TUF 20 Episode 9: 381,000 viewers

November 20, 2014

MMA Payout has learned via a Nielsen source that Wednesday night’s 9th episode of TUF 20 drew a rating of 381,000 viewers. The rating represents the lowest-rated episode of the season.

In the fight of the episode, Randa Markos defeated Felice Herrig via armbar.

TUF 20 Episode 9

Last season’s TUF 19 had two episodes below 400Kviewers.  Wednesday night’s episode represents a new low.

UPDATED:  According to Nielsen source, the late night replay airing 10pm/1am drew an additional 122,000 viewers for the episode.

Payout Perspective:

The actual show started 8 or so minutes late as there was overrun from college basketball (Oklahoma-Creighton).  It was the coach’s challenge episode which usually is very entertaining.  This time around was not as good since the UFC decided to hold off on a physical challenge due to Anthony Pettis’ knee injury.  The episode was the lowest of the season and brought down the season average to 509,000 viewers.

Bellator 131 Live + 3 viewership boosts overall telecast to 1.4M, peak over 2.2M

November 20, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the Live + 3 day viewership of Saturday’s Bellator 131 peaked with 2,246,000 viewers and was over 2 million viewers for more than half of the Ortiz-Bonnar main event.  The overall event adjusted viewership came up to 1.4 million.

In addition, the Ortiz-Bonnar fight drew an average of 2.0 million viewers with the adjusted viewership numbers and was over 2 million for 17 of 26 minutes during the fight.  It scored 1.8 million viewers in the M18-49 demo and 1.7 million in the M18-34 demo.

131 an obvious boost for Season 11

131 an obvious boost for Season 11

Payout Perspective:

The additional DVR numbers propels Bellator 131 further and reflects the fact it resoundingly beat the UFC on Saturday night.  The numbers show that viewers are still drawn to the spectacle of a well-promoted fight and/or Tito Ortiz.  Good news for Bellator in the short term.  We shall see how they continue with the promotion of events when Ortiz is not in the main event.

TUF 20 Episode 8 numbers up to 840,000 viewers

November 19, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that last week’s TUF 20 episode 8 drew an additional 262,00 viewers in Live +3 ratings.  Episode 8 total viewership including adjusted average is now at 840,000 viewers.

TUF 20 Episode 8 DVR

Payout Perspective:

The average viewership after the adjusted ratings is at 812,000 viewers. After the 8th episode, the average boost in viewers from the Live rating to the DVR rating is down slightly at 287,000.

UFC 180 Prelims: 624,000 viewers

November 19, 2014

MMA Payout has learned form a Nielsen source that the UFC 180 Prelims on FS1 Saturday drew an average of 624,000 viewers for its two hour show between 8:00-10:00pm (5:00-7:00pm).

The prelims on Saturday peaked in the 9:45-10pm quarter hour (6:45-7pm west coast) with 771,000 total viewers (Live + SD) according to Nielsen.

UFC 180 Prelims ratings

UFC PPV Prelims since August 2013 (FS1 unless specified)

UFC 164                             809,000

UFC 165                             722,000

UFC 166                             628,000

UFC 167                             998,000

UFC 168                          1,554,000

UFC 169                             933,000

UFC 170                             936,000

UFC 171                             305,000 (FS2)

UFC 172                             750,000

UFC 173                             697,000

UFC 174                             784,000 (FX)

UFC 175                             1,000,000

UFC 177                             436,000

UFC 178                             698,000

UFC 179                             536,000

UFC 180                           624,000

Payout Perspective:

The UFC Prelims provided some very good action but a lot of names we did not know and thus it was one of the reasons it likely fell to Bellator.  The prelims did feature the Fight of the Night as well as a submission and an ear almost falling off (Leslie Smith).  UFC 180 did improve upon prelim rating for UFC 179.  The current average of UFC Prelims for 2014 is at 699,000.

Bellator 131 – Payout Perspective

November 18, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we are taking a look at Bellator 131 from the Valley View Casino in San Diego, California.

Ortiz defeats Bonnar in “spectacle”

This fight was sold outside of the cage but inside the cage there was not a lot to say about it.  In the end, Ortiz defeated Bonnar via split decision and perhaps the most entertaining part about these two is the clowning of Bonnar and the middle fingers of Ortiz after the fight.

The famous (or infamous) lead-up to this “grudge match” was the in-cage promo a couple months back where Bonnar confronted Ortiz with that guy in the mask that was revealed to be someone 95% of the casual viewing MMA audience had never seen.  Thus, the reveal meant nothing.  Still, the two promoted the fight to the point where the actual fight (luckily) became secondary.

A quick look at twitter reveals that Ortiz is looking to King Mo next.  Let the trash talk/tweets begin.  As for Bonnar, perhaps he turns on the masked man for his next fight.

