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Tag: PPV buys

Wild Rumor of the Day: UFC 174 Did Less Than 100,000 Pay-Per-View Buys


(*crickets* / Photo via Getty)

Yesterday, MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer reported that UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw pulled an estimated 200,000-215,000 pay-per-view buys. While that number is certainly on the low end of UFC buyrates, it’s not a disaster by any means. Keep in mind that UFC 169 — a card that featured a Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber rematch, Jose Aldo defending his featherweight belt against Ricardo Lamas, and a high-profile heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir — only earned an estimated 230,000 buys back in February. On paper, UFC 173 was arguably a weaker offering, but the buyrate wasn’t that far off. Basically, it could have been a lot worse.

The bad news is, last weekend’s UFC 174: Johnson vs. Bagautinov event might have done a historically awful, Bellator-caliber buyrate. First, here’s Meltzer discussing the early estimates in his newsletter yesterday:

“It’s too early to get accurate numbers, but every indication we’ve gotten was very bad, and that it showed a steep decline from UFC 173, which was among the lower numbers of the last eight years. UFC PPV shows usually range from 200,000 to 500,000 Google searches after the event, and are usually in the top few searched for items in the country. A bad show may only do 100,000. Bellator’s show last month hit 100,000. A big show can top 500,000, with the shows that hover around 1 million buys usually doing anywhere from 1 million to 5 million searches. This show did less than 20,000, unheard of for a PPV…

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Update: Bellator 120 Pulled Over 100,000 Pay-Per-View Buys [WHAAAAAT?]


(Looks like Bjorn is dick-ridin’ all the way to the bank. / Photo via TheExaminer)

Earlier this week, initial estimates pegged Bellator 120: Rampage vs. King Mo as earning 65,000 pay-per-view buys — a number that exceeded the basement-level expectations of most observers. But it turns out that Bellator 120 wasn’t just a moral victory. As first reported by Sherdog (and later confirmed by MMAFighting), Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view card did over 100,000 buys, making it an unqualified success

Sherdog’s report was based on an anonymous source “speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release buy-rate data.” The source explained that the buyrate information will be readily available in Viacom’s SEC filings later this year.

In a statement released to MMAFighting, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney played it cool: “I won’t be discussing specific PPV buy rates, but what I can say is that with one of our main events falling out just seven days before our first PPV, a six figure plus buy rate is a good starting point. But, it’s just that, a starting point. My focus is to continue working with our partners at Spike to create the type of big event experience that we created on the 17th.”

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The Pay-Per-View Buyrate Estimates for UFC 169 and UFC 170 Are Not Awesome


(Ronda Rousey might actually be the biggest star the UFC has. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much. / Photo via Getty)

According to Dave Meltzer’s latest pay-per-view buyrate column on MMAFighting.com, the first two UFC PPV events of 2014 didn’t exactly blow the doors down.

Let’s start with UFC 169: Barao vs. Faber 2 on February 1st, which featured two championship fights (including a featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas in the co-main event), and a solid heavyweight feature between Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir. That show took in just 230,000 buys, by Meltzer’s estimates — the lowest total for a UFC PPV since last summer, when UFC 161 and UFC 163 completely crapped the bed. It’s worth noting that the first time Urijah Faber and Renan Barao headlined a pay-per-view (UFC 149), it pulled in a nearly identical number. Maybe the California Kid isn’t quite the superstar we’ve made him out to be.

Holding an event on a weekend when so much attention was focused on the Super Bowl gives the UFC a convenient excuse as to why UFC 169 may have underperformed. But it still doesn’t bode well for the promotion’s ability to sell pay-per-views for events headlined by male fighters under 155 pounds. UFC 169 featured Renan Barao, Urijah Faber, Jose Aldo — the only absent sub-155 star was Dominick Cruz — and they still barely cleared the UFC Mendoza Line of 200k buys.

The good news (or bad news, depending on how you look at it) is that Ronda Rousey is a bigger draw completely on her own than Barao, Faber, and, Aldo put together…

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The Benson Henderson Problem


(Photo via Getty)

Benson “Smooth” Henderson is a talented fighter with a knack for winning the fights he loses. But on the oft-overlooked business side of MMA, Henderson is a dud.

As champion, he consistently failed to move the needle in terms of PPV buys and ratings. His rematch against Frankie Edgar at UFC 150 drew a paltry 190,000 buys—one of the worst buyrates in recent UFC history.

