November 19, 2015
In light of the Holly Holm victory over Ronda Rousey on Saturday, one of Holm’s sponsors, Intel Pharma wished her congratulations. The company sells supplements containing substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and federal law.
According to MMA Junkie, the company has offered products it claims contain prohormones and a steroid alternative known as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMS). It appears on the WADA banned substance list.Anti-doping experts have sounded off against this business relationship as not looking good for the new champion. Holm’s manager, Lenny Fresquez, indicated that they were aware that the company sold products containing banned substance prior to signing the sponsorship deal. “Holly didn’t really use them so it’s not a big deal,” Fresquez told USA Today, “I’m sure she didn’t use any of them. She might have taken a picture with one.”
Fresquez indicated that the sponsorship deal was for just one-fight and they have not decided whether to extend the deal.
Intel Pharma CEO, Landon Suggs, stated that his company stopped producing and selling products with SARMs “no later than June” before the sponsorship deal with Holm. Suggs stated that it issued a recall for the products as well.
The company also updated its Facebook page on November 17th congratulating Holm. It had not updated the page since October 9th.
We, at Intel-Pharma, wanted to create an innovative supplement company that customers could trust to provide the best products and personal service in the industry. As a new company we have learned hard lessons along the way, but those same lessons have reinforced our initial stated mission, which is to be the most innovative sports supplement brand on the market. Long before UFC 193 was announced we were interested in partnering with Holly Holm’s to be one of our featured athletes because she shares our values of faith, family and hard work. That hard work is what was on display Saturday in Melbourne, Australia. There is no other “secret” to Holly’s success other than that hard work, along with an incredible team of coaches, sparring partners, family support, and just plain crazy athleticism. As unbelievable as it may have seemed to the greater population at large, Holly’s success was not a shock to those of us who knew of her talent long before Saturday. And we couldn’t be more thrilled for her that the world now knows what we always believed.
One would think that Holm will not continue the relationship with Intel Pharma since winning the women’s title from Rousey. Certainly, her win should open up more doors for sponsor opportunities. Also, the price for her name probably went up with the win. Her accomplishment should not be sullied by this association despite how innocuous it might be. The fact is that the company is associated with banned substances that Holm, as champion, should not be associated with even if Holm never took the product.
November 17, 2015
The UFC 193 Prelims drew its second best rating this year averaging 1,394,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings. In addition, the pre-show and post-fight show on FS1 drew big ratings.
The UFC pre-fight show from 4:35pm-5:00pm PT drew 576,000 viewers on FS1. It was the second-highest pre-fight show rating on FS1. The post-fight show started late on FS1 due to a double OT Pac 12 game. Still, it pulled off the highest rating for a post-fight show on FS1 with 490,000 viewers.
UFC Prelim ratings when Ronda Rousey is in main event
UFC 157 – 1,267,000
UFC 170 – 936,000
UFC 168 – 1,500,000* (co-main with Chris Weidman)
UFC 175 – 1,000,000* (co-main with Chris Weidman)
UFC 184 – 1,205,000
UFC 190 – 1,322,000
UFC 193 – 1,394,000
The UFC Prelim average for 2015 thus far is 998,000 viewers. Notably, if you were to take out the 3 PPVs in which Rousey fought, it would drop down to 885,000 viewers.
UPDATED: The UFC 193 prelims drew 885,000 viewers in the Adult 18-49 demographic, the most-ever for a UFC Prelim on the network. The prelims peaked at 1,776,000 viewers in the last quarter hour (6:30pm-6:45pm PT)
The UFC 193 weigh-ins drew 161,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings.
The post-fight show also did well although I am trying to confirm the viewership rating. Will keep you updated.
The post-fight show’s ratings were high due to the news of the upset. Still, the overrun by the college football game may have detracted more viewers from tuning in. The post-fight show did start on FS2.
