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.

[UPDATED with CA ratings] Bellator MMA draws just 242K on Paramount Network

April 16, 2018

Bellator MMA drew just 242,000 viewers on The Paramount Network Friday night per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The simulcast on CMT drew an additional 161,000.

In the main event, Michael Chandler defeated Brandon Girtz in the first round via technical submission with an arm triangle choke after Girtz was put to sleep with the submission.  On The Paramount Network, it drew 0.09 in the A18-49 demo.  On CMT, it drew 0.07 in the A18-49 demo.

Notably, Combate Americas ran an event later that night on Univision and drew 181,000 viewers.  It did 0.10 in the A18-49 demo.

UPDATED 4/17/18:  According to Nielson, Combate Americas on Friday, according to Nielsen, ratings for the live simulcast was 583,000 P2+ viewers, and 296,000 viewers in the 18-49 year old category.

Payout Perspective:

These ratings have to be disappointing for Bellator as it sinks to another ratings low.  Prior to this week, last Friday’s event featuring Benson Henderson drew 420,000 viewers.  This week saw almost half those viewers return on Paramount.  The CMT viewership combined brings the total viewership to just 423,000 viewers.  Combate Americas on the Univision Network drew just 181,000 viewers but with less expectations.  Moreover, it drew more in the younger demo than either showing of Bellator on either network.  Granted, the CA was on later in the evening than Bellator, but the ratings for the promotion are not going in the right direction.

Bellator 196 draws 420,000 viewers on Paramount

April 11, 2018

Bellator 196 drew 420,000 viewers on the Paramount Network Friday night.  The event featured Benson Henderson taking on Robert Huerta in Budapest, Hungary.

This past Friday’s event was the fourth one this year under 500,000 viewers with just one event over 500,000.  The event drew 0.14 in the A18-49 demo per ShowBuzz Daily.

Payout Perspective

The ratings have to be a concern this year even though we are in April.  At this point, Bellator is averaging just 520,000 viewers per live telecast which is the lowest since 2014.  This past Friday’s event featured a former UFC Champion and drew the lowest viewership of the year.  While international events seem to draw lower ratings, Henderson was thought to bring name recognition and fans to telecasts and that does not seem to be the case.

UFC 223 Prelims draw 892,000 viewers

April 10, 2018

The UFC 223 Prelims drew 892,000 viewers on FS1 according to Neilsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event preceded Saturday’s UFC 223 PPV.

The feature fight of the UFC 223 Prelims was Karolina Kowalkiewicz’s split decision victory over Felice Herrig.

The event drew 0.33 in the A18-49 demo and 0.49 in the male 18-49 demo.

In addition, the pre-fight show which preceded the Prelims on FS1 drew 373,000 viewers.  The post-fight show drew 138,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The event did better than UFC 221 and is near the ratings for UFC 220 and 222.  The other ancillary ratings on Saturday for UFC 223 were on par with other pre and post-fight shows this year.

 

Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN draws 407,000 viewers

March 27, 2018

Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew 407,000 viewers Saturday night.  The event headlined by Jose Martinez and Alejandro Santiago garnered 104,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The telecast aired about the same time as the Elite Eight game between Florida State and Michigan.  The NCAA game on TBS drew 9.713 million viewers and 3.9 million viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Also, on Saturday was HBO Boxing with an afternoon telecast that replayed again on Saturday night.

Payout Perspective:

As with the HBO telecast, Saturday was a hard afternoon/night to compete with NCAA basketball as both boxing events did not draw that many viewers.

ESPN scores highest cable boxing ratings in 2018 thus far

March 14, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew over 1 million viewers for its Saturday night telecast featuring Oscar Valdez and Scott Quigg scored 1,082,000 on Saturday night.

The 123-minute telecast drew a 0.37 rating in the A18-49 demo.  According to Nielsen, the Andy Vences-Erick De Leon fight was the highest-rated boxing event on cable for 2018 with a 0.8 share.

