UFC 231: Payout Perspective

December 12, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 231 taking place from Toronto, Ontario, Canada where Max Holloway reminded people he is still one of the greatest in the UFC today.

Holloway forces doctor stoppage

Returning to form, Max Holloway successfully defended his Featherweight title by stopping Brian Ortega after the fourth round.  Holloway exuded confidence throughout and made one of the top challengers to his title look slow.  Ortega showed his heart throughout but was beat up to the point that he could not see out of one of his eyes forcing the stoppage between rounds.

Holloway’s cardio, quickness and ability to make subtle changes to stay out of range is remarkable and its hard to see another current Featherweight taking his title.  Although it is not going to happen, it would be fun to see him get his rematch against Conor McGregor in 2019.   Ortega is still a force in this division but just wasn’t on Holloway’s level.  He’ll be back although I would suggest he take some time to recover.

Shevchenko wins 125-pound women’s title

Valentina Shevchenko just has Joanna Jedrzejczyk number.  Shevchenko dominated the former strawweight champion for a 5 round unanimous decision over Joanna.  The fight was not even close.  It was a masterpiece by Shevchenko.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Toronto continues to be a city the UFC counts on for big attendance.  It sold out ScotiaBank Arena per UFC officials with over 19,000 fans and a $2.4 million gate.

Fight of the Night:  Ortega and Holloway

Performance Bonuses:  Holloway and Santos

All won $50K in addition to their reported purses.

Ratings

UFC 231 Pre-Fight Show on FS1:  211,000

UFC 231 Prelims: 786,000

UFC 231 Post-Fight Show: 136,000

It was a busy Saturday night of combat sports with HBO’s final boxing offering, Showtime’s replay of the Fury-Wilder fight and the Lomachenko fight on ESPN.  The ratings were up from last month’s PPV Prelims which may be a good sign.

Pre-Fight Hype

Max Holloay and Brian Ortega did a lot of media going into this fight.  There was the Holloway-Drake meetup at a Toronto Raptors game which MMA folks were giddy about.  Holloway also did a GQ video where he explained his tattoos.  The mag has done this in the past and it’s a pretty cool piece.  Also of interest, he was on the Alex Wong (Stevie LeBron) podcast early in the week and said that last spring’s unexpected pull out of April’s fight with Khabib was a surprise to him as UFC officials and Holloway’s team requested he pull out and seek more medical evaluation.

ESPN, the future home of the UFC, did a great long-form piece on Ortega and his background.

Sponsorships

Two interesting sponsors from Saturday night included PokerStars and online betting web site Pari Match had signage in the Octagon.  Look for this trend to continue and/or the UFC secures an “official” online betting site as a sponsor.

In the Octagon was Toyo Tires, Nemiroff Vodka, MetroPCS, Circle K, P3, Monster Energy, Motel 6 and Monster Energy had the center.

Also of note, Hooters was on the mat for UFC 231.

P3 were on the Reebok kits of the fighters.  According to multiple reports, the fighters are not directly receiving payment for wearing the logo.  Instead, P3 is paying the UFC.

UFC sponsor Bixler jewelry also appeared on the Embedded episodes giving Valentina some UFC 231 swag.

Odds and ends

It looked as though Max Holloway had a Reebok-branded bandana that stated his phrase, “It is what it is,” on it at the weigh-ins.

The Jimi Manuwa-Thiago Santos fight on the PPV was a heavy-hitting affair.

Worst “almost crime of the night”: Hakeem Dawodu just winning via split decision.

Dana White threw a tantrum when asked about Greg Hardy being on the same card as a domestic violence survivor.  The new media relations ploy is to act pissed when you don’t want to ask a question.

Also helpful for UFC media relations, it was discovered that a Bloody Elbow writer critical of the UFC is also into bestiality and kiddie porn.  This will lead to a new managerial technique of google searching writers that you don’t like.  If nothing is found, see Dana White’s tactics above.

Conclusion

The two championship fights seem to be the way the UFC hopes to stack its PPV cards where there is not a huge name to build around.  If Holloway can remain healthy, the UFC could probably do a standalone PPV with Holloway defending in Hawaii.  Not only would they sell out the venue, but get some decent PPV buys from it.  But, that would require the UFC to relax their ask from the state of Hawaii.  As for this event, 500K google searches and on a busy night of combat sports probably puts it around 275,000-300,000 PPV buys.  Perhaps above average for these types of non-“big card” fights.

