UFC 238 Payout Perspective

June 12, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 238 taking place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Cejudo dispatches Moraes and becomes double champ

Henry Cejudo recovered from a shaky first round to defeat Marlon Moraes with at TKO in the third round of the main event at UFC 238 to win the vacant UFC Bantamweight title. With the win, Cejudo holds the UFC Flyweight title and the Bantamweight title.

The fight showed Cejudo’s growth and maturity of an MMA fighter. The first round saw Moraes getting worked by Moraes with leg kicks. Cejudo seemed a little tentative in the first round but pressed Moraes in rounds 2 and 3 to get the victory.

Shevchenko leg kick KOs Eye

Valentina Shevchenko showed why she is the Flyweight champion. She almost submitted Jessica Eye with a Kimura in the first round, but used a perfectly timed leg kick to the head to knock Eye out. It was a very scary couple minutes as Eye lay on the mat unconscious.

The broadcast showed how Shevchenko set Eye up for the KO with leg kicks to the body drawing Eye’s guard low. Then, instead of a kick to the body Shevchenko went to the head as Eye braced for a body blow. A perfect setup.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

The event at the United Center drew 16,038 for a gate of over $2 million.  The bonuses went to Cejudo, Shevchenko, Ferguson and Cerrone.

Prefight Hype

UFC 238’s return to Chicago saw Henry Cejudo throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game. He also showed up at a media luncheon with “bodyguards.” At the face offs during media week, Cejudo wore a costume to face off against Moraes. Shaun Al-Shatti explained it here:

Cejudo’s act may be just that to get him some publicity.  But, if he continues to improve and dominate opponents, he may be bringing a throne to his next fight face-off.

UFC Embedded was sponsored by Toyo Tires.

Sponsorships

Octagon sponsors included Toyo Tires, Motel 6, P3, Nemiroff, Modelo, Poker Stars, Devour, PariMatch, Monster, Hudson Shipping and Monster Energy in the middle.

Modelo had the fighter checkpoint.

Interestingly enough, no real signs of the UFC’s newest sponsor, Aurora Cannabis.

Despite his loss, Donald Cerrone is one of the few UFC fighters with his own Monster Energy sponsorship with

Ratings

The UFC Prelims on ESPN did its best since March scoring 964,000 viewers.  It served as a lead-in for Top Rank Boxing.  The UFC main card went up against the return of GGG on DAZN.

Odds and Ends

The Tony Ferguson-Donald Cerrone fight was everything you could have wanted until Cowboy blew his nose.  Ferguson looked sharp and if the fight have lasted longer, probably would have won a decision over Cerrone.  He should face the winner of Khabib-Dustin.

Tai Tuivasa was likely the star of the Embeddeds based on his outgoing personality.  However, he’s now lost two in a row as he lost a unanimous decision to Blagoy Ivanov.

There were some great performances on the undercards including Eddie Wineland, Calvin Kattar and Aljamain Sterling.

Sterling had a good week:

It was interesting to see Moraes get upset at a heckler at media day face offs.  It seemed over the top although you may believe that he was thrown off by it considering this was supposed to be media at the event.

Jessica Eye did not have a good start to fight week as she had problems with here airline.

The broadcast crew is using more technology in explaining a lot of the strategy and moves going on in the Octagon.  A prime example saw Daniel Cormier go step-by-step explaining how Shevchenko was able to get a clear headkick over Eye.

Is this good or bad?

UFC 238 google searches drew over 500,000 for Saturday and another 500,000 on Sunday.  Tony Ferguson had 100,000 himself on Saturday night

Conclusion

UFC 238 was a very entertaining show.  It went up against Top Rank Boxing on ESPN and the return of GGG on DAZN.   But the prelim ratings were up which may equate to a better PPV buy rate.  Reports indicate that the buys since going to ESPN+ have been lower than when on satellite and cable providers.

UFC 235 (pre-ESPN+ only PPVs):  520K-650K

UFC 236:  >100K buys

UFC 237:  ~70K buys

With that being reported, its hard to think that UFC 238 did better than UFC 236 although one might be generous and state that the buys were likely around 100,000.

