TUF 23 Episode 5: 361,000 viewers

May 19, 2016

The 5th episode of TUF 23 Wednesday night drew 361,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings.  It’s a modest increase from last Wednesday.

The ratings reflect a modest increase from last week (336,000).  It also is a little higher than last spring’s TUF 21 (340,000).

Per Sports TV Ratings, it drew 200,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

In the fight of the night, Lanchana Green defeated Helen Harper by unanimous decision.

Episode 5

Payout Perspective:

This is another case of waiting for the DVR numbers to see how many people actually tuned in.  The Oklahoma City-Golden State NBA Playoff game (9-11:30pm ET) on TNT aired at the same time as TUF and drew 7.5 million viewers.  Also, the NHL Playoffs featuring Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay on NBC Sports Network drew 1.75 million viewers from 8-11pm ET.

UFC 197 PPV buy estimated between 375K-450K

May 19, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that uFC 197 drew between 375,000 to 450,000 PPV buys.  The event featured Jon Jones taking on Ovince Saint Preux.

The PPV buy rate estimates are very good but reveals what we know about Jon Jones.  While he may be the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC, he is not a top draw.  Clearly, you can say the same about Demetrious Johnson who was also on the card.

UFC PPVs for 2016

UFC 195: 1.032 million

UFC 196: 1.5 million

UFC 197: 375,000 to 450,000

Notwithstanding his showdown with Cormier last January, Jones has put up marginal PPV buys.  UFC 172 against Glover Teixeira drew 350K PPV buys and his UFC 165 against Alexander Gustafsson drew 310K.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a respectable number considering that there were only 50,000 google searches for UFC 197 after the weigh-ins.  Recall that this event was to be Jones-Cormier.  But, with Cormier needing to pull out, the top of the card took an extreme hit.  With Johnson not being a draw, Jones stayed on the card and OSP was the fighter the UFC picked to face him.  Jones has not had a huge PPV buy rate since 182 when he faced Cormier.

Bisping replaces Weidman at UFC 199

May 18, 2016

Michael Bisping steps in for injured Chris Weidman and faces Luke Rockhold for the middleweight title at UFC 199.  The announcement was made on Wednesday by Dana White on ESPN.

Coming off a career-altering win against Anderson Silva earlier this year, Bisping gets a rematch against Rockhold.  The champ submitted Bisping at UFC Fight Night in Sydney, Australia in November 2014.

Weidman had to pull out of his rematch with Rockhold due to a neck injury.

Payout Perspective:

One would have to feel good for Bisping as he finally gets a shot at his long elusive chance to be middleweight champion.  But I’m not quite sure that this will do much with respect to moving the needle with PPV buys.  I do think Bisping is a good talker and will do his best to promote this fight.  As for the announcement, we see once again that the UFC values the broader appeal and audience of ESPN than it does its broadcast partner of FS1.

UFC Prelims on FS1 draws 768,000

May 17, 2016

UFC 198 Prelims on FS1 drew an average viewership of 768,000 per Nielsen.  It was the highest rated sports program on cable TV on Saturday.

The Prelims featured Matt Brown taking on Demian Maia.  Viewership for the fight was at its peak as it drew 985,000 viewers in the last quarter hour of the 2-hour show.  According to Sports TV Ratings, it drew 399,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo making it the highest-rated show in that demo for Saturday.

Below is a graph of this year’s PPV Prelims on FS1.

ufc ppv prelims through 198

In addition, the FS1 UFC Fight Night pre-show drew 253,000 viewers and the post-fight show on FS1 drew 117,000.

Payout Perspective:

Despite doing less than the other PPV shows this year, the UFC 198 Prelims on FS1 did very well.  Per Sports TV Ratings, only ESPN’s “30 for 30” Believeland drew higher ratings on Saturday in the category of “sports cable.”  The lower ratings may reflect what to expect for the PPV buys but the event did do well considering it was not a U.S. card.

UFC 198: Payout Perspective

May 16, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 198 taking place from Curitiba, Brazil where Fabricio Werdum took on Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight title.

Miocic crowned Heavyweight Champ

Despite the massive crowd in favor of Fabricio Werdum, Stipe Miocic knocked him out in the first round.  The KO stunned the massive crowd in Curtiba.  For Miocic, it was an emotional win and he showed it when he returned back home to Cleveland.  He also had a message for the city’s NBA team.

Cyborg does not disappoint in debut

The long-awaited debut of Cris “Cyborg” Justino did not disappoint the Brazilian fans as she overpowered Leslie Smith earning a TKO in the first round, just 1:21 in, despite a vehement protest from Smith.  Smith took to social media after the fight to vent her anger.

The obvious question was whether Cyborg could make weight, which she did.  Now, the next hurdle would be coming down another 5 pounds to challenge Miesha Tate for the bantamweight title.  Of course, maybe there’s a fight out there at the 140 pound catchweight that could happen (i.e., Ronda Rousey).

