It wasn’t just UFC 150‘s live-gate that fell way below expectations. According to a new report from Dave “Doom ‘N’ Gloom” Meltzer, last weekend’s Edgar vs. Henderson 2 card pulled in an estimated 190,000 pay-per-view buys. Judging by the MMAPayout.com Blue Book, that would make UFC 150 the second worst-performing UFC PPV since February 2006. And what’s the #1 worst-performing card of the last six years? The UFC 147: Silva vs. Franklin 2 show from just two months earlier, which took in only 175k buys. (UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao didn’t fare much better last month with a modest 235k buys.) Sorry Fric and Frack, Christmas has been canceled this year.
A couple caveats:
Keep in mind that there was a technical issue on Saturday night where DirecTV subscribers were unable to order the UFC 150 broadcast by phone or computer, although they could still order it via their remotes, according to reports. Plus, Bendo vs. Frankie ran up against the penultimate night of the 2012 Olympics, which may have stolen a few more viewers.
That being said…
We’re talking about a UFC event featuring a damned title fight. Granted, Frankie Edgar has never been one of the UFC’s more bankable stars — his two headlining appearances against Gray Maynard in 2011 drew 260k and 225K buys, respectively — but maybe that should have spurred the UFC to stack the supporting card with a few more big names. Instead, UFC 150 featured a passable co-main of Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard, and some watery bullshit underneath.
While BloodyElbow is taking the UFC apologist stance — “Hardcore fans buying 200,000 for the ‘smaller’ PPVs and clearing 750,000-1,000,000 for the 3-5 ‘mega-shows’ a year while building the brand on Fox…is working fine,” according to Brent Brookhouse — I tend to disagree. This was not the goal the UFC had in mind. They wanted growth, plain and simple, not a different-yet-still-effective business model. Fans are indeed voting with their wallets. And if PPV cards can vary so wildly in terms of quality, star-power, and excitement level, you’ll start seeing more fans become cautious with their money.
What do you think? Is the fact that the UFC just pulled their two lowest PPV totals in recent history cause for alarm? Will it send a message to the UFC to change their card frequency — or the fighters they use to headline a card? Or is this really all just part of the plan?