May 10, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that the UFC has launched a fee-based subscription service with YouTube. The UFC is one of several channels that is part of a YouTube Pilot Program that subscribers can pay a fee to watch its programming.
“UFC Select” offers a 2 week free trial but will be $5.99 per month. Eight fights will be introduced into the channels’ rotation each week. Old episodes of The Ultimate Fighter will also be shown on the channel.
The launch of fee-based subscription services is a step toward a la carte programming.
This is a solid business move, even if advertising will almost certainly remain YouTube’s main source of income. It helps YouTube promote itself as a complete video delivery platform by giving producers yet another way to earn money there.
The article suggests that the subscription model will do well with sports channels such as the UFC.
It will be interesting to see how well the UFC channel does. What does it mean for the UFC programming on Fox Sports 1? Why watch something you will have to pay for if you can get it through cable. Certainly, the pay channel will have some fights not available on television, but will it be worth it to the casual viewer? Notably, the WWE declined having a paid channel and moved to Yahoo! But, TNA Wrestling has a YouTube channel which will have its content.
May 9, 2013
After tweeting his displeasure for his legal troubles, Eddie Alvarez made his appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday to give his side of the story in the Bellator battle. He also made an appearance on MMA Junkie radio Tuesday pleading his case.
Although he said he didn’t know too much about law when talking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Alvarez gave a legal update on his case. To be fair, Alvarez correctly stated that the case was in the discovery phase.
The MMA Hour interview came after tweeting about Bellator and how Bjorn Rebney was a “grunt” and that Viacom and Spike are “idiots.”
But the bulk of the interview on The MMA Hour dealt with the legal case and a rehashing of the contract matching issue which the Court denied in Alvarez’s motion for a preliminary injunction in January. A favorable ruling would have allowed Alvarez to negotiate a contract with the UFC and leave Bellator behind. However, the Court decided that the factual issue of whether or not Bellator matched the terms of the UFC contract would be determined at a later date. Alvarez stated on MMA Junkie radio that he didn’t expect the Court to grant the Preliminary Injunction.
On MMA Junkie Radio, Alvarez indicated that he talked with Bellator in New Mexico in an effort to settle the case but stated that he could not reveal the substance of the communications. Legally speaking, the settlement discussions are confidential and governed by certain evidentiary rules.
Alvarez claimed that Bellator changed words in his original contract which included an addendum which waived a renegotiation period and allowed an exclusive negotiating period with Zuffa. However, Alvarez claims that a term in the addendum was changed from “all terms” in to “material terms.” The documents do not appear to be in the legal filings in the case. Alvarez indicated he would post the documents on twitter which shows the different terms. However, as of the time of this writing, the documents have not been posted.
Alvarez stated his case well but the issues he argues doesn’t do anything other than the possibility of getting him into more legal troubles. The “matching” issue was already decided by the Court at the Preliminary Injunction in that there would be no decision on the matching issue. Its definitely the Court punting on a key issue in the matter but there is a legal basis for waiting to hear the information provided in the discovery process. However, in the Court PI opinion, it did cite that the Court “must apply a common-sense interpretation to the word “match.” This was in reference to the issue of whether Bellator had to match the Zuffa contract verbatim.
But, why go after Viacom? It may not know anything about MMA, but it is investing money into the sport. Without Fox and Viacom investing in MMA, it would not be as popular as it is today. Certainly, I do feel for Alvarez to a certain extent as he’s been put in a tough position. He no longer wants to work for his employer but his employer is pulling him back in. Perhaps he didn’t know that he’d be in this position when he signed his contract with Bellator or didn’t think that Bellator would put up such a fight.
Regardless of whether or not Alvarez is telling the truth, talking (and tweeting) is a risky move especially in contentious litigation. There is the potential for further claims and using tweets and Alvarez’s interviews as evidence in the future.
May 8, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that the initial PPV estimates from UFC 159: Jones v. Sonnen were in the 520-550K range. If the numbers hold up it would make it the second highest PPV in 2013 behind GSP v. Diaz.
According to MMA Fighting, the UFC had predicted that the show would do at least 500K PPV buys. It is significantly better than the 410,000 PPV buys in his last defense against Vitor Belfort. That fight was somewhat tainted considering Belfort was a late fill-in after the UFC 151 debacle.
Could you attribute the buy rate to the salesmanship of Chael Sonnen or the building fan base of Jon Jones? If the numbers hold up, one would think that the card was a success. Unless you were a Michael Bisping fan, there were no other fights on the card that would compel a casual fan to purchase this event.
May 8, 2013
Rousey makes Business Insider’s list of “50 Women Who Are Changing The World.” Rousey ranked 42 on the list and is credited with the fact that women now fight in the UFC.
Only two other athletes are on the list: tennis star Serena Williams (35) and WNBA rookie Brittney Griner (12). Williams is the number 1 tennis player in the world and Griner is arguably the best women’s college player and the number 1 overall draft pick in the WNBA.
