White downplays fighter concerns about Reebok deal

June 19, 2015

In a recent Periscope chat, UFC head Dana White downplayed the outcry from fighters about the Reebok deal.  White indicated that the fighters are “freaked out” about the change.

White answered a variety of questions including stating that he estimated that UFC 189 should do over 1 million PPV buys.  He also stated that they are filming a new reality show.

Jose Aldo is among the vocal UFC fighters as he states that he is losing a lot of money with the new deal.  White shot back at Aldo stating that Reebok wanted to sign him to an individual sponsorship deal but he chose to stay with Venum.

Payout Perspective:

So is it the contracted fighters’ resistance to change or the reality that the change will affect them financially that is the cause for so many to speak out against the new policy?  It would seem that fighters have a legitimate gripe and speaking out about it may shed light on the issue and affect change.  Or, it will not.  Based on White’s comments, it seems like the UFC is sticking to its policy with Reebok and the UFC is not concerned about opposition at this point.

TUF 21 Episode 9 draws 322,000 viewers

June 18, 2015

The Ultimate Fighter 21 episode 9 drew 332,000 viewers on Wednesday night per Sports TV Ratings.  The first showing of the episode on FS1 was down 22% from episode 8.

Notably, a same-day replay on FS1 at 10:00pm PT (1:00am ET) drew another 72,000 viewers.

In the fight of the episode, Kamaru Usman of the Blackzilians earned a unanimous decision of ATT’s Steve Carl.  Usman now has a chance to fight in the finale July 12.

TUF 21 Ratings through Ep 9

TUF 21 Ratings
Live + SD Live +3 Increase
Episode 1 490,000 704,000 214,000
Episode 2 454,000 646,000 192,000
Episode 3 364,000 524,000 160,000
Episode 4 286,000 415,000 129,000
Episode 5 340,000 512,000 172,000
Episode 6 350,000 586,000 236,000
Episode 7 371,000 625,000 254,000
Episode 8 425,000 566,000 141,000
Episode 9 332,000

Also of note, the DVR + 3 ratings from Episode 8 drew it up to 566,000 viewership reflecting an increase of 141,000 viewers which is way below the average increase (191,000) from live to DVR.

Payout Perspective:

Notably, it’s the first episode where TUF did not have to worry about NBA or NHL playoffs as both are over.  Yet, TUF lost ground in ratings.  Live viewership is averaging approximately 380,000 viewers.

How will Bellator 138 do on Spike TV Friday?

June 18, 2015

Bellator 138, the organization’s latest “tent pole” event occurs Friday night on Spike TV with Kimbo Slice taking on Ken Shamrock in the featured event.

Last Friday, Spike TV aired “Countdown to Unfinished Business” which drew 215,000 viewers according to Nielsen sources.  The shoulder programming was preceded by a PBC event which drew 446,000 viewers.  The ratings are less than prior shoulder programming for Bellator events.  For example, last year’s “Rampage vs. King Mo” shoulder program hyping their fight at Bellator 120 drew 460,000 viewers.  While we do not have the ratings for shoulder programming for Bellator 131, one might make the assumption that Tito Ortiz-Stephan Bonnar drew more than 215,000 viewers in the days before their big fight last November.

Still, there is some positive buzz for this event despite the fact the two main event fighters are past their prime.

Fortunately for Bellator, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday ending the NBA Finals.  A Game 7 would have put the NBA up against Bellator on Friday which could have proven disastrous for the organization.  With boxing’s big event this weekend occurring on Saturday, Bellator will go unopposed aside from regional MLB broadcasts and those wanting to watch the US Open.  However, the latter likely skews to an older demo not targeted by Bellator.

Scott Coker indicated in an MMA Fighting article that he believed that Slice-Shamrock could beat the ratings record of Ortiz-Bonnar.  Bellator 131 last November drew an overall record 1.24 million viewers on Spike TV climaxing with a peak of 2 million during the Ortiz-Bonnar fight.  The adjusted viewership for DVRs drew the telecast to 1.4 million for the overall event and 2.246 million for the main event.   Of course, Ortiz-Bonnar included some pro-wrestling promotion which drew notoriety for better or worse.

