Carriage fees central issue to Fox Sports 1 holdouts

August 14, 2013

With its launch date Saturday, Fox Sports 1 replaces the Speed Channel and Fox Sports 2 replaces Fuel TV.  But, DirecTV, Dish Network (Dish) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) do not have agreements to run FS1 and subscribers wonder if a deal will be done by Saturday.

DirecTV, Dish and TWC represent a total of about 46 million subscribers.  Fox has promised investors that FS1 would reach 90 million households. But, if carriage deals are not brokered by Saturday, the FS1 launch will not reach its proposed audience. The problem has to do with carriage fees, the amount that distributors will need to pay to air the network.

Despite the fact that Wall Street thinks highly of the new channel, the issue is the rise in carriage fees.  SNL Kagan indicates that cable and satellite operators pay 31 cents a month per subscriber (per Bloomberg story although SBJ story indicates 23 cents) for the Speed channel. Kagan estimates that FS1 will garner 80 cents per month in 2014 and could go as high as $1.50 per subscriber based on fee increases during the life of the deal.  Its far from the $5.54 cents demanded for ESPN, but there is backlash from many non-sports subscribers about the rising cable/satellite costs that are passed along to all subscribers.

There have been dueling theories on whether the rights fee bubble will burst.  Some argue that the rising fees passed along to subscribers will mean more cord-cutters and/or consumers looking to downsize its cable/satellite packages.  The other school of thought is that in a time with DVRs and “Hoppers” live sporting events is the last space for advertisers on television.  Citing sports as “DVR proof,” many television executives have looked to beefing up its inventory of network programs to include sports.

DirecTV, a satellite company forged on sports with the NFL Sunday Direct Ticket and Red Zone Channel is now one of the holdouts for Fox Sports 1.  This could be due in part to its assessment of the ever-increasing rights fees it must pay (and pass along to subscribers).

Via Sports Business Journal (subscription required) from this past January:

With more networks now seeking more money, DirecTV is becoming more comfortable with not carrying specific channels that they consider too expensive. The result has been the type of public battles that, historically, had never included DirecTV.

Despite its sports lineage, DirecTV let Versus go dark for from August 2009 to March 2010 during the NHL Hockey season (Versus carried NHL games) before making amends with the network. Would it do the same with Fox Sports 1?

More recently, DirecTV and Fox squabbled over fees for the satellite company to carry 26 Fox channels. Luckily, the parties resolved its issues a day before a widespread blackout of Fox programming which would have included Fuel TV, FX and other Fox-owned cable channels.

It currently is in a nasty battle with the Pac 12 Network.  Neither side is flinching in this impasse entering its second year.  In fact, entering the 2013 College Football season, it has been announced that a deal between the two should not be expected. The Pac 12 Network has turned to an ad campaign urging DirecTV customers to switch providers if they would like its network.

Time Warner Cable is in a current battle with CBS over carriage fees which has not only turned the lights out on CBS but Showtime, a CBS property, to over 3 million subscribers of TWC.  This could, if the impasse continues, indirectly affect Showtime boxing and shoulder programming leading up to the September 14th showdown between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Canelo Alvarez. TWC claims CBS is asking a 600 percent increase in fees which CBS scoffs at the accusation.

Dish Network has had its own issues with retransmission rights. It lost 78,000 subscribers in its second quarter of the year due to programming costs.  It carries Fuel TV on a sports tier so those not subscribing to the sports tier will not even get Fox Sports 2.  Then there is the rumor of a potential merger with DirecTV.

Payout Perspective:

DirecTV, Dish and TWC represent 46 million subscribers that would be without FS1 if something does not change.  The three companies currently pay 31 cents per month for Speed.  What FS1 is proposing is a jump in fees to 80 cents per month for FS1.  This represents a 258% increase from the start.  At stake is approximately $22.5 million between the three companies.  This is based on the number of combined subscribers and the difference between the current fee versus the proposed fee (46M x .31 = 14.26M versus 46M x .80 = $36.80; $36.80M – $14.26M = $22.5M) (H/t:  Adam Swift)

All three distributors indicate that they are still in negotiations with Fox on a deal that could have the channel launch on time.  Even if a deal is not struck by August 17th, there is the possibility that deals occur shortly after FS1’s start date.  From Fox’s perspective, it wants to make sure that it maximizes its rights fees while ensuring that all major distributors have availability to FS1.  However, the distributors are feeling the pinch of the rising costs to carry these networks and it must decide how much more it can pass along to its subscribers without further backlash.