One can probably deduce that the reason for the strong ratings are due to Ronda Rousey being in the main event of the PPV. In fact, televised UFC Prelims in which Rousey has been in the main event have drawn an average of 1.225M viewers (not counting UFC 168 and 175). Including the events where she was the co-main event with Chris Weidman it goes up slightly to 1.232M viewers. Notably, only once has a PPV prelim drawn less than 1 million viewers.
It’s clear that Ronda Rousey is a huge draw for the UFC. Even on televised UFC Prelims where she is not fighting, the ratings go up. It will be interesting to see if Holly Holm will be able to draw this much attention.
November 16, 2015
Judge Kimba Wood has granted the state of New York an extension of time to respond to Zuffa’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction which would allow a UFC event scheduled for April 23, 2016 at Madison Square Garden. In response, attorneys for Zuffa have expressed concern that the delay may impact the event.
In a letter submitted on November 6th, John Schwartz, Special Litigation Counsel for New York, indicated that due to health issues experienced by his wife, he could not respond to the motion which opposition was due on Friday, November 13th. It was noted that the second extension was not anticipated. Schwartz also indicated that he did not believe Zuffa would be prejudiced by this delay. New York will now have until December 4, 2016 to respond to Zuffa’s motion and Zuffa will have until December 14, 2016 to file a reply.
Judge Wood granted the request filed by counsel for New York last week.
In a letter dated November 7th, Jamie Levitt, attorney for Zuffa “reminded” the court that this was the second extension request to respond to Zuffa’s lawsuit filed on September 28th The first was stipulated by the parties on October 9th. The second, granted by Judge Wood, is due to an illness of the wife of the attorney heading the litigation for this case. Levitt expressed the concern that the delay in the decision of the Preliminary Injunction may impact the April 23, 2016 event scheduled for UFC.
“The briefing schedule [for the Preliminary Injunction] was carefully negotiated by the parties to ensure that despite Defendants’ [first] extension, the Court would have sufficient time to consider and rule on Plaintiff’s motion by January 2016,” wrote Levitt. “A ruling after January 2016 would not provide the UFC and MSG sufficient time to finalize and then market the scheduled April event.”
Levitt explains that the MSG licensing agreement and the sanctioning of the event cannot be easily rescheduled. There was no indication of when another date might be secured for MSG.
This is a delicate situation since it involves a personal health issue. Zuffa had no grounds to oppose this request without looking totally heartless. It would be clear that the court would have granted this request. The unexpected delay may definitely impact an event in April if the court does not decide by the beginning of the year. With the holidays upcoming, it is hard to say when a ruling might occur. The Levitt letter puts the court on notice of the injury it may suffer if a decision is not made soon. While New York argues that moving the date to another time would resolve the issue, it’s clear the UFC has banked on this date. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
November 16, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. In this edition, we take a look at the happenings taken place down under in Melbourne, Australia as Holly Holm upset Ronda Rousey to win the women’s bantamweight title.
Holm, game plan takes out Rousey
No one would have thought this would have been the ending. But, a headkick knocked out Ronda Rousey and the aura of invincibility was over. Holly Holm, who hovered around an 8-1 to 12-1 underdog depending on where you looked, outclassed Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. Holm’s game plan trumped Rousey’s athletic ability. Moreover, Rousey’s boxing was exposed and it was clear that she was exhausted at the end of Round 1.
For Holm, it was the culmination of a long-term plan that had her and her trainers preparing for Rousey even before she was in the UFC. Her management fought tooth and nail with UFC management in negotiating her signing with the company. Turns out it was worth it.
As for Rousey, her loss seemed to satiate the thirst of every Rousey hater. Everyone was quick to tweet with glee her loss and KO. As is with most MMA fighters that gain more popularity than the others, MMA “fans” began to despise Rousey. The good news for them is that she lost and MMA fans will turn their attention to Conor McGregor in December silently hoping for him to lose as many have those tweets ready for their timeline.
Joanna Champion still Champ
It was not a dominant performance, but Joanna Jedrzejcyzk retained her 115 pound title with a unanimous decision over Valerie Letourneau. Letourneau came down 20 pounds to fight at 115 pounds and you have to think that it might have played a factor. Overall, it was an entertaining fight with Joanna retaining her title.