131

Brooks defeats Chandler for lightweight title

In what was the most competitive and real fight of the night, Will Brooks defeated Michael Chandler to win the vacant lightweight world title.  Brooks did it with a solid punch to Chandler’s temple which essentially knocked out Chandler on his feet as Chandler made gestures as if he did not know where he was eventually turning his back from Brooks and causing the stoppage.  Brooks and Chandler are two fighters that Bellator needs.  While Ortiz and Bonnar are spectacle, Brooks and Chandler are sport.

Attendance and Gate

No official announcement has been made on the attendance and gate at the Valley View Casino.  However, there are unconfirmed reports of the attendance being 8,100 with a gate of over $400,000.  The Valley View Casino has a max capacity of approximately 18,000 but some of that was taken out due to the enormous set, stage and ramp.  Regardless, it has to be one of the biggest crowds and gates for the organization.

Salaries

As reported, Sunday night, the salaries disclosed by the California State Athletic Commission had Ortiz ($300K) and Bonnar ($100K) as the biggest earners for the night although Ortiz was fined $2,500 for his antics post-fight.  The salaries show that Ortiz can still demand top dollar for his services while Bonnar’s pay is a step up from his time in the UFC.

Promotion of Fight

The Viacom-owned company utilized its resources in order to hype this “tentpole” event.  It used its sponsor Dave & Busters for a couple events to promote the fight including a meet and greet which featured ex-UFC stars.  It even announced that Wanderlei Silva would be in attendance at the pre-fight party on Friday even though the company had to retract that after contractual issues with the UFC prevented Silva’s appearance.

SpikeTV ran three shoulder programs to promote Bellator 131 and most centered on Ortiz-Bonnar.  Spike ran a one hour Countdown show which focused a significant portion on Ortiz-Bonnar and then Brooks-Chandler and Manhoef-Schilling.  The Countdown dedicated the first half hour or so on Ortiz-Bonnar and showed the Justin McCully incident again and again.  But, it lacked specifically spelling out the “wrong” that Ortiz did to McCully.  If it did, I just did not get it.  It then had a special dedicated to Ortiz and then another one specifically for Tito and Bonnar to have a “sit down face-to-face.”

Sponsorships

In the cage, Bellator’s sponsors included Dave & Busters, pre-pay cell phone company Cricket Wireless, Monster Energy, Gold Bond Ultimate, Everlast, Attack Poker and Miller Light had the center of the cage.  The mat also had something for the new Spike App.

Odds and Ends

-Bellator’s video packages, new stage, big screen and walkouts were all great things that added to the “big event” feel.

-Mo started swimming after his win.  I don’t recall this a trademark celebration.

-ESPN’s Matthew Berry is the signature spokesman for Dave & Buster’s?  Fantasy sports is that popular.

-In promoting Melvin Manhoef during the Countdown show, Bellator showed footage from Japan of Manhoef knocking out Mark Hunt.  Good timing since Hunt was the main eventer at UFC 180.  Irony because Manhoef was laid out by Joe Schilling on Saturday.

-There was a Goldberg (Bill not Mike) citing at the event.  Really.  George Lopez citing too.  Really.

-Joe Warren doing play-by-play during the Mike Richman-Nam Phan fight was a nice touch.

Conclusion

The event had a big event feel and it seemed like a step up for the company.  While it does have a “pro wrestling” feel, the presentation draws you in to watch.  The question will be can it promote non-UFC fighters in the upper levels of its cards.  Ortiz and Bonnar are past their prime inside the cage.  Certainly, they can sell fights but the question will be whether others can pick up where they will leave off. In the end, Bellator 131 was a strong showing and if it’s a sign of things to come in how Bellator will present its quarterly big shows, Bellator, under Coker, will be a strong number 2 promotion.

Bellator 131 produces big ratings on SpikeTV

November 18, 2014

Bellator 131 on Saturday night drew a record 1.8 million viewers and peaked at 2 million during the Tito Ortiz-Stephan Bonnar fight per a Spike TV press release. The average for the overall event drew 1.24 million viewers.

Via Spike TV press release:

Bellator 131 knocked out the competition on Saturday, November 15 with record ratings for the emerging MMA franchise under new president Scott Coker. The Bellator 131 main event between Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar (11:50pm-12:16am) drew 1.8 million viewers, peaking at 2 million, making it the most-watched and highest–rated MMA fight on cable in 2014.

The Ortiz-Bonnar fight ranks as 2nd highest-rated MMA fight telecast in all of television with Men 18-34 and Men 18-49, including broadcast, in 2014. Also, Ortiz-Bonnar ranked #2 in its timeslot in all of cable with Men 18-34 and Men 18-49.

