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Tag: ratings

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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The UFC’s Future Depends on Anderson Silva Losing to Chris Weidman


(Photo via Getty.)

By Matt Saccaro

This is one of those articles where you actually have to read what I say before you bash me in the comments.

It has become fashionable to criticize the UFC because of the declining numbers and questionable business decisions. The main point of the decline of the UFC ™ argument is the lack of stars present on the UFC’s roster. Georges St-Pierre is gone, and there’s no Brock Lesnar (who’s definitely *not* coming back, BTW), Kimbo Slice or other massive promotional powerhouse to fill in the gap. Even worse, Anderson Silva‘s resplendently shining star was irrevocably dimmed by Chris Weidman via brutal (and somewhat hilarious) knockout.

If you subscribe to this narrative, UFC 168 represents a chance for the UFC to slow their decline. If Silva prevails, the UFC has a bankable champion again; the crisis of the UFC’s future isn’t averted per se but at least it’s delayed.

This is the wrong way to look at it.

First, Anderson Silva is 38 years old. Despite his ten-fight deal, he likely won’t be around much longer. Even if he does stay for a while, he won’t be the same fighter. UFC 162 taught us that. Silva was just a 1/2 second too slow against Weidman. How much slower will he be a year from now? Two years from now?

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The UFC’s Future More Uncertain Than Ever in the Wake of GSP’s Departure


(Photo via Getty)

The UFC can undergo a new renaissance or it can further fade into Toughman on FX-level obscurity—and it’s actions in the aftermath of GSP’s hiatus (and possible retirement) from MMA will determine which path the company takes.

GSP’s departure has come at a devastating time. The UFC is in a rut. TUF has long since stopped being the advertising vehicle/farm system it was years ago. Ratings are down. The worst part of all is that PPV—the UFC’s chief source of revenue—is lagging too. The culprit is a lack of stars, or rather the UFC’s apparent inability to replace the fading ones.

The UFC lost Chuck Liddell. The UFC lost Brock Lesnar. Rashad Evans, a good draw in his own right, is aging, as is the recently-toppled Anderson Silva. Ronda Rousey lost her luster and already put an expiration date on her career.

Now they’re short a Canadian superhero, a man who’s drawn an average of 800,000 buys over the last three years. And there are no young studs to pick up the slack. Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez are not fit to carry the company on their shoulders judging by the buyrates on their recent PPVs. The UFC’s young, great ethnic hopes—Tiequan Zhang, Erik Perez, and Erick Silva—haven’t developed as planned. Most importantly, the strategy of grooming Rory MacDonald to be GSP’s replacement has failed (or has at least been delayed).

The UFC’s future is still on the backs of aging warhorses whose knees are beginning to buckle.

Yet there is still hope.

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Five Obvious but Overlooked Things Fans Need to Remember About the UFC


(Just keep repeating to yourself, “Nobody’s making me watch this…nobody’s making me watch this…nobody’s making me watch this…”)

By Matt Saccaro

The UFC has come under fire lately for several reasons: Declining numbers, oversaturation, the fading of their stars, launching a digital network with a questionable premise, not hiring Ben Askren and so on. When we fling insults at the UFC, we need to remember a few things about the company in order to put these negative occurrences and circumstances into perspective. Let’s start with the most obvious but frequently-ignored point:

1. The UFC is a business.

The purpose of the UFC is to make its owners money. The UFC does not exist to feed fighters’ families. There’s not much else to say on this front. Companies have to make money to be viable. Yeah, it sucks that some guys get paid an absurdly small amount of money for what they do, and it sucks that the UFC is upping the PPV price.

That’s just something we have to deal with though. If you don’t like it, vote with your dollar. If enough people tune out, Zuffa’s wallet will know and they’ll either change their tune accordingly or lose money.

2. The UFC is an international company.

There’s been talk about the UFC hiring unfit-for-television jobbers lately. It’s true but necessary. The UFC is headed to distant lands where MMA is in its most nascent stages. The talent pool in these places is more like a mud puddle. The UFC has to work with what it’s given in China and Singapore. Deepening foreign talent pools can only happen by growing the sport overseas, and growing the sport overseas can only happen when they have foreign (foreign to us, home grown to them) fighters on the card. And since there aren’t many great foreign fighters, the UFC has to scrape the bottom of a very empty barrel. This results in fighters getting a place in the “Super Bowl of MMA” who shouldn’t even be in the bleachers, let alone on the field.