UFC 162 Prelims: 1.363 million

July 10, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that the UFC 162 Prelims received an average viewership of 1,363,000 viewers for a rating of 0.96.  Due to the stunning knockout of Anderson Silva, Fuel TV saw an increase in its post-fight coverage with 214,000 viewers for a rating of 0.42.

Via MMA Fighting:

FX won its time slot not only on cable, but it’s 1.19 rating in the Male 18-34 time slot beat all network programming as well between 8 and 10 p.m. The 1.46 in Males 18-49 saw FX finish second in that time slot among both cable and network programming.

Not only did the post-fight coverage do well in ratings, but the weigh-ins also did well on Fuel as it received an average of 119,000 viewers for a 0.27 rating.

Notably, Chris Weidman’s last fight against Mark Munoz on July 11, 2012 scored 211,000 viewers, a lower amount than those tuning into watch the post-fight aftermath after winning the title.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings for 162 are slightly above the 1.3 average for prelims on FX.  The prelims were highlighted by Gabriel Gonzaga’s quick KO of Dave Herman.  The ancillary programming for UFC 162 meant that the marketing backing Chris Weidman helped with more viewers keying in on the weigh-ins to see the face off.  Certainly, fans were not disappointed.  The post-fight show viewership shot up due to the event and it was likely sparked by those that may not have watched the PPV but heard news of the KO.  This bodes well for FS1 and its programming when the UFC moves to Fuel.

UFC 161 Prelims: 968,000 viewer average

June 23, 2013

The Wrestling Observer reports that last week’s UFC 161 Prelims on FX scored 968,000 viewers for a rating of 0.68.  The ratings were the third lowest ever on FX.

UFC 161 Prelims featured Jake Shields versus Tyron Woodley in one of the least exciting fights of the night.  It did include the Fight and Submission of the Night with the James Krause defeat of Sam Stout.  Yet, the Prelims were handily defeated in the ratings by The Stanley Cup on NBC and even College Baseball on ESPN.

Via The Wrestling Observer (subscription required and recommended):

…with numbers that resemble TNA more than UFC, a 0.63 in Males 18-34, almost shockingly low for UFC on FX in that demo, and 1.10 in Males 35-49.

The Observer also points out that the ratings were lower than any Prelim events the UFC had on Spike TV.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the fact that most of the UFC demo was tuned into the NHL or not tuned in at all. UFC 161 is probably not going to produce a high PPV number and the lead-in to the event didn’t help as it appears that some MMA fans decided to skip this event.

UFC 161: Payout Perspective

June 17, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 161 from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where Rashad Evans took on Dan Henderson in the main event.

Evans edges Henderson

UFC 161

In what was an entertaining fight, Rashad Evans regained some career momentum with a split decision victory over Hendo.  The result could have gone either way with each fighter having their moments.  Hendo was visibly upset after the result and took a jab in the post-fight Octagon interview at Lyoto Machida stating that “at least Rashad fought him.”  For Hendo, its his second straight split decision loss.  This is definitely not what he wanted after he had to back out of his title shot against Jon Jones in September.

For Evans, the speculation is that Glover Texeira would be next.  Gatekeeper or another shot at making a run for the title?  We will see.

Stipe stops Nelson

Stipe Miocic upset Roy Nelson in the co-main event of the evening.  Despite fighting just six weeks prior, Nelson looked sluggish and lacking cardio.  Miocic looked crisp compared to Nelson who desperately needed a first round KO to win the fight.

