November 29, 2013
Jay Z once purchased a Hublot with an estimated cost of $5 million. Hublot will produce only 100 Anderson Silva watches with an estimated $30K price tag. 10 of the Spider’s watches will be gold which may run a little higher.
According to its web site, Hublot is the official timekeeper for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This may be the in with the Brazilian-born Silva and the fact that he is represented by sports marketing agency 9ine which is partly owned by soccer star Ronaldo.
This news was announced a week ago but still worth noting the marketability of Silva. The sponsorship adds another blue chip sponsor to Silva’s portfolio which includes Nike, Burger King and Corinthians. He’s positioning himself well for a life after fighting by associating himself with top tier brands. Hublot is a luxury brand and with its association with Silva it hopes to tap into the young affluent demographic. The watch sponsor is usually reserved for the tennis player or golfer. Silva is stepping into mainstream of sports advertising as a watch advertising contract usually marks you as one of the elite in your sport.
November 25, 2013
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective where we take a look at the return of Manny Pacquiao as he took on Brandon Rios at the Venetian Hotel on the island of Macau off the coast of China.
Pacquiao outclasses Rios
As many had expected, the speed of Manny Pacquiao was too much for Bam Bam. While the threat of the one punch KO was there, the movement and angles of Pacquiao muted any thought of a left hook from Rios.
Let’s pump the brakes on any talk of Floyd Mayweather. First, there’s the Top Rank/Golden Boy-HBO/Showtime schism which would prevent any such fight from happening Pacquiao looked impressive and it appears that the 11 months away has helped. Rios is a dangerous fighter but nowhere near the skill level of a Mayweather. However, a Timothy Bradley fight seems the most logical and reasonable next fight for Pacquiao.
Bradley’s career has ascended since he won that controversial fight over Pacquiao in June 2012. Most recently, he dispatched of Pacquiao’s arch-nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez. Thus, promoting this fight should not be too hard considering this would be a rematch of a controversial decision. With his post-Pacquiao fights, Bradley has proven that he belongs in the upper tier of boxing. A return match against Pacquiao could serve as “passing the torch” to Top Rank’s next superstar or will serve as another reason for all parties to wait out Floyd’s Showtime contract.
Zou Shiming Shines
In terms of importance of a boxer winning Saturday, Shiming was a close second behind Pacquiao. The reason for this is the overarching theme of tapping the Chinese market. Shiming has the amateur credentials but has not really showed whether he could be a star as a pro. He dominated his 6 round fight over Juan Tozcana in which the announcing crew questioned whether the fight should have been stopped.
If Shiming could show continued improvement, he has a built in audience and could ascend quickly. Of course, at 32 years of age, the plan is for him to ascend quickly.
Attendance at the Venetian Hotel in Macau where the event was held was a sellout of 13,200. No gate figures yet although front row seats were selling for three times the amount that it usually would in Vegas.
In comparison, Pacquiao’s last fight in December 2012 against Marquez had an attendance of 15,430 for a gate of $10.8 million. However, based on the front row seats going for three times what they do in Vegas, we can see a comparable gate here.
Manny Pacquiao will receive a guaranteed $18 million with the potential for $30 million and does not have to pay the 39.6% U.S. tax since the fight did not happen in the states. Rios, however, will receive $4 million but will need to pay Uncle Sam because he’s a U.S. citizen.
The incident in the gym between Freddie Roach, Robert Garcia and Alex Ariza provided some “propaganda” for the fight. Was the dustup manufactured? It received press and drew some emotions but looked bad for both camps. But, we all can assume the Roach-Ariza bad blood is genuine based on how Pacquiao’s team dispatched of Ariza and he was picked up by Rios.
The 24/7 series was well-done as always. It seems hard to come up with angles to cover Pacquiao each series although the typhoon and the aforementioned ill-will between camps provided some topics. We also learned that Rios curses a lot.
The ring sponsors included Smart Communications, a Philippines mobile phone and internet carrier, the movie “Grudge Match” starring DeNiro and Stallone and Tecate. Tecate ran its usual promotion of offering rebates with a purchase of its product. What was not present was the usual run up for a Pacquiao fight in the states which usual includes in-store promotions and sponsor activation.
Rios wore a Sigue Corporation shirt at weigh-ins. Sigue is a money transfer company specializing in US-Mexico transaction.
