PFL Playoffs 2 on ESPN2 draws 126,000 viewers

October 21, 2019

The Professional Fighters’ League drew 126,000 viewers on ESPN2 Thursday night for its second night of playoffs from Las Vegas.

The PFL playoffs last week from the Mandalay Bay featured the quarterfinals of the Featherweight and Lightweight divisions.  Fighters advancing to New York had to fight twice with some fighting on the Prelims and then on the Main Card to allow at least some time in between fights.  Purses for the show can be found here.

The event did slightly better than some of the regular season Prelim cards which aired on ESPN this past summer. Notably, last week, the first set of playoffs on ESPN2 didn’t register in the top 150 of cable programming for the night.

Payout Perspective:

The viewership likely was buried due to MLB Playoff baseball featuring the Yankees and Astros, NFL Thursday night football and then College Football on ESPN.  Still, one would have hoped that the ratings would have been a little more considering PFL is in the thick of its playoffs.

ESPN and DAZN neck and neck in top-grossing sports apps

August 22, 2019

According to John Ourand’s eblast newsletter on Wednesday, ESPN and DAZN remain the top-grossing sports apps worldwide.  The key difference between the two apps is that 99% of ESPN’s revenue is from the U.S. while DAZN’s only receives 27% from the U.S.

Ourand cites data from Sensor Tower which notes that ESPN has around $9.4 million in user spending which is 7x growth from last July.  DAZN nearly had $8.8 million representing 7.5x growth.

DAZN came onto the market in the U.S. this past September while ESPN+ emerged in the spring of 2018.  DAZN’s growth centers around its boxing offerings in addition to some Bellator-exclusive coverage as well as Combates Americas.  ESPN’s digital platform includes a vast amount of content including Top Rank, UFC and PFL.

Payout Perspective:

The obvious takeaway here is that DAZN is still establishing itself in the U.S. market.  One might deduce that its key signings of Canelo Alvarez, GGG and Anthony Joshua will help its subscription base.  Alternatively, it signed a deal with MLB with moderate success. One might expect DAZN catching up with ESPN in user spending if it is able to lockdown key fights for the platform.  Notably, it fared well when Canelo Alarez faced Daniel Jacobs this past spring with so many new subscriptions and viewers.  Alternatively, ESPN may be looking into international expansion.  With most of its revenue generated from the U.S. market, it might be a time to look into expansion.

UFC 241 PPV Prelims draw 817,000 viewers

August 21, 2019

The UFC 241 PPV Prelims drew 817,000 viewers on Saturday night on ESPN according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event was the 5th most-watched telecast on cable and did better than two NFL Preseason game in the A18-49 demo.

The UFC PPV Prelims drew a 0.33 share in the A18-49 demo which ranked better than two NFL Preseason games on the NFL Network Saturday.

The Prelims featured Khama Worthy as he defeated Devonte Smith in the first round.  The event peaked at 949,000 viewers during the fight.

Payout Perspective:

While the event did better than the NFL Preseason in the A18-49 demo, it also ranked sixth among the 8 PPV Prelims that have aired on ESPN this year.  This is disappointing considering that UFC 241 looked to be the biggest event thus far this year.  Yet, despite the big feel of the main card, the prelims were an afterthought this time around.  The low ratings seem to break away from the normal belief that a high PPV Prelim rating means a good PPV buy rate.

UFC 241: Payout Perspective

August 19, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at a very successful UFC 241 from The Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Stipe KOs Cormier to regain Heavyweight title

Stipe Miocic regained the UFC Heavyweight title with a KO of Daniel Cormier late in the 4th round.  DC had looked like the better fighter through most of the 4 rounds but Miocic’s strategy of body shots took its toll on Cormier leading to the KO.  Cormier had been leading on all cards at the time of the stoppage.

Despite the loss, Cormier has had a tremendous career and showed all class in what could be his last fight in the Octagon.  Personally, I think he still has a couple more fights in him before he retires.  It would seem as though a rematch would be the most logical thing to do although Miocic could wait to see the winner of the Walt Harris-Alistair Overeem fight or another fight with Francis Ngannou.

