ShoBox featuring Shields-Hammer draws 339,000 viewers

April 16, 2019

Showtime Boxing Saturday featuring the Claressa Shields-Christina Hammer fight peaked at 369,000 viewers for the much-anticipated fight.  Overall, the fight unifying the middleweight title drew 339,000 viewers on the network according to Nielsen.

The event went up against the UFC PPV on ESPN+.  Shields had an easy time with Hammer winning a unanimous decision.

Payout Perspective:

The event was marketed by Showtime as a fight between two of the best female boxers in the world.  It was given its own All Access featuring the two fighters.  Despite the domination by Shields, it shows that it was willing to feature two women boxers. Yet, 339,000 viewers isn’t the needle mover you would hope for and the peak viewership did not exceed the 410,000 viewers that saw her on Showtime last summer.

UFC 236 prelims draw 893,000 viewers

April 16, 2019

The prelims for UFC 236 on ESPN drew 893,000 viewers according to Nielsen (via ShowBuzz Daily).  The event drew 498,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a 0.60 share on Saturday.

The prelims featured Matt Frevola and Jalin Turner with Frevola winning an impressive unanimous decision.  The event served as the pre-cursor for the first PPV on ESPN+.

Notably, this time last year, UFC held an event on Fox and drew 2,020,000 viewers for the Dustin Poirier-Justin Gaethje matchup.  Ironically Poirier was in the main event for the PPV of UFC 236 as he won the interim lightweight championship.

Payout Perspective:

In my opinion, I thought that the prelims would certainly draw over 1 million viewers.  The Masters, NBA and NHL Playoffs were also on at points during Saturday which may have detracted from the prelims on ESPN.  The UFC on ESPN showed an increase of its viewership in the first appearances on the network.  Yet, this ratings seems to be slightly disappointing considering there were two title fights and was a ESPN+ PPV.

UFC 236: Payout Perspective

April 15, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at UFC 236 which took place at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia where fans were witness to two of the best championship fights in recent history.

Poirier earns lightweight title with win over Holloway

Dustin Poirier was too big for Max Holloway and it was clear that his power overwhelmed the 145-pound titleholder.  Poirier hurt Holloway several times in the first round and despite the featherweight champion’s heart, could not fight his way back into the match.

“Paid in full,” was the mantra Poirier proclaimed about his win.  Poirier had made his way back from losses to Conor McGregor and Michael Johnson on his journey to the championship.  He finally got his chance and now has a chance to unify the titles against Khabib Nurmogomedov in what is rumored to be September in Abu Dhabi.

Holloway will be influenced to return to his Featherweight division and the UFC is likely hoping that Alexander Volkanovski can defeat Jose Aldo next month to secure a date between the two for the 145 title.

Adesanya takes middleweight title from Gastelum

In what was a back and forth fight (and likely 2-2 going into the last round) Israel Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum to win the interim welterweight title and a shot at to unify the middleweight title with a showdown against Robert Whittaker sometime in the future in likely a big stadium on the continent of Australia.

There was a point during the fight that Gastelum had Adesanya hurt on his feet but instead of trying to finish him, Kelvin went for the takedown.  One can only assume that Gastelum was tired himself and could not continue on his feet.

But Adesanya poured it on in the 5th round to earn the victory.  One may argue that the ref could have stopped the fight in the final seconds of the fight.  Clearly, Gastelum was in no shape to continue but had the heart to finish.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

It was the first time that the UFC awarded two Fight of the Nights with the main and co-main events drawing the $50,000 bonuses.  There were no Performance Bonuses due to the dual FOTNs.

The attendance and gate for UFC 236 did not break records for UFC events at the Philips Arena but it definitely drew a lot of people for this event.  The event drew 14,297 for a gate of $1,908,721.

Past Atlanta, GA UFC PPV events:

UFC 88 (9/06/2008) Evans-Liddell: 14,736 for a gate of $2.6M

UFC 145 (04/14/2012) Jones-Evans: 15,545 for a gate of $2.2M

Payouts

Israel Adesanya and Max Holloway made $350,000 each for their respective fights.  All of the salaries are compiled here.