As always, Nike sponsored Pacquiao however this article by footwear blog Sole Collector details the little buzz from the swoosh over the Macau fight. In fact, the online Nike store only has one shirt (from last year) from Pacquiao on sale. This from a company that rolled out shirts, sweats and shoes for the boxer before past fights. This time, it seemed like the brand was in a “wait and see” mode. Of course, it also could be due to Pacquiao’s newfound faith in which media outlets have interpreted (or misinterpreted dependent on how you view it) Pacquiao’s stance against gay marriage. Nike supports gay marriage. There were also the comments made by UFC president Dana White claiming the Beaverton, Oregon Company had dropped Pacquiao.
Odds and Ends
As predicted, the price point for Pacquiao in HD was $70.
Due to the time difference, the fight actually took place around lunchtime local time on Sunday which made fight day customs a little skewed.
NY Times writer Greg Bishop had a great piece preceding the fight correlating Pacquiao’s in-ring downturn with the rejuvenation of his religious faith and commitment to his wife. There is something to be said for the lack of perceived hunger in Pacquiao if you were to compare him now as opposed to pre-Oscar de la Hoya. Pacquiao was young and reckless socially which mirrored his fighting style. The style in the ring amounted to interest and success, the style outside of the ring nearly cost him his marriage. After “returning to form” on Saturday, can we say that Pacquiao is born again boxing-wise?
Bishop also wrote an informative article on the logistical obstacles HBO and Top Rank faced in producing a PPV abroad. This included bringing 300 cases of equipment by air and water to the location.
There were some that thought that the Carl Froch-George Graves fight should have been picked up by HBO to use as an appetizer for the fight later that night. It would have been nice but would have run the risk of being “UFC”-like in having too much boxing on in one day.
Despite the lack of buzz and usual American “over the top” promotion, “The Clash in Cotai” had a purpose. First, it was to reintroduce the world to Manny Pacquiao. The statement was that he was back to his “old” self. More importantly, it was an opportunity to enter the fertile Macau market with its casinos bringing in $38 billion in 2012 and likely more this year. Bob Arum would like to open up this region as a way to leverage it against Vegas as an option to hold a fight here. Certainly, it would benefit Pacquiao as its closer to home and he saves on paying U.S. taxes if his fights are held outside of the U.S. That being said, the costs for HBO/Top Rank to hold a show outside of the U.S. along with Pacquiao’s hefty payout may be something it needs to consider before committing time, money and resources to another fight in Macau.
For its first time holding a PPV overseas, it’s likely that Pacquiao’s return will grab at least 850,000-950,000 buys.
November 21, 2013
Forbes.com ran an article last week on Georges St. Pierre and how he makes $12 million per year. The article gives a rundown of all of GSPs revenue streams including salary, PPV and sponsorships.
According to Forbes, GSP made “roughly $9 million combined from his past two fights” and another $3 million from “endorsements, memorabilia and licensing.”
If we are to parse out his past two fights, which would be UFC 158 (against Nick Diaz) and UFC 154 (against Carlos Condit) he would have made $870,000 in reported salary and bonuses and an additional $8,130,000.
GSP’s payday for UFC 158 was $400,000 total. The buy rate was a reported 950,000 PPV buys.
GSP’s payday for UFC 154 was $200,000show/$200,000 win plus $70,000 for Fight of the Night for a total of $470,000. The buy rate was a reported 700,000 PPV buys.
If GSP received the rest of his pay via PPV revenue for the past two events, he received around $5 per PPV buy. While his $9 million in pay has been reported from sources close to GSP according to the article, extrapolating the numbers from the pay sources (i.e., salary, bonuses, PPV), it’s debatable whether his earnings were $9 million for the past 2 fights. He may have received another lump sum bonus, but once again, this seems like a hefty amount of money to give GSP.
The $3 million in sponsorships is believable as GSP has blue chip sponsors in Under Armour, Coca Cola, Google and MMA brands Affliction and Hayabusa.
Next year, GSP’s earnings will also include his part in a Captain America movie which will open in 2014.
As Dana White told and retold reporters on Saturday night, GSP is rich. GSPs salary/bonuses and PPV upside has to be the biggest in the company if he could make over $8 million in PPV earnings alone. But making $5 per PPV buy would seem very high for just one fighter. Whether or not GSP has made $9 million in his last two fights, it’s clear that he’s the highest paid fighter in the company. The TMZ rumors are bad for business for GSP’s personal brand but should not affect his UFC earnings. At this point, GSP does not need to fight so long as he’s invested his money wisely. But knowing that he’s a big draw, the UFC will try to keep him (despite his hefty salary) from taking too long of an absence.
November 19, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. In this edition, we take a look at the big 20th Anniversary Show of UFC 167 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bruised and battered but GSP wins split decision
If you disagree with the decision review the 1st round because it appears that is the round where two judges scored it for GSP and 1 for Hendricks. The rest of the rounds the judges agreed. It was a close call, but ties go to the Champion. Of course that’s not how it’s scored but many probably came to that conclusion on Saturday night.
