UFC Fight Night on ESPN 2 draws 828,000 viewers, Prelims draw 480,000

April 2, 2019

UFC Fight Night on ESPN 2 drew 828,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The prelims which also aired on ESPN drew 480,000 viewers.

The main card saw Justin Gaethje KO Edson Barboza in the first round of the main event.  The event from Philadelphia drew 330,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.53 share.  The prelims, which preceded the main card drew 196,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.32 share.

Notably, Top Rank Boxing, which had the main UFC card as its lead-in drew 655,000 viewers, 224,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.43 share.

Payout Perspective:

There was stiff competition Saturday night due to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on TBS which likely drew away a lot of casual UFC viewers.  The ratings appear to be somewhat low if you consider how well the other UFC cards have done since the partnership began.  The Top Rank rating is promising and may have benefited from the built-in UFC audience.

Ratings for Top Rank, PBC and NCAA Wrestling this weekend

March 26, 2019

This weekend’s boxing event took a step back from the last couple of weeks as events for Top Rank on ESPN and PBC on FS1 were flat likely overshadowed by the NCAA Tournament.

On Saturday night, Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew 469,000 viewers and 150,000 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen via ShowBuzz.  The event featured Kubrat Pulev as he defeated Bogdan Dinu via KO in the 7th round.  There were two fights on the telecast which aired Saturday night.

Sunday afternoon, PBC on FS1 took place with a fight between Lamont Petersen and Sergey Lipinets.  The Kazakhstani Russian stopped Petersen who then announced his retirement from boxing.  The event drew 374,000 viewers and only 74,000 in the A18-49 demo.

On another note, College Wrestling on ESPN drew 312,000/128,000 A18-49 Thursday (7:00pm), 407,000/147,000 A18-49 Friday night (8:00pm start), 625,000/245,000 A18-49 Saturday night (7:00pm EST start) for the NCAA Mat Madness showdown.

Payout Perspective:

This weekend sports programs were likely overshadowed by the NCAA Tournament which started for both the men’s and women’s brackets.  The opening rounds usually garner a lot of viewership which likely meant that most other sports took backseats to them.  The PBC on FS1 event is somewhat low for a name like Petersen, but with a late afternoon/early evening start it competed with NCAA games.

PBC on FS1 Prelims score 421,000 viewers

March 19, 2019

The PBC on FS1 Prelims this past Saturday drew 421,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The PBC Prefight show which supported the Spence-Garcia PPV drew 404,000 on FS1.

The prelims on FS1 aired just one fight with heavyweight champion Charles Martin taking on Gregory Corbin.  Martin won via DQ over Corbin.

The prefight show which aired after the prelims previewed the main PPV card including the Spence-Garcia matchup.

Payout Perspective:

The viewership was fair considering just one fight on the aired prelims on FS1.  Did it do enough to sell the casual boxer on purchasing the PPV?  Hard to say considering that the fight ended in a DQ due to punches to the groin.  With the build for this PPV card, PBC did a good job in building excitement despite a poor PPV.

PBC on Fox (3/9) draw 1.34M viewers in fast overnights

March 10, 2019

PBC on Fox Saturday night drew 1.34 million viewers in fast overnights per Television By Numbers.  The event drew 0.3 in the A18-49 demo and a 2 share overall.

The event which featured Shawn Porter beating Yordenis Ugas in a controversial decision was the latest event for PBC on the network.  It went up against a very strong Celics-Lakers NBA game on ABC which drew 2.66 million viewers.  Notably, Dateline NBC won the 8pm and 9pm timeslots with 4 million viewers each and a 0.7/4 share.

Payout Perspective:

The event did better than the February 16th PBC on Fox which drew 1.26M viewers opposite NBA All-Star Saturday night.  But it did not do better than PBC on Fox in December which drew 1.69 viewers.  Saturday’s telecast was overshadowed by a Kyrie Irving-LeBron James matchup as well as the UFC on ESPN +.

UFC 235 Payout Perspective

March 6, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at UFC 235 at The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jones dominates Smith

Jon Jones did not have the best day at the office but he thoroughly outclassed Anthony Smith to retain his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.  There was no threat by Smith to Jones throughout the whole 5 rounds and the Bones cruised to a unanimous decision.  Smith stated that he was “nullified” by Jones during the fight which seems like the most appropriate description of the fight.

Of course, Jon Jones cannot escape controversy.  An almost soccer-kick to a grounded Anthony Smith could have cost Jones but he missed. Then, another knee to the head that landed could have cost Jones the title.  But Smith decided to continue and despite not taking the way out to win the championship, he was applauded by the announcers.

Jones now has a choice of opponents from the Light Heavyweight division although there doesn’t seem to be anyone that pops out as someone fans want to see.

Usman wins middleweight title

Kamaru Usman took the middleweight title away from Tyron Woodley with an impressive battering of the former champ.  Arguably, Usman had 2 or 3 “10-8” rounds which underscored his dominant performance.