Miocic gets a quality win under his resume and can continue to build it.  In fact, he’s cracked the UFC Heavyweight rankings.  For Nelson, the fight represented his last under his current Zuffa contract.  It was a risky proposition for Nelson to take the fight on short notice even if his fight with Cheick Kongo ended in the first round.  Now, with a disappointing loss and at 36 years old, Nelson has little bargaining power in negotiating a new contract with the UFC or any other organization.  Nelson turned down an extension earlier this year and another offer prior to 161.  This and we didn’t even touch upon his “Uncle Tom” comments this week during the pre-fight press conference.

Attendance and Gate

As we reported, attendance was 14,754 for a gate of $3.15 million (not sure if Canadian or US dollars – regardless a good gate).  According to Dana White, it was the best gate for the venue and outdid The Rolling Stones at the same venue.

Bonuses

The UFC debut of James Krause was memorable as he not only pulled out a submission in the last seconds of his fight with Sam Stout, he received an additional $100,000 in bonuses for his work. Each received $50,000 each.

Fight of the Night: Krause-Stout

Submission of the Night:  Krause.

KO of the Night: Shawn Jordan

Sponsorships

UFC official sponsor Alienware was the presenting sponsor for UFC 161.  It had signage on the mat and had the fighter “prep point” at the event.  The octagon had its usual sponsors including Prestone, Harley Davidson, TapouT, Xyience, Musclepharm, Dodge, SafeAuto Insurance, UFCFit.com and Bud Light with the center Octagon.  Also, Disney’s The Lone Ranger was a sponsor on the mat and ring posts.  Disney sponsoring the UFC?  Not too surprised considering that it fits within the demo for the movie.

Roy Nelson just signed a deal with Affliction.  Probably not the best signing for the clothing company.

Evans wore a Jaco track suit to the Octagon. He also wore a “Refuse to Be Ordinary” Jaco shirt.

Notable sponsor of the night:  Alexis Davis was sponsored by Purchase Green – an artificial grass manufacturer.  Davis had other sponsors but the Purchase Green logo stood out due to the motto on the back of the shirt – Kickin’ Grass.

Other notable sponsors:  Roland Delorme represented Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. Delorme’s opponent Edwin Figueroa was sponsored by River City Ink and Steel. Sean Pierson was sponsored by Cookin’ Greens – a company focused on helping people eat healthier with fresh, frozen greens.

Post-UFC161 Headlines

- Status of Bantamweight Division.  With its original champion, Dominick Cruz out indefinitely and its interim champion, Renan Barao, injured – what to do with the division? There have been some good fights in the division but there needs to be a title defense soon so that fans don’t forget about it.

- What happens with Roy?  It was a gamble and Roy lost.  Now, with a loss and heading into free agency, what will Nelson do?

- What will Hendo do?  2 losses by split decision is not the kind of resume to ask for a title shot unless your Chael Sonnen.  Hendo is not at the cliff of his career but there can’t be too much time left.

Odds and ends

- “City on Steroids” was the headline in the print edition of the Winnipeg Free Press.  Obvious poor choice for this sport. Yet, Winnipeg Press gave good reviews of the fight night.

- The UFC 162 preview with Jay Z’s music was the second best commercial featuring Jay Z this weekend.  The first of course was the Samsung commercial during The Finals Sunday night (IMO I think Rick Rubin was the key).

- I wondered why Tyron Woodley v. Jake Shields was not on the main card.  I watched the fight and realized why.

- Shawn Jordan’s backflip may have been more impressive than his KO of Pat Barry.

- It’s good to see that Rashad went back to BDP for his entrance music.   Evans’ walkout music wins best of the night although Alexis Davis’ “Its Tricky” by Run DMC runs a close second.

-  Anyone else notice the octagon side camera view near the cage in the Sexton-Davis match during the end of the second round?  I don’t believe I’ve seen it before but it definitely is an added view to what is going on with fighters grappling on the ground.

- MetroPCS ran a new Cain Velasquez commercial during the Prelims.  It seemed like a little more focus on his Mexican roots in this commercial..

- Worst weekend? Jon Fitch or Roy Nelson.  Have to go with Fitch here.  Not only was he portrayed as a malcontent by his former employer, he lost in under a minute and was paid half the amount of his former salary ($30K).

