Despite reports of demise, PBC signs deals with Showtime and Fox

September 4, 2018

Over the last couple of days Premier Boxing Champions showed that despite its alleged demise it is going nowhere.  Last week, it brokered a deal with Showtime and today it announced a deal with Fox.

The Fox deal allows for PBC events to be aired on Fox and FS1 with an annual boxing budget of $50 million according to Ring.tv.  The new deal with Fox starts in December and will have 10 “championship-level fights on Fox” with “at least another 12 shows on FS1.”  The $50 million Fox budget adds to the $50 million Showtime budget announced last week.

In comparison, Eddie Hearn’s new DAZN streaming service which begins later this month has an estimated annual budget of $125 million.

The Showtime deal is set for 3 years and calls for a monthly series of events presented by PBC on Showtime.  There was no indication of the duration for the Fox deal in the initial reports.

Payout Perspective:

Many had written off PBC for blowing through a lot of money in its life cycle and due to poor ratings would not have made it to the end of the year.  However, the deals with Showtime and Fox ensure it a huge budget to compete with Hearn’s new upstart streaming service and Top Rank’s contract with ESPN.  It will be interesting to see how PBC addresses the low ratings on Fox which have not kept up with UFC events which air in the same time slot on Saturday nights.

 

UFC 227: Payout Perspective

August 7, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 227 taking place in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.  The show featured two championship fights with one title change.

Dillashaw retains title in stoppage of Garbrandt

T.J. Dillashaw successfully defended his UFC Bantamweight title over Cody Garbrandt with a first round stoppage of the former champion.  Dillashaw is now 2-0 over his former stable mate.

Cejudo wins split decision over Mighty Mouse to end Johnson’s reign

Henry Cejudo’s wrestling was the key in a split decision victory over Demetrious Johnson to win the UFC Flyweight title.  Cejudo’s several takedowns and ability to pin down Johnson likely earned him the narrow victory.  Johnson indicated that he suffered a broken book and knee injury during the fight.  Still, the former champ almost pulled out the victory.

Johnson’s loss is his first since October 2011.  He successfully defended the title 11 times prior to this defeat and has to be considered as one of the greatest title runs ever in the UFC.

Attendance and Gate

The event was a sellout at Staples Center with 17,794 in attendance for a gate of $2.85 million.

Bonuses

Dillashaw, Cejudo, Johnson and Renato Moicano earned the $50,000 bonuses.  Dillashaw and Moicano drew the Performance Bonuses while Cejudo and Johnson earned the Fight of the Night.

Payouts

Mighty Mouse and Dillashaw earned the most out of the purses disclosed by the California State Athletic Commission.  The payouts are here.

Reebok Payouts

Notably, Cub Swanson and Thiago Santos were the only fighters outside of the title fight participants to earn 5 figures.

T.J. Dillashaw: $40,000
Cody Garbrandt: $30,000
Henry Cejudo: $30,000
Demetrious Johnson: $40,000
Renato Moicano: $5,000
Cub Swanson: $20,000
J.J. Aldrich: $4,000
Polyana Viana: $3,500
Thiago “Marreta” Santos: $10,000
Kevin Holland: $3,500
Pedro Munhoz: $5,000
Brett Johns: $4,000
Ricky Simon: $3,500
Montel Jackson: $3,500
Ricardo Ramos: $3,500
Kyung Ho Kang: $5,000
Sheymon Moraes: $3,500
Matt Sayles: $3,500
Alex Perez: $3,500
Jose Torres: $3,500
Weili Zhang: $3,500
Danielle Taylor: $4,000
Marlon Vera: $5,000
Wuliji Buren: $3,500

Sponsorships

Van Heusen made its first appearance in the Octagon as an official sponsor of the UFC.  Stephen Thompson and T.J. Dillashaw star in an online commercial for the men’s brand which is launching a flexible casual line.  It had the fighter prep point.

Fallout 76, a multiplayer action video game sponsored the Embedded Series this time around.

It was announced that Trifecta Nutrition was the “Official Meal Delivery Partner of the UFC.”  The deal is set to be worth $10 million dollars.  Notably, Blue Apron, another company within the same space as Trifecta Nutrition is experiencing issues with its company as its second quarter earnings didn’t match up to analyst expectations.

