UFC Fight Night Prelim debut on ESPN draws huge ratings

January 23, 2019

The UFC Fight Night Prelims on Saturday drew 1.956 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  Even with a late start due to the college basketball overrun, the rating is the best Prelims ratings for an event.

The prelims saw 1.036 million viewers in the A18-49 demo and draw a 1.17 share of the overall audience according to Nielsen.  The feature bout of the prelims saw Donald Cerrone defeat Alexander Hernandez.

It was the debut of UFC on ESPN and it delivered with the best ratings for a prelim event ever.

On FS1, UFC Fight Night 124 Prelims drew 1.079 million viewers in 2018.  The prelims for UFC Fight Night 81 on FS1 in 2016 drew 1.767 million viewers.

The debut of UFC Fight Night drew 1.7 million viewers as it was the debut of the FS1 network.   The prelims, which was described as doing “25 times greater than SPEED/Fox Soccer/FUEL TV among both Adults 18-49 and Men 18-49, and 40 times greater among Adults 18-34 and M18-34,” were likely blown away by Saturday’s Prelim rating.

Payout Perspective:

The Duke-Virgina game drew over 3.5 million viewers on ESPN as the lead-in and went 13 minutes past the hour which likely helped the initial viewership.  Nothing was lost, as it was clear that the card was waiting for the TV audience.  One might expect a dramatic rise in viewership in events to come as ESPN has a much more robust audience and there are people that habitually leave the channel on ESPN as opposed to FS1 as the channel is much more predominant on the dial.

UFC 232 Payout Perspective

January 2, 2019

Welcome to another edition of UFC Payout Perspective.  This time around we take a look at UFC 232 which took place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Jones tops Gus, calls for DC

Inside the Octagon, Jon Jones showed why you may consider him one of the best of all-time.  He thoroughly dominated Alexander Gustafsson and ended the fight by imposing his will on Gus, taking his back and reigning punches down on him to force the stoppage.

However, its outside the Octagon controversy and drama which makes people wince when they hear Jon Jones and USADA.  Moreover, the outright falsehoods and mistruths spewed by the people in control of the promotion makes you want to take a shower to clean off the grime of their words.

Jones made it clear he wants Daniel Cormier and it seems like the most logical fight to make.  While Anthony Smith and Corey Anderson made their overtures to the Champ, it’s clear that Cormier would be the fight that would draw most interest.

Nunes stops Cyborg, becomes double Champ

Amanda Nunes has now stopped, Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg.  The latter two Nunes stopped in the first round in impressive fashion.  Perhaps the KO of Cyborg was more impressive considering she had not lost since 2005.  Nunes used her superior speed to stun her with some big shots.

Nunes is now the Women’s Featherweight and Bantamweight champions.  The question is how it will market Nunes.  A lot of online debate took place over why the UFC has not marketed Nunes in the past.  It’s clear that she is the best women’s UFC athlete of all time despite the mainstream notoriety of Ronda Rousey and the dominance of Cris Cyborg.  It seemed as though the demolition of Cyborg validated UFC’s greatness.  Cyborg was the once-feared women’s MMA fighter that was too big and skilled for most women.  But, Nunes’ speed, accuracy and punching power proved too much for Cyborg.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Despite the short notice, the event was a sell out with 15,862 for a gate of over $2 million.  To be specific, the gate was $2,066,604.  The Fight of the Night went to Chad Mendes and Alexander Volkanovski.  The Performance Bonuses went to Ryan Hall and Amanda Nunes.

The event was moved earlier this week from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to The Forum in Inglewood, California for Jon Jones.

Notably, UFC 199 drew 15,587 for a live gate of $2,1687,675 in June 2016.  The fight featured last minute replacement Michael Bisping winning the middleweight title from Luke Rockhold.

Lance Pugmire indicated that his sources said that the attendance would be soft.  But that was not the case.  Let’s read these tweets as this occurred within 30 minutes.

Next tweet from Lance in which the UFC gets to him.

There was also this…

And then after the event…

Payouts

There were 10 fighters that grossed over six figures for UFC 232.  It was topped by the headliners splitting $1M a piece.  $500K for Gus and $500K for Jones for those that were unaware.

Of those clearing six figures, Andre Arlovski ($300,000), BJ Penn ($150K) and Carlos Condit ($115K) are well-paid fighters that aren’t living up to their pay scale at this time.  Chad Mendes, who just came back from a USADA ban, made $87K plus $50K for Fight of the Night.  But then stated he would retire.

Sponsorships

Perhaps the most noticeable for UFC 232 was a new “cryptocurrency sponsor” Litecoin.

Also, of note PokerStars continued its sponsorship and it appears it will be the official fight odds for the UFC.  Pari Match, an overseas book for the UFC, was also present in the Octagon.

There were a lot of sponsors in the Octagon for this end of the year event.  They included Monster and convenience store AM/PM sharing a post.  Another post included Pari Mutual, Toyo Tires, TriFecta Nutrition, Nemiroff Vodka, EA’s UFC3 video game, Modelo, Metro PCS, P3, Air Asia, Pari Match, Harley Davidson, Poker Stars, the movie “Happy Death Day 2U,” and Monster had the center.