Melinda Gates ranked 1st on the list. The list was compiled by Business Insider readers and voted on by its editors and reporters.
In addition to be ranked among the top changing the world, Rousey was picked by Maxim magazine as 29th on the top 100 hot list for 2013. A very different list from the Business Insider list.
Rousey being picked on the Business Insider and Maxim lists shows the overall mainstream appeal of Rousey. Many recognize the athletic achievement and what it means from a business perspective. People also see that she is a draw for her sex appeal. Its obvious that its the perfect formula. If Rousey did not have the looks, she probably would not be as successful or receive as much attention. If she didn’t have the talent, her appeal to the UFC would probably be limited.
May 6, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that Anderson Silva was fined $50,000 for skipping a media obligation for UFC 162 in Los Angeles on Monday. The fine was announced by Dana White.
The media event would have had Silva meeting with local press and media to kick off ticket sales for the Fourth of July card. No word on the reason for missing the event and whether the UFC would have further action against Silva.
Interesting that a fine was announced so quickly but it was the right move for the UFC. A part of being a professional MMA fighter is to participate in the media obligations that go along with fighting. While media may be a necessary evil, it is the media that help promote the fights that make people want to spend money to watch. So, if Silva wants to be paid a lot of money, he needs to work for it…and not just in training for Chris Weidman.
Nick Diaz is the only other fighter of note to skip mandatory media obligations. It’s unlikely that the UFC will take further action against Silva at this point.
May 5, 2013
Eddie Alvarez will be appearing on The MMA Hour Monday to presumably talk about his legal fight with Bellator. The appearance comes after a weekend of tweets in which he went after Bellator, Spike and Viacom.
Alvarez’s official twitter handle, @Ealvarezfight, indicated that he was moving to train with the Blackzillians. It also stated he made money after selling real estate as to imply that money is no issue at this point.
Alvarez tweeted that there would be no settlement and “let the truth come out in the end.” (ed. note: famous last words).
He also wrote to his 9,000 plus followers that he placed blame for the lawsuit with Viacom and Spike rather than Bjorn Rebney.
In a civil lawsuit, most parties position their case toward a favorable settlement. Alvarez proclaiming that there would be no settlement is a bad move from a legal and PR standpoint. Regardless of what you think of what has happened to Alvarez, its not a good move to tweet, write or be interviewed about this lawsuit without gaining clearance from legal counsel. Just like cops say on tv shows, “anything that you may say (or write in this instance) can be used against you.” Even if Alvarez believes what he says is true, what he writes on twitter may be construed differently by Bellator attorneys.
Moreover, if the Court forces the parties into mediation or a settlement conference and the case settles, Alvarez did not speak the truth about going to trial. It just makes him look like he had no understanding about the legal process.
From an overarching perspective, the goal of MMA fighters is to make the most money out of your short career. The reason why the UFC likes the FOX relationship is that there is more money involved and the product is exposed to the mainstream. Alvarez has to look at the situation and determine what’s best for his fight career. Sit and fight a battle he may actually lose, or try to find a resolution as soon as possible. Trials are long and drawn out.
Unless Bellator is unwilling to enter into settlement talks, he should try to settle for a shorter fight deal with Bellator in order to be released from his contract. Alvarez is in the prime of his career and he does not want to end up muddied in a contract dispute. Although under separate circumstances, a similar contract issue sidelined Brandon Vera for some time and he has never been the same fighter since.
Hopefully Alvarez will cancel Monday’s appearance and/or give generalities of his legal situation rather than talk himself into more problems.
May 3, 2013
The New York Times ran an article on Asian MMA organization OneFC this past week. The article focused on the building of the organization and the possibility that MMA will be a sport on the rise in Asia.
The article speaks with Victor Cui, the CEO of OneFC, and covers the company’s swift expansion and popularity since its inception in 2011.
It also interviewed UFC’s managing director of Asia Mark Fischer and the company’s aspiration for the promotion to extend its brand into Asia. Fischer stated that market surveys show that it is making a dent in the Chinese market – a key market in the region, along with India.
Not included in the article but of note for the OneFC organization was its recent Asian MMA Summit which invites promoters, trainers, gym owners and others to discuss the business of MMA in Asia. The effort is spearheaded by Cui and one of its perks is to allow fighters on cross promotional cards in an effort to share the talent.
The OneFC feature is a great public relations piece considering that all of its events occur in Asia. The company’s popularity is shown through its sold out shows, a lucrative television deal and blue chip sponsors. It has retained key sponsors such as Sony, Carl’s Jr, Schick Razor and Energizer. It recently signed an exclusive content deal with Yahoo! Philippines – the country’s number one news site. Also, Cui’s Asian MMA Summit is an effort to collaborate with other MMA organizations in discussing MMA business across Asia as well as share talent for its shows.