UFC 238 Prelims draw 964,000 viewers

June 11, 2019

The UFC 238 Prelims drew 964,000 viewers on ESPN Saturday night per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  It was the best rating for a PPV Prelims since UFC 235.

The PPV prelims aired on ESPN prior to the UFC 238 Prelims on ESPN +.  The feature bout of the prelims saw Tatiana Suarez defeat Nina Ansaroff in a competitive fight between strawweights.  Also, Aljamain Sterling defeated Pedro Munhoz in a bantamweight contender matchup.

The event drew 489,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a 0.63 share.

UFC PPV Prelims ratings 2019

UFC 234:  1.339M

UFC 235:  1.480M

UFC 236:  893,000

UFC 237:  813,000

UFC 238:  964,000

The prelims actually served as a lead-in to Top Rank Boxing on ESPN.  It’s the second straight PPV that the prelims have led to boxing on the network.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect a nice uptick in viewership which may mean more PPV purchases.  This time around the prelims seemed stacked more competitive fights and fighters the casual fan may know.  This is also another evening where ESPN dedicated to combat sports which is interesting to see.

UFC Fight Night Stockholm Prelims this past Saturday draws 257K

June 7, 2019

UFC Fight Night Stockholm Prelims last Saturday on ESPN2 drew 257,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event took place on Saturday morning in North America.

The three hour prelims featured welterweights Sergey Khandozhko as he defeated Rostem Akman via decision.  Also, Lina Lansberg defeated Tonya Evinger in a bantamweight matchup.  The featured event, which aired on ESPN+ featured Anthony Smith against hometown favorite Alexander Gustafsson.  Smith silenced the crowd when he submitted Gustafsson in round 4 of their light heavyweight matchup.

Earlier this year, UFC on ESPN + 7 Prelims from St. Petersburg, Russia drew 232,000 viewers.  It also was a Saturday morning telecast on ESPN2.  In February 2019, UFC Fight Night on ESPN +3 drew 271,000 viewers for an early morning North American start from Prague.

Payout Perspective:

 The televised portion of this event happened Saturday morning on the west coast which likely contributed to the low ratings.  Of course, it was the prelims.  This past Saturday’s event is about the average for these Saturday morning telecasts.

PFL 3 Prelims on ESPN2 draw 113,000 viewers

June 7, 2019

The Professional Fighters’ League prelims which aired on ESPN2 on Thursday afternoon/evening drew 113,000 viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The event was the precursor to the third event of the second season for the PFL.  The prelims saw Emiliano Sordi get a 2nd round KO against Vinny Magalhaes in a light heavyweight matchup.  Also, Viktor Nemkov defeated Rakim Cleveland via unanimous decision.

Prelims for second season of PFL on ESPN

PFL 1: 137,000

PFL2:  120,000

PFL 3:  113,000

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are low but as a prelim event, its hardly any surprise for the ratings.  The event went up against the NHL Stanley Cup airing on NBC at about the same time too.  These events are ones that can get the PFL name out there on cable but the eventual hope is that fans gravitate to subscribe on ESPN+

PBC on FS1 Saturday night draws 208,000 viewers

May 29, 2019

PBC on FS1 Saturday night drew 208,000 viewers.  The prelims which aired prior to the main card drew 167,000 viewers.

The main card featured Austin Trout going up against Terrell Gausha.  The two fought to a majority draw.

The prelims began at 7:14pm ET due to an overrun.  The main card started at 8:00pm ET and went over 3 hours.  It did overlap with the ESPN event Saturday night.

Payout Perspective:

Probably not the best night for the event as there was also a card on ESPN and DAZN.  This had to be one of those events where PBC was fulfilling its goal of telecasts for Fox as even the crowd at the event in Mississippi looked sparse.

Top Rank Boxing draws 556,000 viewers Saturday night

May 29, 2019

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew 556,000 viewers on Saturday night.  The main event saw an upset as Jamel Herring defeated Masayuki Ito to win the WBO junior heavyweight title in Kissimmee, Florida.