Who do we blame? The Nevada State Athletic Commission for the judges? The judges themselves? Hendricks’ corner for not telling him to keep pressing? Or do we chalk this one up to a bad decision? Then again, was it a bad decision?
While the judging may have been suspect, based upon how the 10-9 scoring system, it was a plausible outcome.
Two items from the actual match between GSP-Hendricks. There was the theory of a phantom tap by Hendricks during the match spotted by many. But GSP did not stop and did not argue a tap. Looking back at Bendo-Pettis, even if a tap is not detected by the referee, the fighters would likely have stopped themselves. You may recall that Bendo lost his title this past August when he verbally submitted to Pettis although the ref did not stop the fight immediately. It seems like guys like Hendricks and GSP would have the sportsmanship to admit if a tap had occurred.
Also, it appeared as though Hendricks had yelled out that GSP was either holding the fence or his shorts on the ground as a way to keep position during a scramble on the ground in the 5th round. Yet, there was nothing done in that instance. Perhaps this was some desperation by GSP in trying to keep position on Hendricks.
And now for the post-fight story. Give Joe Rogan credit for not giving the stock platitudes in the post-fight interview and actually pressing GSP. Even though he didn’t get the answer, Rogan saw GSP wanted to say something and followed up with questions.
One of the reasons Dana White was so hot at the post-fight press conference was that he was not given (official) notice that GSP was leaving. Thus, he was mad at the commission and its judges. If Hendricks won, White would not have been steamed. He would have had a new marketable champion and could give GSP the time off to do what he needed. According to reports, White was able to speak with GSP after the post-fight press conference (GSP was not at the press conference at the beginning). One might deduce their discussion was an attempt to get to the bottom of the cryptic statements GSP made in the Octagon and persuade him to not take a leave of absence. TMZ has reported the alleged personal issues of GSP (which is in part being denied according to a report picked up by Bloody Elbow). We shall see what becomes of this situation and how GSP will address what now is becoming a public story.
Evans pounds out Sonnen
It was quick work by Evans who destroyed Sonnen with a flurry of punches on the ground in the first round. There was a little hope that that this would be a good match considering Sonnen’s last outing against Shogun Rua. Then after Evans took Sonnen down there was little hope that it would last past round 1. Evans looked rejuvenated from a poor outing against Little Nog in February and a so-so performance in June. Does it mean he’s somewhere in the Light Heavyweight title picture? We’ll have to wait. As for Sonnen, he gets a TUF Brazil coaching spot and Wanderlei Silva.
Lawler jumps back into title picture after upset
Not a good night for the Tri-Star Gym. Not only is GSP out indefinitely, its “next in line” was upset by resurgent Robbie Lawler. MacDonald is still very young and will be back but for Lawler it was a definite step forward. Lawler is 3-0 since coming over from Strikeforce. As Lawler proposed at the post-fight press conference, maybe a Hendricks-Lawler fight could be in the future.
Attendance and Gate
As reported, the gate was the best since UFC 148 at the MGM. 14,856 were in attendance for a $5.7 million gate. Although not factored in the actual number, the secondary market had its biggest demand since 2009 with an average of $580 per ticket. But, it does show the demand for this event.
Bonuses were the standard $50,000 each and were GSP-Hendricks, Donald Cerrone for his sub of Evan Dunham and Tyron Woodley for his highlight reel KO of Josh Koscheck.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission released the UFC 167 salaries and as expected Georges St. Pierre topped the payroll earning $400,000 with no win bonus although GSP earned a FOTN bonus making his total earnings $450,000. Johny Hendricks earned $50,000 for his split decision loss but did pick up another $50,000 to top out at $100,000.
While the viewership for the UFC Primetime series has been down since moving to FS1, they were well-done this time around as it introduced you to Johny Hendricks. I think the introduction of the challenger in these programs is important and Hendricks came off as a likeable guy. I also like the spotlight they did on Firas Zahabi as you don’t get to hear too much about the story behind some of the trainers.
The sponsors in the Octagon included Assassin’s Creed IV “Black Flag”, MusclePharm, UltimatePoker.net, Harley Davidson, Dodge, Toyo Tires, the movie Grudge Match, Alienware, MusclePharm and Bud Light in the center. Corn Nuts and MetroPCS had its usual placements within the PPV broadcast.
