Will PBC turn strategy into media rights deal?

April 24, 2017

Sports Business Journal (subscription recommended) reports on the current status of Premier Boxing Champions and its strategy of time buys across a broad landscape of networks.  The article looks at the ratings over the court of the innovative and risky experiment.

The hope was to turn the time buys into a lucrative “rights fees” deal.  This has not happened thus far.  Instead, the strategy has seemed to spread the brand thin and ratings have been sporadic.  Recently, Spike TV decided not to pick up its option for PBC stating that it would focus more on Bellator.

Per the article, there is still an opportunity for a rights fees deal but with the UFC shopping its rights package, there is some competition.  CBS might be a potential landing spot for PBC since it already has a tie-in with Showtime and has a $40 million budget for 2017.  In addition, there is the underutilized CBS Sports Network which could use additional live content.  In leadup to the last couple of PBC fights on CBS or Showtime, CBS Sports Network has shown previous fights of boxers that have upcoming fights on the networks which has served as good shoulder programming marketing the fighters.

One of the concerns for PBC is the lack of sponsors to spend consistently in the sport.  Showtime executive vice president and general manager of sports Stephen Espinoza notes that sponsors is where boxing is “living or dying.”  He believes there needs to be more education of sponsors to show that it has a valuable demo to deliver.

PBC has produced 54 cards in the last 12 months that aired across nine channels.  The highest average it has produced was 2.75 million viewers on CBS for two shows.  Its most-viewed show was a Sunday afternoon fight on NBC in August between Errol Spence-Leonard Bundu which aired immediately after the men’s basketball gold medal game.  The fight drew over 4.8 million viewers with a peak of 6.34 million.  More recently, last month’s Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia fight drew an average of 3.1 million viewers with the fight drawing 3.74 million and peaking at 5.1 million.  In February, the return of Adrien Broner on Showtime drew 779,000 of its network subscribers.

Payout Perspective:

The article notes that PBC is at a crossroads in its business model.  Based on the TV ratings, the time buy strategy has not been effective.  Despite the fact, the strategy has not produced desired results the article notes the last couple of events for PBC have produced good ratings highlighted by Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia on CBS.  We should see some decent ratings for Thurman-Andre Berto on Showtime this past Saturday.  Will PBC survive past 2017?  Better events, promoting its top fighters and maintaining a focused network strategy should help a turn around.  Of course, the networks and sponsors which would infuse PBC with an injection of money would help a business that has seeped money since the beginning.

UFC on Fox 24 drew 1,996,000; Prelims draw 1,105,000

April 20, 2017

UFC on Fox 24 drew 1,996,000 viewers on Fox Saturday afternoon in adjusted ratings to account for the overrun per Nielsen. The UFC Prelims drew 1,105,000 on Fox.

The main card peaked during the main event portion of the telecast with 2,874,000 viewers from 10-10:15pm ET.

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

In addition, the prelims drew 1,105,000 viewers.  The event aired on Fox and preceded the main card.

UFC on Fox 23 Prelims: 619,000 on FS1

UFC on Fox 22 Prelims: 679,000 on FS1

UFC on Fox 21 Prelims: 1,122,000 on Fox

UFC on Fox 20 Prelims: 1,261,000 on Fox

UFC on Fox 19 Prelims: 1,400,000 on Fox

UFC on Fox 18 Prelims: 702,000 on FS1

Payout Perspective:

The prelims were two hours and was the lowest rated in the history of the prelims on Fox.  The UFC on Fox 24 rating is the second lowest-rated ever in Fox history.  As pointed out by one of our readers, UFC on Fox 21 was slightly lower.

UFC 208: Will you buy it?

February 10, 2017

UFC 208 will be the third time that the company has held a show in the state of New York since it legalized professional MMA last fall.  Are fans interested in this PPV?

In the main event, Holly Holm takes on Germaine de Randamie for the new UFC women’s featherweight title.

Also, Anderson Silva returns to action taking on Derek Brunson.

UFC 208 will be the second time a UFC card was headlined by women without Ronda Rousey as one of the main eventers.  The other, UFC 200, featured Amanda Nunes and Miesha Tate.  Of course, that was by necessity with Jon Jones being pulled from that event.