With the UFC is still growing its brand in Asia, it will be interesting to see the continued expansion of OneFC. Cui’s group is focused on regional expansion and its focus remains on Asia while the UFC’s counts Asia as a major piece in its global goal.
Of note, a week previously, the New York Times ran a story on the front page of the Sports Section on Jon Jones in promotion of UFC 159. The OneFC feature made it two weeks in a row that the paper had detailed stories in on MMA.
May 2, 2013
UltimatePoker.com launched this week as the first legally operated online gambling web site in Nevada. The site, owned by the Fertittas passed a bill granting legal online gambling a couple months ago.
Ultimate Poker has been advertising with the UFC since last year in anticipation of this launch. As many recall, US legislation banned online gambling sites. Delaware and New Jersey have passed legislation for online gaming but have no sites in those states have launched.
Via MMA Junkie (via USA Today)
Games will be as small as 25-cent bet tournaments and $300 limit table. The company believes the games will be a complement to casino gambling and not a competitor. The goal is to allow players who may be intimidated in a casino or otherwise more comfortable in an online setting.
This investment could prove to be a boon for the Fertittas. Online poker was one of the driving forces behind The World Series of Poker phenomenon which had ESPN airing hours upon hours and multiple-versions of the poker tournament. With legislation passed in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, we can see more poker sites going up which may mean, in an indirect way, more sponsorship opportunities in MMA (pinpointing on the young male demo).
May 1, 2013
ESPN Business Reporter and UFC head Dana White went back and forth on twitter on the state of UFC business. The UFC drew the scrutiny of ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell. If you didn’t know, Rovell covers the business of sports and is as active on twitter as Dana White. Rovell sent a tweet out the following tweet after UFC 159.
UFC is starting to lose a little bit of its edge. Might need to have fewer events. Know guy who paid $50 for a $553 face seat tonight.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 28, 2013
This drew the ire of UFC fans, media and eventually got back to Dana White. And in usual form, he escalates the criticism to make it personal.
Rovell didn’t seem pleased about the “ESPN” remark and defended his reason for inquiry.
After a query to substantiate the numbers that the UFC was still on the rise, White indicated to Rovell that he’d get him those numbers
On Wednesday, three days after the initial back and forth, Rovell received his request. It appears to either be a cut and paste of a Fuel TV press release, a hastily put together word document and/or both. You can click on the pic to see it close up. As you can read, White tells Rovell that Zuffa is a private company.
The following tweet is a lesson in making sure you read what you tweet. White’s response to Rovell.
Rovell did concede that the UFC had some strong indicators of improvement.
Rovell then addressed the data White provided to a follower that believed White had shown the reporter up.
Rovell did make a back-handed complement about the back and forth with White.
He then makes the most sense in the following tweets in requesting information that most would ask about a company’s financials.
Prior to receiving the data from White, Rovell ran a poll for his twitter followers. Its something he does periodically to create engagement. The poll asks whether UFC has mainstream potential. As you can read, a little over half don’t think so.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 29, 2013
POLL RESULTS: 55% of respondents say they don’t think the UFC has the potential to go mainstream sprts.bz/17rLdRl
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 29, 2013
You can also head over to Storify to see the original version of this.
Its an interesting back and forth between a mainstream business reporter and White. Certainly, there are errors on both sides of the conversation. Rovell frames the questions differently. He first states that the UFC has lost its “edge” based on the anecdotal evidence that a friend bought a ticket for substantially less than face value. He then asks about the UFC slowing down financially and would like to see its net profits. White responds over the top. Rovell baits him to provide him data that the UFC is doing better and then White gives him something that can’t be substantiated. Being a reporter, Rovell is upset and White relies on the “private company” safe harbor to protect the UFC from having to release its numbers.
At times, Rovell uses financial information to dampen the mood for fans. For example, when a player drops in the NFL Draft, he’s the first to tweet how much money that player is losing. Still, Rovell is being a journalist here and it would have looked better if White could have just said granted him an interview to talk about it or provided him information that did not look like it was a press release.
May 1, 2013
Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer and MMA Fighting reports that the ratings for the UFC 159 Prelims on FX scored a 1.38 million viewer average. Although Saturday’s showing was down from UFC 158, it was above the 1.2 million viewer average on FX.
The UFC 159 Prelims improved on ratings from the UFC on Fox 7 Prelims the previous week as that show did 1,057,000.
More numbers from MMA Fighting:
For Fuel, the post-fight show did a 0.34 rating and 159,000 viewers. That broke the record for post-fight coverage after a pay-per-view show. The old record was 125,000 viewers set after UFC 158.
The weigh-ins on Friday did 109,000 viewers. While barely half of the Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz weigh-in audience that holds the record at 215,000 viewers, it was the fourth most-watched weigh-in ever on Fuel.
The ratings for the programming supporting the PPV might be a good sign for the actual numbers for the event. The actual FX show on Saturday was lackluster as two fights were stopped due to injury, it showed the Sara McMann fight twice and production had to show extended promos to fill time.