UFC 178 Prelims: 698,000 viewers

September 30, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the UFC 178 Prelims airing on FS1 prior to the PPV scored a viewership of 698,000 viewers.  It peaked at 774,000 viewers.

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

Saturday’s prelims was a jump from UFC 177′s dismal ratings which were the lowest on FS1.

Payout Perspective:

The peaked occurred between 8:15-8:30pm.  Notably, the last 20 minutes of the 2 hour prelims was essentially filler since Dominick Cruz took just 61 seconds to end Takeya Mizugaki.  This may have contributed to the actual viewership as folks turned the channel after the Cruz fight.  The 2014 UFC Prelim average is slightly over 726,000 viewers.

Bellator 126: 656,000 viewers

September 30, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Friday’s Bellator 126 drew an average viewership of 656,000 viewers with a peak at 942,000.  It is the lowest output of the season although the season average is ahead of the pace from season 10.

Bellator 11th Season - 126

In the main event Brandon Halsey won the Bellator welterweight championship from Alexander Schlemenko.  Halsey could be a rising star for the organization.  He even did a Monster Energy Drink post-fight promo.

 Payout Perspective:

With Friday’s show, Bellator’s 11th season has an overnight ratings average of 709,000 viewers.  Its live peak average is slightly over 1 million viewers.  Through 5 events in its 10th season, the overnight viewer average was at 684,000 with its live peak at 950,000 viewers.  It’s a slight incremental increase, but if we are to put a positive spin on the viewership it is growing and staying steady with fighters that are not really known to the casual fans.

UFC 178: Payout Perspective

September 29, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.   In this edition, we review UFC 178 which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where Demetrious Johnson took on Chris Cariaso in the main event.

Johnson outclasses Cariaso

Despite the lack of fan support (i.e., PPV buys), Demetrious Johnson can legitimately stake a claim to being the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC.  It was clear in the first minute that Johnson was the better fighter and ended Cariaso in the second round with a submission.

Johnson is getting prime placement on UFC shows and it’s the second PPV he’s headlined this year.  One should also stress the fact that Johnson has not been hurt during his title reign and is not an outside-the-Octagon problem.  So, why don’t people buy his PPVs?

UFC_178_event_poster

Cowboy welcomes Eddie to UFC

The skeet shooting and wakeboarding training regimen pre-fight aside, Donald Cerrone is an extremely good fighter.  In what was one of the more entertaining fights on the card, Cerrone defeated Eddie Alvarez.  It was the long-awaited debut for the former Bellator champ and the first round he showed why the UFC wanted to acquire his services.  Yet, Cerrone moves on looking for another fight before 2014 closes.

McGregor makes quick work of Poirier

You would have thought that this was the main event based on the crowd reactions.  The hype, trash talk and vitriol between the two (especially during any face off promoting the fight) was classic in what to do to have people interested in purchasing your fights. The Conor McGregor experience continues and likely his most impressive fight on the biggest platform so far.  McGregor easily handled Dustin Poirier in the first round.  It’s clear that McGregor is ready for a title shot after Saturday night.

Attendance and Gate

The attendance and gate announced at the post-fight press conference was 10,544 for a gate of $2.2 million.  Out of 9 PPVs this year, it ranked 7th in attendance.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50K each were awarded to Yoel Romero-Tim Kennedy for Fight of the Night and Dominick Cruz and Conor McGregor for Performances of the Night.

Promotion of the Fight

The Embedded episodes continue to be popular as the UFC has found a formula to promote the fights digitally.  For the most part, viewers got to see Cowboy Cerrone wakeboarding and skeet shooting prior to his fight with Eddie Alvarez, Conor McGregor get a haircut, Demetrious Johnson getting a shave and Dustin Poirier at the Whole Foods at Vegas.  The one thing really missing from the embedded episode was a profile on Chris Cariaso.  The Countdown show did have a profile on Cariaso but it seemed incomplete.  Even if it was a foregone conclusion that he would likely lose (which happened), it would have been nice for them to have elevated his profile for this fight.  It seems to get better reviews than the UFC Prime Time episodes because they are short and can be viewed whenever people want to see them.