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UFC Booking Alert: Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi to Headline FOX Sports 2 Event, Feb. 8th in Brazil


(Come February, we’ll find out if “Middleweight Machida” is on par with “Motivated Penn” and “Broke Fitch.” / Image via Getty)

Good idea: Booking a stylistically interesting match between a resurgent Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi for February 8th in Jaraguá do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Bad idea: Booking it as the main event of a UFC Fight Night card on FOX Sports 2…because Machida main-eventing on that channel worked so well the first time.

Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi is a fight that’ll make hardcore fans happy. It’s one of those matches where you can’t help but go “Hmm, I really wonder how that’s gonna play out,” when you hear that it’s been booked. That’s what we did at CagePotato HQ. We stroked our burgeoning beards and pondered who would win.

Machida is coming off a dominant head-kick knockout of Mark Munoz, in the Dragon’s debut at 185 pounds. Mousasi, while on a four-fight winning streak, hasn’t competed since April 2013. By the time he steps into the cage against Machida in February, the Armenian will have nearly a year’s worth of ring rust.

No other matchups have yet been announced for the 2/8 Fight Night card, which will take place at the Arena Jaragua, the same venue that previously hosted Belfort vs. Rockhold. So will February’s lack of baseball produce a considerable uptick in ratings? Or is this one of those international events that us North Americans aren’t supposed to care about in the first place? Either way, we’ll keep you posted on any more updates for this card, or if either combatant pulls a Lil’ Nog.

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Counterpoint: Signing UFC Washouts Has Significantly Boosted Bellator’s Ratings (Sort Of) (Maybe)


(If you think Bellator’s main carders are old, you obviously haven’t checked out their prelims in a while…)

After months of rolling our eyes while trying to make sense of Bellator’s new “sign pretty much anyone the UFC cuts and pray that it boosts our ratings” business model, the ratings for Bellator 99 – the promotion’s first show as The MMA Senior Circuit – are finally in.

The show drew in 660,000 viewers, which is fairly impressive on its own, but even more so next to the 437,000 viewers that Bellator 98 drew in. Also significant, Bellator 99′s main event featuring Patricio Pitbull and UFC also-ran Diego Nunes hit a high point of 809,000 viewers, as opposed to the 595,000 viewers that Fight of the Year candidate Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper managed to attract.

Now, how you chose to interpret these numbers depends entirely on who you feel like being cynical towards this afternoon.

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Let the Ratings Decline Begin: Bellator to Begin Airing Events on Friday Nights


(Aaaaaaaannnnndddd it’s gone.) 

The study of TV trends/viewership is an interesting and incredibly thorough one, but there is perhaps no television trend more notorious than the Friday Night Death Slot, which maintains that any program placed in the graveyard slot (approximately 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) on a Friday night is ultimately destined for cancellation. Countless examples can be cited to back this theory: Malcolm in the Middle, Firefly, the criminally overlooked Happy Endings, and of course, Fridays. In fact, the dreaded time slot can even be held (at least partially) accountable for the abysmal ratings of TUF 15 and TUF 16.

Of course, some scheisters out there will try to convince you that Friday night is primo advertising time, throwing all sorts of fancy “facts” and “numerical data” at you in the process, which probably explains why Bellator is voluntarily moving their events to Friday nights starting in the fall. Loretta Hunt was the first to pass along the news:

To avoid the NFL crush, Bellator MMA will move from Thursday to Friday nights this fall, Spike TV president Kevin Kay exclusively told SI.com during a screening this week forFight Master, its original MMA reality series debuting on June 19.

I don’t want to see Bellator going head to head with the UFC,” said Kay. “I don’t think that makes any sense for fans. No matter who would win in that scenario (Author’s note: The answer you’re looking for is “the UFC”), you don’t want to not give the fans the choice to watch both.

Kay goes on to cite TUF 16 as an *example* of a show doing well during the Friday slot, as well as the Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush”, which averages 4 million viewers on Friday nights. Yes, a show that captures all the drama of sifting through sand reels in 4 million of us — week, after week, after mind-numbing week — before we switch over to the History Channel to watch people drive trucks across icy roads for the eighth year in a row. Meanwhile, Arrested Development was cancelled after 3 seasons. This is why we can’t have nice things, Nation.