Reebok signed Johny Hendricks to wear its logo into the Octagon for UFC 167. Hendricks wore Reebok crossfit shorts and had a walkout shirt via Reebok. Also, Hendricks sported its shoes and promoted them via social media. A lot was made that Reebok paid the sponsor fee for Hendricks but did not for Rampage when it was announced Reebok would be sponsoring Hendricks. We will see if Reebok continues to sponsor Hendricks and/or other fighters.
Hendricks did have UFC official sponsors Corn Nuts and Alienware as his sponsors in addition to Bass Pro Shops and “Rags to Rick,” a Comedy reality show.
GSP wore his Hayabusa gi (no controversy this time) to the Octagon and his corner wore Affliction.
It was the first time that I’ve seen PS4 advertised during a UFC broadcast. This may not sit well with Mighty Mouse’s primary sponsor, Microsoft’s Xbox.
Robbie Lawler was sponsored by the Air Force Reserve. It’s an interesting sponsor considering that some pushed to curtail U.S. military sport sponsorships earlier this year.
Interesting sponsor of the night: Rick Story was sponsored by PaleoRanch.com.
What’s going to happen without GSP? An interim title will likely happen if GSP is out for a prolonged period of time. In addition to Hendricks, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit, Matt Brown and maybe Nick Diaz will be names to look for in the welterweight division. The loss of GSP is a hit for the UFC which now may have 3 of its champions out for extended periods of time (GSP would join Dominick Cruz who plans to be back after a long absence from injury and the recently injured Anthony Pettis). This doesn’t even include what may be happening with Jon Jones. We shall see what the UFC plans to do with the welterweight division in GSP’s absence.
It was the 20th Anniversary show and with it came the UFC retrospective show last week on FS1. It was well done and gave some detail of the early years for those of us that picked it up in the Zuffa days. The weekend also included some notable fighters over the years in attendance. The UFC also bought a special advertising section in the Sports Business Journal which told the UFC’s story and gave it some added publicity.
Odds and Ends
-Erik Perez rocked the Lucha Libre mask once again.
-Was this the first time that they dropped the lights during a main event for Bruce Buffer to announce the fighters?
-GSP has been with the company for a while, shouldn’t the UFC have a French interpreter so that Georges doesn’t have to interpret for the entire room during press conferences.
-First time I recall FS1 insets on PPVs. Speaking of FS1, the Prelims did the double screen in between rounds with showing the corner at the top right hand of the screen during a commercial.
-Tyron Woodley made a statement with his KO of Josh Koscheck.
-Seemingly, Rory MacDonald had the most sponsors ever seen on shorts. If the UFC allowed for spats, he could have made a killing.
-Arnold Schwarzeneger was in the crowd…and to the benefit of Ali Bagautinov who admitted at the post-fight presser that he is a big fan.
-Boxing fans know Edwin Rodriguez? Despite getting docked $200K for missing weight in his fight with Andre Ward on Saturday he would be the second highest paid fighter on the UFC 167 card. This assumes GSP salary plus PPV upside. Rodriguez made $800K after the $200K deduction.
-Forbes ran a piece on GSP and how he makes $12 million a year. We will have more on that this week.
GSP is the company’s biggest draw. And while we cannot conclude that a higher gate will equate to a higher PPV buy rate, the rumors that GSP could be fighting in his last fight may have prodded folks to pay the money to watch one of the best in the sport in his last match. Additionally, the main event was well-supported on paper by Evans-Sonnen and Lawler-MacDonald. While the UFC had hoped the last four PPVs of 2013 would have done well, it will get 2 of the 4 doing a good number. I would say UFC 167 would do somewhere in the 800K range and GSP once again comes through for the company.
November 13, 2013
Virtustream, a company which offers enterprise cloud computing services, is not the type of company you first think of when discussing UFC sponsors. UFC’s fan demographic is largely composed of the adult males between the ages of 18-34. Is there some correlation between the demographic and enterprise cloud computing services? Not necessarily.
So why would Chairman/CEO of Virtustream Rodney Rogers, who is self admittedly a big MMA fan, go out of his way to sponsor UFC fighters? He explains it on a Virtustream blog post, which he titled “We Love the Boom”.
“So it’s probably not a huge surprise that we sponsor MMA fighters from time to time, mostly in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events. We are a young venture-backed technology firm and spend a very modest amount of money on marketing each year (~2% of revenue), so we are careful where we place our precious dollars and utilize avenues like social media and various forms of on-line interaction extensively. I think we do pretty well in terms of return on investment in this regard. Sponsoring an MMA fighter on prime time PPV or national TV (FOX) is not as expensive as you may think, if you follow the right process and know the right people. The primary reason we do this is to reach the 18 – 34 age demographic (loyal UFC viewers) for brand awareness, as this is the group our software engineers primarily come from. It has indeed helped us in a highly competitive market.”