Usman’s victory makes him the first fighter of African descent to hold a world title in the UFC.  He now is scheduled to face Colby Covington in defense of the title.  If that falls through, Ben Askren might be another name waiting in the wings for a shot.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

UFC 235 drew 14,790 fans for a gate of $4,035,156.50 as announced at the post-fight press conference.  It was the 6th best announced attendance and gate at T-Mobile.  It was not a full house, but decent attendance and a good gate.

The bonuses went to Pedro Munhoz and Cody Garbrandt for Fight of the Night. Johnnie Walker and Diego Sanchez earned Performance Bonuses for their respective stoppages.  Each earned $50,000.

Ticket demand was pretty big for this event as the average resale price for UFC 235 was $409 as of Monday of Fight week.  The cheapest get-in ticket was $137.

Promotion of the Event

While it may have gone under the radar, the UFC is utilizing the new Instagram feature which allows videos on its platform.  The company has been doing it for the past several events.  This time around one of the features included Jones-Gustafsson 2.  Getting people to see fights for free on multiple platforms (i.e., YouTube and Instagram) helps promote the fighters and more importantly the PPV.

There was no press conference involving the featured fighters during Fight Week which may be due in part to protect Jon Jones from questions regarding USADA.

Jones’ drug tests were revealed leading up to his fight against Anthony Smith.  Two out of five tests revealed show positive for the same banned substance in Jones’ system.  The UFC’s Jeff Novitzky answered questions during the media scrum which included his support of the Nevada Athletic Commission’s statement.  The two talking points of interest stressed by Novitsky was that the tests reveal no re-administration of the drug and that there would be no performance enhancing benefit.

Colby Covington went to Vegas to raise a ruckus and he did a pretty good job of doing it.  He crashed Kamaru Usman’s open workouts, he tracked down Dana White while gambling, showed up at UFC 234 and caused a disruption post-fight with Kamaru Usman and then round 2 in a buffet line in Vegas according to Covington.  The former interim welterweight champion looks have Usman next.

Sponsorships

Trifecta was utilized much more in the Embedded episodes as Anthony Smith openly talked about how it has helped him with nutrition.  In addition, they were on the mat in the Octagon.

It also sponsored the Fight Card prep.

Also, in the Octagon was Nemifor, the Amazon original mini-series, “Hanna,” betting site PariMatch, P3, the video game Dead Red Redemption II, Modelo, Monster Energy, convenience store Rebel, BodyArmor, Toyo Tires and Monster Energy in the center.  Also, broadcast partner ESPN+ had signage on one of the posts.

The UFC announced a multi-year marketing partnership with Devour as its “Official Frozen Meal of UFC.”

Although there was no major announcement, the UFC entered into a partnership with Heed, a data analytics company that specializes in fan engagement.  Presumably, the promotion will be working with Heed to develop information based on research which would appeal to the UFC’s target demo.  Heed, according to its web site, works on facilitating engagement with youth.

Metro by T-Mobile activated through its social media by having its own watch show.

Ratings

UFC Prelims on ESPN: 1.4 Million (first overall in original cable telecasts for Saturday)

Payouts

Payouts for the event can be found here.  Both Woodley and Jones earned a flat $500K as defending champions while challengers Kamaru Usman and Anthony Smith received flat fees of $350K.

Reebok Promotional Guidelines Compliance Pay

Jon Jones: $40,000 def. Anthony Smith: $30,000
Kamaru Usman: $30,000 def. Tyron Woodley: $40,000
Ben Askren: $3,500 def. Robbie Lawler: $20,000
Weili Zhang: $3,500 def. Tecia Torres: $5,000
Pedro Munhoz: $10,000 def. Cody Garbrandt: $5,000
Zabit Magomedsharipov: $4,000 def. Jeremy Stephens: $20,000
Johnny Walker: $3,500 def. Misha Cirkunov: $5,000
Cody Stamann: $4,000 def. Alejandro Perez: $5,000
Diego Sanchez: $20,000 def. Mickey Gall: $5,000
Edmen Shahbazyan: $3,500 def. Charles Byrd: $3,500
Macy Chiasson: $3,500 def. Gina Mazany: $4,000
Hannah Cifers: $3,500 def. Polyana Viana: $3,500

Odds and ends

ONE FC sent congratulations to Ben Askren as he made his UFC debut.

UFC unveiled the first PSA of its Opioid campaign in conjunction with the Trump Administration.


Dave Meltzer reported that Mickey Gall passed out while cutting weight during fight week which may have attributed to his loss.

Bad night for refs.  Marc Goddard broke apart Usman and Woodley a couple times when Usman was working.  Herb Dean may have stopped the Robbie Lawler-Ben Askren fight prematurely and then he had the issues with the Jon Jones illegal strikes.

But Lawler was classy despite the confusion.