The lead-in for Top Rank Boxing on ESPN was the ACC conference championship tournament game between North Carolina and Virginia which led to the highest-rated show on cable TV for Saturday night with over 3.4 million viewers.

(h/t:  ShowBuzz Daily)

Payout Perspective:

Clearly, the ESPN deal is helping Top Rank with exposure of its product.  The ratings for its programming are aided by the lead-ins.  This time around it was the ACC Championship game featuring two top programs which likely helped keep people tuned into the next thing on ESPN that night.  Saturday night exemplified this affect since for most casual fans, we did not know these fighters.  It did go up against Showtime’s event which aired at about the same time but it fared much better.

ESPN Top Rank Boxing Saturday night scores highest overnights this year

March 11, 2018

Saturday night’s ESPN Top Rank event drew the highest overnight ratings (in terms of market rating) for 2018 according to the network.  It was the prelim fight between Andy Vences and Arick De Leon that scored a 0.8 metered market rating.

Last week’s Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz drew a 0.7 rating on Showtime and 1.055M viewers.    The main event of Oscar Valdez and Scott Quigg drew a 0.7 rating.

The visual spectacle of the fights fought outside under a canopy while rain came down in Southern California was nice.

The ratings will come out on Monday.

Payout Perspective:

It was a pretty big night on Saturday with an event on Showtime and the ESPN event.  The Valdez-Quigg fight was especially entertaining with Valdez earning the unanimous decision.  One might expect the ESPN fights to draw over 1 million viewers based on the market share according to ESPN.

Bellator 195 peaked at 745,00 viewers

March 8, 2018

Bellator 195 peaked with 745,000 viewers on Friday night on the Paramount Network.

The event featured Darrion Caldwell’s defense of his featherweight title as he submitted Leonard Higo in the very first round.

The ratings are on par with the past three Bellator telecasts, none of which surpassed 500,000 viewers.  The peak viewership is on par with the last 3 as well.

UFC 222: Payout Perspective

March 7, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 222 which took place at the T-Mobile Area in Las Vegas.

Cyborg easily handles Kunitskaya

Cris Cyborg took care of Yana Kunitskaya as the UFC women’s Featherweight champion earned the TKO victory in round 1 of their championship bout.  The former Invicta champ earned a takedown in the beginning seconds of the bout and had a couple fleeting moments of offense before being overwhelmed by Cyborg.  It was clear that Kunitskaya did not want to do anything with Cyborg’s striking and was an easy victory for the champion.

In a division that does not have many challengers, Cyborg may fight  Amanda Nunes in a “superfight” or go after Megan Anderson.

Ortega KO’s Edgar for next title shot Brian Ortega made his presence known in the Featherweight division with an impressive KO of Frankie Edgar.  The durable former lightweight champ went down for the first time.  He had never been submitted or was stopped before in his UFC career.

Ortega looked great and the high-level blackbelt also showed his striking ability.  A matchup against Max Holloway is next.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

UFC 222 drew 12,041 for a gate of $1,367, 672 according to the UFC.  The event took Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The last event in Vegas was UFC 219 in December which featured Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Holly Holm.  The event drew 13,561 for a gate of $1,760,628.74.

The bonuses were awarded to Brian Ortega, Alexander Hernandez, Sean O’Malley and Andre Soukhamthath each earned $50,000 fight-night bonuses at Saturday’s UFC 222 event.

According to SeatGeek, the average resale price on the secondary market was $222.

Payouts

Cris Cyborg led the list of athletes Saturday night earning $500,000.  Brian Ortega earned $100,000 plus another for his win over Frankie Edgar.  Ortega also earned another $50,000 for his KO.

