May 10, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that the UFC has launched a fee-based subscription service with YouTube. The UFC is one of several channels that is part of a YouTube Pilot Program that subscribers can pay a fee to watch its programming.
“UFC Select” offers a 2 week free trial but will be $5.99 per month. Eight fights will be introduced into the channels’ rotation each week. Old episodes of The Ultimate Fighter will also be shown on the channel.
The launch of fee-based subscription services is a step toward a la carte programming.
This is a solid business move, even if advertising will almost certainly remain YouTube’s main source of income. It helps YouTube promote itself as a complete video delivery platform by giving producers yet another way to earn money there.
The article suggests that the subscription model will do well with sports channels such as the UFC.
It will be interesting to see how well the UFC channel does. What does it mean for the UFC programming on Fox Sports 1? Why watch something you will have to pay for if you can get it through cable. Certainly, the pay channel will have some fights not available on television, but will it be worth it to the casual viewer? Notably, the WWE declined having a paid channel and moved to Yahoo! But, TNA Wrestling has a YouTube channel which will have its content.
May 7, 2013
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective where we take a look at Floyd Mayweather’s latest fight since last May as he took on Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mayweather fights technical masterpiece against Guerrero
It wasn’t exciting but Mayweather showed that he still has it. While Guerrero had his moments, Mayweather took a bulk of the rounds to win by unanimous decision.
One might have thought a change in trainers from Roger Mayweather to Floyd Sr. might have hurt. Aside from forgetting his mouthpiece before a round, there were no issues.
Floyd now has a choice of challengers set for September 14th in Vegas with the prospect of a huge fight with Canelo Alvarez coming May 2014.
Mares takes out friend De Leon
The best fight of the PPV main card was the penultimate fight of the night which featured two friends with the same manager fighting. Abner Mares knocked out Ponce De Leon in the 9th round. Arguably, Mares is the best 126 pound fighter out there outside of Nonito Donaire (a fight that was nixed due to a stall in negotiations) or Guillermo Rigondeaux (who defeated Donaire in March).
UFC fighters should look at these fighters as they put aside their friendship to meet.
Attendance and gate
According to Dan Rafael of ESPN, attendance was a sellout at 15,880 fans and a gate of $9.9 million (via Kevin Iole). The numbers are slightly better than Mayweather’s September 2011 against Victor Ortiz (13,364/$9M).
Promotion of the Fight
This was the first fight Mayweather has had under his deal with Showtime and it appeared that he was on his best behavior to show CBS/Showtime executives he was worth the money.
The only real controversial beef was Ruben Guererro’s tirade over Floyd Mayweather and Sr.’s response. Aside from this flare-up, there was a generated “green screen” trash talk sessions between the two fighters early on but nothing as the fight grew closer.
Mayweather made an appearance during CBS’ Final Four to start the ball rolling for the fight. Showtime had a four part All Access show which was widely available online for those not subscribers of Showtime. CBS also featured Mayweather in a 1 hour special the Saturday before the fight. That documentary did poorly as it was last in its timeslot among network shows.
Aside from the “May Day” commercials, the Mayweather fight was even promoted on room keys and “Do Not Disturb” signs in the MGM Grand.
The Audience Network showed the Mosley-Mayweather fight and the Aydin-Guerrero fight the preceding the weigh-ins to get fans ready for Saturday.
Mayweather will make $32 million from Saturday’s fight while Roberto Guerrero will make $3 million. The $32 million reported to the Nevada State Athletic Commission does not include the ancillary money Mayweather (and possibly Guerrero to a lesser extent) will make from PPV buys, closed circuit revenues, etc.
O’Reilly Auto Parts and Corona were the two key sponsors for the fight. O’Reilly did promotions within its stores and Corona provided promos in-stores where Corona was sold. I don’t believe that there were discounts on the PPV as is customary where Tecate promotes events.
ATT, Valvoline and Star Trek’s “Into Darkness” were sponsors on the mat and above the ring.
As is tradition, Mayweather did not wear any sponsors on his trunks for his fight although he did have Reebok ring shoes. He also wore Reebok gear during the Showtime All Access show.
Roberto Guerrero had multiple sponsors on including Shoe Palace which was the most visible of sponsors during the All Access show. He also had Brabble.com on the front of his shorts as well – a social media video sharing site. He also wore a “God is Great” shirt to the ring which had sponsor California Superstores on the back.