Using the M18-34 demographic as a way to recruit employers is definitely an interesting tactic, and gives a whole different meaning to ROI (return on investment). But Rogers also stressed another benefit of sponsoring MMA fighters, their character.
“I have also found many of the athletes in this sport to be uncommonly good people. They conduct themselves with honor and generally all give back to their community. They are pretty amazing people, really. These characteristics are the ones that we hope to embody as a firm.”
This is quite the different perspective we have come to know from many other sponsors. Aside from their most recent sponsorship endeavor with the UFC for the Fight for the Troops event which took place last week, Virtustream has also been involved in other events. They sponsored Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 and also Joe Lauzon at UFC 155.
One of the most interesting quotes from Rogers was his mention of UFC sponsorship cost – “Sponsoring an MMA fighter on prime time PPV or national TV (FOX) is not as expensive as you may think, if you follow the right process and know the right people.” That comment can be interpreted in several different ways, but it gives us one of the many different perspectives between sponsors and the UFC.
November 7, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at Saturday night’s Bellator 106 from Long Beach, California with a main event featuring Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler.
Alvarez wins title on return
For all the “true” MMA fans this was always the main event and not Tito-Rampage. Of course, if this was the true main event, wouldn’t Bellator have kept it on PPV? But I digress. It was an epic 5 round battle that went way past curfew ensuring many that were out on Saturday night only seeing a portion of the fight. From all that watched it, it was one of the better fights of the year and showed why Eddie Alvarez is such a commodity.
With the win, Bellator is put in a sticky position. What happens if Eddie wins the third fight? From all in the know, the trilogy will be the last contracted fight Alvarez will have for Bellator. And it’s likely that if Alvarez wins, he will be heading to the UFC. One can only think of how big a smile Dana White will have on his face if he can sign Bellator’s Lightweight Champion leaving the organization a big hole and a tournament it does not want to hold.
Newton makes it two in a row over Mo
The signing of Mo Lawal came with much fanfare as he would be both a pro wrestler and MMA star. However, neither vocation has gone the way it was planned. Two losses to Emmanuel Newton have made the investment in Lawal a bust so far. We shall see if Lawal turns to pro wrestling training or if he will be re-inserted into a tournament.
Attendance and gate
No attendance and gate were announced although the initial reports were that ticket sales were sluggish and this was before Tito Ortiz announced his injury. Bellator could have comped tickets to fill in the seats so even though ticket sales could have been low, there was still enough people in the arena to make it look like a well-attended show. Once again, we do not know if there was a big influx of ticket purchases right before the event, but with the Ortiz announcement, you would think that this may have hurt people thinking about purchasing tickets last minute.
The California State Athletic Commission released the salaries and potential bonuses for the fighters. Michael Chandler ($95K/$95K) and Eddie Alvarez ($80K/$80K) headed the list with Alvarez picking up the bonus and the top money earner with a total $160K payday. Fight Master winner Joe Riggs picked up a $95K bonus for his victory and received $100K for the night.
Promotion of the Fight
With the last minute switch from Rampage-Tito to Alvarez-Chandler Spike TV had to shift on the fly with programming to promote the Lightweight fight instead of the Light Heavyweight fight.
So, despite months of hype which included Rampage-Tito feuding on TNA Wrestling and a three-part Rampage Jackson special, Bellator had to quickly shift gears. Spike TV tabled the third episode of the Jackson shoulder programming to focus on its new main event. The good news was that it featured a special highlighting the first Alvarez-Chandler fight with their commentary. The other notable thing about the Alvarez-Chandler special was the amount of UFC fighters appearing on the special. Dan Henderson and Michael Johnson were prominent interviews during the special. It will be interesting to see how the UFC handles situations like this in the future (i.e. preventing UFC contracted fighters to promote Bellator fights).
On the Thursday before Bellator 106, Bjorn Rebney rang the “closing bell” at the NASDAQ. Notably, Viacom is on the NASDAQ. The New York presence was also supported with Bellator promos in Times Square.
Victory Motorcycles, Dave and Busters, Polaris RZR, Xbox One video game RYSE and Reebok all had signage within the cage with Miller Lite having the center.
Notably, Reebok’s brand was prominently in the cage as it specifically had logo for its ATV19 shoes. You may recall Rampage shot a commercial for Reebok sporting these shoes. It also recently inked a one fight deal with Johny Hendricks to wear its gear at UFC 167. You can already see Hendricks with Reebok gear during the UFC Primetimes.
