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snakerattle79 12-03-2009 05:07 AM

UFC Maybe In Trouble


The first week cable estimate on UFC 106 was 330,000, which is even lower than earliest projections we had. UFC 104 with Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua came in at 450,000 in a cable estimate and 460,000 in a trending estimate. Keep in mind the general rule of thumb by nature of how numbers are reported in the U.S. is that the final number since most UFC buys are in the U.S. will wind up 10-15% above these original numbers, so itís likely Machida-Rua ends up at 500,000, which isnít bad, and UFC 106 winds up 360,000 to 375,000, which for that fight is a gigantic disappointment. Trending numbers right now are indicating about a 27% drop from 104. The top per capita markets were Burlington, VT, Las Vegas, Halifax, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Honolulu, Oklahoma City, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Phoenix.

As compared to Franklin vs. Belfort, this show did comparable numbers in the U.S. and looks like it will wind up slightly ahead in Canada. But Franklin vs. Belfort was hurt going up against a Mayweather PPV, and Ortiz vs. Griffin were both significantly bigger established drawing cards and the only competition they had was Survivor Series was the next day. Trending numbers for Survivor Series are way below UFC 106, right now looking at 250,000 worldwide which would be less than 160,000 in North America. Keep in mind numbers we get in the first two weeks are not honed in completely like they would be a month out even though the figure is probably a general ballpark. Both numbers are low enough to be very concerning to each respective company.

The 106 number is looking to be so much lower than even the most pessimistic expectations going in. My feeling is itís a combination of the weak Countdown show, bad time slot of the Countdown show, and that 105 was pushed as a major event on Spike, was free, and a one week build for a PPV isnít going to work unless youíve got a match people wanted to see. Clearly, people both believed Ortiz was done and donít care and the burials of him clearly hurt him, and Griffin did himself incredible harm with that performance against Anderson Silva and everyone saw that fight. I thought the Griffin like ability factor overcomes his losses, because heís lost before and drawn big after. But his leaving the ring and it wasnít losing a gutsy fight which Griffin can do forever and draw, but looking like he was completely out of his league against a great fighter, made people no longer see him as a PPV main event fighter.

The difference here is everyone figured Franklin vs. Belfort would struggle because Belfort hadnít been in UFC since before the TV hit and Franklin is basically a place-holder on PPV, a guy you put on shows and can headline but isnít going to do big numbers most of the time. Machida vs. Rua also didnít figure to draw big because Rua wasnít over and Machida was just starting to get over. Ortiz vs. Griffin on the other hand, were two superstars who were over, and itís the first time Iíd go so far as to say the casual fan base rejected two big-name fighters in a main event position since this got on television in 2005.

If this is an overexposure issue, the most insidious thing historically about overexposure is that by the time the signs are apparent of the beginnings of a fall, itís usually at the point where the momentum downward is already dangerous. But really, until we get a match with two stars with momentum, itís hard to say exactly where we are. The Memphis show is a very good card when it comes to depth, but I donít see Penn vs. Sanchez as a main event that would do good numbers. Jan. 2 is a disaster as a PPV event with so many matches falling through. The Super Bowl weekend show is also a good card that lack a big main event. Australia has the drawback of being in Australia so you wonít get a lot of U.S. mainstream coverage and it also doesnít have that killer main event. Weíre really not taking about a huge draw fighting until March with St. Pierre, and heís got the issue that nobody in the world believes Dan Hardy can beat him and itís too early to know what kind of back-up heís going to have.

These next few months are going to be the first major test to see if these guys wind up like Vince McMahon or Eric Bischoff when facing the reality that things canít boom forever and if the unavoidable downturn due to injuries, outside forces and perhaps too much product will be short-term or if itís the snowball deal.

Ruckus 12-03-2009 05:27 AM

Even with the numbers down, which regardless of any spin put on it, Zuffa had to know that it was going to happen with all of the recent misfortune in scheduling, I'm certain they still turned a substantial profit. That's $15M gross revenue and I may be wrong but I don't think it cost that to promote 106. I also disagree with the statement that Penn/Sanchez not doing good numbers. Both are well known fighters and bring a lot of hype to 107. We'll have to wait and see the reality of that though. I do agree that the next couple of months are rough in terms of product being offered to the casual fan. One could hope that some of the lesser known fighters will "WOW" those casual fans and generate more buzz for the future. All in all I don't really see this being a huge hurdle in terms of over all success.

No_Mercy 12-03-2009 05:52 AM

All due respect you missed the point. They designed it to flush out the market. Their chief competitor at the time was Affliction and with strategic counter programming they are now out of business. For them to overcome the number of challenges (injuries, loss of sponsorships, boxing PPVs, competition,) is a testament to their management. You only see Dana, Silva and the Fertittas but these guys have a whole army in every department. If Brock wasn't injured the PPVS would have skyrocketed. This is out of their control.