 

Conclusion

It’s clear that the ESPN relationship has helped with viewership for the UFC as the prelims hit one of its biggest highs since starting the pre-PPV cards.  It also drew over 1M google searches on Saturday which may mean PPV success for the event.  While UFC 232 drew an estimated 700,000 PPV buys featuring Jones, this event did not have as much controversy as this past December’s card. I would suspect that due to Jon Jones’ return we will see an uptick over the norm of PPV buys and get a buy rate of around 450K buys.

PBC on FS1 Saturday night draws 291K viewers

February 28, 2019

PBC on FS1 Saturday night drew 291,000 viewers.  The event featured Anthony Dirrell and Avni Yildirim with Dirrell pulling out the technical decision.

The event took place at the Minneapolis Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The event peaked with 366,000 viewers during the co-feature of Jamal James and Janel Gonzales.

The telecast took place late on Saturday night on the east coast 10:30pm and ran over 3 hours which may have attributed to the decrease in ratings.  At this point, its hard to keep up with all of the MMA and boxing occurring each weekend.  There start at different times and different networks.  With such a late start time for a bulk of their audience, it’s easy to see why this telecast experienced a slight downturn in ratings.

Bellator 217 draws 349,000 on Paramount

February 28, 2019

Bellator 217 took place this past Saturday night and drew 349,000 viewers via Nielson per ShowBuzz Daily.  The card took place in Ireland and featured James Gallagher as he defeated Steven Graham.

The event took place at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland and drew 13,150 for a gate of $1.2 million.

The event aired on the Paramount Network and DAZN.

Saturday’s event was the lowest-rated of the three this year.  The 2019 average is down to 470,000 viewers.

The show on Saturday seemed to get overlooked due in part to the UFC event.  One would hope that Bellator would be able to turn the ratings around lest we see another decline in ratings this year.

UFC Fight Night on ESPN + 3 prelims draws 271,000 Saturday morning

February 26, 2019

The UFC Fight Night on ESPN + 3 prelims drew 271,000 viewers on ESPN2.  The event aired at 11:00 am ET on Saturday morning.

The prelims were on ESPN2 while the main card aired on ESPN’s digital platform, ESPN+.  The feature bout of the prelims saw welterweight Dwight Grant defeat Carlo Pedersoli, Jr in the first round of their fight.

The rating is the lowest thus far for a live televised UFC event since it started with the network this past January.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings should not deter you from believing that the UFC-ESPN relationship has been fruitful for the fight promotion.  A combat sports card on a Saturday morning is a bad spot for the telecast and with an overseas card with relatively unknown fighters, this was a card that may have been overlooked.

UFC Fight Night 1 on ESPN draws 1.463M viewers, Prelims 988,000

February 20, 2019

UFC Fight Night 1 on ESPN Sunday night drew 1.463 million viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which preceded the main card drew 988,000 viewers.

It was the first event for the promotion with its new network partner as the prelims and main card were aired on ESPN.  The telecasts went up against the NBA All-Star Game coverage.  Per Nielsen, the TNT broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game drew 5.766 million viewers.  A secondary broadcast on TBS which aired at the same time as the TNT broadcast added another 1.031 million viewers.

The main card featured the return of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez as he fought Francis Ngannou.  Unfortunately, Cain went down early in the first round due to a combination of a punch by Ngannou and knee injury.  The prelims saw Aljamain Sterling take care of Jimmie Rivera in a matchup of bantamweights.

UFC on ESPN 1 took place at The Talking Stick Resort in Phoenix, Arizona.

Payout Perspective:

Another solid ratings performance by the UFC as it was the biggest UFC Fight Night ratings since January 2016.  The main card drew 760,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo while it drew 485,000 during the prelims.  In comparison, PBC on Fox Saturday night drew 378,000 in the A18-49 demo.  On Friday night, Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew just 276,000 viewers.  The NBA All-Star game on TNT drew 3.124M viewers in the A18-49 demo.  The A18-49 demo for the main card is great news for the UFC as one has to imagine it will help them attract major brands to sponsor deals.

PBC on Fox draws 1.26M viewers opposite NBA All-Star Saturday night

February 20, 2019

PBC on Fox Saturday night drew a fast overnight rating of 1.26 million viewers according to Television By Numbers.  The telecast drew a 0.3 rating in the A18-49 demo and a 2 share.

In comparison, the NBA All-Star Saturday Night telecast drew over 5 million viewers and a 2.2 rating in the A18-49 demo in the same timeslot on TNT.

PBC on Fox featured Leo Santa Cruz as he defeated Rafael Rivera at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California.  The fight featured an exciting exchange between the two.

It was the second PBC on Fox telecast as the new face of combat sports for the network.  In December it drew 1.69M viewers and a 0.5 in the A18-49 demo in fast overnights.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings were down from December as its clear that the NBA All-Star Saturday festivities drew a lot of the casuals away from the telecast.  Still, it appeared there was less run-up of this card as opposed to the last PBC on Fox where the Charlo brothers were heavily promoted.

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