Report: Fox pays 5 year, $1 Billion Dollars for WWE’s Smackdown

May 21, 2018

Fox and WWE are close to a 5-year $1 Billion Deal for the ‘Smackdown Live’ show currently airing Tuesday night’s on NBC Universal-owned USA Network.  The deal may have ramifications with the future of the UFC’s TV deal.

First reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell and the details provided by a report on The Hollywood Reporter, the deal is close to being complete and would pay the WWE $205 million annually and is expected to begin in October 2019.  It is 3 times what NBCUnversal currently pays to air the two-hour weekly show on the USA network.

Unlike its last television rights deal, there seems to be more of an appetite for the company’s content as The Hollywood Reporter notes that there is an even higher bid from a third party.  But, the WWE chose Fox as it will commit to promoting Smackdown in its sports portfolio which includes MLB and NFL.

The WWE’s anchor show, Raw, will remain with NBCUniversal’s USA Network.

During the upfront presentation to advertisers last week, the WWE introduced Ronda Rousey which was likely spurred interest in the package.

NBCUniversal has had SmackDown since 2010 and reportedly paid $30 million for the franchise.

As a result of the news, WWE stock has jumped up to $57.87 as of 4:01pm EDT, up almost 12.5%, which is outstanding as it trades near its 52 week high.

Payout Perspective:

Rousey is currently on the Raw brand although it’s clear she’ll likely switch to SmackDown to be on Fox starting in October.  The deal likely has some impact on whether the UFC renews with Fox.  While it has forged a digital package with ESPN’s new OTT platform, the TV deal still remains up in the air.  If Fox is willing to spend $205 million annually for the WWE, will it still open up its bank account for the UFC?  The likely play is that the programming is similar and the UFC will now look elsewhere and perhaps the unnamed highest bidder that the WWE has turned down.

PBC on Fox draws 880,000 viewers

April 29, 2018

PBC on Fox drew 880,000 viewers on Saturday night according to Television By Numbers.

PBC on Fox aired from 8:30-10pm and drew 0.2 in the A18-49 demo and a 1 share.  It featured Josesitio Lopez beating Miguel Cruz in the feature event.

The ratings are the second-lowest of a PBC on Fox event as it drew 866,000 viewers in July 2017.  This past October’s event drew 1.3 million viewers.  It mustered 1.06 million viewers opposite the Winter Olympics this past February.

The event went up against the NHL Playoffs featuring the Las Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks.  The game drew 1.84 million viewers.  It also went up against a rerun of American Idol which drew 2.31 million viewers and Ransom on CBS which won the 8pm hour with 2.56 million viewers overall.

Payout Perspective:

It was a combat sports-heavy night on Saturday with 3 televised boxing events and Bellator.  Not to mention a Game 7 in basketball and the aforementioned NHL Playoffs.  So, it wasn’t surprising that PBC on Fox did not draw well last night as it seemed buried among all of the sports on television.

UFC on Fox 29 draws over 2M viewers; Prelims on Fox 970K

April 17, 2018

UFC on Fox 29 drew 2,020,000 viewers including the overrun for the main event featuring Dustin Poirier-Justin Gaethje.  The UFC on Fox 29 Prelims which aired on Fox prior to the main card drew 970,000 viewers.

UFC on Fox 29 drew 790,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and an overall household rating of 1.25.  The Prelims garnered 356,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and an overall household rating of 0.65.

The Prelims are a decrease from February’s UFC on Fox 28 which drew 1,214,000 viewers on the network.  Last July, the Prelims on Fox drew 1.137 million viewers.

Payout Perspective: 

The telecast improved from its initial fast overnight rating of 1.78 million viewers.  It did draw slightly above 2 million viewers but reflects the continued decrease in ratings for the network national broadcasts.

Report: UFC nearing next TV deal?

April 17, 2018

Variety reports that ESPN and Fox Sports are coming together to bid for the television rights for the UFC.  The companies will split the UFC TV package and we will see 15 fight events moving to new subscription streaming service ESPN+.

ESPN, according to sources, ESPN is willing to pay $120-$180 million per year.  Fox currently pays $120 million per year.

The number of fights from Fox would “decline slightly” according to the report.

Last spring a Sports Business Journal article indicated that the UFC was looking for a rights package of $450 million per year.  The Variety article notes that it reportedly sought $300-$400 million per year.

But the ratings decline on Fox are glaring.  The article states that Saturday-night broadcasts fell 22% from the previous year.  This past Saturday’s UFC on Fox 29 barely surpassed 2 million viewers after the overrun.  The “UFC Fight Night” on FS1 averaged 795,000 viewers this year which is reportedly down 17%.