It was announced that TriFecta Nutrition would be used in helping athletes with its nutrition.  P3 also appeared on the fighter shorts.

Nemiroff is spending a lot on its UFC sponsorship from the outset.

Cyborg signed an individual deal with Monster Energy.  Jon Jones also was sponsored by Monster Energy.

It was interesting to note that Amanda Nunes had to place tape over her headphones (likely Beats) because the UFC has Monster Headphones as its sponsor.

Ratings

The UFC Weigh-Ins drew 123,000 viewers on FS1.  The UFC Countdown Show on ESPN2 Friday drew 99,000 viewers.

The UFC Pre-fight show on FS1 drew 198,000 viewers according to Nielsen (via ShowBuzz)

The UFC Prelims scored just its second rating over 1 million when the UFC 232 Prelims drew 1.148 million viewers.

The UFC Post Fight Show on FS1 drew 227,000 viewers.

Odds and ends

$6 Million.  The amount that Dana White claims the UFC spent to switch the event from Las Vegas to Inglewood, California.  One has to wonder when they put a deposit on the building.  Or, does the UFC have a practice of securing other sites just in case.

As the UFC begins its partnership with ESPN, the Worldwide Leader aired the UFC 232 Countdown show on ESPN2.

With Carlos Condit taking on Michael Chiesa, I noticed that both fighters had cats on their right oblique.  Chiesa had some new ink with a Tiger and Condit has had his lion on his side for some time.

UFC announced a lot of original and new content for UFC Fight Pass in 2019.  This includes a gambling show which will be interesting to see how that goes.

Notably, Chuck Liddell was in attendance at UFC 232.  White had revealed Liddell’s pay in a Kevin Iole article earlier in the month, but I guess there is no hard feelings when you are comped tickets.

Anyone else notice that Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve Whiskey was a sponsor and ran commercial during the PFL’s Championships on New Year’s Eve.

Cris Cyborg was a champion in defeat as you can see with the troll job of Ronda Rousey. She took the KO in stride and congratulated Nunes for her victory.

The UFC announced its events for the second quarter of 2019 and there’s a lot of them.  Most on ESPN+

There were over 2 million google searches on Saturday night for UFC 232 which was behind Alabama vs Oklahoma in North America.  Jon Jones vs. Gustafsson drew 200,000 searches the same night.  Cat Zingano had an additional 100,000 searches likely due to the toe poke she received.

Conclusion

It was a strong ending for the UFC on FS1 with over 1 million viewers and the google searches on Saturday looks as though there was above average interest in the event.  Whether it was due to Jon Jones’ issues or the title fights, UFC 232 probably made out well even though the last minute change of venue really hurt fans.  I would expect a buy rate of between 350-375K total buys including traditional and digital.

 

 

Lomachenko fight draws over 2M viewers on ESPN Saturday night

December 11, 2018

The Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza fight on ESPN on Saturday night drew 1.865 million viewers on the network for its two-hour broadcast which was preceded by the Heisman Trophy telecast.

The lead-in likely helped the Top Rank Boxing ratings but Lomachenko is becoming destiny television for many fans.  The event drew 0.63 in the A18-49 demo per ShowBuzz Daily.  The fight alone during the telecast drew 2,013,000 viewers and peaked at 2,100,000 per Nielsen.

Its the second-most viewed fight on ESPN this year after Terrence Crawford’s win over Jose Benavidez this past October.

The Heisman Trophy Presentation on ESPN drew 2.928 million viewers and came on a night of a UFC PPV, HBO Boxing and the replay of Fury-Wilder on Showtime.

Lomachenko’s last fight on ESPN this past May against Jorge Linares drew slightly over 1 million viewers.

He drew 1.73M viewers last December for his win over Guillermo Rigondeux.

Payout Perspective:

Lomachenko was put in this same timeslot in 2017 after the Heisman Trophy Presentation and did better this time around.  It could be that more fans are aware of Lomachenko and used to Top Rank on ESPN that improved the ratings.  But, viewers are definitely gravitating toward Lomachenko as the ratings dipped after the Heisman telecast and then rose again when Lomachenko was about to fight.  We shall see what he does next as his next anticipated fight looks to be in April.

Top Rank Boxing on Friday night draws 950,000 on ESPN

November 19, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on Friday night drew 950,000 viewers per Nieslen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The telecast saw Maurice Hooker TKO Alex Saucedo in the seventh round of their title fight.

It was an exciting fight as Hooker went down in the second round of the fight versus the previously unbeaten Saucedo.  Hooker retained his junior welterweight title from the previously undefeated Saucedo.

NBA Basketball was the lead-in for Top Rank Boxing as the Milwaukee Bucks faced the Chicago Bulls.  The game drew 1.7million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Impressive for Top Rank following the NBA on ESPN.  The telecast started close to 9pm PT and still retained a significant amount of NBA viewers.  Hooker and Saucedo are not household names but the ratings are promising for future telecasts.