As previously reported, Spike TV received a 1.1M viewer average for the event Saturday night with a peak viewership of 1.4M. This was against sports on the network including two college football games and The Breeder’s Cup.
Some other notable info from Spike TV:
- Compared to the time period a year ago, the Bellator 106 telecast was up +40% in the P18-49 demo and +79% in M18-49. It was up +59% in M18-34 and +49% in average audiences.
- Among ad-supported cable networks in the time period, Spike ranked #3 in P18-49 (behind TBS w/Big Bang Theory & Wild Wild West and FX w/Grown Ups; tied with Adult Swim) and #2 in M18-49 (TBS)
Obviously, the fact about the ratings being up from last year at this time is a little skewed considering we do not know whether there was a live event or rerun in this time slot. Still, the point Spike is trying to make is that Bellator is boosting ratings and doing well in its key demos.
Bellator 106 ended with mixed reviews as the Alvarez-Chandler did not disappoint. However, many of the fights were slow-moving and at 3 hours and 45 minutes it was a lengthy card. Still, the ratings reflect the fact that fight fans were going to give it a try. The question becomes whether Bellator will have Chandler-Alvarez on PPV.
It will get its trilogy which it can now give proper time to promote. But can it trust its big names to come through for the company? Even with a great second fight, it’s risky to think that a trilogy could bring in people to pay $35-$45. The bigger implication for the company would be the scenarios it has to run through if Alvarez defeats Chandler once again.
November 4, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that Jon Jones will be on the cover of the UFC’s latest video game, “EA Sports UFC.” A second UFC fighter will be featured and chosen based upon a MetroPCS-sponsored vote on the UFC web site.
Chris Weidman, Georges St. Pierre, Jose Aldo and Ronda Rousey are among the 16 fighters in the running for the second spot on the video game cover. EA Sports is widely known among video gamers for its Madden/NFL Franchise.
I am a little surprised that Georges St. Pierre wasn’t picked here although he may eventually be on the cover through fan vote. While Jones’ PPV appeal has been on the slide, it makes sense that the UFC/EA would want him to be the face of its new video game. He’s a recognizable figure, young and his best days should be ahead of him. The MetroPCS-sponsored vote for the second fighter is another way to utilize UFC sponsors and create consumer interaction as it gives fans the chance to pick the next fighter on the cover.
October 21, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 166 in Houston, Texas which featured the third fight between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez.
Cain stops JDS in 5th
Despite a couple shots that hurt Cain early, Velasquez dominated the third fight of the trilogy and eventually stopped JDS who was physically spent and visibly beaten. His face looked like their last fight and despite all of his work; JDS could not muster enough offense against the Heavyweight champion. With the win, Cain solidified his top spot within the division. His next opponent is Fabricio Werdum and while it may not seem like Werdum would have a chance, he is still the one that stopped Fedor at a time many though him to be invincible.
Melendez-Sanchez participate in one of 2013’s best fight
Instead of wasting words on Daniel Cormier’s decision over Roy Nelson, we should focus on a fight that lived up to the hype. Gilbert Melendez defeated Diego Sanchez in one of the great fights of 2013. There was little controversy on the winner of the fight but it was more on the storyline that unfolded during the fight. Sanchez was bloodied from the beginning but was willing to exchange with Melendez. In between the 2nd and 3rd round, Sanchez’s corner told him that he’d have to knock out Melendez to win and told him not to let Melendez “take food away from his daughter.” Sanchez’s facial expressions during the 3rd round were exceptional. When he knocked down Melendez in the 3rd you could see Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta rise to their feet.
The win for Gil has him waiting in the wings for a title shot.
Attendance and Gate:
As previously reported, UFC 166 drew a reported 17,238 for a gate of $2.5 million. Dana White indicated that it was the “third-highest gate in the history of the venue” as The Rolling Stones and UFC 69 (featuring the GSP career-altering fight when Matt Serra upset St. Pierre) were higher at the venue.
The bonuses of $60K each were as follows:
Fight of the Night: Gilbert Melendez-Diego Sanchez
Submission of the Night: Tony Ferguson
KO of the Night: John Dodson
There were a lot of KOs to choose from on this night but Dodson was probably the correct choice.
The Octagon sponsors included mainstays Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Dodge, Assassin’s Creed, Alienware and Bud Light in the center. MTV’s Jackass movie “Bad Grandpa”, Prestone, AxsTV and the Air Force were also present with signage in the Octagon.
UFC Official sponsor Corn Nuts sponsored the Tale of the Tape for the fights.
