May 26, 2016
The sixth episode of The Ultimate Fighter 23 drew 444,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings. It shows an increase of approximately 19%.
The fight of the episode was Eric Spicely as he defeated Elias Urbina.
According to Sports TV Ratings, the episode drew 256,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo. The ratings reflect an increase and the best rating in that demo since the first episode.
Last week’s live+SD rating drew 361,000 but increased to 625,000 viewers in adjusted ratings based on DVR+3 which represents a 43% increase from the overnight rating.
The episode rating is a nice bump from last week and is a 20% increase from TUF 21’s Episode 6 last spring. At 444,000 viewers, it’s the second highest rating for the season.
May 25, 2016
Bellator 155 last Friday peaked at 916,000 viewers per Nielsen. The main event between Rafael Carvahlho and Melvin Manhoef averaged 812,000 viewers.
The overall event, factoring in the adjusted numbers, came to 715,000 viewers and was the second most-watched live sporting event on last Friday.
Peak viewership for last 3 Bellators
Bellator 153: Henderson-Koreshkov 1.1M viewers
Bellator 154: Davis-King Mo 1.3M viewers
Bellator 155: Carvahlho-Manhoef 916,000 viewers
Bellator 155 was not the best of cards and yet it did pretty well in the ratings. Comparing the peak viewership, it is slightly off the last couple Bellator events. But, those ratings included known fighters in those main events. While Manhoef might be a fighter you might know, it’s not someone you would usually see in a main event.
May 25, 2016
Zachery Light has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Bellator MMA and Viacom citing wrongful termination based on public policy. Light, a former MMA fighter and employee of Bellator, claims various wrongdoings while working under Scott Coker.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by Light’s attorney, William Crosby.
Light, a former amateur wrestler and MMA fighter, was hired by Bellator and worked under Bjorn Rebney. He became Bellator’s Talent Development Manager. The lawsuit states he was soon promoted to Talent Development Director. He was praised for his work and “received the highest ranking on his annual reviews.”
The Complaint notes a shift of business culture when Viacom acquired Bellator and Scott Coker took over.
Light alleges that in September 2015, he became aware of a number of instances in which Bellator “failed to observe and knowingly disobeyed laws enacted to protect the health and safety” of MMA fighters. Notably, the California law requiring a medical clearance examination by a licensed physician for participants in a MMA fight. Light claimed that “a reliable source” at Bellator 126 noted that Ryan Martinez’ blood and eye medicals that were submitted to the state of Arizona “were admittedly forged.” Martinez lost his fight to Nick Rossborough.
At Bellator 131 in San Diego, Light learned from “reliable sources” that “a number of fighters on the card had submitted California state-required medicals” by Adam Rendon. Rendon, the lawsuit claims, was not a licensed physician and this was in violation of California law. Bellator 131 was the first “tentpole” event of the Coker-era which featured Stephan Bonnar fighting Tito Ortiz.
The lawsuit claims that Light talked to Rich Chou, Bellator’s Vice President of Talent, prior to Bellator 126. Chou indicated to Light that he would follow up but when he did not here from Chou he approached Scott Coker. According to the Complaint, “Coker told plaintiff (Light) “to do what Chou told you to do,” without addressing these issues.” Light went back to Chou who, according to the lawsuit, stated he would be terminated if he (Light) “kept pushing the issue.”
Light went back to Coker to question about Rendon. According to the Complaint, Coker told plaintiff, “a lot of people at Bellator are going to lose their jobs next week. Do you want to keep yours?”
In addition, the Complaint claims that Coker pressured Light into promoting collusive fights in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The lawsuit alleges that Coker disliked manager Anthony McGann. Rampage Jackson and Cheick Kongo were managed by McGann at the time and the Complaint claims that Light was instructed to “convince Kongo to fire McGann as his manager.” Light was influenced by Coker to have Kongo fire McGann and have him sign a new promotion agreement or he (Light) would be fired.
Light was instructed to arrange fights for McGann-managed fighters under contract in Bellator with opponents “who would convincingly defeat them.” This would apparently allow Coker the pretext to cut ties with McGann and his fighters. The lawsuit makes a point of indicating that “[s]uch collusive matches were tantamount to fight fixing…”
Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower provisions, employees in privately held subsidiaries of publicly traded companies who assist in an investigation into an employer’s violation are protected from employer retaliation. Under the California Business and Professions Code, there is a similar provision claimed by Light.
Light also indicates that in “late 2014 and early 2015,” Mike Kogan was hired by Bellator in an executive capacity. Kogan, who Light alleges is a “close friend” of Coker claims that Kogan was “paid management commissions for fighters he represented in bouts that occurred with defendant Bellator.” This would be a “serious conflict of interest” and violation of California law.