Odds and ends
In addition to PPV and closed circuit, the fight was shown in theaters via NCM Fathom which is the same company the UFC partners with to show its fights in movie theaters.
I was impressed with Paulie Maglignaggi’s television analysis. I haven’t seen him before and thought he brought more info than most experts. Former MMA announcer Mauro Ranallo did an impressive job on the call too. During the survey of stars in the crowd, Ranallo called Neil Patrick Harris’ character on How I Met Your Mother (sidenote: can that guy meet his wife already to end the series) Barry Stinson instead of Barney Stinson. Ranallo actually corrected himself later in the broadcast. I think since CBS is paying for it, might want to get the character names right.
How did the promotion of the fight compare with an HBO promotion? The traditional all access shoulder programming was distributed freely online (i.e., if you looked for it you could legally see it for free) as opposed to the multiple showings of HBO’s 24/7 on CNN and other Time Warner networks. The production was different and I thought the announcing team overall was better than HBO’s usual cast.
Dan Rafael and Kevin Iole (via Bad Left Hook) are both reporting that the PPV buys may be under a million which would be considered a disappointment considering its the first Mayweather fight in a year. Perhaps the lack of buzz, the lack of name-worthy opponent and Mayweather’s lack of brashness attributed to poor PPV buys. Of course, the practical aspect of a $70 PPV to watch just one fight probably contributed to the poor sales. We will see what this means for the future of what Sh
May 3, 2013
The Sports Business Journal ran an article on Floyd Mayweather’s new promotional partner, Showtime, in lieu of his upcoming fight Saturday. The article addressed how CBS has boosted the promotion of his upcoming fight.
The allure of expanding the reach through promotion of his fights on the CBS network may have enticed Mayweather to switch from HBO to Showtime. Mayweather made an appearance during The Final Four to promote Saturday’s fight. Last Saturday in prime time, the network ran a one hour documentary dedicated to the fighter featuring many notable names including Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson praising Mayweather.
CBS has utilized its network, radio, interactive and outdoor divisions to promote the fight. While the Mayweather camp had a profitable relationship with Showtime, it thought that Mayweather’s fights could have been marketed to a broader audience.
The article also stated that Corona and O’Reilly’s Auto Parts were heavily promoting the fight with point of sale promotions and in-store promotions. In addition, the fight can be seen in movie theaters.
The LA Times’ Larry Pugmire tweeted that Mayweather’s opponent, Robert Guerrero will make $3 million for fighting Saturday. In comparison Victor Ortiz, Mayweather’s last opponent made $2 million. No word on how much Mayweather for this fight although it was reported he made upwards of $40 million for the Ortiz fight.
Its an understatement to write that Mayweather boxing promotions are distinctly different from how the UFC promotes its fighters. Mayweather’s success has allowed him the opportunity to go into business for himself. He partners with Golden Boy Promotions but he fronts a lot of the marketing dollars in order to receive a lot on the back end via multiple revenue streams (i.e., PPV, closed circuit, movie theatres showing the fight, gate, foreign sales for his fights and sponsorship). The NY Times had a great article detailing this business model prior to his fight with Victor Ortiz.
Mayweather’s documentary on CBS Saturday night ranked the lowest for the 8-9pm network time slot with a 1.73M viewer average. Manny Pacquiao jumped from HBO to Showtime for one fight against Shane Mosley and the network showed its All Access programming on the network. For this fight, CBS has not shown the show but it has been available freely online.
Yet, the the marketing for the event may be viewed by more eyes due to the network influence. Will that turn into PPV buys and attendance? We will see Saturday night.
May 1, 2013
Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer and MMA Fighting reports that the ratings for the UFC 159 Prelims on FX scored a 1.38 million viewer average. Although Saturday’s showing was down from UFC 158, it was above the 1.2 million viewer average on FX.
The UFC 159 Prelims improved on ratings from the UFC on Fox 7 Prelims the previous week as that show did 1,057,000.
More numbers from MMA Fighting:
For Fuel, the post-fight show did a 0.34 rating and 159,000 viewers. That broke the record for post-fight coverage after a pay-per-view show. The old record was 125,000 viewers set after UFC 158.
The weigh-ins on Friday did 109,000 viewers. While barely half of the Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz weigh-in audience that holds the record at 215,000 viewers, it was the fourth most-watched weigh-in ever on Fuel.
The ratings for the programming supporting the PPV might be a good sign for the actual numbers for the event. The actual FX show on Saturday was lackluster as two fights were stopped due to injury, it showed the Sara McMann fight twice and production had to show extended promos to fill time.
