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Sign of the End-Times: UFC 150 Pulls an Estimated 190k Pay-Per-View Buys

(“Sorry Frankie, but based on the terms of your pay-per-view bonus scale — as clearly stated in your contract — you actually owe us $10,000.“)

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 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?

Cagepotato Comments

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fhfdhfd- August 18, 2012 at 6:58 am
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Sopapo- August 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm
I think that having free shows that actually have good fights (the ones on fox) has a negative effect on buys. People will start thinking hey i get cool fights for free every now and then, they no longer need to pay for a good night of kick ass anymore. On the other side the hardcore fans will still buy em and thats the number u r going to see.
enrikk- August 17, 2012 at 4:11 am
One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is the predictability of this card. MMA is supposed to be great because we don't know what's going to happen next - whether it's an astounding Barbosa KO or a clinic of submission defense (Alan Belcher vs. Rousimar Palhares), we're always left guessing about what's about to happen. And even if the game plan is known (GSP vs Thiago Alves), sometimes it's amazing just to watch it actually happen despite the other guy's best damn effort.

But we all knew what was going to happen between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson: Frankie was going to jiggle his head for 25 minutes and one of them would win via controversial decision. Frankie is the walking embodiment of job security for people like Cecil Peoples - Frankie could get in a fight with a bullet during a game of Russian Roulette and the game would end in a decision.

And yes, it's an impressive feat to be invincible like Frankie Edgar... except that if he held a gun to someone else, the same damn thing would happen. Somehow, the guy just can't finish a fight without the help of a clock. And the rest of the card? Guillard vs Cerrone was the only fight anyone wanted to see, and we all knew it would be short enough to fit in a .gif on our favorite MMA websites. So why buy the whole card?

It isn't just "big names": Shields is a name we recognize, and it's a name we AVOID. And yeah, the no-namers are the ones who put it all on the line, so why buy a PPV if the prelims are better AND free? And if Dana had given Fox better fights to start their deal, he wouldn't be having to be give away so many now (Swick/Johnson, Louzan/Varner, Machida/Bader) to apologize for the bad taste he left in everyone's mouth after the first shows. As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

I don't know where I'm going with this rant, but fuck, people can't seriously have expected this not to happen. I still love the sport more than almost anything... I'm still going to buy more PPVs than I probably should... but I'm not surprised at all that they're not seeing the numbers they (apparently) dreamed of. Maybe they should stop dreaming.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 17, 2012 at 7:11 am
Totally feel your pain bro.
enrikk- August 17, 2012 at 4:18 am
Wow, my post wasn't supposed to be that long. This is why I don't keep a twitter account - it isn't meant for people who type fast without conscious attention. Sorry, folks.
Mr_Misanthropy- August 17, 2012 at 1:35 am
@ ColdOnes