Bellator 131 ratings breakdown:

Bellator 131 – Ortiz vs. Bonnar – 11:50p
1.8 million viewers

Bellator 131 – 10:11p
1.3 million viewers

Bellator 131 – 9p
994,000 viewers

Overall, the entire fight card (9:00-12:16) delivered 1,241,299 viewers, a record for Bellator MMA on Spike TV.

UPDATED:  More breakdown of ratings from Bellator’s big night:

King Mo-Joe Vedepo fight which started the show drew an average of 1.1M viewers (Bell in R1 9:13pm)

Mike Richman KOs Nam Phan was next and drew 1.1M viewers (Bell in R1 9:50pm *Note that the UFC 180 Prelims on FS1 peaked during this quarter hour at 771K average viewers Live +SD)

Joe Schilling KO of Melvin Manhoef drew 1.6M viewers (Bell in R1 10:11pm)

AJ Matthews KO of Kyle Bolt drew 1.3M viewers (Bell in R1 10:30pm)

Will Brooks TKO of Michael Chandler drew an average of 1.3M viewers (Bell in R1 10:59pm)

Tito Ortiz split decision of Stephan Bonnar drew 1.9M viewers (up from initial press release.  Bell in R1 was at 11:50pm)

Payout Perspective:

The event did well on social media as well per the release as it was the most tweeted Bellator event in Spike history. Despite how “pro wrestling” the Ortiz-Bonnar lead-up was, it worked. Spike and Bellator heavily promoted this event and it drew. The release obviously buried the real news which most folks want to know which was the overall viewership of the entire event – 1.24 million.  Its interesting to see the updated ratings per fight as you can the audience remained over 1 million for the fights.

It was a good night for Bellator as it was the clear winner of the night where the UFC and WSOF were options for MMA fans.

MMA Payout will have more on this. Stay tuned.

UFC 180: Payout Perspective

November 17, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 180 from the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City.

Werdum wins interim Heavyweight title

It was to be Cain Velasquez fighting in Mexico City against Fabricio Werdum.  However, an injury to Cain allowed Mark Hunt the chance to step in and seize the title.  Hunt looked good until a well-timed knee spelled the beginning of the end for Hunt.

Werdum wins the title and will eventually get to face Cain Velasquez to unify the titles.

UFC 180

Gastelum ascends while Ellenberger descends

Kelvin Gastelum defeated Jake Ellenberger with a rear naked choke in the first round.  The win should propel the former TUF winner into the top 10 of the welterweight division while it showed the Ellenberger maybe a broken fighter.  Gastelum secured a rear-naked choke with ease as it appeared that Ellenberger did not defend his neck despite his back being taken.  The win should mean a step up in fights for Gastelum while Ellenberger is teetering on the cusp of being cut.

Attendance

Initial reports in August had UFC 180 a sell out in just 8 hours after the announcement of Velasquez-Werdum and the launch of TUF in Mexico (which drew 7 million viewers on Televisia according to Yahoo! Sports).  The announcement made post-fight had the attendance at 21,000 although no official gate was given.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50K were given to Werdum, Gastelum, Henry Biones and Guido Cannetti.  Briones and Canetti put on the Fight of the Night.  White indicated that Ricardo Lamas would also be given a bonus although that was unofficial.

Promotion of Fight

Once again one of the main drivers of the promotion was the UFC Embedded series which followed the fighters on the main card.  It caught the best moment of the pre-fight hype with Werdum-Hunt singing together.

The UFC also did a photo op with the NBA as the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves played a game in Mexico City earlier in the week.

The UFC and Fathom Events put the event on movie screens across the country hoping that the event would gain more eyes.  Unfortunately, if we look at the tweet from Mike Bohn, it did not.

Sponsorships

The Octagon sponsors were without UltimatePoker.com, the Stations Casinos online poker site which was closed down last week.  Notably, one of the Octagon sponsors for UFC 180 was Costa Rican online gaming company, BetCris.  The sponsors included the UFC Network, UFCStore.com, UFC Fit, MateFit.me, MusclePharm, Toyo Tires, video game FarCry 4, the aforementioned BetCris and Bud Lite in the center of the Octagon.

Gastelum wore the UFC Network logo as did Werdum during pre-fight activities and but wore Bad Boy to the Octagon.

Hunt wore his own clothing brand Juggernaut on his shorts.  It’s interesting that Hunt does not have more sponsors.  You may recall he had zero as a fill-in when he fought Junior dos Santos at UFC 160.  Werdum most prominent sponsor was clothing brand Torque.

Doritos was a prominent sponsor for this event as it banked heavily on the Werdum-Velasquez matchup including producing in-store placement of 2.5 million bags with the fighter likenesses on them.  It was described as a “360 degree activation” around UFC 180.  With Cain falling out, the campaign likely fell short of its goal.