Conclusion

Although it was received well by the local fans, the overall PPV buys will not be good.  Even if the Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland interim championship match and the Shogun Rua-Lyota Machida fight took place, it would not have moved the dial too much.  If there’s anything that can be seen as a positive from this weekend’s event is that it appears that based on the attendance figures and local press, the UFC has grabbed another Canadian city it could rely on if it returned to the area.  Notwithstanding this, a PPV buy rate of 250,000 would be good.

UFC 160: Payout Perpective

May 26, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 160 at The MGM Grand where Cain Velasquez made quick work of Bigfoot Silva.

UFC-160-poster

Same time this year

364 days before Saturday Bigfoot Silva wore the crimson mask and bloodied the Octagon canvas at the hands of Cain.  This time, the canvas was already bloody from previous fights but the result was similar.  Cain owned Bigfoot.  This time it was a 1-2 that floored the giant and he could not withstand the rain of punches.  A good stoppage despite Bigfoot’s protest.

As most thought the result would be the same, it was quicker work this time around.  Cain now gets someone else he owned in their last fight: Junior dos Santos.  But, the rubber match is warranted considering JDS’s performance Saturday.

Hunt for Gold ends with spinning heel kick

Two weeks in a row a spinning heel kick gave UFC fans a highlight reel KO.  This time, already way ahead on the cards, JDS decided to try to finish Mark Hunt.  It gained a lot of respect from the crowd that was deeply behind the underdog.  Hunt ate a huge looping right to his ear in the first but got up like it was nothing.  JDS wore Hunt down and the kick in the third showed Hunt’s fatigue.

JDS gets the trilogy and fans will wonder which fight will they see: the first or second fight.  

TJ Grant crashes Lightweight Title Picture

Its why they have the fight.  TJ Grant wasn’t supposed to win and get the next shot at Benson Henderson.  But, when Dana White made the promise that the fight would determine the next challenger for Bendo, Grant had a shot and did it in impressive fashion.  

Attendance and Gate

As reported at the post-fight press conference, the unofficial attendance was 11,089 for $2.942 million.  The Nevada State Athletic Commission will announce the official attendance and gate.

According to Dave Meltzer on the Wrestling Observer podcast, the attendance was relatively low based on the initial sales.  He reported that casinos did not purchase as many tickets as in the past.  

Bonuses

JDS, Hunt, TJ Grant and Glover Texeira won the bonuses for FOTN, KO and Submission of the Night.  According to Dana White, Mike Tyson influenced him to award the KO of the night to Grant instead of JDS.  Each received $50,000.

Sponsorships

Prestone, which had signage in the octagon for the TUF series was the newest presence inside the Octagon.  MetroPCS, UFCFit.com, Harley Davidson, TapouT, Dodge, UltimatePoker.com and Bud Light in the center of the Octagon.  Also Affliction returned to the Octagon.  

Mark Hunt did not have any sponsors.  He came to the ring without a walkout shirt and just UFC shorts.  It could be due to the fact that it was unknown if he would get a visa into the country.  There is speculation that his reps were trying to get sponsors on the day of the weigh-in.  However, the fighters have until Thursday night to turn in their fight shorts for review by the UFC.  Its unfortunate that Hunt did not have existing relationships with sponsors to have just in case he received a visa.  

A lot of negative reaction on twitter for the “infomercial” on online poker.  It was forced, odd and a blatant plug for the site.  The comparison of MMA and poker was atrocious.  But, it is an official sponsor and owned by the Fertittas.  Coupled by the fact the PPV was short on time makes it acceptable as it did not take away from any fights.  Still, carving out any time to promote the poker site seems out of place.  

Junior dos Santos had new Nike gear and his performance had Nike execs breathing a sigh of relief considering his last fight wearing the Swoosh was with Cain.  JDS was sponsored by TNT energy drink, a Brazilian energy drink.  You may recall it being the center of the Octagon for UFC on Fox 8.  Its web site also list Jose Aldo has an endorser.

A lot of bumpers for the UFC App which is trying to catch-up to the Bellator and WWE Apps.  

In addition to the Online Poker plug, there was a plug for the city of Las Vegas featuring Dana White and Ronda Rousey.  