Valvoline sponsored the “Keys to Victory” for the featured event on the Prelims between Tim Boetsch and CB Dolloway.
Junior dos Santos was predominantly sponsored by Nike for this fight. This included new shirts and his own line of shoes. JDS was featured in Nike Pro Training ads (h/t FighterxFashion). If you were wondering where you could purchase a Cigano t-shirt, the UFC store carries them. JDS also signed with sports agency 9ine prior to this fight. We shall see what they will do with him after this loss.
Cain Velasquez was sponsored by Affliction, Oak Grove Technologies and Lugz. These sponsors usually sponsor AKA fighters. The one marked change is that Affliction replaced Dethrone as the apparel sponsor for Cain.
Roy Nelson was sponsored by LunarPages, a sponsor recently sported by Mark Munoz and Jake Ellenberger.
Daniel Cormier was sponsored by Cage Fighter.
Adlan Amagov was sponsored by a Law Office in his fight against TJ Waldburger
Promotion of the Fight
UFC Primetime on FS1 did not do very well ratings-wise as the three-part series hovered around 125,000 viewers which likely would suggest that the targeted-fan it wants that would be swayed into purchasing the PPV is likely not tuning in. A part of this could be the lack of promotion for the Primetimes and the fact that FS1 is still is not latching on with many fans. The shows were well-done although it did not do well ratings-wise in comparison to some of the UFC Countdowns on Spike TV.
UFC Countdown also featured JDS and Cain as well as the featured undercards. It is always interesting to me the amount of time the Countdown spends on the main eventers when there is UFC Primetime.
Houston Rockets Dwight Howard took pics with several fighters including Cain, JDS and Diego Sanchez after his fight with Gilbert Melendez. Howard’s pics with Cain and JDS were publicized before UFC 166.
The UFC replayed last month’s PPV on Thursday as part of the run up for this event. It grabbed an average of 449,000 viewers on FS1.
JDS and Cain took part in a global tour promoting this fight.
Post-UFC 166 Headlines
Who’s next for Cain? Fabricio Werdun. The question is what will the UFC do to make this matchup appealing. Werdun can be considered a “giant killer” as he was the one who bet Fedor. But, will anyone buy that he can beat Cain?
Melendez title shot? It was the most exciting fight of the card and while Diego Sanchez received a lion’s share of the appreciation, Melendez left with a solid win and the possibility of meeting the winner of Josh Thomson-Anthony Pettis. While we may argue TJ Grant is due his shot, it’s hard not to think Gil is right there in the mix.
Safety concerns. There were several moments during the event where the athletic commission stepped in to check on fighters including Gil-Diego and JDS-Cain. Whether it cynicism or not, there must be a question whether it would actually have stepped in to stop a fight. Certainly the ref or ring docs could have called off the JDS-Cain fight and the ref in Amagov-Waldburger should have jumped in much sooner. It’s a tenuous balance between saving a fighter from further punishment and giving the fighter a chance. But, it also seems like in some decisions entertainment takes precedence over safety. It’s definitely a hard job to be a ring doc that may be the most hated person in the building if they stop a fight. But, they have a responsibility to the fighter to protect them from themselves. Bloody Elbow has a nice piece on this issue.
Odds and Ends
-The Prelims had some great fights although it may not equate to ratings.
-Does anyone know what Cain’s sponsor Oak Grove Technologies does off the top of their head? Here’s the answer.
-Joe Rogan’s call to stop the fight was echoed by many as TJ Waldburger took some unnecessary shots after he was unconscious before the referee stopped the fight. Shades of Chris Weidman-Mark Munoz although less egregious by the ref here.
-Tough way to go out for Nate Marquardt.
-Diego Sanchez should have copyrighted those “Yes!” chants. Daniel Bryan is making a fortune with that in WWE. I’m half-joking here.
-Speaking of gimmick infringement, Dustin Pague uses the “Diamond” nickname and so does Dustin Poirier.
-If you watched UFC Primetime, you saw Daniel Cormier receive his BJJ Brown Belt the same day that Cain Velasquez received his BJJ Black Belt.
-John Dodson could have hurt his back when he fell on his back on the mat after unsuccessfully doing his run off the cage flip.
-Dodson also had the smoothest move…at the weigh-ins when he took a “selfie” plus 1 with Octagon girl Chrissy Blair.
-Jessica Eye wore a “Straight Outta Cleveland” t-shirt at weigh-ins
-Two Basketball Jersey Sightings at weigh-Ins. First a Dwight Howard jersey and then Sarah Kauffman wearing a retro Hakeem Olajuwon jersey and she even did a “Dream Shake”.