UFC 231 Prelims draw 786,000 viewers on FS1

December 11, 2018

The UFC 231 Prelims on FS1 drew 786,000 viewers on Saturday night.  The event featured the strawweight matchup between Nina Ansaroff and Claudia Gadelha with Ansaroff pulling off the upset victory.

The event drew 394,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a 0.46 share per ShowBuzz Daily.

The UFC 231 prefight show drew 211,000 viewers on FS1 and a 0.08 in the A18-49 demo for a 90-minute show.  The post-fight show drew 136,000 viewers and a 0.06 in the A18-49 demo for a 60 telecast.

Payout Perspective:

The Prelims ratings fared well considering the uncertainty of how the PPV would sell.  The pre-fight show as 90 minutes and still drew a respectable 211,000 viewers.  The PPV ran over 10pm PT so the post-fight show ran late.

ONE signs television deal with Turner Sports

December 11, 2018

ESPN reports that ONE Championship has signed a three-year broadcast deal with Turner Sports.  According to the report by Ariel Helwani, the deal for the Singapore-based company begins on January 1, 2019.

The company will have 24 events to air live on TNT beginning next year and on its digital platforms including B/R Live.  Financial details were not announced.

The first televised event is schedule for January 19, 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The company had promised a North American deal earlier this year.  It has made some significant signings with former UFC fighters including Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson (technically via “trade”) and most recently Sage Northcutt.  It also signed Miesha Tate as a ONE exec.  With those moves, it seemed as though the company was ready for a big move.

Turner Sports had been in discussions for the UFC media rights and one point and it appears that the company sought to expand its live content.  B/R Live most recently aired the Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods one on one golf round the Friday after Thanksgiving.  However, the attempt to market it on PPV was a bust with technical glitches causing the match to be aired for free and refunding those that paid $19.99 to watch.

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting venture for Turner Sports as TNT has a much broader base than Fox Sports or Paramount.  As of this past September, TNT is received in approximately 89.573 million homes.  In comparison, Fox Sports 1, where the UFC currently resides is in 83,290 million homes.  Paramount Network, home of Bellator, is seen in 80,240 million homes.  NBC Sports Network, home of the PFL, is in 83,404 homes. Notably, ESPN, the future home of the UFC, came in at 85,988 million.

 

In my opinion, the signing of ONE Championship is more for the B/R Live digital content than it is for TNT.  The company is trying to expand its digital reach and signing a deal with ONE Championship gets it into the sport.  Aside from its anchor sports of NBA and golf, TNT airs esports on Friday night to steady, but not outstanding ratings.  Yet, it maintained a viewership base of younger viewers.  This will be an interesting signing and we will see if the casual viewer will acclimate to ONE.

UFC Fight Night 142 draws 702,000 viewers, prelims 471,000

December 4, 2018

UFC Fight Night 142 from Adelaide, Australia drew 702,000 on Saturday night according to Nielsen.  The prelims drew 471,000 viewers.

The main card featured Junior dos Santos as he defeated local favorite Tai Tuivasa.  The former UFC heavyweight champion stopped the previously undefeated Tuivasa in the second round.  The main card drew 396,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo per ShowBuzz Daily.

The prelims featured Alexey Kunchenko as he defeated Yushin Okami via unanimous decision.  The event drew 210,000 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are good considering that there was a lot of combat sports on Saturday including the big Fury-Wilder fight, Bellator and Showtime Boxing.  Considering that this card was on the second of a back-to-back UFC telecast, the ratings are solid.

TUF Finale 28 main card draws 399,000 viewers on FS1

December 3, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale drew 399,000 viewers on FS1 Friday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which preceded the event drew 353,000 viewers.

The main card saw Kamaru Usman defeat Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision.  There was a slight overrun for the event.  In addition, two TUF champions were crowned in Juan Espino and Macy Chiasson.

The TUF 28 post-fight show on FS1 drew 139,000 at 1:07am ET on FS1.

In the final bout of the prelims, Kevin Aguilar defeated Rick Glenn by unanimous decision.

Payout Perspective:

The finale drew over 100,000 less viewers last year for the main card.  It fell off only slightly from the prelims.  The ratings may be due to a heavy-sports Friday night as well as the unfortunate slow-demise of this series.  While there were other interesting fights the show, it looks like fight fans were not interested in back-to-back UFC cards.

TUF 28 Episode 11 draws 159,000 viewers

November 26, 2018

The penultimate episode of TUF 28 drew 159,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving episode featured the final Heavyweight fight of the house as Juan Francisco Espino Dieppa defeated Maurice Greene via submission.  Espino will now face Justin Frazier a the TUF Finale on November 30th.  The final fight of the season will be Leah Letson taking on Macy Chiasson.