Promotional Guideline Payouts (compiled via MMA Junkie)

Dustin Poirier: $30,000
def. Max Holloway: $40,000

Israel Adesanya: $30,000
def. Kelvin Gastelum: $30,000

Khalil Rountree: $5,000
def. Eryk Anders: $5,000

Dwight Grant: $3,500
def. Alan Jouban: $10,000

Nikita Krylov: $10,000
def. Ovince Saint Preux: $20,000

 Matt Frevola: $3,500
def. Jalin Turner: $3,500

 Alexandre Pantoja: $5,000
def. Wilson Reis: $10,000

 Zelim Imadaev: $3,500
def. Max Griffin: $5,000

 Khalid Taha: $3,500
def. Boston Salmon: $3,500

 Belal Muhammad: $5,000
def. Curtis Millender: $4,000

 Andre Soukhamthath: $5,000
def. Montel Jackson: $3,500

 Poliana Botelho: $4,000
def. Lauren Mueller: $3,500

 Brandon Davis: $4,000
def. Randy Costa: $3,500

Sponsorships

For the first time, the UFC released a photo of the Octagon match which featured its core sponsors as well as the Cinemax series Warrior.  In addition, in the Octagon was Pari-Match, the international sports betting site sponsor of the UFC.  Also, convenience store RaceTrac shared space on the Octagon with Monster Energy.

The sponsors on the mat were as follows:

Monster Energy: Official Energy Drink of UFC

Modelo: Official Beer of UFC

P3: Official Protein Snack of UFC

Devour: Official Frozen Food of UFC

Nemiroff: Official Vodka of UFC

BODYARMOR: Official Sports Drink of UFC

Warrior: The new original series from Cinemax, premiering April 5

Poker Stars: Official Gaming and Poker partner of UFC

UFC 236 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the State Farm Arena.

UFC partner, Heed, offered data on the strikes of UFC competitors via sensors in the gloves of fighters. This was explained during a part of episode 3 of UFC Embedded.

The Embedded events were sponsored by the video game Fallout 76.

Odds and ends

It was the first time that ESPN+ became the sole PPV provider in the U.S.  and it came with headaches for many that decided to make the PPV purchase last minute.  Many were directed to a page that indicated they could not purchase the PPV.  Dana White acknowledged the issues and promised that it would be better by the next PPV.  Another critique of the UFC PPV.  No rewind.  Also, if you missed a portion of the PPV, you could not immediately turn back to the beginning.  Instead you had to wait for the full replay to be uploaded on the web site.  Finally, one last critique is that ESPN + was noncommittal about how long you could view a broadcast after purchase.

ESPN ratings for the Prelims were yet to be released at the time of this post but one might them to be north of 1 million viewers.

Kelvin Gastelum actually took off his fight shorts in his hurried rush to take off his sweats for the Octagon and had to put them back on before entering the Octagon.

With the main and co-main event being so good, there were some outstanding performances that did not receive the official bonuses.  This includes Brandon Davis, Khalid Taha, Nikita Krylov and a revamped Khalil Rountree.

From December, Max Holloway has his own Reebok, “It is what it is, headband.”

Shaq was a notable attendee at UFC 236 as he was shown in the crowd during the PPV.

There were over 1 million google searches for UFC 236 although the number may be misleading as some of these numbers are likely due to the inability to order the PPV.

The UFC marketed the co-main and main event with a Game of Thrones-inspired theme with the popular HBO series returning.

Rich Franklin was announced as heading to the UFC Hall of Fame this July.

Conclusion

We would normally give a buy estimate for this PPV but it’s highly unlikely that ESPN releases any numbers related to the buy rate of UFC 236.  If one had to give an educated guess, I would suggest that despite the buy problems for many fans, it still draws 425,000 PPV buys which is very good.  Adesanya is a rising star in the company and Poirier will get more notoriety as he should face Khabib this fall.

UFC Fight Night on ESPN 2 draws 828,000 viewers, Prelims draw 480,000

April 2, 2019

UFC Fight Night on ESPN 2 drew 828,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The prelims which also aired on ESPN drew 480,000 viewers.

The main card saw Justin Gaethje KO Edson Barboza in the first round of the main event.  The event from Philadelphia drew 330,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.53 share.  The prelims, which preceded the main card drew 196,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.32 share.