-Not a Yeezy fan? Skip to the Conclusion. As an added bonus I attended the first night of the Yeezus Tour Saturday night featuring Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. Great show although there was a two hour delay for fans to get into the arena due to the set being constructed late. A lot of kinks to be worked out and Kanye must work on his cardio for the rest of the tour as he seemed to gas midway through his two hour set. But, huge props to him for wearing masks during most of his performance.
Cain and JDS have been on the same card the last four times they have been in the Octagon. Their last meeting was at UFC 155.
The last three PPV shows they have been on are as follows:
|UFC 160||May 25, 2013||380,000|
|UFC 155||December 29, 2012||550,000|
|UFC 146||May 26, 2012||560,000|
There’s a trend downward and it will be interesting to see what to expect here. While the card turned out to be one of the best of the year, aside from the Heavyweights at the top, the card didn’t have an attractive undercard unless you were a hardcore fan. With Cain dominating JDS, we could see the start of an Anderson Silva-like run in the division which could help promote Cain as a PPV draw. Moreover, the new deals in Latin America/Mexico and the UFC’s aspirations to have an event in Mexico may prove to help Cain as a draw. Here, attendance does not equate to PPV buys. UFC 136, the last event held in Houston, was to be a big event with an Expo and two title fights including Maynard-Edgar III and the return of Chael Sonnen. Yet, it only mustered 225K PPV buys despite drawing over 15,000 in the building.
Here, I suspect the “Heavyweight factor” and the trilogy aspect gets this PPV up to 500K PPV buys.
October 14, 2013
Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post. This time we take a look at how the WWE’s decision to switch to PG content in 2008 has paid off as its sponsorship revenue has tripled.
The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reports that the WWE’s sponsorship revenue has risen since making its content PG and less adult-oriented. Since leaving the “Attitude Era” in 2008, it has been able to forge relationships with more family-friendly sponsors.
WWE indicated that sponsorship revenue was $7.4 million in 2008 and revenue currently is more than $20 million per year. In the past 12 months, it has secured sponsorships with the likes of Capri Sun (Kraft Foods), Doritos (Frito-Lay), Fruity Pebbles (Post Foods), Hot Pockets (Nestle) and more.
The WWE stated in the article that it wanted to “get back to the multigenerational aspect of the [WWE] brand.” As a result, it has attracted multiple blue-chip partners.
The article is an interesting look at how the company’s decision to move away from “shock television content” and adult-oriented themes to more family oriented programming has paid off. The move has made it easier for the WWE to approach sponsors and for sponsors to approach the WWE. Here, focusing on the “multigenerational aspect,” (e.g., fathers and sons watching RAW or going to an event) is showing its value. With sponsorship revenue tripling in just 5 years, it’s obvious the WWE is a sought after partner due to its key demos and the fact that its content is now family friendly.
October 13, 2013
The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reported some recent findings from a compilation of surveys which compared the UFC with other major sports properties. It provided some reasons why certain sponsors partner with the UFC.
The survey indicated that UFC fans are the most likely to have purchased consumer electronics in the past 12 months. In order of priority, UFC fans most likely would buy: 1) a video game system, 2) an HD television, 3) computer/tablet and 4) a smartphone.
In an interesting category, UFC male fans are the most likely to purchase grooming items such as body wash, deodorants, non-disposable razor blades, disposable razor blades and after shave. The UFC is first in this category followed by the MLS, NHL, MLB, NASCAR and NCAA Basketball in that order.
UFC fans are the most likely to eat at QSRs “Quick-Service Restaurants” more than NASCAR, NBA, MLS and NCAA Basketball. QSR Pizza places (e.g., Papa Johns) were most popular among UFC fans.
The survey found that UFC fans were most likely to purchase spirits. It was number 1 for whiskey, vodka and rum sales. The NHL, MLS and NCAA football were next.
Finally, UFC fans were the most likely to shop at convenience stores. NASCAR, NHL and the NBA followed.
Some revealing things in this survey. First, the men’s grooming products is a little surprising out of all of the results. But, we do see Gillette, Headblade, Axe and other men’s grooming logos on fighters. Based on this survey, one has to wonder why the UFC does not have a partnership with a QSR. Boston Pizza had a deal with the UFC but that was in Canada. The information on convenience stores (e.g., 7-11, AM-PM Mini Marts) is likely one of the reasons why you see Corn Nuts as a sponsor. It would be interesting to know if the UFC has reached out to some companies within these segments for partnerships. Moreover, UFC fight managers probably have utilized this information (or will now) to solicit companies about potential sponsorship opportunities for their representation.