In addition to Van Heusen and Trifecta Nutrition, Harley Davidson, Modelo, MetroPCS, Motel6.com, UFC Fight Pass, Toyo Tires, Monster Energy/Circle K and the movie Mile 22 which stars Ronda Rousey were in the Octagon.  Monster Energy had the center.

There seemed to be a concerted effort to promote the Reebok walkout shirts from the fighters.

Ratings

UFC 227 Prelims on FX: 717,000, 0.3 in the A18-49 demo (3rd highest in cable)

UFC 227 Pre Fight Show on FX:  306,000

UFC 226 Post-Fight Show on FS1:  122,000

Odds and Ends

Likely overshadowing this event was the news that Conor McGregor was returning to fight against Khabib Nurmogomedov in October.

While the story died down, there were old social media posts made by Garbrandt where he used racially insensitive language.  He was able to explain the posts away and it was seemed to be disregarded once fight night came around.  There was the news that was contemplating pulling out of the fight due to issues with his back but decided to go through with it due to financial reasons.  You have to feel for Garbrandt who has a little baby and is looking to buy a house, get insurance and all the other things with becoming a regular adult trying to start a family.  During a prefight media event, he revealed he went to Vegas to get epidural injections in his back.

There were over 500,000 google searches on Saturday for UFC 227 which is the norm for PPV buys in the 200K range.

Cub Swanson stated that he paid for $26,000 for tickets for the event.  The SoCal native lost via submission in the first round.

Garbrandt and Mike Tyson are friends if you watched the Embedded series.

The Prelims were shuffled to FX due to MLB on FS1.  It was also a busy night for combat sports as there was boxing on Fox and another on HBO.

Conclusion

Based on the google searches and the prelim ratings, this PPV likely drew around 250,000-275,000 PPV buys.  Outside of Conor McGregor, its hard to see a lighter weight division title fight drawing near 300,000 PPV buys nowadays.

UFC on Fox 30 draws 1.461 million

July 29, 2018

UFC on Fox 30 drew 1.461 million viewers in fast overnight ratings according to Television By Numbers.  It led its time slot with a 0.6 rating for Adults 18-49 and a 3 share.

The ratings were based on the 8-10pm time slot and does not account for the overrun.  The main event featuring Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez seeped over the 10pm time slot with Poirier earning the TKO victory in the second round.

The 1.461 million viewers for the main card on Fox is the lowest out of the UFC on Fox cards held in the summer since the inception of the network cards in 2012.

UFC on Fox Ratings
Overnights
UFC on Fox 1 5,700,000
UFC on Fox 2 4,570,000
UFC on Fox 3 2,250,000
UFC on Fox 4 2,360,000
UFC on Fox 5 3,410,000
UFC on Fox 6 3,770,000
UFC on Fox 7 3,300,000
UFC on Fox 8 2,040,000
UFC on Fox 9 2,410,000
UFC on Fox 10 2,550,000
UFC on Fox 11 1,990,000
UFC on Fox 12 2,020,000
UFC on Fox 13 2,270,000
UFC on Fox 14 2,820,000
UFC on Fox 15 2,430,000
UFC on Fox 16 2,290,000
UFC on Fox 17 2,280,000
UFC on Fox 18 2,430,000
UFC on Fox 19 2,130,000
UFC on Fox 20 2,440,000
UFC on Fox 21 2,200,000
UFC on Fox 22 2,690,000
UFC on Fox 23 2,020,000
UFC on Fox 24 1,740,000
UFC on Fox 25 1,640,000
UFC on Fox 26 1,780,000
UFC on Fox 27 1,590,000
UFC on Fox 28 1,820,000
UFC on Fox 29 1,780,000
UFC on Fox 30 1,460,000

Payout Perspective:

UFC on Fox 30 was the only live event and non-rerun in its time slot which may account for winning the night in the adult demo.   It’s hard to know how much the overrun will aid the viewership as it was perhaps 15 minutes into the 10pm hour.  One may spin it as a win for the UFC as it beat out other programming Saturday night for the A18-49 demo.  But, overall viewers were the lowest during its time slot.  Also, the historical outlook of the viewership for Fox broadcast is at its lowest.

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.

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