The lawsuit states that due to stress-related to Coker and Chou refusing to follow laws and regulations and “requiring plaintiff to engage in illegal practices as a condition of keeping his job,” Light suffered an anxiety attack. The health scare occurred on April 10, 2015 after Bellator 136 on the campus of UC Irvine. He was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. Light had to take an extended medical leave. He was cleared to return to work without restrictions on March 10, 2016 but was terminated on March 17, 2017 via a letter. He was advised that “his job was no longer available.”
This will be an interesting case as it goes forward. Since it was filed just yesterday, there’s still a lot to digest about the claims. As with many wrongful termination lawsuits, the allegations are salacious and may or may not be true. One would expect Bellator to deny the claims and file a motion to dismiss – none of which is earth-shattering. Obviously, the claims present a public relations issue as the company in support of amending the Ali Act to include MMA fighters are accused of doing things that oppose the protections claimed in the Ali Act. Also, the conflict between promoter and manager rears its head in another MMA promotion. We shall see about the veracity of the claims and how will Bellator address them.
MMA Payout will continue to follow.
May 23, 2016
Bellator 155 drew 653,000 viewers on Friday night on Spike TV according to Sports TV Ratings. The ratings represent a slight decrease from Bellator 154.
Among the 653,000 viewers, it drew 301,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 category. Bellator 154 drew 356,000 in the adult 18-49 category.
In the main event of the show, Rafael Carvalho defeated Melvin Manhoef by split decision.
Not counting Bellator 149, the ratings average on Spike TV is 661,000. Through 7 events in 2015 (not counting the Bellator 138 tentpole event), the average was 668,000. One would think that the organization would have hoped for an incremental increase from year to year but perhaps Bellator is looking more to stability of its live viewership and hoping for big ratings with its quarterly events.
May 19, 2016
The 5th episode of TUF 23 Wednesday night drew 361,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings. It’s a modest increase from last Wednesday.
The ratings reflect a modest increase from last week (336,000). It also is a little higher than last spring’s TUF 21 (340,000).
Per Sports TV Ratings, it drew 200,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.
In the fight of the night, Lanchana Green defeated Helen Harper by unanimous decision.
This is another case of waiting for the DVR numbers to see how many people actually tuned in. The Oklahoma City-Golden State NBA Playoff game (9-11:30pm ET) on TNT aired at the same time as TUF and drew 7.5 million viewers. Also, the NHL Playoffs featuring Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay on NBC Sports Network drew 1.75 million viewers from 8-11pm ET.
May 18, 2016
The DVR ratings for the fourth episode of The Ultimate Fighter drew the viewership up to 566,000 viewers according to Nielsen.
The 566,000 fared much better than last spring’s TUF 21 Episode 4 DVR rating which was just 415,000 viewers.
Although the viewership from the DVR watching was the lowest of the season (it was also the lowest-rated live + same day rating of the season) it saw its highest percentage increase of the season.
May 18, 2016
Michael Bisping steps in for injured Chris Weidman and faces Luke Rockhold for the middleweight title at UFC 199. The announcement was made on Wednesday by Dana White on ESPN.
Coming off a career-altering win against Anderson Silva earlier this year, Bisping gets a rematch against Rockhold. The champ submitted Bisping at UFC Fight Night in Sydney, Australia in November 2014.
Weidman had to pull out of his rematch with Rockhold due to a neck injury.
One would have to feel good for Bisping as he finally gets a shot at his long elusive chance to be middleweight champion. But I’m not quite sure that this will do much with respect to moving the needle with PPV buys. I do think Bisping is a good talker and will do his best to promote this fight. As for the announcement, we see once again that the UFC values the broader appeal and audience of ESPN than it does its broadcast partner of FS1.
May 17, 2016
The HBO replay of Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan drew 767,000 subscribers on Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings.
The replay, which aired from 10-10:44pm ET, on ESPN drew 339,000 subscribers in the 18-49 adult demo. Dan Rafael of ESPN added that Nielsen reports the peak to be slightly over 1 million viewers right around the time that the KO took place in Round 6.
Notably, Alvarez-Khan occurred after the UFC Prelims went off the air on FS1.
Notably, the Alvarez-Cotto replay drew 901,000 HBO subscribers. However, that replay this past November was aided by a live Heavyweight title fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury. The Alvarez-Khan replay was without a live fight. The spike for the KO is impressive and it goes to 1) the popularity of knockouts and 2) the popularity of Alvarez. Maybe one outweighs the other, but I’m sure the comments section will hash this out.
May 17, 2016
UFC 198 Prelims on FS1 drew an average viewership of 768,000 per Nielsen. It was the highest rated sports program on cable TV on Saturday.