Attendance

It was a record crowd at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba Parana, Brazil as the announced attendance was over 45,000 (45,207 to be exact).  It made it the 3rd highest attendance in UFC history according to the announcement on the PPV telecast.  The tickets sold out in one day.  No gate was announced which seems to be the norm for Brazil shows.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50,000 went to Miocic, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Francisco Trinaldo and Yancy Medeiros.  Trinaldo and Medeiros won for Fight of the Night which aired on the UFC Prelims on FS1 and Miocic and Souza earned performance bonuses.

Sponsors

Budweiser was in the center of the Octagon.  Notably Nissan had signage in the octagon.   Bud Light was also present in the Octagon along with Toyo Tires, EA UFC 2, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Fight Pass, and ads for UFC 199 and 200.

Budweiser sponsored the Embedded episodes and also had the fighter prep point.  Bud Light was a big sponsor throughout the broadcast.

No Monster Energy Drink on the broadcast.  This may be due in part that TNT Energy Drink had been a UFC sponsor in Brazil.  According to this UFC press release, the Monster exclusive deal with the UFC, excludes Brazil.

Odds and Ends

This was a big show but think how much bigger it could have been with Anderson Silva-Uriah Hall.

Fans were given Werdum “faces” which had the former champ’s trademark smirk.  He did it a couple times during the walk out.  Werdum seemed like he had the time of his life until the fight started.

A subtle post-fight gesture for new champs is that they are given the champion’s “black” Reebok shirt.  Miesha Tate was given it after defeating Holly Holm.  Miocic was handed the shirt after his post-fight interview.

Matt Brown probably should never fight in Brazil again.  He gave the Brazilian fans the Stone Cold Steve Austin treatment at weigh-ins.  Although FS1 did not show it, there was footage of random fans taking shots at Brown on his walkout to the Octagon against Damian Maia.

Brown was submitted by Maia.  The next day, his ex-coach takes a swing at him.  Fortunately, authorities got a hold (literally) on the guy.

I know that there are practical reasons for this, but does anyone find it odd that Benson Henderson was once again wearing a UFC uniform in the corner of training partner, Bryan Barberena.

It looks like Jon Jones is really feeling it.

Big Nog was announced as the first UFC fighter to go into the company’s Hall of Fame this summer.  Little Nog had a KO of Patrick Cummins as the featured fight on the early UFC Prelims on Fight Pass.

There were 500,000 google searches for UFC 198 on Saturday.

Conclusion

UFC 198 was a very entertaining card with some good finishes.  But, did the Werdum-Miocic appeal to the casual viewers?  Probably not.  This was a card which was focused on Brazil.  The attendance looked very good and the crowds (including at the weigh-ins) were great.  However, the PPV buys for this event will likely come in around 325,000 buys.

McGregor vs. Mayweather – could it happen?

May 15, 2016

Can Conor McGregor fight Floyd Mayweather without the UFC’s ok?  The question is almost as silly as whether Ronda Rousey should fight a man.  Despite the ridiculousness of it, we take a look.

As Bloody Elbow points out, there is a scenario in which its plausible that McGregor could find his way out of his UFC contract and meet Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match.  Of course, the scenario would take the course of a lawsuit.  And while there are those that think that’s a pretty feasible scenario, one has to look at the practical issues related to obtaining a boxing license, filing a declaratory judgment for McGregor to get out of his UFC and/or addressing a lawsuit that would inevitably be filed by the UFC for breach of contract as well as its own injunction that would prevent a fight between the two.  Then, there’s the legal reason which would stifle all notions about this from happening.  But we have about 6 graphs to go…

Clearly the boxing license issue is the least of the worries.  One would have to think this should be the easiest of tasks.  Rather than wait for a UFC lawsuit, if McGregor and Mayweather are really interested in a fight, they’d probably file a lawsuit against the UFC seeking a declaratory judgment requesting a court to allow McGregor to fight despite his contract with the company.  The court of choice would be an interesting one.

A venue in Nevada seems appropriate considering the UFC’s headquarters are in the state.  If McGregor decides to seek relief utilizing the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act (“Ali Act”) as suggested by BE, the venue would have to be in federal court in Vegas (the same venue as the current UFC antitrust lawsuit).

So the question is whether McGregor could possibly sue under the Ali Act?  It’s likely that while the argument that McGregor (as a licensed boxer) could seek relief under the Ali Act sounds plausible, it’s unlikely that a court would grant McGregor such relief.

Definitely McGregor’s supporters would hope for a broad interpretation of Section 10 of the Ali Act which indicates it a restraint of trade for a coercive contract.  However, the coercive contract that is in question and that we try to litigate is the UFC contract, not another boxing contract.  And that is the problem.