Conor McGregor did a good amount of pre-fight press.

Mighty Mouse appeared on the local Fox affiliate in Seattle last week hyping UFC 178.

Salaries

Salaries have been disclosed via MMA Junkie:

Demetrious Johnson: $183,000 (includes $54,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Cariaso: $24,000

Donald Cerrone: $126,000 (includes $63,000 win bonus)
def. Eddie Alvarez: $100,000

Conor McGregor: $150,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus)
def. Dustin Poirier: $34,000

Yoel Romero: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus)
def. Tim Kennedy: $70,000

Cat Zingano: $18,000 (includes $9,000 win bonus)
def. Amanda Nunes: $15,000

Dominick Cruz: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Takeya Mizugaki: $32,000

Jorge Masvidal: $90,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. James Krause: $15,000

Stephen Thompson: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Patrick Cote: $33,000

Brian Ebersole: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. John Howard: $21,000

Kevin Lee: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Jon Tuck: $10,000

Manny Gamburyan: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Cody Gibson: $10,000

Some notes:

Some interesting figures including Demetrious Johnson being paid like a champ (base of $129K).  The last official report of his purse was at UFC on Fox 9 where he made a base of $125K (notice a bigger bonus for that Fox event).  You might assume that June’s UFC 174 he made a base of $127K although those salaries were never officially reported.  Eddie Alvarez was paid $100K (show) for his first UFC fight.  You might recall when he was originally offered a UFC contract which precipitated the Bellator lawsuit, he was offered $70K for his first match in the UFC.  Conor McGregor is already up to $75K base.  Cat Zingano only made $9K/$9K which is only a $2K bump from her last fight in April 2013 against Miesha Tate.

Sponsors

The octagon sponsors included MusclePharm, MetroPCS, Alienware, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Fram, UltimatePoker.net, Assassin’s Creed’s latest game, Matefit.me and Bud Light in the center.

Missing from the octagon was long-time sponsor, Xyience, which was purchased by another company that quickly pulled the sponsorship with the UFC.

Yoel Romero was sponsored by likeaboss.com.  I’m not sure what they do.

Cain Velasquez appeared in a promo for Harley Davidson Motorcycle’s “Hometown Throwdown.”

Mighty Mouse had his traditional sponsor of Xbox 360.  The only sponsor for Johnson, his fight banner told folks to pre-order an Xbox One.  I thought those were already available?  If you were wondering, on his recent Wrestling Observer podcast, Dave Meltzer did not know how much Johnson is receiving from Microsoft.

Cariaso was sponsored by Mountek.  Really.

Dominick Cruz was sponsored by the Phoenix International Raceway which stuck with him despite Cruz being on the shelf for a long time.  It paid off as PIR had a prominent logo on Cruz as he was demolishing Takeya Mizugaki.  He also wore the shirt in his post-fight interview.

Odds and ends

-Didn’t mention this earlier, but Cat Zingano-Amanda Nunes fight was the way to start a PPV.  Zingano has been through a lot and it appears that she will be the next for Ronda Rousey.

-MMA Fighting has backstage footage of Tim Kennedy confronting Yoel Romero about the extra time he took to get up from his stool in between rounds.

-Interesting that the UFC are rolling out different types of Bruce Lee t-shirts.  Hopefully some of the money that I suppose the estate is receiving from licensing his likeness is going toward this.

-Dominick Cruz won me over in just the 61 seconds of work.  First, his Jay Z/Cypress Hill remix entrance, Then, the plain black CRUZ sweatshirt.  Easily the best thing anyone has worn to the octagon in the history of this sport.  Finally, his “Alpha-Fails” drop is probably one of the best post-fight lines in a while.

-UFC on Fox YouTube channel has the whole 61 second Cruz return fight.