The rest of the payouts via NAC:

Cris Cyborg: $500,000 (no win bonus)
def. Yana Kunitskaya: $100,000

Brian Ortega: $200,000 (includes $100,000 win bonus)
def. Frankie Edgar: $195,000

Sean O’Malley: $44,000 (includes $22,000 win bonus)
def. Andre Soukhamthath: $19,000

Andrei Arlovski: $275,000 (no win bonus)
def. Stefan Struve: $77,000

Ketlen Vieira: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Cat Zingano: $35,000

Mackenzie Dern: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Ashley Yoder: $12,000

Alexander Hernandez: $26,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)
def. Beneil Dariush: $48,000

John Dodson: $82,000 (includes $41,000 win bonus)
def. Pedro Munhoz: $34,000

C.B. Dollaway: $92,000 (includes $46,000 win bonus)
def. Hector Lombard: $62,000

Zak Ottow: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Mike Pyle: $55,000

Cody Stamann: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Bryan Caraway: $21,000

Jordan Johnson: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Adam Milstead: $12,000

The Reebok payouts are listed here.  Notably, Edgar and Arlovski are in the rare 21 UFC bouts or more category garnering $20K.

Promotion of Event

The biggest promotional event was a joint endeavor with the city of Las Vegas and other sports helding events in the city this past weekend as the Ultimate Vegas Sports Weekend.  A “pep rally” was held at the Toshiba Plaza on the Wednesday before the fight.

Sponsorships

Modelo, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Monster Energy and EA UFC 3 were in the Octagon.  Notably, Dollar General was also present in the octagon.

Just a little over a month releasing its latest version of its video game, EA has reduced the price due likely to poor sales.  During the PPV, it advertised the sale.

The movie “Hurricane Heist” was given some airtime during the UFC broadcast.

Ratings

The UFC Prelims drew a respectable 905,000 viewers with the peak happening during the last quarter hour for Mackenzie Dern’s fight.  The event drew 11,009 viewers streaming.  Dern’s fight peaked at 1,076,000 viewers.

The prelim showed had a higher than normal viewership with 431,000 viewers on FS1.  The Post-Fight show drew 177,000.

Also on Saturday night, were two boxing telecasts on HBO and Showtime.  Deontay Wilder’s fight on Showtime drew an impressive 1,055,000 viewers on the network which beat out HBO’s fights featuring Sergey Kovalev.  The boxing events occurred during the PPV and did not compete with the FS1 Prelims.

Odds and ends

The biggest bit of business news coming out last week was that Amazon has signed on to stream UFC PPVs.  Similar to ordering via Fight Pass or UFC.com, it cost $64.99 and you have access to the PPV for 24 hours.

There were rumors that Conor McGregor offered to fill-in to save UFC 222.  Of course, this sounds like someone trying to stay relevant while taking time off.

Mike Pyle retired after his loss on Saturday.  A good career despite going out with a loss.

Mackenzie Dern has a lot to work on but the UFC is hoping she turns into another mainstream star similar to Ronda Rousey.

There were 7 Embedded episodes with 6 of those coming before Friday ended.  Most were done to promote potential new stars Dern, Sean O’Malley and Ortega,

Over 200,000 google searches for UFC 222 on Saturday night.  Same for Deontay Wilder.

Conclusion

All indications pointing toward this PPV doing between 340,000-380,000 PPV buys based on the prelim ratings, google trend searches and past history with Cyborg on PPV.  Not an exact science, but if this does mid-300s, you have to think this is a success considering that the card was built on one fight (Max-Frankie) that fell through.

 

Bellator 195 draws 465,000 viewers

March 5, 2018

Bellator MMA Live 195 on Friday night on Paramount drew 465,000 viewers according to Nielsen.  The event featured Darrion Caldwell as he faced Leandro Higo.

Caldwell successfully defended his Bellator bantamweight belt against Higo with a guillotine choke submission in the very first round.

It’s the third straight Bellator telecast drawing less than 500,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Once again there seems to be a disconnect with MMA fans and Bellator Friday nights as we are seeing a decrease in overall viewership.  While Bellator will get some viewership numbers back in DVR ratings.

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