It’s undeniable that Kimbo Slice is, or was, a ratings draw.  His EliteXC days drew huge ratings on CBS and season 10 of TUF (on Spike TV) was the last time that the TUF series drew notable ratings.  Of course, aside from Kimbo, that season was sparked due to the rivalry between Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson.  Ken Shamrock is a legend in MMA and his name is tied to famous rivalries throughout the years.  But, will this fight garner ratings?

Payout Perspective:

Without the NBA Finals opposing this event, we could see a very good ratings number for Bellator 138.  I doubt we see ratings like Ortiz-Bonnar.  The fact is that both Slice and Shamrock are past their primes and this may deter some viewers from tuning in.  Yet, the names might intrigue a casual viewer just to see if they still have “it.”  We shall see Friday if their name recognition should be past tense as well.

WSOF to air on NBC in July

June 17, 2015

WSOF announced that it is returning to network television on Saturday afternoon July 11th preceding UFC 189.  The show will feature its “Unstoppable” series which will show highlights of WSOF fights rather than offer a live event.

“We are excited to deliver another hard-hitting compilation of the most memorable, recent bouts featuring WSOF’s collection of dynamic world champions and other superstars,” said WSOF President, Ray Sefo in the WSOF Press Release.

According to the press release, all of the WSOF champions will be featured including Justin Gaethje, Rousimar Palhares, Lance Palmer and Blagoy Ivanov.

The two-hour program will air on NBC from 1pm PT/4pm ET giving fight fans an hour or so before the UFC 189 preliminary fights start.

Payout Perspective:

You might recall that WSOF aired a live event last July 5th which drew 781,000 viewers.  It went on the same day as UFC 175.  This time around we get a compilation show which may be a cost effective measure.  I’m not sure if this is good or bad for the WSOF.  Certainly, it’s good in that WSOF is able to control its brand by putting on the best fights for presumably its biggest audience of the year.  Then again, not having a live events misses out on a chance for the organization’s fighters to showcase their skills.

UFC 188: Payout Perspective

June 17, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 188 taking place from Mexico City, Mexico.

Werdum Undisputed HW Champ

Fabricio Werdum defeated Cain Velasquez to earn the undisputed Heavyweight title.  It was a submission that ended the long-running win streak of Fedor Emelianenko.  It was another submission that ended the Heavyweight title reign of Cain Velasquez.  Werdum’s guillotine choke ended the night for Cain who seemed gassed despite continuing to come forward during the fight.  It was one final lunge at Velasquez that spelled his doom as it seemed that Werdum had a smile on his face as Cain attempted a takedown but was caught by Werdum.

It has been two years since Cain Velasquez had been in the Octagon. It probably was not rust from not fighting but the altitude of Mexico City that could have been the issue.  He spent two weeks in Mexico City but Werdum had been there for over a month.

Werdum could face Andre Arlovski or Stipe Miocic next.

ufc 188 poster

Alvarez escapes Gil

Eddie Alvarez scored a split decision over Gilbert Melendez in an exciting co-main event.  Despite having his left eye almost shut after round 1 due to a Gil elbow strike, Alvarez came back in rounds 2 and 3 to eke out the win.  It must have been a relief for Alvarez to finally get a W in the Octagon after his ordeal with Bellator and losing in his UFC debut last fall.

The decision could have gone either way and these two probably do not lose too much (Eddie #4, Gil #5) in the rankings after the fight.

Next up for Eddie Alvarez?  Possibly Benson Henderson since they were originally scheduled to fight earlier this year.  We could see this in South Korea in November.

Attendance and Gate

The event drew 21,036 which was 36 more than the UFC’s event last year in the same venue.  No gate was announced so we do not know if how many comps were provided.

Bonuses

Fabricio Werdum, Patrick Williams, Yair Rodriguez and Charles Rosa earned the $50,000 fight bonuses.  Werdum and Williams earned the Performances of the Night and Rodriguez and Rosa earned the Fight of the Night.