The UFC shipped Henderson off to FOX for his next two outings, presumably to build his name via fighting on a massive television network. Henderson headlined UFC on FOX 5 and UFC on FOX 7. They both earned modest numbers, with the former receiving an average of 3.41 million viewers (1.6 rating in the adult 18-49 demo) and the latter 3.3 million viewers (1.6 rating in the adult 18-49 demo).

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Report: ‘Weidman vs. Silva 2′ Becomes 7th UFC Pay-Per-View to Break One Million Buys


(“Alright fellas, now let’s go eat!” — Matt Serra, pretty much any time of day. / Photo via MMAFighting.com)

It’s been over three years since the UFC produced a pay-per-view that earned more than one million buys, but it appears that UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva 2 has ended the drought. According to Dave Meltzer, UFC 168 broke the seven-figure threshold, selling up to 1.1 million PPVs.

If Meltzer’s projections are accurate, UFC 168 would become the seventh UFC PPV to earn a million-plus buyrate. The promotion first hit the mark with UFC 66: Liddell v. Ortiz II, which did an estimated 1,050,000 buys in December 2006. Two years later, the UFC scored back-to-back million-sellers with UFC 91: Lesnar v. Couture (1,010,000) and UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008 (1,000,000).

In July 2009, the UFC put on its most successful show to date when UFC 100 — which featured Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre on the same card — took in an astounding 1.6 million buys, and in 2010, the promotion hit seven figures twice with UFC 114: Evans vs. Jackson in May (1,000,000) and UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin in July (1,060,000).

A small handful of UFC shows have crept into 900k+ territory since July 2010 — all headlined by superstars like Lesnar, St-Pierre, and Anderson Silva — but no others managed to score an even million until UFC 168, which could go down as the second-most-successful UFC PPV of all time. I guess MMA fans didn’t mind paying that extra five bucks after all.

Previously: ‘UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva 2? Earned the Second-Biggest MMA Live Gate in Nevada History

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Are Events Like UFC Fight Night 32 Why the UFC’s Popularity is Suffering?


(It’s almost 2014. Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort are still main-eventing UFC cards. / photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Cards like UFC Fight Night 32 are contributing to the death of MMA’s popularity in the US.

In case you haven’t noticed, the UFC’s numbers have been atrocious lately. UFC 165, a card headlined by the light heavyweight champion of the world and future of the company Jon Jones, drew a paltry 325,000 buys. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos III—the finale to the greatest trilogy in UFC heavyweight history—drew a slightly higher number at UFC 166.

The UFC has had woes on free television too. TUF is regularly breaking the wrong kinds of records. And the ratings on FOX Sports 1 have been inconsistent at best. They started strong with a tremendous 1.7 million (back to 2011 Spike TV levels) for UFC Fight Night 26, dropped 54% to 824,000 viewers for UFN 27, fell a further 35% to 539,000 for UFN 28, rose to 638,000 for 29, and stayed at that level for the next fight night card on FOX Sports 1, UFC Fight Night 31 (a.k.a. UFC Fight for the Troops 3).

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‘TUF 18′ Episode 9 CRUSHES The Record for Least-Viewed Episode Ever


(I *begged* them to have “Oh Yeah” playing in the background of this scene, but did they listen to me? Nooooooo.)

Yesterday, we mentioned that the Ultimate Fighter 18 mid-season recap episode which aired on October 23rd was the least-viewed episode in the history of the series. To be specific, it received an average of only 476,000 viewers, a 24% drop from the previous low-water mark of 624,000 average viewers, brought in by TUF 16 episode 5. It was a poor showing, without question, but you can’t expect much out of a clip-show, especially since it was competing against the first game of the World Series. Surely, the numbers would bounce back the following week, when there was an all-new episode with a women’s fight on the schedule.

Actually, the numbers sunk even further. On October 30th, TUF 18 episode 9 — which featured the forcible ejection of Cody Bollinger and a savage performance by Sarah Moras — received a viewer average of only 452,000, a 5% drop from the freakin’ clip show. Obviously, the numbers were hurt once again by having to compete with Game 6 of the World Series, but it’s safe to assume that the UFC will never put together a mid-season recap episode for TUF ever again, because that shit is apparently ratings suicide. (By the way, is there really that much crossover between MMA fans and baseball fans? I can’t think of two more dissimilar sports, but I guess a lot of people were watching the MLB post-season this year. I don’t know. I wasn’t one of them.)