One must surmise the UFC had hoped for another title fight (possibly Diaz-Conor III) to headline this card with Holm as a strong semi-main.  With McGregor taking a prolonged paternity leave and Nate Diaz trying out boxing since he claims the UFC put him on ice, fans get the matchup for a new title.

Perhaps this slot was to be for Cris “Cyborg” Justino.  But, she was flagged by USADA.

So, it comes down to Holly Holm.  While Germaine de Randamie might be a promising fighter, she has only 2 fights since 2015.

Holm is on a 2-fight losing streak which included losing the title to Miesha Tate in March and then dropping a decision to Valentina Shevchenko in late July.

However, the latter fight, which aired on Fox, scored the highest rating for a summer show since the company has been on Fox.

Her main event loss to Shevchenko peaked at over 4.6 million viewers with the broadcast averaging near 3 million viewers.  Holm defeated Ronda Rousey in November 2015 to tear down the former undefeated champ’s mystique and essentially end her career.

But, is her appeal enough to draw on PPV?

Anderson Silva’s drawing power is now past its prime and marketing efforts are behind the Holm-de Randamie fight.

There are signs that this event will not draw.  There is no sponsor for the Embedded series, which have been lackluster to say the most.  UFC 208 is not trending online and the peak viewership of the weigh-ins on YouTube was comparable to that of UFC 206.  The event featuring Jose Aldo and Max Holloway drew 150,000 buys and was the lowest rate for 2016.

It appears that UFC 208 will be on par with UFC 206 as its truly a card for the hardcore UFC fans.

UFC on Fox 23 draws 2.02M viewers

January 29, 2017

UFC on Fox 23 drew 2.02 million viewers Saturday night according to Television By Numbers.  The event drew a 0.7 rating in the adult 18-49 category and a 3 share.

The event featured women bantamweights Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena in the main event.

According to Nielsen ratings, the UFC on Fox lost out to the NBA Countdown show in the first half hour of the event and then was overshadowed by the NBA game on ABC featuring the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers.

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

This time last year, UFC on Fox 18 drew 2.43 million viewers for a Ryan Bader-Anthony Johnson main event.

Its unlikely the ratings will rise much more in DVR+3 ratings as Shevchenko’s arm bar sub of Pena came at about the top of the hour so no overrun.

Payout Perspective:

Low ratings compared to last January’s UFC on Fox network broadcast.  Also, it was lower than Shevchenko’s defeat of Holly Holm at UFC on Fox 20.  The lack of a tie-in with the NFL may have hurt the viewership. Of course, the NBA evening games running opposite the UFC probably had a lot to do with the lower rating as well.

UFC 206 replay on Christmas Eve draw 4.72M viewer average

December 28, 2016

The final Live + SD ratings for the replay of UFC on Fox Saturday night drew 4.72 million viewers per Sports TV Ratings.

Monday TV By Numbers reported the huge ratings win for the UFC on Christmas Eve.  Only UFC 1 drew more viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Great ratings as we see a new tradition begin.  The UFC on Christmas Eve.  Another piece of good fortune with the large viewer audience was the promotion for this Friday’s UFC 207.  As many point out, cable companies have been advertising the PPV being this Saturday, not Friday.  So, at least the promotion during the 206 replay may have helped.

UFC 206 replay on Fox scores big Christmas Eve

December 26, 2016

The replay of selected fights from UFC 206 earlier this month drew 4.7 million viewers on Christmas Eve according to Television By Numbers.  It also drew a 1.6 rating and a 6 share in the Adult 18-49 rating making it the second highest viewed UFC show on Fox since UFC on Fox 1.

The replay was the most-viewed show Saturday night and drew the biggest share among adults 18-49 across the board on the network.

The fights on the 2-hour replay Saturday included Lando Vannata versus John Makdessi, Cub Swanson versus Doo Ho Choi, Donald Cerrone versus Matt Brown and Max Holloway versus Anthony Pettis.

Nielsen reports that the peak viewership occurred during the Swanson-Choi fight which many consider a Fight of the Year frontrunner for 2016.