Attendance and Gate
It was a record setting night for the UFC as the announced attendance was 56,214 with a gate of $6.8 million (U.S.). It did better than UFC 129 which drew 55,724 in Toronto. However, the gate did not exceed the 55,724.
As Darren Rovell tweeted, there were many comps for the event although the UFC no longer reports on the number.
This was a little curious as Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey and Kyle Noke earned the $50,000 bonuses. Holm won for both Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night. Noke earned a Performance of the Night Bonus. Rousey drew a Fight of the Night bonus although you might argue that she didn’t deserve it for her part in the fight. Certainly, there were other fighters (e.g., Ben Nguyen) that could have received a Performance of the Night Bonus instead of Rousey receiving one for FOTN.
Promotion of the Fight
Ronda Rousey went on Good Morning America in late August to announce her fight with Holly Holm. Originally scheduled for January 2nd, the event was moved up in part to replace the main event of UFC 193 as well as attempt to set a new UFC attendance (and gate) record at Ethiad Stadium.
Perhaps the best video promotion for a UFC event was produced for UFC 193. It debuted on Ellen’s web site which featured a younger Ronda Rousey learning martial arts with the underlying message that women could do anything.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) October 2, 2015
A lengthier feature was shown after the UFC 193 PPV.
You might recall Dana White announced in a phone interview Rousey-Holm was moved from January 2nd to November 14th on a Friday night on ESPN. The date was moved up due to the usual injury issues.
The event was a reward for the province as a law which prohibited cagefighting was lifted. With opposition still abound in the area, the attendance at the event (albeit with some comped seats) was still strong. USA Today reported on the “stir” in Australia with opposition to the sport of MMA. Rousey spoke with local media about the controversy.
UFC Embedded, the video series, aired on Fox the Saturday before the fight. Usually, it’s online but with a Rousey fight, it seemed to demand more visibility. Also, Ruby Rose was the narrator for the series.
Rousey was also on the front page of the NY Times Sunday Styles Section in October. This was one of several media obligations which catered to women. It will be interesting to see if Holly Holm can continue this trend and appeal.
In the octagon, we had a couple international UFC sponsors as well as the usual mainstays. Unibet, Xbox’s Tomb Raider, DraftKings, Wargaming.net, Bud Light, the upcoming film, “Creed,” Bud Light, Reebok and Monster Energy Drink had the center. Unibet had the fighter prep point. Holly Holm was sponsored by Unibet and announced a new deal with GRRRL Clothing.
Odds and Ends
Since it always comes back to gambling. The betting line on Holm in Vegas and the aftermath:
Donald Trump weighed in on Ronda Rousey tweeting that he was glad that she lost because she is not a nice person. I didn’t know they knew each other.
EA Sports announced that Rousey would be on the cover of its latest UFC game coming out this spring. Was it a video game cover curse?
Should we read into the fact that Ronda’s mother was not at the fight a sign of discontent with her? It is a long plane ride to Australia for sure, but her mother has already been there for her fights.
Rousey’s hang up during a UFC 193 Conference Call was an act of unprofessionalism despite the question asking about Travis Browne. Even worse, the excuse that her “phone died” just insults everyone’s intelligence. You mean, the UFC and/or Rousey’s management could not have given her a phone to finish the call?
At the end of Episode 3 of the Embedded series, Rousey uses an analogy about being bankrupt. All the while, it shows her hitting mitts with Edmund. His bankruptcy filing occurred this summer and comes to a head this month. This issue had not been a problem in the past, but with the news surfacing now, it all makes it more of a deal.
Letourneau was informed by USADA that Hector Lombard could not corner her for her fight as Lombard’s participation would have violated the new anti-doping policy. Lombard, who admitted to using PEDs earlier this year would fall under the “prohibited association” rule of the UFC anti-doping policy.