Payout Perspective:

If the rumored deal comes to fruition, it will represent a shakeup for UFC TV that will likely affect UFC Fight Pass.  In passing, articles on the media deal have indicated that the digital platform has approximately 400,000 subscribers.  With the launch of ESPN’s new OTT platform, the UFC will contribute to the variety of content offered.  But, this may mean a loss of exclusivity for Fight Pass which may have to rely on its library to keep its subscription base as MMA fans will have another bill to pay.

UFC on Fox 28 draws 2,037,000 viewers; prelims draw 1,214,000 on Fox

February 28, 2018

The official live and same day ratings for UFC on Fox 28 revealed the show averaged 2,037,000 viewers on the network Saturday night.  The prelims which aired on Fox prior to the main card drew 1,214,000 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research.

The prelims started 30 minutes later than scheduled due to an overrun from a college basketball game.  It was the best prelims telecast on Fox since July 2016.  On Fox Sports Go and Fox Now the telecast had an average minute audience of 11,814.  The prelims featured Renan Barao and Brian Kelleher with the New York native earning the victory over the former champ.

UFC Fight Night on FOX averaged 2,037,000 viewers on Saturday according to Nielsen Media Research. The ratings include the overrun which saw Jeremy Stephens stop Josh Emmett.  Saturday night’s performance was 15% better than last month’s 1,771,000 viewers. On FSGO and FOX Now the telecast had an average minute audience of 11,067.  The show peaked with 2,731,000 viewers from 10-10:15pm ET.

The fast overnights had the main telecast with 1.82 million viewers.

The FS1 UFC Post-fight show drew 192,000 viewers.

Saturday night provided stiff competition on the networks as NBC’s coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics drew 11,422 viewers.  The NBA on ABC Saturday featured Golden State and Oklahoma City with the Warriors blowing out OKC.  But, the game drew 4,051,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings did improve from last month which is a positive for this event.  It did have some stiff competition.  Surpassing 2 million viewers overall is an achievement for this card.

PBC on Fox draws 1.3 million viewers

October 15, 2017

PBC on Fox Saturday night drew 1.3 million viewers on Saturday night per Television By Numbers.

The event went up against stiff competition with the MLB Playoffs featuring the Cubs and Dodgers on cable TV.  Also, USC played Utah on ABC opposite the Fox broadcast.

The event featured Abner Mares as he defeated Andres Gutierrez to retain his WBA featherweight title.  The telecast drew 0.3 in the A18-49 demo and a 1 share.

In July, PBC on Fox drew just 866,000.  In February of this year it drew 1.76 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The PBC telecasts on Fox have waned in popularity and although Saturday’s event drew better than this past summer, it’s not nearly as popular as the UFC when it does its quarterly events on Fox.

WME-IMG now free to solicit offers for new media rights deal

October 3, 2017

As we head into October it is worth noting that the exclusive negotiating period between WME-IMG and Fox to renew the UFC television contract came to an end.  WME-IMG will be free to solicit its television deal with others.

The UFC signed a 7-year deal with Fox in 2011 worth a reported $100 million per year (although others reported the deal at $115 million).  The current deal ends at the end of 2018.  The contract with Fox came with an exclusive negotiating window of 90 days which began this past July.

Last November, the UFC proclaimed that it was eyeing a $450 million per year deal for its next contract.  It will offer four annual broadcasts, six annual cable events and weekly programming as well as UFC Fight Pass.  It’s unlikely that the UFC will give up its PPV business with this upcoming deal.  Industry executives opine that the new deal will grant the winning bid more input into the matches and what will be a part of the UFC PPV events.

Payout Perspective:

It was likely that there would be no deal with Fox during this exclusive period as the new owners wanted to see what it could obtain in the open market.  With the possibility of bidders like Turner, CBS/Showtime, NBC and the wildcard that is Amazon out there, the UFC could be an attractive sports property.  But can it grab a $450 million deal?  It appears that the market for sports properties has dried up a bit and it’s hard to fathom that it can secure a $450 million deal (e.g., WWE’s media rights deal in 2014).  But, despite the low PPV buys this year and the volatility of the product (i.e., injuries and/or drug tests that may put off fights), it is still one of the better properties attracting the younger male demo.  We should see movement on this in the coming months.