April 30, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 159 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey where Jon Jones defended his Light Heavyweight title against Chael Sonnen.
Jones takes care of Sonnen, now must heal toe
It was the outcome that most had expected. Despite Sonnen’s promos, Jones did what was needed to stop Sonnen with a few seconds left in Round 1. It was a good thing, because if he didn’t, it would have been interesting what may have happened for Round 2. Jones could not have gone out there with his toe pointed in an opposite direction.
Now, the question is how long will Jones be out and who will be next for him. Anderson Silva? Lyoto Machida? Alexander Gustafsson? We will see.
For the “Gangster,” I hope to see him in a suit as an analyst.
Nelson KOs Kongo
Jones does what he does and Nelson does what he does – knock people out. While Nelson asked for a title shot, it’s likely he gets at least one more fight before there’s serious consideration.
Bisping beats Belcher after eye poke
Michael Bisping showed once again why he should receive a title shot. The TUF alum beat up Alan Belcher but the fight was stopped after a nasty eye poke which was the second gruesome thing on the PPV next to Jones’ toe.
Bisping must now wait in line once again for a shot.
Attendance and Gate
As reported earlier, attendance at UFC 159 placed second in terms of UFC events at the venue with Hardy vs. GSP being first. UFC 159 reported attendance of 15,227 fans for a $2.7 million gate.
This event’s bonuses were $65,000 each as opposed to the UFC standard of $50,000. As reported earlier the bonuses were as follows:
Fight of the Night: Healy vs. Miller
KO of the Night: Nelson
Submission of the Night: Healy
-The Octagon included the usual sponsors: TapouT, MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Xyience, UFC Gym, Harley Davidson, Dodge, MusclePharm, Alienware, UltimatePoker.net and Bud Light. It also included local sponsor Modell’s Sporting Goods.
-UFC Gym sponsored the prep point. UFC Fit was also prevalent last week at UFC on Fox 7. The move into fitness is a reason that Reebok may be a potential sponsor. Could this be one of the reasons why Dana White met with Reebok officials? Also interesting that a potential Reebok deal may happen and just a few months ago Rampage Jackson could not wear Reebok logos in the Octagon for his last fight.
-Representatives from Doritos were also present as it may have a potential interest in sponsorship.
-Ronda Rousey was featured in a MetroPCS commercial shown during the Prelims. It was also revealed that she signed a one year deal with Xyience
-Jones was sponsored by Nike and had his signature shoes released the week before the event. The shoes sold out quickly although there were limited quantities. Jones actually threw out his shoes to the weigh-in crowd on Friday. He also wore Monster headphones, another UFC official sponsor, at the weigh-ins, to the ring and even when he sat on the stool being interviewed post-fight.
-Sonnen wore a TapouT blue ring robe with a Modell’s patch on the arm. It was reminiscent of boxers or pro wrestlers and appropriate for Sonnen.
-An ironic sponsor for Sonnen was VA Mortgage Lending. As you may recall, Sonnen plead guilty to money laundering in a mortgage fraud case during his realtor days in Oregon. While Sonnen’s actions were not related to VA Mortgage Lending, its still strange that you would want to have it as a sponsor because it reminds people of what happened in the past.
-Phil Davis had a couple throwback sponsors: Affliction and Lugz
When you talk about hype, Chael Sonnen comes to mind. The Ultimate Fighter was to serve as the 12 week promo piece for this fight but it was actually Sonnen’s banter the week or so after the TUF Finale that served as the real promotion for UFC 159.
I really enjoyed the UFC Countdown show this time around especially the Alan Belcher-Michael Bisping back and forth. Perhaps, Bisping can pick up the “King of MMA Smacktalk” when Chael Sonnen retires.
This card produced a couple interesting articles on the issue of race. Tim Marchman wrote an article on Deadspin and Tomas Rios wrote one for The Pacific Standard which explores the issue and whether Chael Sonnen uses race to gain fans. We explore the public relations aspects of Sonnen here. When challenged on the subject of race on ESPN’s Dan LeBatard show, Sonnen deflected the direct issue and seemed genuinely uncomfortable about talking about it. This was something unusual for Sonnen who was on in each appearance he did for the promotion of UFC 159.