Notably, Top Rank Boxing, which had the main UFC card as its lead-in drew 655,000 viewers, 224,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.43 share.

Payout Perspective:

There was stiff competition Saturday night due to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on TBS which likely drew away a lot of casual UFC viewers.  The ratings appear to be somewhat low if you consider how well the other UFC cards have done since the partnership began.  The Top Rank rating is promising and may have benefited from the built-in UFC audience.

Report: Endeavor wanted 65-35 split with DirecTV

March 18, 2019

John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reports that sources stated that Endeavor wanted a 65-35 split of the PPV revenue from DirecTV before deciding to sign a deal with ESPN+.

On Monday, it was announced that the UFC and ESPN had entered into an agreement which would place ESPN+ as the exclusive provider of UFC PPVs.  The move terminated the UFC’s relationship with its other satellite and cable PPV distributors.

Although not confirmed, the standard revenue split between is 50/50 with the distributor assist in promoting the event over its own platform while the UFC providing the event.  It’s been clear that the UFC was seeking a way for better terms or leave altogether.

First, its UFC Fight Pass allowed for fans to purchase the PPV digitally without going through a middle-man.  As fans became comfortable with the technology, fans became more confident in the product.  It has offered fans the opportunity to purchase it through other means that traditional cable/satellite such as through Amazon.

Rumblings began that the UFC sought better terms from distributors.  There was the possibility that DirecTV would not show UFC 234.  However, Dana White brokered a last minute deal with DTV so that subscribers would be able to see 234 through the satellite company.

A deal with InDemand seemed set according to Ourand, but was never signed.  Per Ourand, he was told that the UFC wanted 65% of the PPV revenue from its events.  But, DirecTV balked.

Payout Perspective:

What we can initially glean from this is that the UFC believes it has bargaining power with distributors.  There position is likely strengthened from how well its done thus far on ESPN and its recent success with several PPV events.  While not every event will draw 500K buys, it still is in the black when it comes to events.  It also reflects the belief that there is a shift in viewership.  The UFC and ESPN fan base are comfortable with technology and are willing to move to ESPN+ as the sole provider of its content (outside of bars and restaurants that contract with the UFC to air PPVs).

ESPN+5 attendance, gate and bonuses

March 16, 2019

ESPN +5 took place on Saturday from London where Jorge Masvidal earned two bonuses in addition to a post-fight altercation with Leon Edwards.

Masvidal KO’d Darren Till in the second-round of the main event of the night.  The welterweights earned Fight of the Night and Masvidal drew a Performance Bonus for his win.  He also was involved in a post-fight scuffle with Leon Edwards after Masvidal was interrupted by a heckling Edwards.  According to reports, Edwards will not press any charges from what could have been called an assault.

Dan Ige earned the other $50,000 bonuses with his submission victory over Danny Henry.

According to the UFC, the event at the O2 Arena in London drew 16,602 for a live gate of $2.4 million.

The numbers were announced by the UFC post-event.

Payout Perspective:

According to MMA Junkie, it’s the largest gate that company has done in 11 events in London.  Masvidal’s performance in the ring secured his ascension to become a challenger for the welterweight title.  His performance outside the ring secured his reputation as a legit guy who does not care where the fight is, he’ll take it to you.

UFC 235 PPV Prelims score 1.480M viewers

March 5, 2019

The UFC 235 Prelims aired Saturday on ESPN and drew one of the highest-rated telecasts in promotion history.  The telecast drew 1.480M viewers and another 815,000 in the A18-49 demo according to Nielsen.

The prelims aired prior to Saturday’s UFC 235 PPV taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The card featured two title fights.

The prelims featured Jeremy Stephens and Zabit Magomedsharipov in a battle of contenders to the Featherweight title.  Zabit defeated Stephens via unanimous decision.

H/t:  ShowBuzz Daily

Payout Perspective:

The prelims were strong despite being preempted for the first 15 minutes due to college basketball.  This past Saturday’s event was stronger than UFC 234 PPV Prelims on the network which drew 1.339M.  With just two PPV prelims on ESPN, its clear that there’s a much bigger audience that is running to these events which may bode well for PPV buys.