Mayweather-McGregor Prelims peak at 3.1M and other ratings

August 30, 2017

Nielsen has provided some additional ratings from this past weekend’s Mayweather-McGregor fight.  Notably, the prelims drew 2,568,000 viewers across Fox, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Go.  The show peaked at 3,110,000 viewers.

The Prelims on Fox drew 2,438,000 from 7-9pm ET.  In the A18-49 category, it drew 1,156,000 viewers and was up over 150% versus the average to date for Fox boxing telecasts.

The first prelim bout on the show drew 2,360,000 viewers.  The show peaked at 3,110,000 from the 8:45-9pm ET quarter hour.  This was during the welterweight fight between Yordenis Ugas and Thomas Dulorme.  Ugas defeated Dulorme.

Other ratings from the telecasts associated with The Money Fight include:

  • Mayweather-McGregor Prefight Show 1,463,000
  • Mayweather-McGregor Postfight Show 368,000
  • Mayweather-McGregor Weigh-In 287,000
  • PBC on FS1 drew 269,000 viewers on Friday night.

Also, a replay of All Access Mayweather/McGregor on FS1 drew 215,000 viewres.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the immense popularity of The Money Fight.  Ratings were up across the board for the Prelims as well as the pre/post and weigh-in shows.  Despite the technical issues, the marketing and promotion of the fight had people buzzing to watch this fight.

Mayweather-McGregor Prelims draw 3.22 million on Fox

August 27, 2017

The Mayweather-McGregor Prelims on Fox scored 3.22 million viewers on Fox Saturday night.  It won the overall ratings in its time slot per TV By Numbers.

The Prelims featured Yordenis Ugás and Thomas Dulorme.  Ugas defeated Dulorme via unanimous decision.

The prelims which aired from 5pm-7pm on Saturday night drew a 1.1 rating in the A18-49 demo and a 5 share making it the best overall in its time slot.  The 3.22 million viewers beat out the NFL Preaseason on NBC featuring the LA Chargers and LA Rams.

Payout Perspective:

UFC on Fox have not drawn over 3 million viewers since UFC on Fox 7 in 2013.  In recent memory, the highest-rated live boxing event on Fox was January 2016 when PBC on Fox 1 drew 2.24 million viewers.  PBC on NBC drew 4.8 million viewers for a Sunday afternoon 1 hour airing of a fight featuring Errol Spence.  The ratings for Saturday reflect a huge interest in the PPV which likely dead very well.

UFC on Fox 25 draws 1.64 million viewers

July 23, 2017

UFC on Fox 25 drew 1.64 million viewers (according to TV By Numbers) making it the lowest overnight ratings for the company since it began airing fights on Fox.  Despite the news, it tied with NBC’s Dateline for biggest rating for Adults in the 18-49 age range.

UFC Fight Night featured Chris Weidman taking on Kelvin Gastelum in the main event from Long Island, New York.  Notably, their fight was not calculated in the overnight ratings because it started in the overrun.

In terms of overall viewership, UFC on Fox was last in its time slot among the other network shows.  It did draw a 0.6 share among Adults 18-49 and a 3 share making it the best in its 2 hour time slot.

UFC on Fox Ratings
Overnights Live + SD
UFC on Fox 1 5,700,000
UFC on Fox 2 4,570,000
UFC on Fox 3 2,250,000 2,400,000
UFC on Fox 4 2,360,000 2,400,000
UFC on Fox 5 3,410,000 4,400,000
UFC on Fox 6 3,770,000 4,220,000
UFC on Fox 7 3,300,000 3,700,000
UFC on Fox 8 2,040,000 2,380,000
UFC on Fox 9 2,410,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 10 2,550,000 3,220,000
UFC on Fox 11 1,990,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 12 2,020,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 13 2,270,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 14 2,820,000 3,049,000
UFC on Fox 15 2,430,000 2,745,000
UFC on Fox 16 2,290,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 17 2,280,000 2,781,000
UFC on Fox 18 2,430,000 2,685,000
UFC on Fox 19 2,130,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 20 2,440,000 2,975,000
UFC on Fox 21 2,200,000 1,983,000
UFC on Fox 22 2,690,000 3,178,000
UFC on Fox 23 2,020,000 2,189,000
UFC on Fox 24 1,740,000 1,996,000
UFC on Fox 25 1,640,000

 

Payout Perspective:

 This year’s July card did not match last year’s 2.44 million from UFC on Fox 20.  We will see if the added ratings from the overrun will boost the show to over 2 million viewers.  This makes 2 weeks in a row where Fox has aired a live combat sporting event and it has not produced ratings.

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