Diaz returns to defeat Pettis

The biggest question going into UFC 241 was determining how Nate Diaz would look like with 3 years off.  The answer was sensational.  Diaz looked fresh and used his dirty boxing tactics to stifle Anthony Pettis.  Showtime did break his foot during the fight but Diaz was clearly the dominant fighter tonight.

Diaz called out Jorge Masvidal for his next fight in what many believe would be a great fight to see.

Attendance and gate

For the first time, an MMA event in California drew over $3 million as UFC 241 drew $3,237,032 with 17,304 in attendance according to the UFC post-event.  It bested the previous record, UFC 214 by nearly $1 million.  Earlier in the week, SeatGeek noted the secondary market was up for this event.


The $50,000 bonuses went to Stipe Miocic, Khama Worthy, Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero.  Miocic and Worthy earned Performance Bonuses for their respective stoppages and Costa-Romero was a sight to behold with both fighters unloading big shots. Costa won by decision in the end.


The California State Athletic Commission disclosed the payouts from the event.  Stipe Miocic topped the payouts with $750,000

Stipe Miocic: $750,000 (no win bonus)
def. Daniel Cormier: $500,000

Nate Diaz $250,000 (no win bonus)
def. Anthony Pettis: $155,000

Paulo Costa $120,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus)
def. Yoel Romero: $150,000

Sodiq Yusuff $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Gabriel Benitez: $40,000

Derek Brunson $190,000 (includes $95,000 win bonus)
def. Ian Heinisch: $25,000

Khama Worthy $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Devonte Smith: $23,000

Cory Sandhagen $154,000 (includes $77,000 win bonus)
def. Raphael Assuncao: $79,000

Drakkar Klose $56,000 (includes $28,000 win bonus)
def. Christos Giagos: $28,000

Casey Kenney $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Manny Bermudez: $20,000

Hannah Cifers $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Jodie Esquibel: $10,000

Kyung Ho Kang $44,000 (includes $22,000 win bonus)
def. Brandon Davis: $21,000

Sabina Mazo $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Shana Dobson: $12,000


UFC sponsors in the Octagon included Toyo Tires, Roar Sports (“Aurora Canabis”), Motel 6, Devour, PariMatch, PokerStars, The Rock’s latest movie, “Hobbs and Shaw,” Nemiroff, Modelo, P3, Devour, Monster and Circle K shared an Octagon post and Monster Energy had the center.

Poker Stars also had the outside the Octagon standing area for the coaches.  Body Armor was all over the place last night including the drinks and stools for the event.

Devour had the fighter prep point.  It was also on most of the Reebok fighter kits including shorts and walkout shirt. Notably, it was not on Cormier’s fight kit as he had the Monster, “M” on his gear.

Trifecta Nutrition presented the 7 Embedded Episodes.

Daniel Cormier signed a deal with cbdMD as it was announced during fight week.

Odds and Ends

Nate Diaz ascended to superstar status at UFC 241.  If he was not already a star after defeating Conor McGregor at UFC 196, he reminded people after a 3-year absence why he believes he’s the best in the fight game.  Notwithstanding, you can argue that the UFC made some concessions due to Diaz’s new leverage.  As Embedded showed, he didn’t have to wait around at weigh-ins, he stayed in Corona del Mar near the Wedge (pretty posh neighborhood near Newport Beach) and he lit up a blunt (later clarified as a CBD cigarette from his business) at open workouts.  Yet, the UFC and ESPN went along with it.

The UFC is better with Nate Diaz than it is without him and Dana White admitted that he is a “needle mover.”

As part of the media strategy to reintroduce Diaz to the masses, the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning writer, John Branch, wrote a piece about him which highlighted the fighter’s anti-hero attributes.

During UFC 241, there was a lot of hype for next month’s UFC 242 taking place in Abu Dhabi. As a part, it relived the Conor-Khabib matchup from last October.