Cain’s one flaw: social media

Is Cain using his twitter the wrong way?  His twitter timeline is littered with sponsors.  Cain even plugged Harley Davidson in his post-fight Octagon interview.  Usually there is a healthy bit of insight on the fighter’s life, fighter/fan interaction as well as the sponsor plug.  

Here’s a sampling of Cain’s twitter feed:

 

 

 

While Cain’s use of twitter is not wrong (one need only took to Nate Diaz among others for examples), its not engaging and its an overt commercial for his sponsors.  Yes, social media campaigns are based on receiving celebrity endorsements but Cain’s is straight copy.  If there’s a flaw with Velasquez its his marketability and we’re not talking about his “Brown Pride” tattoo either.  But, we’ll leave that for another post.

Post-Fight Headlines

UFC 160 has some intriguing post-fight headlines.  First, when and where will they hold JDS-Cain III.  While Vegas is always the old standby, the possibility of Mexico or Brazil are definite possibilities.  The UFC is looking to hold an event in Mexico by the end of this year and what a better way to make a splash into a new market.

TJ Grant-Benson Henderson for the TV Title Lightweight Title is rumored be on the Boston card for UFC on Fox Sports 1: 1.  There is also the possibility its on an event in the fall.

Glover Texeira continues his ascent in the Light Heavyweight division with a first round sub over a very good James Te Huna.  Texeira could be a fight or two away from Jon Jones.

Donald Cerrone v. Josh Thomson?  I’ll set the DVR.

Odds and Ends

- With the NHL and NBA Playoffs running opposite UFC 160 Prelims on FX, it will be interesting to see its ratings.

- Unless you were on Facebook/YouTube, you probably missed the fight that caused all that blood on the canvas.  There was no way to try the clean the mat between fights like it does when the UFC is on Fox?

- After the initial controversy with the UFC rankings, are we starting to accept them in looking at title contenders and matchups?

- At the post-fight press conference, it was announced that Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin were going into the UFC Hall of Fame.  I understand their first match being a “Hall of Fame” type moment but I can see arguing against either one having a HOF career.  Bonnar is the most suspect here especially since he was caught taking PEDs his last fight.  What type of message does that send?

- George Roop doesn’t look healthy at 135.  Yet, he keeps winning so we’ll likely see more of him at this weight.  

- Will Bloody Elbow use the shot of Cerrone showing Noons his elbow on its front page from hereon out?

Bloody Elbow 1Bloody Elbow 2

- It seemed like Mike Tyson received more camera time than anyone this weekend.  He looked like he was genuinely having a good time and each fighter was appreciative that he was there.  Its good to see that he’s turned his life around.

Conclusion

The attendance and gate seem to infer that UFC 160 might not draw as well as past Heavyweight cards featuring main events.  However, based on the previous PPV history of Cain and JDS, we’re probably looking at a buy rate of around 550-575K. 

UFC on FX 8: 1.3 million viewer average

May 22, 2013

MMA Fighting reports ratings for UFC on FX 8 were down from last event’s high as Saturday’s event from Brazil scored 1.3 million viewers.  The 1.3M figure is on average with ratings for UFC on FX shows.

Saturday’s main event on FX saw Vitor Belfort KO Luke Rockhold with a highlight reel reverse head kick.

In addition, the Prelims on Fuel TV received 156,000 viewers for a 0.35 rating.  It was down from January’s UFC on FX 7 Prelims on Fuel TV.  But, it was up from the 132,000 viewer average.

Payout Perspective:

Average numbers for a card that did not have too many popular fighters known to many in the United States.  The event is the last of its kind on FX as the bulk of UFC programming moves to the new Fox Sports 1 network in August.

UFC 159 Prelims: 1.38 million

May 1, 2013

Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer and MMA Fighting reports that the ratings for the UFC 159 Prelims on FX scored a 1.38 million viewer average. Although Saturday’s showing was down from UFC 158, it was above the 1.2 million viewer average on FX.

The UFC 159 Prelims improved on ratings from the UFC on Fox 7 Prelims the previous week as that show did 1,057,000.

More numbers from MMA Fighting:

For Fuel, the post-fight show did a 0.34 rating and 159,000 viewers. That broke the record for post-fight coverage after a pay-per-view show. The old record was 125,000 viewers set after UFC 158.