I realize they can't all be California Girls and I also think that having some slower fights is both inevitable and also good in the sense that they serve to highlight the great fights even more, but what grinds my gears are the fighters that fight to not fight, the decision fighters. Neutralizing all of your opponents offense while not inflicting any damage on them should not be a viable strategy for winning a sporting altercation that has a set time limit. I don't care who fights although I do like to watch people with good technique, especially those people who are there to fight to win. I am here for the violence. If things don't eventually change and there become too many of these professional stallers we will end up in the same boat as boxing. Personally, I can barely stand to sit through the twelve round hugging contest boxing has devolved into.
coldbeer78- August 17, 2012 at 12:37 am
Ok I realize my schedule conflicts with posting comments on time so this probably wont be read. I have been on CP for at least 5 years watching you all bitch and rant and bitch some more. Here is my thing... I order every UFC PPV because I never know what it going to happen. Do you all remember UFC 1 ? Back then nobody knew who the fuck Royce Gracie was or anybody else on the card. You ordered the early UFC events because you were like "holy shit! people are punching other people in the fucking face and I get to watch it!" I understand that you all want to see your favorite fighters or more recognizable fighters fight, and I do as well. Yet I always try to get back to my roots as a fan, just hoping to see a vicious knockout or a great scrap. Have you all become so jaded ?
JohnyBonezNmoans- August 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm
geulth gym- Worst title fight of all time?? come on scrub. Anderson Silva, Tito Ortiz, Geroge St. Pierre ALL imposing champs, have put on way worse shows than this. gtfo
JohnyBonezNmoans- August 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm
olympic games > recession > for factors of these numbers..NUFF said. But if I may, The numbers were incredibly high, and also impressive, considering.. MMA is on the fast track, on the left lane, in the right game, and it Aint slowing down. AT ALL! The one and only reason I don't but pay-per views is because of the bar options surrounding... In actuality, these reasons are from an increasingly quickining demise of the middle class. IMO most of these people (die hard fans) do not have access to these hot commodities. Bars that show this amazing shit for free aint everywhere my friends. The hard working, thin wallet people of Emerica, where most of this revenue/ratings stem from, are VERY suggestive in watching the illuminated Olympics FOR FREE. MMA is the truest sport there is, with antiquity greater than any of us can imagine. Now that I think about it....In some ways this COULD be a sign of something indeed...hmmmm
cttouch212- August 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm
I'm from jersey which is chock full of Edgar fans and some of the local bars didn't even opt to order the fights. Granted they pay a sizeable fee to do so you would assume with an NJ native they would foot the bill. The problem is there is just to many events to order them all. And the average everyday fan just wants to see a ground and pound 2 minute slug fest. I love Dana's vision but drawing boxing numbers just isn't in the cards as of yet. In due time we will see the numbers rise. We are watching a sport in its infancy and as the superstars grow the sport will grow with them.
jjrdias- August 16, 2012 at 3:33 pm
I guess Bisping's right: no one gives a fuck about the little guys.
guelph gym- August 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm
i watched it but didnt pay for nor would i pay for any ufc event by far the worst title fight i have ever seen in all of sports
Mr_Misanthropy- August 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm
Yeah, put good fights on cards and they sell. I don't care who is fighting as long as it is exciting. Look at how often the nobodies on undercards are out-performing big name stars. I got exactly what I expected from Edgar/ Henderson. I was hoping for something else but I expected exactly what I saw. You could tell that neither fighter went into that fight with the gameplan of finishing their opponent. They both were only looking for a dominant decision on the judge's scorecards. It's time to bring back Shimada Y?ji with his yellow cards and ref cam.
algiersheadkick504- August 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm
what did you expect? people really wanted to see cerrone vs guillard
DanFitPro- August 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm
Stop trying to hold an event every weekend and build up a quality card that fans want to see...holy shit that sounded like common sense...I hope it's not contagious
Grandmas Nutmeg- August 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm
I've ranted on this once already, but the problem is Jake Motherfucking Shields and his decision seeking cronies. Letting these fighters, almost, actively seeking decision victories makes the common man not want to buy PPV's. Don't let these assholes out of the cage until someone is knocked out, submitted, or dead from exhaustion. I guarantee the first 60 minute molestation-fest from Shields, Fitch or GSP would result in a riot that would easily rival the one that happened in Watts.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm
My thoughts on the actual article. It is ridiculous to have to pay money to view a sport anyways. There are way less HARDCORE fans of anything as opposed to casual fans. This is general across the board for all sports. With some cards being complete turds, $50-$60 per card, and the increase of free UFC on Fox/FX/FUEL, it is pretty obvious to me why the # of PPV buys are going down. The economy blows right now and UFC really expects HARDCORES every where to unite and buy EVERY PPV? Get the F out. Go down on price then and I guarantee you PPV #'s will go up dramatically. I used to buy all the cards, now unless the card has fights that really intrigue me I won't shell out $50 by myself. Not to mention, these days it seems like the bigger the names, the more the hype, and the more the "beef" the more card sucks. Maybe this is just me and I know it isn't true across the board but for the most part the bigger names with more to lose come into the fight not to lose where as the fighters with smaller names come in to win. I want to watch fighters who come to win not the ones who show up not to lose. Just my thoughts.
El Guapo- August 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm
We tried ordering the fights but got the runaround from direcTV. It was a trip tho because nobody really gave a shit. Initially the common theme was "I just wanna see the main event, maybe the Cowboy fight" but after a few minutes everybody started eating/drinking/smoking/snorting/sniffing/huffing and only a couple of us watched via Drano's link. I salute you, Drano, you're a good man.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm
UFC 147: Silva vs Franklin II. Man I must have been stuck in a whole or something for a really long time.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Ha, sorry guys. Totally read that as Anderson Silva vs Franklin not Wanderlei. My B yo.