UFC 235 Prelims average 1.0 metered market rating

March 3, 2019

ESPN is reporting that the UFC 235 Prelims averaged a 1.0 metered market rating.  Despite starting 15 minutes late due to a college basketball overrun, the telecast marked the fourth consecutive highest-rated UFC telecast on cable since 2017.

The telecast featured Zabit Magomedsharipov and Jeremy Stephens with the Russian star winning the fight via unanimous decision.  The event also saw the upset of Mickey Gall by Diego Sanchez and Johnny Walker securing another showcase victory against Misha Cirkinov.

The prelims peaked during the Zabit-Stephens fight which bodes well for the PPV as the inference is that viewers will make the impulse decision to buy the PPV after watching.

Payout Perspective:

The 1.0 metered market rating is the same as the UFC 234 prelims which drew 1.339 million viewers and another 684,000 in the A18-49 demo.  One might expect the 235 prelims to do a similar number if not higher which is a good sign for the 235 PPV which featured two title fights.

ESPN and PFL enter into multi-year deal to air on network and ESPN+

February 25, 2019

ESPN and The Professional Fighters League (PF) have reached a multi-year deal with the network making it the home of the promotion.  It will now become stablemates with the UFC on the network as it begins its second season of the PFL format in May.

ESPN and ESPN+ will become the exclusive media home for the PFL according to today’s press release.  Financial terms were not announced.  All ten PFL events will air live on ESPN platforms with “up to three hours of exclusive action” on ESPN + and two exclusive hours on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.  TSN will air all PFL events in Canada.

Via PFL Media:

In addition to the live events, ESPN platforms will bring fans pre- and post-event coverage and additional exclusive PFL content, including an inside look at the league through a ‘Road to the Playoffs,’ ‘Road to the Championship’ and the PFL ‘Best of Season.’ The agreement starts with the telecast of the 2018 PFL Season Review and 2019 Roster Selection Show this spring.

Specific details about scheduling and surround programming will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fans can look forward to some firsts this PFL season, including the debut of MMA’s first-ever 155-pound women’s division which will feature two-time American Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison, as well as SmartCage and Cagenomics, proprietary PFL features that deliver real-time data and analytics to bring fans “inside the cage.”

“We are pleased to add the PFL to our combat sports roster. This unique and innovative competition structure provides MMA fans with a great option to see some of the best fights and content in the sport,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling. “ESPN is the home of combat sports, and we look forward to delivering thrilling live PFL events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms.”

The PFL aired on NBC Sports Network to middling ratings last year and as the World Series of Fighting had a deal with the network.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that this is a big move for PFL as its visibility will ascend tremendously.  Not only will it fill content need for ESPN+ but will air on ESPN2 and TSN in Canada.  One has to think that the new management group helped with the credibility of the promotion and its projected future.  Could the UFC and PFL work together with the PFL becoming a “feeder” league for the UFC and/or UFC fighters participating in the PFL?  We shall see.

UFC Fight Night 1 on ESPN draws 1.463M viewers, Prelims 988,000

February 20, 2019

UFC Fight Night 1 on ESPN Sunday night drew 1.463 million viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which preceded the main card drew 988,000 viewers.

It was the first event for the promotion with its new network partner as the prelims and main card were aired on ESPN.  The telecasts went up against the NBA All-Star Game coverage.  Per Nielsen, the TNT broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game drew 5.766 million viewers.  A secondary broadcast on TBS which aired at the same time as the TNT broadcast added another 1.031 million viewers.

The main card featured the return of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez as he fought Francis Ngannou.  Unfortunately, Cain went down early in the first round due to a combination of a punch by Ngannou and knee injury.  The prelims saw Aljamain Sterling take care of Jimmie Rivera in a matchup of bantamweights.

UFC on ESPN 1 took place at The Talking Stick Resort in Phoenix, Arizona.

Payout Perspective:

Another solid ratings performance by the UFC as it was the biggest UFC Fight Night ratings since January 2016.  The main card drew 760,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo while it drew 485,000 during the prelims.  In comparison, PBC on Fox Saturday night drew 378,000 in the A18-49 demo.  On Friday night, Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew just 276,000 viewers.  The NBA All-Star game on TNT drew 3.124M viewers in the A18-49 demo.  The A18-49 demo for the main card is great news for the UFC as one has to imagine it will help them attract major brands to sponsor deals.

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