Nate Diaz had a bunch of unintentional funny comments during his post-fight presser.  Including this one:

There were many notable fighters in the crowd including boxer Terrence Crawford and various UFC fighters but no one drew the most heat than Colby Covington and his MAGA gimmick.

The best part of the Embedded was the “push-up pump” Romero did before getting his photos taken.

The Costa-Romero fight earned Fight of the Night.  During the first round, Romero used the “hey look over there” gimmick to buy time and nail Costa with a punch.  The winner talked about it after.

In spite of his loss, Daniel Cormier showed class in the face of adversity.  Embedded showed his busy schedule in promoting the fight which included throwing out the first pitch at the Angels game, a spot on Access Hollywood and other media.  It also showed the various businesses that he has which will take care of him after his fight career.


UFC 241 drew over 2 million google searches on Saturday which likely equates to a very good buy rate.  The return of Nate Diaz likely spurred the influx of interest coupled with the Heavyweight fight between Cormier and Miocic.  Something in the range of 400-450K PPV buys from ESPN+ would be a good estimate.

UFC on ESPN 5 draws 680K for afternoon show

August 6, 2019

UFC on ESPN 5 from Newark, New Jersey Saturday afternoon drew 680,000 viewers on the network per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which preceded the main card on Saturday drew 523,000 viewers.

The main card featured Colby Covington as he took on Robbie Lawler.  Covington defeated Lawler via unanimous decision.  The main card drew 350,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a 0.45 overall share.  The prelims drew 234,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a 0.37 share.

The prelims began at 12pm ET with the main card following at 3pm ET.  Officially, the prelims had a 20-minute overrun into the main card on ESPN.

In comparison to other sports programming on Saturday afternoon.  The Big3 Basketball League on CBS drew 555,000 viewers at 1pm ET.  ABC’s XGames broadcast drew 570,000 viewers and a 284,000 in the A18-49 demo in the 1pm ET time slot.  The Yankees-Red Sox game on FS1 drew 587,000 viewers in the 1pm ET window.  It drew 155,000 in the A18-49 demo.

UFC on ESPN events (main card/prelims)

UFC on ESPN 1          1.463M/988K

UFC on ESPN 2          828K/480K

UFC on ESPN 3          1.091M/543K

UFC on ESPN 4          957K/548K

UFC on ESPN 5          680K/523K

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are the lowest for a UFC on ESPN event although this was the only event airing during the afternoon.  If there’s any good news, it’s that the A18-49 demo was strong in comparison to other sports such as the Yankees-Sox game or the XGames.

UFC 240 Prelims on ESPN post 722K viewers

July 30, 2019

The UFC 240 PPV Prelims drew 722,000 viewers on ESPN Saturday night.  The event drew 357,000 in the A18-49 demo and 0.46 overall share.

The prelims aired on ESPN prior to the PPV card Saturday night from Edmonton.  The feature bout of the prelims saw Viviane Araujo defeat Alexis Davis in a minor upset.  The undercard also saw three bonus winners as the Fight of the Night between Deiveson Figueiredo and Alexandre Pantoja and Hakeem Dawood’s

It was the lowest-rated viewership for a PPV Prelim on ESPN.  The previous low was UFC 237’s 813,000 viewers.  The main card featured Max Holloway as he defeated Frankie Edgar to successfully retain his Featherweight title.

Payout Perspective:

One might suspect that based on the low viewership for the prelims that the buy rate did not fair well.  Certainly two PPVs in the same month is hard and considering the lack of support after the two main fights on this card, it was a pretty easy PPV to skip.  The 722,000 is a low for the prelims on ESPN but since there were many factors to attribute to the numbers, one might suspect next month’s event in Anaheim will bounce back.

UFC on ESPN 4 draws 957,000 viewers, Prelims 548,000

July 23, 2019

UFC on ESPN 4 drew 957,000 viewers Saturday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured Rafael dos Anjos and Leon Edwards.