Lenny Fresquez, the agent/manager for Holly Holm, won six figures betting on her client. There’s something that seems unsettling with a manager that is already making off of her client for representation to bet money on her client. Sure, it’s legal and acceptable, but is there a conflict of interest?
Notably, Fresquez said that Holm has 2 more fights under her existing contract.
FS1 could not carry the post-fight show until late due to the Pac-12 game between Utah and Arizona going to double OT. Most of the post-fight was on FS2.
The PPV went over the 3 hour mark which is a rarity.
It was interesting that not much was made of the fact that one of the biggest cards in UFC history and it was headline by two women’s title fights.
In anticipation of a Rousey “vine” like finish, the UFC sent out a reminder to media outlets that you would be in violation of Zuffa’s copyright of the PPV. It appeared as though the Huffington Post Sports twitter feed was allowed to post the finish (as it did). Still, others posted the finish online. In protection of its copyright (and in order for people to buy the PPV), the UFC wanted to deter people from posting their videos.
Certainly a Rousey-Holm rematch seems ripe for July’s UFC 200.
It was interesting that despite Ronda Rousey google searches hitting 500,000 on Friday, there was a slight downturn (note: in the link the google trends embedded link is constantly changing over time which I think is pretty cool) in searches right around the time after the weigh-ins. But, the searches jumped back up on Saturday afternoon. What does this mean about PPV buys? Who really knows? But, if we are to look into the past history of Rousey fights, one might think this still does well. I would predict 750,000 PPV buys.
November 15, 2015
UFC 193 drew a record 56,214 for a gate of $6.8 million (U.S.). In addition, Holly Holm was the big winner earning 2 fight bonuses in her upset victory over Ronda Rousey.
The UFC announced the record-setting attendance at its post-fight press conference. The gate is second to UFC 129 which pulled in $11 million. The 56,214 narrowly beats the gate for UFC 129 as that event which featured GSP-Jake Shields drew 55,724.
The bonuses were awarded to Holm and Rousey for Fight of the Night. Holm and Kyle Noke earned Performances of the Night. All earned the $50K bonus.
Darren Rovell tweeted out a picture earlier in the night of comped tickets indicating that many people had them. There were many photo posts on social media showing many empty seats in the upper bowl of the stadium.
Strange to see how many tickets to UFC event tonight posted on social media are comped tickets pic.twitter.com/yeU0TRq2uV
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 15, 2015
It’s not uncommon to comp tickets for big events. The UFC used to announce the number of comped tickets it handed out for each event but has not done this in some time. We will probably never know how many tickets were comped for tonight but the announced gate is undoubtedly impressive.
As for the bonuses, Holm deserved the double bump for her performance. There were several other great performances tonight on the prelims which could have earned bonuses as well. Still, tonight was Holm’s night as she dethroned the champ.
November 14, 2015
Ronda Rousey will be the first woman athlete to be on the cover of an EA Sports video game as it was announced that she will be on the cover of EA Sports UFC 2. Rousey along with a yet to be named UFC fighter will be on the cover of the game that is scheduled to be release this spring.
As most could probably deduce, Conor McGregor makes the most sense as the other fighter on the cover. Perhaps that announcement will be made during fight week leading up to UFC 194. If nothing else, Rousey’s marketing power should aid the sales of this video game. The last EA UFC video game suffered from poor reviews and sales which forced a price drop only after a month after its release. We will see if Rousey’s brand can help sales with this version of the game.
November 14, 2015
After a UFC weigh-in which featured a brief skirmish between main eventers Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm as well as a Rousey “promo” on Holm after, search interest for the fight has trended down.
UPDATED 4:31pm: As you can see from the graph, that keeps updating, searches are back up.
As you can see from the graph over the past 7 days, interest spiked on Friday afternoon but looks to have receded since then.