Promotion of the Fight

UFC Embeddeds provided some controversy as Werdum accused Cain of being a “Fake Mexican.”  Essentially, Cain is American first and not from Mexico.  It was an interesting accusation that reminded me of Oscar de la Hoya-Fernando Vargas from years past.  Of course with recent news events about identity, it would be topical if not for the fact that no one seemed to care.

Similar to UFC 180, Doritos advertised for this fight by having the fighters’ likenesses on Doritos bags.  It also offered a contest for fans to meet and greet UFC fighters.

Doritos bag (pic via Josh Sanchez twitter)
Sponsorships
The Octagon sponsors included MetroPCS, the movie Self/Less, Doritos, DraftKings, Bud Light, Cinemex, BetCris, UFC Mobile from EA Sports and Monster Energy Drink in the center.

BetCris is a Mexican online gambling company. Self/Less is a movie from Universal Studios. It received a little promo featuring Forrest Griffin.

Cain added Monster Energy Drink to his list of sponsors which included Affliction, Oak Grove Technologies and American Ethanol.

Notably, Werdum was sponsored by Reddot.

Odds and Ends

Alvarez’s Underground King shirt, originally made by Jaco, is already on sale (i.e., reduced in price) at the UFC.com store.

Two fights ending in the first round on the UFC Prelims meant a very short night of fights on tv. Speaking of which, it was on FX instead of FS1 due to scheduling conflicts.

UFC 188 was shown in select theatres once again. It would be interesting to know how many people actually went to theatres to watch it.

Is Henry Cejudo ready for Demetrious Johnson yet?

Conclusion

In looking at the success of this event perhaps we look at how it did in comparison to past June PPVs. Traditionally, June PPVs have been terrible. The average PPVs from 2012-2014 is 132,000 buys. Google Trends for UFC 188 showed interest from Mexico by mediocre interest from the United States. Still, one would think that it had to improve on last June’s PPV of 115,000. I have an optimistic estimate of 200,000 PPV buys.

Amended MMA Bill passes New York Senate

June 17, 2015

Newsday reports that an amended bill seeking to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York passed the Senate last night by a vote of 49-13 which is up from 47-14 when it passed last March.  The final goal is for a vote in the Assembly before the legislative session ends in Albany this week.

While the session officially ends Wednesday, it is anticipated that the legislative session will be “extended a day or two.”

The bill still needs 76 votes in the Assembly in order pass and be sent to the governor for signature.  Jim Genia (a recommended follow if interested on updates) indicated that prior to amendments to the bill, it had 70 votes.

Payout Perspective:

It’s going down to the wire and we shall see if the amendments to the MMA bill mustered enough votes to pass the Assembly.  If it does, the governor may veto the bill but indications seem to be that he would not.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

HBO, Showtime produce lower ratings for Saturday events

June 16, 2015

ESPN Dan Rafael reports the ratings from this past weekend’s boxing events on HBO and Showtime.  Notably, the ratings are much lower for the Showtime broadcast of Deontay Wilder’s first title defense drew 678,000 viewers.

The rating for just the fight between Wilder versus Eric Molina drew 678,000 viewers.  In the first fight of the telecast, Jose Pedraza defeated Andrey Klimov and drew just 381,000 viewers.  The overall Showtime event drew 482,000 viewers.  The ratings are considerably lower than Wilder’s last fight in which he won the heavyweight title against Bermane Stiverne.  January’s Showtime airing of Wilder-Stiverne drew 1.24 million viewers.

HBO’s boxing card which featured Nicholas Walters taking on Miguel Marriaga drew 588,000 viewers.  Walters earned the victory.  Prior to the Walters fight, Felix Verdejo defeated Ivan Najera in a lightweight fight.  The Verdejo-Najera fight drew 611,000 viewers.  The overall event drew 562,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

An off-night for boxing on the premium networks.  The UFC and NHL were other alternatives for sports fans Saturday night but HBO’s offering was purely for the hardcore boxing fan.  Nicholas Walters is not a big name that many of the casual viewers would know unless you recall that he knocked out Nonito Donaire.  Based on the ratings, it looks as though the opening bout drew more than the Walters fight.  Still, what may be more disappointing is the ratings for Deontay Wilder’s first title defense.  The heavyweight is being marketed as the next great U.S. heavyweight champion and while fighting in front of his hometown crowd was great, boxing fans did not tune in.  Of course, a part of this might be due to the competition for Wilder.  If, and when, Wilder gets a more formidable opponent, we shall see if viewers tune in.