-J. Jones

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Ratings Update: UFC 156 Prelims Set Record Numbers, Epic KO Fails to Boost TUF 17


(“I’LL ASK YOU ONE MORE TIME, JAY, WHO TATTOOED THIS AFFLICTION SHIRT TO YOUR BACK?!”) 

If the first month is any indication, 2013 is going to be a good year for MMA. There hasn’t been a significant injury in weeks (sorry Patricky), title fights are almost starting to make sense, and on top of it all, the UFC’s primetime ratings are slowly beginning their climb out of the abyss. Throw in the fact that Bruce Buffer’s upcoming autobiography is all but a shoe-in for a Pulitzer and we are left with little to complain about. It feels…good.

So before we jinx ourselves, let’s get to the great news regarding the preliminary portion of UFC 156, which was able to pull in record numbers during its run on FX last Saturday despite the fact that it featured several debuting fighters and not a lot of name power. As MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer reports:

Saturday’s UFC 156 prelims drew 1,897,000 viewers, topping the previous UFC on FX record of 1,860,000 viewers set two weeks earlier for the Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping card from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The number was a huge increase from the prelims on FX on Jan. 26 before the FOX network special from Chicago’s United Center which did 1,208,000 viewers.

The largest previous audience on FX for prelims before a big show came on July 7 when theUFC 148 prelims did 1.8 million viewers. But that was to be expected, since there was more interest in UFC on that day with the Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen middleweight title rematch than any day over the past two years. 

After almost ten minutes of research, we have determined that there are only two real explanations for the UFC’s sudden viewership jump:

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‘UFC on FOX 6′ Ratings Update: Flyweights Pull Strong Numbers, Fall Just Short of Henderson vs. Diaz


(The average new viewer tuned in for 5 minutes and 54 seconds before realizing they weren’t watching ‘America’s Best Dance Crew.’ Photo via Tracy Lee/Cagewriter.)

For those of you who thought that the UFC’s decision to headline a FOX card with 125-pounders was promotional suicide, it’s time to eat some crow. According to the final ratings numbers, UFC on FOX 6: Johnson vs. Dodson drew an average of 4.4 million viewers last Saturday, peaking at 5.2 million viewers for the flyweight championship main event. That’s only a slight decrease from the viewership of the last FOX card, which attracted 4.4 million average viewers with a peak of 5.7 million for the Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz lightweight title fight.

Judging from the data here and here, Johnson vs. Dodson’s 5.2 million viewer peak would place it around #13 on the list of the most-watched MMA fights of all time in the United States. It’ll be interesting to see how the next UFC on FOX event on April 20th stacks up, as it features a returning star in Benson Henderson — and an excellent heavyweight feature adding weight to the main card — but won’t benefit from the frequent promos during NFL broadcasts that UFC on FOX 6 received.

For a quick comparison of the average viewerships for each UFC on FOX card so far, check out the numbers after the jump…

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Insult to Injury: ‘Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine’ Ratings Tank. Like Really Tank.


(Look at it this way, Nate, at least no one saw Tarec do this to you.) 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve referred to Strikeforce’s final event as a lot of things: “a series of pathetic mismatches on the level of Pros vs. Joes,” “an injury-riddled metaphor for MMA in 2012,” “a once great promotion, now, a study in moppishness,” but no matter how hard we try, words often fail to accurately depict Strikeforce’s drawn out fall from grace.

But where words fail, numbers often succeed. And ladies and gentlemen, the numbers that were just released for Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine say so, so much more than we ever could. According to MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer, the promotion’s final event brought in less viewers than your average Tuesday afternoon rerun of a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode. No, I am not currently watching a rerun of a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode. Meltzer writes:

Saturday night’s show was headlined by Nate Marquardt vs. Tarec Saffiedine for the Strikeforce welterweight title, but was really promoted around being the end of an era. However, there was little fan interest in that nostalgia and the event did a 0.82 rating and 310,000 viewers among Showtime subscribers.

From a rating standpoint, the only major Saturday night show on the network that did a number in that ballpark was the September 10, 2011, show from Cincinnati…did an identical 0.82 rating, with 274,000 viewers.

Ouch. While there’s no doubt that the removal of guys like Luke Rockhold and Gil Melendez from the card — and the subsequent cancelling of their title fights — is at least partly responsible for these abysmal ratings, we’re not sure anyone could have seen the former #2 promotion in MMA ending its career on lamer terms than, say, Ice-T in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. 

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