Via Google Trends as of Saturday morning:
Obviously the unfortunate happenings in Paris probably detoured social media searches and interest. Will the trends mean that the great run on Rousey PPV success end tonight? Google trends is a scientifically unscientific way to predict PPV buy rates. While the graph appears to reflect a downturn in interest, this trend is likely an anomaly. One would think there’s an uptick in searches as the day goes on today.
November 13, 2015
UFC announced the launch of an official app on Amazon’s Appstore. The app will be available on Amazon Fire streaming devices which will allow users access to UFC PPV broadcasts starting with this Saturday’s UFC 193 and UFC Fight Pass.
Via UFC press release:
“We are thrilled about the new UFC app on Amazon’s Appstore as fight fans can now enjoy the UFC experience on Amazon Fire TV’s set-top-boxes and Fire TV Sticks,” UFC Senior Vice President of Digital Edward Muncey said. “UFC has always been on the cutting edge of utilizing technology to engage our fans, and now Amazon Fire users can view exclusive content wherever they are.”
The UFC app will initially be available in North America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, China, Japan, Australia, Spain, France and Italy, and will support in-app purchasing in local currencies. The app will provide access to UFC weigh-ins, press conferences and other live streams, bringing fans closer to UFC and their favorite athletes anywhere with their Amazon Fire device.
The UFC app comes to Amazon just in time for the holidays. The news should bolster Fight Pass subscriptions. It could help with PPV sales as well although we may never hear an estimate of those purchases. What this move does is make the UFC available to more people on a widely used platform.
November 13, 2015
The 8th episode of TUF 22 drew an average viewership of 539,000 in its first run on Wednesday night on FS1. The rating is a 30% boost from last week’s lowest-rated episode of the season.
The episode rating is the third highest of the season and brings the average viewership up to 520,000 viewers. The replay of TUF on Wednesday night drew an additional 55,000 viewers. Last week, the replay of episode 7 drew 50,000 viewers.
TUF went up against the Clippers/Mavericks game on ESPN which drew 1.73M viewers and was the highest rated sporting event on cable TV Wednesday night.
(h/t: Sports TV Ratings)
|TUF 22 Ratings|
|Live +SD||DVR +3|
The ratings reflect a bounce back for TUF as last week may have suffered from the hiatus of a week. The viewership shows a rebound but perhaps some concern over the west coast viewers for the second showing of the episode which aired 10-11pm PT.
November 12, 2015
Zuffa has sent out a reminder to media members to not post any highlights from UFC 193 until the UFC says so. The message comes in anticipation of another Ronda Rousey “vine” ending.
The notice cites 17 U.S. Code section 411 which is an advance notice of potential copyright infringement.
Per the notice from the UFC’s Vice President and Associate General Counsel Dylan Budd:
“As we expect greater than normal interest for this event, we remind you [media member] that unless otherwise provided by Zuffa, LLC, no highlights are authorized for distribution until we distribute the approved guidelines.”
It goes on to note rather ominously that the UFC “will be monitoring compliance.”
The notice does not specifically name Ronda Rousey as the reason for the notice, but it’s clear from her past fights, that the short duration of Rousey’s fights have been able to be put on vine or other types of media (e.g. Periscope). Many casual viewers and/or curious of the Ronda Rousey phenomenon just wait on social media for someone to post the fight without having to pay the $60 PPV price.
Rousey’s last fight at UFC 190 in August lasted just 34 seconds. It was posted on social media within minutes after it ended.
We note that the UFC is promoting UFC 193 by showing UFC 190 for free courtesy of sponsor, Xbox’s Rise of the Tomb Raider.
It’s clear that the UFC is gearing up for those trying to watch the Rousey fight for free this Saturday. In order to do this, it is making sure that media members do not assist in the dissemination of the Rousey fight. Clearly, if someone with a lot of followers on social media were to post the fight, it could be argued that it is infringement (there is an argument for fair use or First Amendment but that is for another day). In the past, the UFC has worked hard to enforce its rights to PPV and gone after egregious violators. From the notice, it appears that UFC Legal will be working hard to enforce its rights to UFC 193 which may mean no “vines” of Rousey-Holm.