UFC 188 Prelims draw 727,000 viewers on FX

June 16, 2015

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the UFC 188 Prelims on FX this past Saturday drew 727,000 viewers.  The prelims aired on FX due to scheduling conflicts with FS1.

The fights which preceded the PPV were highlighted by two first-round stoppages. The last fight of the Prelims was Henry Cejudo and Chico Camus with Cejudo winning the fight.

UFC PPV Prelims 2015 through 188

Prior UFC Prelims on FX
UFC 142 – 880,000 viewers
UFC 174 – 784,000 viewers

Saturday night competition was the NHL Stanley Cup playoff Game 6 on NBC between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks. The game scored 5 million viewers and MLB Baseball on Fox which drew another 2.1 million (via TV By Numbers)

Payout Perspective:

The ratings were a modest decrease from UFC 187 but reflects a downturn this year which saw the first four UFC Prelims drawing over a 1 million viewer average. One would think that this should change next month with the big UFC 189 card and UIFC 190 in August featuring Ronda Rousey on the main card. The Prelims card was the lowest on FX since the Prelims have primarily been on based on the info we were able to dig up.

Titan FC to air events on UFC Fight Pass

June 15, 2015

MMA Fighting reports that Titan FC has entered into a broadcasting deal with UFC Fight Pass.  The organization will air its fight on the online platform.  The first Titan FC event will air on UFC Fight Pass on July 18th.

The deal was officially announced by Jeff Aronson and Lex McMahon in an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour.  Aronson indicated that it was a long-term deal with 8-10 shows per year.  Aronson indicated that it would just be a distribution deal and not an acquisition of the company.

Prior to the deal with UFC Fight Pass, Titan FC aired on CBS Sports Network.

In addition to the new partnership with the UFC, Titan FC fighters will allow its fighters to move up to the UFC.  Also, UFC fighters may move to fight for Titan FC.

No financial terms were revealed.

Payout Perspective:

This will be a unique partnership as it will give Titan FC exposure as a company on Fight Pass although it loses its cable exposure on CBS Sports.  For the UFC, its more content for Fight Pass and it gives it a “feeder” system for up and coming fighters.  Conversely, it gives ex-UFC fighters a place to fight with hopes of returning to the UFC.  We have seen a similar situation occur with Invicta FC where it airs on Fight Pass and its fighters have the opportunity of appearing in the UFC.  We shall see if there is more to the Titan FC deal and/or if the UFC will look to more partnerships with organizations in the weeks to come.

Late fight cancellations won’t be credited as fights under Reebok deal

June 14, 2015

MMA Junkie sheds some light on the upcoming new UFC athlete outfitting policy with respect to late fight scratches.  The information may add on to the growing discontent about the ills of the new program.

UFC officials indicated that neither fighter officially will be credited with a bout.  Payouts for a cancelled fight will be handled on a case-by-case basis as one fighter or both could still be paid.

The recent example of Rose Namajunas and Nina Ansaroff was highlighted in the Junkie article.  Ansaroff not only missed weight but was a late scratch from UFC 187.  Namajunas was left without an opponent.  Her sponsors had varying contractual responsibilities to Namajunas in light of a cancellation.  Although the article did not state it, it was inferred that some fight-week and in-case sponsors had different financial obligations than lifestyle sponsors. While lifestyle sponsors pay regardless of whether there is a fight, others may not have to pay if no fight occurred.

Payout Perspective:

The article outlines the new challenges facing managers and fighters in light of the Reebok deal.  Perhaps the fact that may have been glossed over but is important is the fact that a fight that is cancelled by either fighter will not be logged as a fight toward one’s total number in the UFC.  Thus, a fighter that could be moving on to the next sponsor pay tier would have to wait until they are called again to fight if their opponent cancels.  It really seems unfair from this viewpoint and stagnates a fighter’s earning potential without even it being their fault.

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