The Prelims featured Matt Brown taking on Demian Maia. Viewership for the fight was at its peak as it drew 985,000 viewers in the last quarter hour of the 2-hour show. According to Sports TV Ratings, it drew 399,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo making it the highest-rated show in that demo for Saturday.
Below is a graph of this year’s PPV Prelims on FS1.
In addition, the FS1 UFC Fight Night pre-show drew 253,000 viewers and the post-fight show on FS1 drew 117,000.
Despite doing less than the other PPV shows this year, the UFC 198 Prelims on FS1 did very well. Per Sports TV Ratings, only ESPN’s “30 for 30” Believeland drew higher ratings on Saturday in the category of “sports cable.” The lower ratings may reflect what to expect for the PPV buys but the event did do well considering it was not a U.S. card.
May 16, 2016
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 198 taking place from Curitiba, Brazil where Fabricio Werdum took on Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight title.
Miocic crowned Heavyweight Champ
Despite the massive crowd in favor of Fabricio Werdum, Stipe Miocic knocked him out in the first round. The KO stunned the massive crowd in Curtiba. For Miocic, it was an emotional win and he showed it when he returned back home to Cleveland. He also had a message for the city’s NBA team.
— UFC (@ufc) May 15, 2016
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 15, 2016
Cyborg does not disappoint in debut
The long-awaited debut of Cris “Cyborg” Justino did not disappoint the Brazilian fans as she overpowered Leslie Smith earning a TKO in the first round, just 1:21 in, despite a vehement protest from Smith. Smith took to social media after the fight to vent her anger.
The obvious question was whether Cyborg could make weight, which she did. Now, the next hurdle would be coming down another 5 pounds to challenge Miesha Tate for the bantamweight title. Of course, maybe there’s a fight out there at the 140 pound catchweight that could happen (i.e., Ronda Rousey).
It was a record crowd at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba Parana, Brazil as the announced attendance was over 45,000 (45,207 to be exact). It made it the 3rd highest attendance in UFC history according to the announcement on the PPV telecast. The tickets sold out in one day. No gate was announced which seems to be the norm for Brazil shows.
The bonuses of $50,000 went to Miocic, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Francisco Trinaldo and Yancy Medeiros. Trinaldo and Medeiros won for Fight of the Night which aired on the UFC Prelims on FS1 and Miocic and Souza earned performance bonuses.
Budweiser was in the center of the Octagon. Notably Nissan had signage in the octagon. Bud Light was also present in the Octagon along with Toyo Tires, EA UFC 2, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Fight Pass, and ads for UFC 199 and 200.
Budweiser sponsored the Embedded episodes and also had the fighter prep point. Bud Light was a big sponsor throughout the broadcast.
No Monster Energy Drink on the broadcast. This may be due in part that TNT Energy Drink had been a UFC sponsor in Brazil. According to this UFC press release, the Monster exclusive deal with the UFC, excludes Brazil.
Odds and Ends
This was a big show but think how much bigger it could have been with Anderson Silva-Uriah Hall.
Fans were given Werdum “faces” which had the former champ’s trademark smirk. He did it a couple times during the walk out. Werdum seemed like he had the time of his life until the fight started.
A subtle post-fight gesture for new champs is that they are given the champion’s “black” Reebok shirt. Miesha Tate was given it after defeating Holly Holm. Miocic was handed the shirt after his post-fight interview.
Matt Brown probably should never fight in Brazil again. He gave the Brazilian fans the Stone Cold Steve Austin treatment at weigh-ins. Although FS1 did not show it, there was footage of random fans taking shots at Brown on his walkout to the Octagon against Damian Maia.
Here’s the full Matt Brown walkout where you can clearly see him get hit by fans on 3 occasions. pic.twitter.com/GmvayRP4xk
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) May 15, 2016
Brown was submitted by Maia. The next day, his ex-coach takes a swing at him. Fortunately, authorities got a hold (literally) on the guy.
I know that there are practical reasons for this, but does anyone find it odd that Benson Henderson was once again wearing a UFC uniform in the corner of training partner, Bryan Barberena.
It looks like Jon Jones is really feeling it.
Man USADA really did a number on some of these guys
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 15, 2016
Big Nog was announced as the first UFC fighter to go into the company’s Hall of Fame this summer. Little Nog had a KO of Patrick Cummins as the featured fight on the early UFC Prelims on Fight Pass.
There were 500,000 google searches for UFC 198 on Saturday.
UFC 198 was a very entertaining card with some good finishes. But, did the Werdum-Miocic appeal to the casual viewers? Probably not. This was a card which was focused on Brazil. The attendance looked very good and the crowds (including at the weigh-ins) were great. However, the PPV buys for this event will likely come in around 325,000 buys.