The weigh-ins on Friday did 109,000 viewers. While barely half of the Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz weigh-in audience that holds the record at 215,000 viewers, it was the fourth most-watched weigh-in ever on Fuel.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings for the programming supporting the PPV might be a good sign for the actual numbers for the event.  The actual FX show on Saturday was lackluster as two fights were stopped due to injury, it showed the Sara McMann fight twice and production had to show extended promos to fill time.

UFC 159: Payout Perspective

April 30, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 159 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey where Jon Jones defended his Light Heavyweight title against Chael Sonnen.

Jones takes care of Sonnen, now must heal toe

It was the outcome that most had expected.  Despite Sonnen’s promos, Jones did what was needed to stop Sonnen with a few seconds left in Round 1.  It was a good thing, because if he didn’t, it would have been interesting what may have happened for Round 2.  Jones could not have gone out there with his toe pointed in an opposite direction.  

Now, the question is how long will Jones be out and who will be next for him.  Anderson Silva? Lyoto Machida? Alexander Gustafsson?  We will see.

For the “Gangster,” I hope to see him in a suit as an analyst.  

ufc-159-poster

Nelson KOs Kongo

Jones does what he does and Nelson does what he does – knock people out.  While Nelson asked for a title shot, it’s likely he gets at least one more fight before there’s serious consideration.

Bisping beats Belcher after eye poke

Michael Bisping showed once again why he should receive a title shot.  The TUF alum beat up Alan Belcher but the fight was stopped after a nasty eye poke which was the second gruesome thing on the PPV next to Jones’ toe.  

Bisping must now wait in line once again for a shot.

Attendance and Gate

As reported earlier, attendance at UFC 159 placed second in terms of UFC events at the venue with Hardy vs. GSP being first.   UFC 159 reported attendance of 15,227 fans for a $2.7 million gate.

Bonuses

This event’s bonuses were $65,000 each as opposed to the UFC standard of $50,000.  As reported earlier the bonuses were as follows:

Fight of the Night:  Healy vs. Miller

KO of the Night:  Nelson

Submission of the Night: Healy

Sponsorships

-The Octagon included the usual sponsors:  TapouT, MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Xyience, UFC Gym, Harley Davidson, Dodge, MusclePharm, Alienware, UltimatePoker.net and Bud Light.  It also included local sponsor Modell’s Sporting Goods.

-UFC Gym sponsored the prep point.  UFC Fit was also prevalent last week at UFC on Fox 7.  The move into fitness is a reason that Reebok may be a potential sponsor.  Could this be one of the reasons why Dana White met with Reebok officials? Also interesting that a potential Reebok deal may happen and just a few months ago Rampage Jackson could not wear Reebok logos in the Octagon for his last fight.

-Representatives from Doritos were also present as it may have a potential interest in sponsorship.

-Ronda Rousey was featured in a MetroPCS commercial shown during the Prelims.  It was also revealed that she signed a one year deal with Xyience

-Jones was sponsored by Nike and had his signature shoes released the week before the event.  The shoes sold out quickly although there were limited quantities.  Jones actually threw out his shoes to the weigh-in crowd on Friday.  He also wore Monster headphones, another UFC official sponsor, at the weigh-ins, to the ring and even when he sat on the stool being interviewed post-fight.  

-Sonnen wore a TapouT blue ring robe with a Modell’s patch on the arm.  It was reminiscent of boxers or pro wrestlers and appropriate for Sonnen.  

-An ironic sponsor for Sonnen was VA Mortgage Lending.  As you may recall, Sonnen plead guilty to money laundering in a mortgage fraud case during his realtor days in Oregon. While Sonnen’s actions were not related to VA Mortgage Lending, its still strange that you would want to have it as a sponsor because it reminds people of what happened in the past.   

-Phil Davis had a couple throwback sponsors:  Affliction and Lugz

Pre-Fight Hype

When you talk about hype, Chael Sonnen comes to mind.  The Ultimate Fighter was to serve as the 12 week promo piece for this fight but it was actually Sonnen’s banter the week or so after the TUF Finale that served as the real promotion for UFC 159.  