The recent TUF ratings news is just the latest in a string of bad viewership numbers for the UFC…

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The ‘FOX Boost’ Is a Myth: There’s No Formula to Create New UFC Stars


(Benson Henderson peers warily at the buyrate for UFC 164. / Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

By Matt Saccaro

Congratulations are in order for FOX and the UFC. They took a terrible draw in Benson Henderson and made him into merely a bad draw.

Henderson was partially responsible for one of the worst pay-per-view buyrates in recent UFC history — an estimated 190,000 buys for UFC 150 against fellow failure-to-move-the-needle Frankie Edgar. Henderson was so bad that the UFC kept him off PPV for an entire year after UFC 150, instead preferring to use their shows on FOX to build him up. After these shows, the UFC decided to put Henderson back in a PPV main event at UFC 164, presumably in order to see if FOX turned the ho-hum fighter into a star.

I noted the importance of UFC 164’s PPV performance in a previous article:

If UFC 164 can boast a decent buyrate, then the theory that the UFC can use FOX to create the next generation of stars will be proven true, and the UFC’s future will be a little more secure. But if UFC 164 fails as hard as UFC 150 did — if promoting a fighter TWO TIMES on one of the biggest networks on television failed to make that fighter a draw — then the UFC is in trouble. That would mean one champion who would be dead weight on a card, in addition to the champions from the lighter men’s weight classes who have all yet to establish themselves as major PPV draws.

UFC 164 didn’t perform as poorly as UFC 150. It drew an estimated 270,000 buys.

“That’s great! It’s about a 42% increase over last time,” you say? Yeah, that’s true, but let’s look at it another way.

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TJ Grant vs. Benson Henderson Sums Up the UFC’s Most Frustrating Problem: Their Inability to Create New Stars


(TJ Grant, doing his impression of a UFC fan who’s just been told that TJ Grant will be headlining a pay-per-view. Photo via MMAJunkie)

By Matt Saccaro

Most casual fans couldn’t pick Benson Henderson — a world title holder — or TJ Grant — a man challenging for a world title — out of a lineup.

That’s not either guy’s fault. Benson Henderson managed to get the nod from the judges in his last three title defenses, scoring victories over the likes of Gilbert Melendez and Nate Diaz. And TJ Grant has put together a five-fight winning streak, most recently sending Gray Maynard down faster than Zynga’s stock price.

But that’s the problem: A fight between two guys who have done nothing but kick ass isn’t moving the needle. It’s not that the populace has run out of fucks to give about Henderson and Grant, they just never gave any in the first place.

Want proof?

Look at the estimated buyrates for Henderson’s PPVs. Henderson hasn’t been on a PPV since UFC 150 in August 2012, a card that earned a pathetic 190,000 buys. People don’t want to part with their cash to see Benson Henderson, so the UFC started giving him away for free on FOX. Bendo main evented two FOX cards which performed okay ratings-wise.

The UFC is putting Henderson back on PPV at UFC 164 for his title defense against TJ Grant. This PPV is a Battle of the Blackwater moment for the UFC. If UFC 164 can boast a decent buyrate, then the theory that the UFC can use FOX to create the next generation of stars will be proven true, and the UFC’s future will be a little more secure. But if UFC 164 fails as hard as UFC 150 did — if promoting a fighter TWO TIMES on one of the biggest networks on television failed to make that fighter a draw — then the UFC is in trouble. That would mean one champion who would be dead weight on a card, in addition to the champions from the lighter men’s weight classes who have all yet to establish themselves as major PPV draws.

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‘St. Pierre vs. Condit’ Earned Up to 700,000 Pay Per View Buys, For the UFC’s Third-Best Showing of 2012


(Being the ‘King of PPV’ has its perks. Photo via CombatLifestyle)

It is no wonder Dana White called Georges St. Pierre the “King of Pay Per View” (PPV) on a conference call tuesday. UFC 154, which featured the return of the welterweight champion, succesfully defending his title against interim champ Carlos Condit, did anywhere between 680,000 to 700,000 buys, according to Dave Meltzer.

Meltzer has used industry sources to report PPV buy estimates reliably and accurately for years. In his latest column for MMA Fighting, Meltzer says that the St. Pierre vs. Condit event was the third-highest performing PPV for the organization this year, behind only UFC 148 which featured Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II, and UFC 145 which was headlined by Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans.

Both UFC 148 and 145 were centered on intense and well-publicized rivalries. UFC 154′s success can likely be attributed more singularly to the personal popularity of the returning Georges St. Pierre. As Meltzer explains:

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