ESPN Top Rank Boxing reports strongest telecast of 2018

October 16, 2018

ESPN Top Rank Boxing on Saturday night drew 2.245 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The event was the highest-rated live boxing telecast of 2018.

Ring.tv reports that the peak of the telecast drew 2.7 million viewers.  The main event saw Terrence Crawford put away Jose Benavidez, Jr. in the 12th and final round of their fight.

It drew 1.038 million viewers in the A18-49 demo according to Nielsen.

The ratings reflect the highest rating for an ESPN Top Rank Boxing telecast since Manny Pacquiao took on Jeff Horn in the first telecast of the partnership.

Payout Perspective:

This is good news for boxing and boxing fans as we have seen an expansion of boxing viewership.  While HBO has foreclosed its time in the sport, PBC on Fox, Top Rank on ESPN and now DAZN’s latest coup of signing on Canelo Alvarez for his next fight this December shows that the sport continues to grow.  With these latest ratings, we will see if Terence Crawford can make the next step in his career: pay-per-view star.

Crawford-Benavidez fight draws big ratings on ESPN

October 15, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew a 1.6 metered market rating according to Nielsen which made it the highest-rated boxing telecast in 2018.  The main event which featured Terence Crawford scoring a 12th round KO of Jose Benavidez averaged a 1.8 metered market rating.

The main event was the highest-rated Top Rank bout and main event on ESPN.  The event took place in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  The main event between the two unbeatens was heated as Crawford took a swing at Benavidez at the weigh-ins.

In the co-main event, Shakur Stevenson defeated Viorel Simion via TKO in the first round.  The event drew a metered 1.3 rating according to Nielsen.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast was the second-highest rated Top Rank event on ESPN to the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight which kicked off the Top Rank-ESPN partnership. The event went up against Bellator on Paramount and though we will not get the overall ratings until later on Monday, boxing beat MMA on Saturday night.  The question becomes whether Crawford can draw on PPV and outside of Omaha.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN draws 662,000 viewers

September 17, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Friday night drew 662,000 viewers and a 0.22 rating in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen.  The event took place the night before the big GGG-Canelo Alvarez fight.

The main event of the ESPN telecast saw Jose Ramirez defeat Antonio Orozco via unanimous decision in a matchup of super lightweights.  The event took place at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California.

This summer’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Ratings:

September 15 – 662,000 viewers

August 18 – 686,000 viewers

July 14 – 518,000 viewers

July 7 – 534,000 viewers

June 30 – 632,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The event is slightly less than last month although it was the second-highest TR on ESPN telecast this summer. The telecast served more as a reminder to the casual viewers of the big PPV event Saturday.  It also gave boxing fans a little action before the main event the next day.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN draws 686,000 viewers

August 21, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew 686,000 Saturday night on the network which improved on the three prior cards on ESPN.

According to Nielsen (via ShowBuzz Daily), the 110 minute event drew 0.20 in the A18-49 demo.  The event saw Bryant Jennings win via 9th round TKO  over Alexander Dimitrenko.  In the opener of the doubleheader, Jesse Hart earned a 3rd round TKO victory over Mike Gavronski.

This summer’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Ratings:

August 18 – 686,000 viewers

July 14 – 518,000 viewers

July 7 – 534,000 viewers

June 30 – 632,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are either an anomaly or a sign that boxing fans are getting used to boxing on ESPN.  The ratings are far from what the network has received earlier this year and in 2017 but with the many up and coming fighters that most casual fans do not know, the ratings are pretty good.

ESPN and Top Rank Boxing extend media deal

August 3, 2018

ESPN and Top Rank have extended their agreement through 2025 which will have 54 boxing events across ESPN outlets.

According to multiple reports, shoulder programming was key to the extension which started last summer.  The hope was that the additional should programming would help raise the profile of the boxers.

Dan Rafael of ESPN notes that Top Rank and ESPN signed a four-year deal which commenced in August 2017.  It was amended in April to coincide with the launch of the ESPN+ streaming service.  The new deal will continue to air live on ESPN in prime time as well as on ESPN+.

Payout Perspective:

It’s an interesting deal that should help Top Rank and ESPN’s new OTT platform.  Already, we’ve seen Manny Pacquiao fight on ESPN+ and it’s likely we’ll get additional programming featuring boxers from the Top Rank promotion.  What does that mean for HBO?  How will Showtime respond?  The boxing landscape seems to be changing.

Ratings for boxing telecasts on ESPN and Showtime Friday night

July 23, 2018

There were two boxing telecasts this past Friday on ESPN and Showtime featuring rising stars in the sport.

Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN averaged 375,000 viewers.  In the featured event of the telecast, Lamont Roach defeated Deivi Julio Bassa to win the vacant WBO International Super Featherweight Title.

Showtime Boxing: The Next Generation topped out at 304,000 viewers for the fight between Jaron Ennis and Armando Alvarez.

Payout Perspective:

The events featured up and coming fighters that hope to breakthrough to bigger cards in the future.  These events also serve as content for both Showtime and ESPN.  The ratings are expected not to draw but the intent is to hope that one of these fighters becomes the next big star.

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