Any other organization puts on a fight a quarter. That's because they don't have enough stable of fighters, sponsorship dollars, and investment to produce one; Strikeforce, Affliction, Bodog, etc.

People should support the UFC cuz I havn't been excited about any other sports out there since Michael Jordan left the NBA...lolz. Now one can enjoy MMA fights/quality entertainment every month.

Once all the old politicians retire and the younger ones who grew up with the sport replaces them then every city will endorse it. Capitalism at it's finest.

420atalon 12-03-2009 08:17 AM

UFC 90: 300,000 (Silva vs Cote)
UFC 91: 920,000 (Couture vs Lesnar)
UFC 92: 1,000,000+ (Griffin vs Evans, Nogueira vs Mir, Jackson vs Silva)
UFC 93: 320,000 (Franklin vs Henderson)
UFC 94: 800,000 (GSP vs Penn 2)
UFC 96: 350,000 (Jackson vs Jardine)
UFC 97: 625,000 (Silva vs Leites, Liddel vs Shogun)
UFC 98: 635,000 (Evans vs Machida, Hughes vs Serra)
UFC 99: 360,000 (Franklin vs Silva)
UFC 100: 1,600,000 (Lesnar vs Mir, GSP vs Alves, Henderson vs Bisping)
UFC 101: 1,050,000 (Penn vs Florian, Silva vs Griffin)
UFC 102: 435,000 (Couture vs Nogueira)
UFC 103: 400,000 (Franklin vs Belfort)

UFC 104: 475,000 (Machida vs Shogun)
UFC 106: ~360,000 (Ortiz vs Griffin)

Honestly, you need to be smoking something if you think that these past two events should have brought in larger buyrates. They are right around the numbers of past similar events. You could argue 104 should have brought in more as it was a title fight but there was little to support that main event in terms of well known fighters fighting.

The UFCs buyrate will skyrocket again when Lesnar, GSP, Penn or Silva fight again. I am guessing UFC 107 with Penn vs Sanchez will bring in around 550-600,000.

The UFC isn't hurting, they just haven't had a big event in the past 3 months...

Thunder1 12-03-2009 08:19 AM

I see the same trend. Too many fights. I'm a promoter in another type of sport, I see this often, organizations get caught up in the more is better theory. It's not. Less is better, it keeps the fans and fighters hungry. Too many fights and it's not a priority to people to make sure they watch. When a fan knows, ahh we'll just watch the next one it's in a couple weeks, your venue loses priority with the viewer. This in my opinion is also affecting the fighters. Lots of backing out of fights for one reason or another, legit or not legit. If they knew the next pay day for them might be a while their priorities would change also.

TheGrizzlyBear 12-03-2009 08:42 AM

The UFC is far from being in any sort of trouble, what about the ratings for the Fight Nites they do? There is one this weekend which SHOULD draw in tons of viewers because of Kimbo mainly. Then UFC 107 has BJ fighting Sanchez which will bring in plenty of PPV buys im thinking in the high 400's low 500's for that and you'll see UFC 108 drop to the 300's or so due to all the injuries they've been having. but once the full roster of champs are fighting again expect to see those numbers rise for sure.

js1316 12-03-2009 10:11 AM

Not having Brock is killing them in numbers...

Spec0688 12-03-2009 10:20 AM

notice how these lower numbers came because of people backing out or the "superstar" fighters taking long break to get healthy again ( Lesnar,GSP,Anderson) and there are prolly others as well just cant think of them right now.

Nefilim777 12-03-2009 10:57 AM

All figures noted, and obviously they've dipped recently, but Joe Rogan made an excellent point recently on Inside the Ultimate Fighter, and that was, essentially, that no matter how low PPV figures go for UFC events TUF still pulls in far greater figures then the PPV slot. Although this doesn't generate the same revenue, obviously, it still ensures popularity for the promotion. At the moment the UFC probably has one of the longest injury lists since the White/Fertita annex, this means that PPV figures will slump, as we saw with 106, but this is bound to happen within any sport. You can be sure that when injuries mend, and people live up to their contracts [read: rampage] the PPV figures will go back up.

Bertelicious 12-03-2009 11:19 AM

Hey, just to remind everyone, there is this thing happening right now............that recession thing............oh, and that pesky holiday, whats it called?? Oh, Christmas!!! Yeah, so shelling out 50 bucks every month is not necessarily possible for everyone still.

Just a thought. Plus, what everyone else mentioned above.

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