Odds and Ends
- Darren Rovell sent a tweet Saturday night which stirred the pot for defenders of the UFC. Rovell indicated that the UFC may have lost its “edge” based on the fact he knew someone that purchased a ticket for $50 with a face value of $553. UFC PR’s Dave Sholler tweeted defending the UFC and its attendance indicating that it mattered and then Dana White sent a tweet professing that its numbers are improving and would prove it by sending it to the ESPN Sports Biz guy. We will see if Rovell gets that information. We’ll have more on this interesting story later.
- The card was deemed “cursed” by Joe Rogan for the various stoppages due to injury. This started with two stoppages due to injury during the Prelims and continued with Alan Belcher’s eye poke and then Jon Jones’ toe. And of course, we get a full on brawl in the stands caught on camera during Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” No word on the deep voiceover between rounds during Bisping-Belcher but it seemed fitting for what happened during the night.
- Sarah McMann v. Sheila Gaff was aired on the prelims twice on FX as a result of filler. But, the fight was the first women’s fight not hyped for the fact it was a women’s fight in the UFC. McMann disposed of Gaff quickly.
- Leonard Garcia-Cody McKenzie was the only fight not aired. McKenzie indicated he was going to take some time off for personal reasons. Garcia may be on his way out of the UFC.
The card was not as interesting on paper as last week’s UFC on Fox 7 and it played out that way in reality. Sonnen did his usual work to hype the fight but many believed that it was a mismatch from the start. The unusual issues during the card confirmed its demise as probably one of the strangest in some time. Although Nelson’s KO and Healy’s submission were highlights, the rest of the night proved so-so. A buy rate of 500K would be a success here and many probably bought it because they were fans of Sonnen and/or Jones as the supporting card lacked intriguing matchups.
April 24, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that Matt Mitrione will be fighting Brendan Schaub at UFC on Fox 8 this July. After the UFC announced his suspension on April 8th for his comments on transgender fighter Fallon Fox, it appears he is no longer suspended.
As you recall, Mitrione’s comments on The MMA Hour which were directed at Fox drew the ire of the UFC as it issued a statement suspending Mitrione for a violation of the UFC Code of Conduct. The UFC even released a copy of its Code of Conduct as an apparent sign of transparency and a caution to other fighters.
It appears that Mitrione’s suspension has been lifted as just 16 days after the infraction, the UFC has set him up for a summer fight.
Hopefully the UFC will address the situation and the reasons why it lifted its suspension of Mitrione and did not address the conditions for its reinstatement. Its an obvious question and whether Mitrione has done his penance or if he has met with UFC officials to discuss what happened, an explanation should occur to satisfy the LBGT community and others that his comments may have offended. For the UFC, an explanation also would serve notice to the rest of the roster that the Code of Conduct is not an idle document and a suspension will not be in name only.
April 23, 2013
The ratings are less than December’s UFC on Fox 6 which featured Henderson in the main event. The Seattle show received 4.39 million viewers for a 2.5 rating.
By itself, the Henderson-Melendez match which mostly aired during the time overrun scored 4.96 million viewers for a 2.7 rating. This was lower than Henderson-Diaz (5.7 million) and Johnson-Dodson (5.2 million)
Via MMA Fighting:
The positives were in the demographics, as in the Male 18-34 age group, the 2.2 rating was more than double the combined average of ABC, CBS and NBC programming in competition (1.0). FOX also outrated the other three major networks combined in Males 18-49 (2.7 to 1.6) and Males 25-54 (2.8 to 2.2). One thing notable from these numbers is that the show did far stronger numbers with males 35-49 than those who were 18-34, the latter of which is UFC’s usual prime demographic.
The numbers reflect that Saturday’s event was 3rd lowest rated UFC on Fox event out of 7. The article suggests that the NFL cross-promotion of the UFC events aids in UFC viewership for its network events.
The ratings are somewhat disappointing considering this UFC on Fox card was one of the best cards the UFC’s has had on Fox. In fact, it has overshadowed this Saturday’s PPV. But, how much does the NFL influence have over UFC events? Fox bumpers during each and every NFL broadcast during the season and a controversial skit demonstrated the UFC-Fox synergy. And based on the numbers it looks like the NFL’s influence helps with UFC viewership.
April 21, 2013
MMA Fighting reports the ratings for UFC on Fox 7 were down slightly from UFC on Fox 6 as it received an average of 3.31 million fans for a 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demo.
The fast national ratings gages the 8-10pm timeslot and does not cover the overrun in which most of the main event took place. Moreover, it does not calculate the west coast time zone as it only looks at what Fox showed between 8-10pm and not 5-7:40pm, the actual time the event was shown live.