Post-UFC 180 Headline

Werdum-Velasquez should be next although White indicated that if Cain were to have another injury that forces him from action, he could be stripped of the title.

Odds and Ends

  • The WWE collaborated with the UFC during the UFC Prelims on FS1. To be exact, a 2K Sports commercial for the WWE video game, WWE2K15, infused images of the video game and UFC action.
  • The main event ended at 8:50 pm on the west coast. Only about an hour and a half of fights before the UFC showed the prelims to fill the time.
  • Bellator used the footage of Melvin Manhoef knocking out Mark Hunt from 2008 during its pre-fight hype package to put over Manhoef.
  • Jessica Eye almost took Leslie Smith’s ear off but Smith still wanted to fight.
  • Google Trends revealed that the top countries searching for UFC 180 were Mexico, Canada, Brazil and the United States in that order.
  • The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) ran a story on the Fertittas and Dana White and their ties to Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School in last week’s Sports Business Journal. It was placed “below the fold.”  Prominent placement for a rather evergreen story during UFC 180 week.
  • Chael Sonnen began his duties with ESPN as an analyst.

Conclusion

It was a good night of fights but the lack of brand-name power was one of the detracting factors about this event.  When the Werdum-Velasquez fight was initially announced and the two were TUF coaches, there was much hope that UFC 180 would be one of the bigger PPVs of this year.  Entering a new market and the quick sell out appeared to be good signs for the PPV.  But, Velasquez’s injury was a significant blow to any hopes that this PPV would do well.  Without a good undercard, the UFC was placing its hopes on Cain’s drawing power.  Based on Google Trends, we are looking at a buy rate comparable to UFC 174 or 177 which drew between115-125K PPV buys.

TUF 20 Episode 8: 578,000 viewers

November 13, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the 8th episode of TUF 20 drew an average of 578,000 in Live + Same Day viewership.  Based on the numbers, it’s the best non-DVR average so far this season.

In the fight of the episode, Tecia Torres handled Bec Rawlings in two rounds for the victory.

TUF 20 Episode 8

Payout Perspective:

Episode 8 was the most watched show on FS1 yesterday.  It brings the non-DVR average up to 525,000 viewers.  For those wondering, last fall’s TUF 18 drew a season average of 684,000 viewers and TUF 19 this past spring received 476,000 viewers.  American Horror Story on FX (which aired at the same time as TUF) drew the highest cable rating for Wednesday with a 3.6 million average in Live + SD viewership per Television By Numbers. Notably, the NBA game between the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves from Mexico City drew 1.6 million viewers. It started in the same time slot as TUF.

UFC officially announces Sweden stadium show

November 13, 2014

The UFC announced that Alexander Gustafsson will face Anthony Johnson on January 24, 2015 in an arena in Gustafsson’s home country of Stockholm, Sweden for UFC on Fox 14.  It will be the first network show of 2015 and first outside of the U.S..

As most recall, UFC 129 was the first stadium show from Toronto, Canada to great success.  The promotion is leveraging Gustafsson’s popularity to fill the arena for this show as it anticipates 30,000 fans for the January event.

Via UFC press release:

The bout will take place in front of more than 30,000 fans at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, marking just the second major stadium event in UFChistory and the first in Europe. The previous stadium event was the record-breaking UFC® 129 held at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, as more than 55,000 fans watched Georges St-Pierre defeat Jake Shields.

The last three events in Sweden had the following attendance figures:

UFC on Fuel TV 2 (April 2012) – 15, 428, $2.23M gate

UFC on Fuel TV 9 – (April 2013) – 14,506, $2.7M gate

UFC Fight Night 53 – (October 2014) – 10,026, $1.1M gate

Payout Perspective:

A lot is being put on Gustafsson to sell this show.  As we’ve learned from UFC 180, this could backfire if he is forced out due to injury.  It’s not a title defense and while Gus may be popular in Sweden, it’s hard to think that he could sell a 30,000 stadium.  With Dan Henderson-Gegard Mousasi/Matt Brown-Tarec Saffiedine as the co-main events, it will bring name notoriety but it’s hard to think that this will draw Swedish fans.

TUF 20 Episode 7 Live + 3 numbers up to 764,000

November 12, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the adjusted DVR ratings for the seventh episode of TUF 20 drew it up to 764,000 viewers.  The number represents a gain of 270,000 viewers from its overnight rating of 494,000 viewers.

TUF 20 Episode 7 DVR

Payout Perspective:

The Live +3 average is now at 808,000 viewers whereas the overnight viewership is at 518,000 viewers.  The average DVR gain from TUF this season is approximately 290,000 viewers.

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