-Some argument as to whether Cruz fight should have been on PPV.  You can see it as perhaps a concession to boost FS1 ratings.  In hindsight, all of the fights on the PPV were great and hard to see replacing one.

-The good news is that the clay pigeons that Cerrone shot during that Embedded episode were not real as they were made at the same place that Floyd Mayweather got his fake weed from All Access.

-Not surprising, but according to Google Trends, Dublin and Ireland were the most interested city and country for search term “UFC 178”.

Conclusion

This was to be Jones-Gus II.  But after that was scrapped, it was Jones-Cormier.  After the Jones-Cormier media day brawl in August, one could have made the argument that UFC 178 would be the second-biggest PPV event of the year after UFC 175.  But with Jones getting injured, the need to adjust the lineup probably hurt the buy rate.  Overall, this card was very solid with every PPV fight being an entertaining one.  However, selling the Johnson-Cariaso was tough and you might infer that most of the pre-fight hype was for McGregor-Poirier. Although McGregor could be a breakout PPV star, he is not one yet.

While Google Trends saw an uptick in searches for UFC 178 from Ireland, it’s worth to note that the US was the 4th interested country for the event.  In the end, a buy rate of 300,000-325,000 seems reasonable.

TUF 20 Episode 3: 433,000 viewers

September 25, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that last night’s third episode of TUF on FS1 scored an average viewership of 433,000 which marks the lowest live viewership for the show this season.

In the fight of the show, Jessica Penne defeated Lisa Ellis with a rear-naked choke.

TUF 20 on FS1

Episode 1  536,000, Live +3: 831,000

Episode 2  574,000, Live +3:  946,000

Episode 3  433,000

TUF 20 Ep 3

Payout Perspective:

The decrease in the viewership is concerning but if you look at the substantial gains from the Live + 3, we might expect a considerable bump when those are released sometime next week.  As an aside, TNA Impact Wrestling on Spike TV did not crack the top 100 on cable on Wednesday despite usually doing so.

TUF 20 Episode 2 Live +3 increases viewership 65%

September 24, 2014

MMA Payout has learned that the second episode of TUF 20 last week on FS1 received an increase of 65% to 946,000 viewers.  This reflects a bump of 372,000 viewers..

The Live + 3 viewership average (excluding Ep 1’s Fox re-air) is slightly over 888,000 viewers and the live viewership average is 555,000 viewers.

TUF 20 Ep 2 Live + 3

Payout Perspective:

The increase in viewership from DVR views reflects the fact that people are recording the show to watch later which may be good for the overall number but does not really help advertisers.  In comparison to Bellator DVR numbers, more which have modest increases, a great deal of people are recording TUF for later.

Bellator 125: 742,00 viewers

September 22, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Bellator drew 742,000 viewers.  It also received the highest rating of the season in the coveted males 18-34 demo.

The highest quarter hour was the during the 10:45-11:00pm slot which drew 937,000 viewers.

Bellator 11th Season - 125

Payout Perspective:

The main event which saw Melvin Manhoef KO Doug Marshall in the first round ended the night early for Bellator programming so apparently a lot of viewers got in just to see the last fight.  The ratings are a good sign for Bellator as it continues to trend up even with its lesser known talent.

Spike TV to air “Eddie Alvarez: Free on Spike” Saturday

September 22, 2014

Spike TV announced that it will air both Eddie Alvarez fights against Michael Chandler in Bellator in opposition to UFC 178 this Saturday.  Spike TV is calling the program, “Eddie Alvarez: Free on Spike.”

Via Spike TV press release:

MMA fans can sit back enjoy Eddie Alvarez’s two most memorable bouts against Michael Chandler for free on Spike TV on Saturday, September 27 at 10:00pm ET/PT. The 90-minute “Eddie Alvarez: Free on Spike” special will kick-off with his first bout with Michael Chandler at Bellator 58, regarded by many as  the  “Fight of The Year” in 2011.  Then, your night of free Eddie Alvarez continues with his rematch with Michael Chandler from Bellator 106 from November, 2013 where Eddie regained the title in a dramatic 5-round decision.