The fast overnights for UFC on Fox 6 were 3.77 million and a 1.8 rating for the 18-49 demo.
In the end, UFC on Fox 6 in January received an average viewership of 4.4 million viewers with the main event of Mighty Mouse Johnson versus John Dodson.
Saturday night’s televised card had much more depth and featured a back and forth fight between lightweight champion Benson Henderson edging Gilbert Melendez. It also showed that the audience grew with each fight.
Via MMA Fighting:
The show had consistent growth, with the Jordan Mein vs. Matt Brown fight doing 2.59 million viewers, the Josh Thomson vs. Nate Diaz fight doing 3.18 million and the Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir fight doing 3.73 million.
The show finished second overall among the networks, losing to CBS, which aired a first run airing of Vegas and a replay of The Mentalist in the time slot. But in the 18-49 target demo, over the first two hours, it more than doubled second place ABC (1.5 to 0.7).
The MMA Fighting article suggests that the NFL’s help in promoting its event was a contributing factor in the decrease in ratings. It notes that four Fox events during the NFL season were above 4.2 million whereas Fox events outside of NFL season were only 2.4. Of course, the quality of fights may have contributed to this. Notably, August’s UFC on Fox 4 featured Brandon Vera vs. Shogun Rua and May’s UFC on Fox 3 featured Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller.
In the end, is the UFC gaining on mainstream fans with its Fox relationship? Adam Swift evaluates the relationship and determines that, at this point, the UFC has solidified itself as a good niche sport.
UFC numbers have been solid for FOX. Cost effective niche pgrm w/ a high ceiling. Must be protected, but can win 4 Saturday nights a year.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
Value of FOX to UFC is harder to find. Haven’t made any new stars, diluting PPV cards to meet ratings expectations, no major new sponsors.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
FOX cable platforms have been a step back for UFC compared to Spike. Confused tune-in message and devalued shoulder programming.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
FOX deal was/is a gamble to expand UFC beyond its niche audience into a mainstream sport. Hasn’t happened yet, but doesn’t mean it won’t.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
Worst case scenario $100M in guaranteed TV money cemented UFC as a stable niche sport. Everything else is playing with the house’s money.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) April 21, 2013
Will the creation of Fox Sports 1 help straighten out the confusion with platforms or continue it? This would depend on whether Fox execs anchor UFC programming on FS1. Moreover, there is still time for the UFC to make inroads into the mainstream. It just has not done so as of yet. The question is whether there is a timeframe that the UFC or Fox has in its projections where the UFC will develop into a mainstream sport. Of course, the definition of mainstream is another discussion itself.
April 20, 2013
MMA Junkie reports the attendance and gate for the UFC on Fox 7 was 13,506 for a gate of $1.333 million. In addition, $50,000 bonuses were given for Fight of the Night and two KOs as there were plenty of knockouts but no submissions.
The bonuses were as follows:
Fight of the Night: Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein
KO of the Night: Josh Thomson
KO of the Night: Yoel Romero
A great prelims and main card that was certainly PPV worthy. An interesting night with no submissions and a healthy amount of KOs. Not a good night for the Skrap Pack as Nate Diaz took a stiff leg kick from Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez lost a tough split decision to Benson Henderson. Overall, an exciting night of fights on FX and Fox.
April 20, 2013
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that HBO’s showing of Nonito Donaire versus Guillermo Rigondeaux scored an average of 1.1 million viewers last Saturday night.
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Nonito Donaire’s purse was $1.32 million while Guillermo Rigondeaux made $750,000.
The event took place at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in an interesting setup where the ring was on stage and most of the audience was on one side of the ring. Rigondeaux dominated the 2012 Fighter of the Year despite being put down by Donaire. Still, the Cuban fighter had enough to outpoint Donaire.
In addition, the TUF 17 Finale scored a 1.7 million viewer average the same night.
The ratings reflect a positive trend for combat sports. Fight Club OC, the Southern California boxing promotion run by long-time promoter Roy Englebrecht received its largest gate for its bi-monthly fight series run out of Costa Mesa, California. Its Thursday, April 11th card had a gate of $61,013. Pretty good for weeknight.
The fight kicks off a spring of loaded boxing events on either HBO or Showtime. With Golden Boy publicly severing ties with HBO, it appears that both networks are amplifying its boxing coverage which is good for fight fans.