Only the November 2011 fight featuring Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos scored more viewers when the company’s debut on Fox drew 5.7 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The obvious takeaway here is that the UFC has found a niche and its likely Fox will be open for this slot for next Christmas Eve.  Even on a night when many people were doing holiday activities and spending time with family, many people tuned in.  This is great for the UFC as the actual card only did 150,000 PPV buys.

UFC on Fox 22 peaks at 4.8M viewers

December 20, 2016

UFC on Fox 22 peaked with 4.8 million viewers for the main event between Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson.  The live + SD ratings for Saturday’s event on Fox drew 3,178,000 overall.

The ratings are an increase from the fast overnights which were 2.69M viewers.  The Live + SD ratings are a 14% increase from last December’s 2.781M viewers.  UFC on Fox 22 was the most-watched UFC event since April 2013 when it drew 3,742,000.

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 3,742,000
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

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the appeal of Paige VanZant as a ratings needle mover.  With her upset in the main event, Michelle Waterson can claim this as well.  Despite the belief that neither fighter had the skill to be in the main event, it’s clear that based on the viewership, people wanted to see them fight.  A couple years ago, you would not think that a women’s fight on network tv could draw 4.8 million viewers.  It’s a clear sign that times have changed. 

UFC on Fox 22 attendance, gate and bonuses

December 17, 2016

UFC on Fox 22 attendance drew 13,136 for a live gate of $1,238,992.50 as announced at the post-fight press conference.  The bonuses went to Leslie Smith, Irene Aldana, Michelle Waterson and Paul Craig.

It was the 5th visit to Sacramento for the UFC but the first one in the newly opened Golden 1 Center.  It ranked third among attendance and gates in the city.

Smith and Aldana received the bonus for Fight of the Night in a bout which Smith earned the victory on the FS1 Prelims.  Waterson and Craig won the Performance bonuses.  All received $50,000.

Payout Perspective:

An entertaining main card with Mickey Gall finishing Sage Northcutt in the second round in the co-main event and Michelle Waterson upsetting Paige VanZant in round 1.  The event was well attended and ranked third highest of the 5 in the city.

SBJ 2017 predictions has UFC staying with Fox

December 12, 2016

The Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand offered up predictions for 2017 in sports media.  One of his predictions was how much and with what media outlet the UFC would sign with when its current media rights deal ends.

He predicts that the UFC would re-up with Fox for $300 million per year.  The prediction is $150 million less than what the UFC had hoped.  The UFC made it known that it would be seeking $450 million per year which is a substantial increase from the $115 million deal it signed in 2011.

Payout Perspective:

As Ourand points out, the UFC will likely wait for regulatory approval of the AT&T-Time Warner deal in hopes that Turner Sports makes a run at a deal with the UFC.  He dismisses the likes of NBC, CBS and ESPN as possible landing spots for the UFC.  If the next deal is $300 million, it would more than double its 2011 deal but might impact the value of the company since a portion of the UFC was valued based on its anticipated media rights deal.  Ourand points out that a deal with Fox will not be signed until 2018 so any news on a deal probably would not happen until this time next year.

UFC on Fox 21 ratings produce lowest ratings ever

August 30, 2016

UFC on Fox main card this past Saturday drew less than the actual overnights as it scored 1,983,000 viewers with a 1.2 rating in the adult 18-49 demo and a 2 share.  The ratings were hampered due to some major markets including Detroit and Las Vegas showing the sign on tape delay or on another station.

The overnight rating of 2.22 million viewers was skewed due to some major markets airing NFL preseason games during the time slot.  In addition, the short main event may have hurt the overall number due to the fact that most UFC on Fox shows do their best in the overrun.

The peak viewership for the event was 2,207,000 viewers from 9:15-9:30pm ET.  This was during the Pettis-Oliveira fight.

The UFC on Fox Prelims drew a 0.7 ratings with a 2 share for 1.122 million viewers.  It delivered a 0.6 rating among men 18-34 with 189,000 viewers.  The prelims preceded the main card from 6-8pm ET on Fox.

UFC on Fox 21

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 2,220,000 1,983,000

Payout Perspective:

The preemption of the UFC on Fox show in some major markets due to NFL preseason may mean that we will not see another UFC on Fox show in late August.  Its the first time that the ratings have gone down from overnights as the lack of an overrun plus the preemption due to football caused the drop.

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