million
UFC on Fox 13: 2.27 million
The ratings are off 10% from last December. The 2.27 million viewers do not account for the overrun from 7PT/10pm ET-7:30PT/10:30pm ET. The main event aired during the overrun so one might expect this number to rise here. Coming in second to the holiday classic cartoons on network TV is not out of the ordinary since this happened last year too. MMA Payout will have more on the complete ratings for the event as we get it.
December 13, 2014
UFC on Fox 13 drew 15,300 for a gate of $1.5 million. The Talking Stick Resort Arena holds approximately 18,500 for basketball, 16,200 for ice hockey and 15,500 for arena football.
UFC on Fox cards for 2014
UFC on Fox 12 San Jose, CA: 11,482, $735,317
UFC on Fox 11 Orlando, FL: 17,000, $1.65M
UFC on Fox 10 Chicago, IL: 10,895, $863,665
The bonuses for Saturday night were announced post-fight with JDS-Miocic receiving Fight of the Night honors. Matt Mitrione and Ian Entswhistle earned Performances of the Night. Each won $50,000 each.
This UFC on Fox card drew the second highest attendance and gate of the Fox cards for this year. It was the first time that the UFC made it to Phoenix. This was the same for Orlando earlier this year which may be the reason for the good numbers for both cities.
December 13, 2014
Bloody Elbow is reporting that an impending lawsuit to be filed presumably by current fighters under contract by the UFC against the organization for violations of U.S. antitrust law.
Although no specifics were given in the report, the fighters that will seek class action status will seek millions of dollars along with treble damages (three times the actual amount) pursuant to relevant antitrust laws.
The report indicates that law firms renowned for its expertise in major class action litigation are attached to this lawsuit. Basically, these are serious claims filed by serious people.
From an outsider perspective, one might assume that the Reebok deal was the last straw for fighters in their decision to take legal action against the UFC. The Ed O’Bannon trial which held in favor of the plaintiffs (although currently being appealed) and the NLRB decision which held that Northwestern football players could form a union are two of the recent legal opinions which we presume have aided the plaintiffs’ decision to file this legal claim. If fighters currently under contract with the UFC are plaintiffs, it presents a really curious (also, awkward) issue. Will these plaintiffs continue with the UFC during and after this lawsuit? Moreover, will the UFC allow for them to be a part of any further cards in the UFC? Obviously, that depends on the fighters.
Once the Complaint is filed, MMA Payout will provide you with more information.
December 13, 2014
The UFC returned to The Palms after Dana White and the venue’s casino had a falling out in 2012. Earlier this year, The Palms sought to make amends with White by awarding him his own championship belt. It seemed to have worked as TUF 20 took place at The Palms.
You may recall that the TUF 19 Finale was held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center as was International Fight Week. It drew 6,500 for a gate of $835,000.
The finale of TUF 18 drew 4,346 for a gate of $322,742 at the Mandalay Bay.
In addition, the bonuses for the night were handed out to Carla Esparza, Yancy Medeiros, Jessica Penne and Randa Markos.
Esparza and Medeiros were granted “Performance of the Night” and Penne and Markos earned “Fight of the Night.” Each won $50,000.
Also, Rose Namajunas, Randa Markos and Joanne Calderwood earned the bonuses on the show. Namajunas earned $50,000. Namajunas and Calderwood won for best fight. Namajunas also earned a best performance along with Markos.
December 11, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that last night’s regular season finale of TUF 20 scored 508,000 viewers. The adult 18-49 was steady with 336,000 viewers for the 12th and final episode of the season.
The 336,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo was the season average. The season average (overnight viewership ratings) for TUF 20 drew to 515,000 viewers.
Episode 1: 536,000
Episode 2: 574,000
Episode 3: 433,000
Episode 4: 577,000
Episode 5: 509,000
Episode 6: 500,000
Episode 7: 494,000
Episode 8: 578,000
Episode 9: 381,000
Episode 10: 534,000
Episode 11: 532,000
Episode 12: 508,000
In the finale, Carla Esparza (the No. 1 ranked woman in the house) defeated Jessica Penne via Unanimous Decision. In the other semifinal, Rose Namajunas defeated Randa Markos via submission. It will be Esparza-Namajunas on Friday night.
Notably, the CM Punk interview which occurred after the episode on Fox Sports Live drew 182,000 viewers. According to a Nielsen source, the viewership for FSL was up 147% in the adult 18-49 demo with 136,000 viewers versus the 55,000 average.
Disappointing for the end of the season for TUF which featured the two semifinal fights. Despite some good fights, the ratings did not reflect the quality. Sounds fairly familiar to the last couple seasons. TUF 20 last night was really the lead-in to the Phil (“CM Punk”) Brooks interview. Fox Sports Live sported very good ratings due to the interview which reflects the fact that Brooks has produced that “curiosity” buzz and it looks like the UFC may have done well with its calculated risk.