The purpose and intent of the Ali Act is clearly for boxing.  And while there is the possibility of amending the Ali Act to include MMA incubating, the Ali Act does not cover MMA.  Any argument that an MMA contract is coercive and thus should be deemed void or voidable under the Ali Act would be dismissed.  As stated, attorneys for the UFC would simply argue that the Ali Act does not pertain to MMA and any safe harbor that McGregor might seek to find to nullify his UFC contract should be dismissed.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly, none of us think that Mayweather/McGregor is happening.  But, since I was asked about the question, I thought it would be interesting to look at it.  While the legal strategy seems sound, in the end, the practicality of a lawsuit and actually prevailing on the merits would be a longshot.  If this fight were to actually happen, one would think that the UFC would have to permit this to happen which would mean being, at least, a co-promoter in the event.  If you thought a Mayweather/Pacquiao negotiation was tough, think of what Mayweather/McGregor/UFC would be like.

But let’s be honest, the legal process would take years and years before seeing an actual fight.  I would see McGregor making amends with the UFC and continuing on as a mixed martial artists before a crossover fight ever happens.

New UFC HW Champion heads list of bonuses for UFC 198

May 14, 2016

Bonuses for UFC 198 were announced post-fight at the UFC press conference.  The new Heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic, headed the list of winners.

Miocic stopped Fabricio Werdum with one punch in the first round to earn the title.

In addition, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza earned a performance of the night for his stoppage of Vitor Belfort.  Souza cut Belfort early on and was able to control the former UFC champion until a flurry of punches from the mount spelled the end as the referee stepped in to stop the fight.

The Fight of the Night went to Francisco Trinaldo and Yancy Medeiros which aired on FS1.  All fighters earned $50,000 each.

Payout Perspective:

Obviously, Cyborg, Little Nog and Damian Maia could have earned bonuses for their stoppages during the fights.  Miocic one-punch victory was surprising but then again not surprising.

Monster Energy re-ups with Bellator MMA

May 13, 2016

Bellator MMA has reached an agreement with Monster Energy Drink to extend its sponsorship agreement which will see the green “M” in the Bellator cage for years to come according to a press release.

Via Bellator MMA press release:

Monster will continue to own highly visible inventory inside the Bellator cage and sponsor concourse activations during events as well as additional off-site promotional activations. To complement the live event experience, Monster and Bellator will look to engage in a multi-faceted activation plan intended to build customer loyalty and drive tune-in of the Bellator broadcasts on Spike. The sponsorship extension will also see Bellator MMA continue to put on fights during the “Monster Energy Cup” – an event that showcases the world’s top supercross riders in a head to-head battle for the coveted “Monster Energy Cup” award and the chance to win one million dollars.

PHOTO © HANS MOLENKAMP// MONSTER ENERGY/All Rights Reserved

PHOTO © HANS MOLENKAMP//MONSTER ENERGY/All Rights Reserved

Payout Perspective:

Monster is also the “Official Energy Drink” of the UFC and with this agreement will have honed in on the MMA demo.  It’s clear that the company sees the MMA demo of young (mostly male) adults correlates with the company’s target market.  The announcement comes the day before Bellator 154 which features Phil Davis taking on King Mo. Davis is a Monster Energy-sponsored athlete per the Bellator release. In addition, Rampage Jackson, Joe Schilling, Michael Chandler, Joey Beltran and Brennan Ward are Monster-sponsored as well.

UFC lightweight latest flagged by USADA

May 13, 2016

Carlos Diego Ferreira was flagged by USADA of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation.  The notification is a result of an out-of-competition sample collection.  He has been taken off o the May 29th UFC card in Las Vegas where he was to meet Abel Trujillo.

The UFC has issued its standard statement with respect to being notified by USADA of a possible violation by one of its contracted fighters.

Fighters flagged by USADA for potential anti-doping violations 

Carlos Diego Ferreira

Viscardi Andrade

Frank Mir

Yoel Romero (penalty reduced to 6-month suspension via settlement)

Felipe Olivieri

Diego Brandao

Gleison Tibau

Mirko Cro Cop

Payout Perspective:

The 31-year old Brazilian fighter is 3-2 in the UFC.  According to the USADA database, he’s been tested twice in 2016.  He was not tested in 2015.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

TUF 23 Episode 4 draws 336,000 viewers

May 12, 2016

The fourth episode of The Ultimate Fighter 23 drew a live plus same day rating of 336,000 viewers.  It’s one of the lowest viewership ratings for a TUF episode.

In the fight of the show, Andrew Sanchez defeated Myron Dennis via unanimous decision.

Episode 4

Per Sports TV Ratings, the episode drew 226,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The 336,000 viewers is an all-time low for the series on FS1.   Prior to this Episode 5 of TUF 21 drew just 340,000 viewers.

In comparison to this episode, last spring TUF 21 Episode 3 drew 364,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

An NHL Game 7 and two NBA Playoff games on TNT probably spelled the doom for any live viewers of TUF.  The Golden State-Warriors-Portland Trailblazers Game 5 drew over 6 million viewers according to Sports TV Ratings.  As we know, we should see an uptick in viewership due to the DVR ratings.

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