The event aired Saturday night at 10pm and featured the matchup of the former Marine taking the title from Ito.  The event drew 171,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a 0.38 market share.

Notably, the event outdrew ESPN2 which showed women’s college softball super regional action at the time.  The games averaged in the 300K viewer range.  The event did air opposite the Bucks-Raptors Conference Finals which drew 6.4 million viewers.

Top Rank on ESPN Ratings

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/2):  880,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/10):  655,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/15) 704,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (3/23) 469,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (5/4) 480,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (5/11) 740,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The event was likely overshadowed by the NBA and although the backstory behind Herring was a good one.  The 556,000 is a little better than 2 of the past 4 Top Rank shows which you might see as an improvement.

PFL2 Prelims on ESPN2 draw 120,000 viewers

May 24, 2019

Professional Fighters League drew 120,000 viewers on ESPN2 Thursday night per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  Notably, the UFC 236 replay drew 191,000 viewers later that night on ESPN2.

The PFL2 aired for the second time on ESPN2.  The event took place at the Nassau Coliseum in New York.  The featured event of the 2 hour Prelims on ESPN2 saw Natan Schulte defeat Yincang Bao via rear naked choke.

The event on ESPN2 aired early in the night (7pm ET).  The UFC 236 replay (10pm ET) which featured Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier drew more than the live event.

The second season of the PFL debut on May 9th drew 137,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The decrease in viewership may not be the best look for the PFL which is trying to gain some traction on ESPN in its second season.  Of course, the main card is airing on ESPN+ so don’t expect too much concern from the network.  Moreover, being placed on the deuce and being the prelims might not be the best way to put your best product out there.

UFC 237 Prelims draw 813,000 viewers as lead-in for Top Rank Boxing which drew 740,000

May 14, 2019

The UFC 237 PPV Prelims on ESPN drew 813,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The event featured BJ Penn-Clay Guida at the top of the telecast and ended with Ryan Spann’s KO of Antonio Rogerio Nogueria.  UFC 237 took place at Rio de Janeiro Brazil.

The event drew 425,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a 0.53 share.

It’s interesting to note that the UFC served as the lead-in to Top Rank Boxing on ESPN which drew 740,000 viewers and 354,000 in the A18-49 demo.  The event from Tucson, Arizona featured Miguel Berchelt as he took on Francisco Vargas.

Payout Perspective:

It was a busy night of combat sports and its interesting to see that the viewing audience really stayed on the channel as there was little dropoff from the UFC as the ‘lead-in’ into Top Rank Boxing which lost out on less than 100,000 viewers.

PBC on Fox draws 1.21 million viewers Saturday night

May 12, 2019

PBC on Fox drew 1.21 million viewers on Saturday night per Nielsen via Television By Numbers.

The event featured a matchup of Super Welterweight featuring Jarret Hurd and Julian Williams.  JRock shocked the favorite Hurd and took the 154 pound title.

It was a busy night Saturday night with a UFC PPV, Bellator event on DAZN and NHL on NBC vying for viewers.  The event drew a 0.3 share in the A18-49 demo and a 2 share overall.  It recorded the lowest rated viewership in its timeslot among the 4 networks.

The telecast did draw better than last month’s Easter weekend broadcast which featured Danny Garcia.  Yet, still below December’s 1.69M viewers on Fox.  Moreover, the viewership is still below that of the UFC broadcasts on Fox.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN draws 480K viewers opposite Canelo-Jacobs

May 7, 2019

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew 480,000 viewers Saturday night for the event in Stockton, California.  It also drew 166,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

The event featured Artur Beterbiev as he defeated Radivoje Kalajdzic.  The opener for the telecast saw a slugfest between Jerwin Ancajas as he stopped Ryuichi Funai.  In addition, Gabriel Flores, Jr. defeated Eduardo Pereira dos Reis.

The ratings are the second lowest for Top Rank Boxing and ESPN since the two began its working relationship in 2017.

Payout Perspective:

It’s hard not to think that most boxing fans were watching the Canelo-Jacobs fight on DAZN.  While the event from Stockton showed the best from its featured fighters, it had the unfortunate scheduling conflict of one of the biggest fights this year.

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