I really enjoyed the UFC Countdown show this time around especially the Alan Belcher-Michael Bisping back and forth.  Perhaps, Bisping can pick up the “King of MMA Smacktalk” when Chael Sonnen retires.

This card produced a couple interesting articles on the issue of race.  Tim Marchman wrote an article on Deadspin and Tomas Rios wrote one for The Pacific Standard which explores the issue and whether Chael Sonnen uses race to gain fans.  We explore the public relations aspects of Sonnen here.  When challenged on the subject of race on ESPN’s Dan LeBatard show, Sonnen deflected the direct issue and seemed genuinely uncomfortable about talking about it.  This was something unusual for Sonnen who was on in each appearance he did for the promotion of UFC 159.  

Odds and Ends

- Darren Rovell sent a tweet Saturday night which stirred the pot for defenders of the UFC. Rovell indicated that the UFC may have lost its “edge” based on the fact he knew someone that purchased a ticket for $50 with a face value of $553.  UFC PR’s Dave Sholler tweeted defending the UFC and its attendance indicating that it mattered and then Dana White sent a tweet professing that its numbers are improving and would prove it by sending it to the ESPN Sports Biz guy.  We will see if Rovell gets that information.  We’ll have more on this interesting story later.

- The card was deemed “cursed” by Joe Rogan for the various stoppages due to injury.  This started with two stoppages due to injury during the Prelims and continued with Alan Belcher’s eye poke and then Jon Jones’ toe.  And of course, we get a full on brawl in the stands caught on camera during Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”  No word on the deep voiceover between rounds during Bisping-Belcher but it seemed fitting for what happened during the night.

- Sarah McMann v. Sheila Gaff was aired on the prelims twice on FX as a result of filler.  But, the fight was the first women’s fight not hyped for the fact it was a women’s fight in the UFC.  McMann disposed of Gaff quickly.  

- Leonard Garcia-Cody McKenzie was the only fight not aired.  McKenzie indicated he was going to take some time off for personal reasons.  Garcia may be on his way out of the UFC.

Conclusion

The card was not as interesting on paper as last week’s UFC on Fox 7 and it played out that way in reality.  Sonnen did his usual work to hype the fight but many believed that it was a mismatch from the start.  The unusual issues during the card confirmed its demise as probably one of the strangest in some time.  Although Nelson’s KO and Healy’s submission were highlights, the rest of the night proved so-so.  A buy rate of 500K would be a success here and many probably bought it because they were fans of Sonnen and/or Jones as the supporting card lacked intriguing matchups.

UFC on Fox 7 attendance, gate and bonuses

April 20, 2013

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and gate for the UFC on Fox 7 was 13,506 for a gate of $1.333 million.  In addition, $50,000 bonuses were given for Fight of the Night and two KOs as there were plenty of knockouts but no submissions.

The bonuses were as follows:

Fight of the Night:  Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein

KO of the Night:  Josh Thomson

KO of the Night:   Yoel Romero

Payout Perspective:

A great prelims and main card that was certainly PPV worthy.  An interesting night with no submissions and a healthy amount of KOs.  Not a good night for the Skrap Pack as Nate Diaz took a stiff leg kick from Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez lost a tough split decision to Benson Henderson.  Overall, an exciting night of fights on FX and Fox.

TUF 17 Finale ratings: 1.7 million

April 16, 2013

John Morgan of MMA Junkie reports that The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale on Saturday night scored 1.705 million viewers.  Morgan reported the TUF 17 Finale was the number 1 cable show in the 18-49 male demo.

Notably, Morgan reported that the number 1 network programming at the time was NASCAR on Fox.

The TUF 16 Finale in December received a 1.3 million viewers and TUF Live in June received just 1 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Strong ratings when compared to the last 2 TUF Finales on FX.  The added hype of the women fighting for a spot to coach opposite Ronda Rousey and TUF competitor Uriah Hall were reasons why there were more viewers.  The interesting thing is that neither one was in the main event which was headlined by Urijah Faber.  A good swan song for the TUF franchise on FX.  

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