The episode also featured the team challenge which was a 5K race between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum.

TUF 28
Live + SD
Episode 1 186,000
Episode 2 195,000
Episode 3 183,000
Episode 4 205,000
Episode 5 174,000
Episode 6 173,000
Episode 7 128,000
Episode 8 147,000
Episode 9 119,000
Episode 10 152,000
Episode 11 159,000

Payout Perspective:

The season average rests at 166,000 viewers although DVR ratings prop up the ratings for the TUF season.  The team challenge is usually a highlight of the season for me but this time around it just seemed like an afterthought running around a track.  One thing that is interesting is noting the perceived lack of cardio on the part of Gastelum for not being able to run 3.1 miles.  While it looked to be a hot day in Vegas, one hopes Gastelum is working on his cardio leading up to the two fighting.

UFC Fight Night 140 Prelims outdraw main card in ratings

November 20, 2018

UFC Fight Night 140 drew 632,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night.  The Prelims actually outdrew the main card with 707,000 viewers.

The main card featured Neil Magny taking on Santiago Ponzinibbio.  The Argentinian won via KO in the 4th round and will move up the ranks of the welterweight division.  The prelims saw Michel Prazeres earn a first round submission over Bartosz Fabinski in the feature fight of the night.

The event took place at the Parque Roca Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Payout Perspective:

Impressive ratings for an event that did not have too much going for it.  Notably, according to ShowBuzz, the highest rated cable television show on Saturday night was a Hallmark movie on the Hallmark Channel which drew 4.6M viewers.  The Prelims outdrawing the ratings may be a first and could be attributed to the time of the event as Fight Night main cards tend to drag too late for many east coast fans.

TUF 28 Episode 10 draws 152,000 viewers

November 15, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 28 episode 10 saw a slight uptick from its season low from last week with 152,000 viewers on FS1.  The season average for live viewing of TUF 28 is 167,000 viewers.

The fight of the telecast saw Julija Stoliarenko fight Pannie Kianzad in the semifinal to see who would fight in the women’s TUF finale in December.   Kianzad won via unanimous decision.

Also, the telecast saw the continued spiral of Maurice Greene as he tried to curb his drinking problem.  Coach Gastelum and the staff tried to stick with him.  The episode also saw the fighters go to a waterpark.

 

TUF 28 Live + SD
Episode 1 186,000
Episode 2 195,000
Episode 3 183,000
Episode 4 205,000
Episode 5 174,000
Episode 6 173,000
Episode 7 128,000
Episode 8 147,000
Episode 9 119,000
Episode 10 152,000

Payout Perspective:

The 167,000 viewers is a modest increase from last week’s all-time low.  The live viewership is low and it has only surpassed 205,000 viewers once this season.

UFC Fight Night Denver draws 840,000 viewers on FS1

November 13, 2018

UFC Fight Night Denver drew 840,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which preceded the main telecast drew 565,000 viewers on FS1.

Both telecasts which honored the 25th Anniversary of the UFC were strong in comparison to normal Fight Night ratings on the network.  The main card featured Yair Rodriguez and the Korean Zombie in one of the best fights of 2018. Rodriguez KO’d KZ with 1 second left in the fight.

The telecast featured nostalgia with an homage to the first UFC event, the old logo and graphics.

The UFC post fight show drew 237,000 viewers on FS1.  The prefight show on FS1 drew 171,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The 840,000 viewers are the highest rated Fight Night since May’s UFC Fight Night 129.  The Prelims also were high as it doubled viewers ship from the last 2 Fight Night Prelims.  Perhaps  the nostalgia of the 25th Anniversary led to the spike in viewership as the headliners are not considered draws as both were coming off of long layoffs.

TUF 28 Episode 9 draws 119,000 viewers on FS1

November 8, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 28 Episode 9 drew 119,000 viewers on FS1 per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  It is the lowest-rated episode of the season and likely the series since it came to Fox.

Live + SD
Episode 1 186,000
Episode 2 195,000
Episode 3 183,000
Episode 4 205,000
Episode 5 174,000
Episode 6 173,000
Episode 7 128,000
Episode 8 147,000
Episode 9 119,000

The fight of the telecast saw Justin Frazier stop Michel Batista to move on to the heavyweight finals.  The telecast also showed the ongoing saga with Maurice Greene’s drinking problems in the house.

Payout Perspective:

This series is becoming more of DVR show that something that people watch live.  The 119,000 viewers is a big drop from the week prior.  One would think that the show ratings would ramp going into the finals but that has not been the case.

Next Page »