The event drew 481,000 viewers in the A18-49 category and an overall share of 0.60 for the 2 hour show.

The 3-hour Prelims which preceded the event on ESPN drew 548,000 viewers and 260,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.  It drew an overall share of 0.35.  The prelims featured Raquel Pennington as she defeated Irene Aldana via split decision.

The event took place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

UFC on ESPN ratings

UFC on ESPN 1: 1.463M viewers, prelims 988,000

UFC on ESPN 2: 828,000 viewers, prelims 480,00

UFC on ESPN 3: 1,091M viewers, prelims 543,000

UFC on ESPN 4:  957,000 viewers, prelims 548,000

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are good considering there was some competition with PBC Boxing on Fox which aired to promote the Pacquiao-Thurman PPV later that night.  The prelims were the second highest out of the 4 UFC on ESPN events.

PFL 4 Prelims on ESPN2 draw 227,000 viewers

July 15, 2019

The Professional Fighters League Prelims airing on ESPN2 on Thursday drew 227,000 viewers per Nielsen according to ShowBuzz Daily.

The event drew 0.08 in the A18-49 demo for its 2 hours on the network.  The main card, originating from Atlantic City, aired on ESPN+.

The prelims featured Glaico Franco as he defeated Sadibou Sy via TKO.  Unfortunately for Sy, the network did a big feature on Sy’s friendship with LA Rams running back Todd Gurley.

PFL 1: 137,000

PFL2:  120,000

PFL 3:  113,000

PFL 4:  227,000

Payout Perspective:

The event on the digital platform featured Kayla Harrison as she defeated Morgan Frier.  The eventual showdown with Sarah Kaufman seems inevitable.  Also, Magomed Magomedkerimov advanced in the weltereweight tournament via unanimous decision.  The viewership has gone up tremendously from the prior 3 PFL shows as you can see which seems like a good sign.

UFC 239 prelims on ESPN draw over 1 million viewers

July 10, 2019

The UFC 239 Prelims on ESPN Saturday was the #1 rated cable show for the day earning 1.145 million viewers.  The event was the highest rated in the A18-49 demon with a 0.44 share and 572,00 viewers.

The feature event saw Arnold Adams defeat Gilbert Melendez via unanimous decision.

2019 UFC Prelims on ESPN

UFC 234: 1.139M

UFC 235: 1.480M

UFC 236: 893,000

UFC 237: 813,000

UFC 238: 964,000

UFC 239: 1.145M

UFC 239 took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The event featured two successful title defenses.  One by Jon Jones and the other by Amanda Nunes.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the popularity of Jon Jones even if he wasn’t on the Prelims broadcast.  From all evidence, it is looking like this event was one of the biggest since the promotion moved to ESPN.  The last time ESPN drew over 1 million viewers was for another Jon Jones headlining card back in March.

UFC on ESPN 3 draws over 1M Saturday night

July 2, 2019

UFC on ESPN 3 drew 1,091,000 million viewers on Saturday night. The event was the second highest rated cable show for the day.

The event featured Junior dos Santos taking on Francis Ngannou with the Cameroonian-born Ngannou taking a first round KO. The event drew 543,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and drew an overall share of 0.69. The main card peaked at 1.247 million viewers.

In addition, the Prelims aired prior to the event and drew 553,000 viewers scoring 242,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and 0.36 share.

UFC on ESPN 1: 1.463M viewers, prelims 988,000
UFC on ESPN 2: 828,000 viewers, prelims 480,00
UFC on ESPN 3: 1,091M viewers, prelims 543,000

The 3-hour Prelims this past Saturday featured a big KO by Eryk Anders as he took out Vinicius Moreira in the first round. It also saw heavyweight Maurice Green as he defeated Junior Albini in round 1.

Payout Perspective:

Only Women’s World Cup Coverage bested UFC on ESPN’s main card Saturday night. While it did not do as well as the first event back in February, it still has to be considered a great success. The viewership reflects the dedicated ESPN viewer has adjusted to watching UFC and has produced nice ratings.

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