The program airs at the same time as the start of UFC 178 on PPV.

Payout Perspective:

With the past salary dispute between Alvarez and Bellator, the title of the program, “Eddie Alvarez: Free on Spike” might have a little irony to it.

Does this sound familiar?  Previously, Spike TV has done well with airing MMA programming opposite the UFC.  Spike TV used the UFC library during UFC events in the past as a result of an inexplicable rights agreement that allowed Spike TV the UFC library for a year despite its move to Fox.  It makes sense from Bellator’s perspective and the title says it all.  It basically tells you why pay $55 when you get guaranteed exciting fight for free on Spike TV.  With the original main event (Jones-Cormier) moved to next year, SpikeTV/Bellator has a shot to grab some viewers not willing to pay to see Demetrious Johnson headlining a PPV.

TUF 20 Episode 2: 574,000 viewers

September 18, 2014

MMA Payout has learned that the second episode of TUF 20 on FS1 scored an average viewership of 574,000 viewers.  The average is up slightly (7%) from the debut episode which aired last Wednesday on the network.

According to a Nielsen source, it’s only the sixth time in the twenty seasons of TUF that the second episode drew more than the debut episode.  Wednesday’s episode grew in the important adult 18-49 demo from the first (359,000 viewers) to the second episode (364,000 viewers).

In offering a quick comparison from the start of this season to the start of TUF 19, the second episode from the Penn-Edgar season drew only 320,000 viewers.

Episode 1:  536,000 (on FS1)

Episode 2:  574,000

Payout Perspective:

The good news is that the second episode drew higher than the debut episode for Episode 20.  One might have expected a higher bump considering the additional viewing opportunities for TUF 20’s debut episode which re-aired Sunday on Fox before or after NFL Football in many markets.  Still, the ratings are better than TUF 19 at this point.  We’ll see if there will be additional efforts to promote TUF on Fox.

Bellator 124 Live +3 scores over 1.4M

September 18, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the Live +3 numbers (also known as DVR plus 3) increased Friday’s Bellator ratings to 836,000 viewers with a peak viewership of 1.429 viewers.

23 minutes of the Bellator 124 on Spike TV had an average audience of 1 million viewers.

Bellator 123:  667,000 viewers, peak 979,000; Live +3: 777,000 viewers, peak 1.193 million

Bellator 124:  771,000 viewers, peak —-; Live +3 836,000 viewers, peak 1.429 million

via MMA Payout

via MMA Payout

The increase in ratings reflects a positive uptick for this season.  The 1.4 million viewers is the best viewership its had on SpikeTV.

TUF 20 re-air on Fox Sunday draws 1.735M

September 17, 2014

The Ultimate Fighter 20’s season debut which Fox re-aired on the network Sunday “adjacent” to NFL on Fox game coverage scored a composite of 1.735 million viewers.  Additional re-airs on FS1 and FS2 added 267,000 viewers for a total of 2.54 million according to a company media release.

It was the first time that Fox has aired a TUF episode on Sunday next to NFL games.  The times as to when TUF aired on Fox varied.  For example, some viewers across the country saw TUF prior to the 1pm west coast (4pm east coast) game while others saw it after the early games (10am/1pm respectively).  In Seattle, TUF did not air until 11:30pm on Sunday night.

The 1.753M number comes from the national average of viewers which Nielsen calculates using around 200+ local markets.

In addition, the Live +3 day viewership drew a significant amount more viewers (up 55%) as it added another 295,000 viewers to the initial viewership of 536,000.  Thus, the total amount of viewers that saw TUF 20’s debut (if you included those that saw it on DVR) was 831,000.

Payout Perspective:

The total viewers that have seen TUF 20 is actually 2,538,000 although the media release rounded up.  Airing TUF on Sundays piggybacking on the NFL should help with the visibility of the TUF product as the hope appears to be snagging NFL fans not flipping to the Red Zone channel after/before the games on Fox.  It’s a good more and shows that the UFC/Fox really want to push this season.

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