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Tag: UFC ratings

#TheTimeIsNow — But Only Because of Jon Jones

(Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

MMA reached its zenith at UFC 182 on Saturday, but if you looked at and listened to the crowd throughout the night you’d have hardly recognized that.

The audience was sparse and half-dead. They’d have done a wave to entertain themselves if the first four fights of the PPV — four decisions featuring unimpressive and sluggish performances — hadn’t already put them to sleep. An incessant stream of “this event sucks” tweets rolled in. This script has played itself out in the past. A card that’s supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport turns out to be a boring, uninteresting, overhyped amalgam of everything wrong with it, only this time we spent an extra $5. It appeared the poor showings, as well as the restless (and partially absent) audience would ruin one of the most anticipated UFC cards in recent memory.

Then Jon Jones fought Daniel Cormier.


Brock Lesnar Is Probably Coming Back to the UFC (But It Doesn’t Matter. Here’s Why)

(Brock Lesnar flashes a rare smile after being informed he’s the highest-paid 5-3 fighter of all time. / Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Brock Lesnar will likely return to the UFC in 2015, but it won’t usher in a new golden age for MMA.

The news of Lesnar’s UFC return came recently. Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that “within the [WWE], the belief is that he’s going back to the UFC, and his showing up lighter to TV last week confirmed that to people who thought it.”

Earlier this year, UFC President Dana White expressed openness to a Lesnar return, and even claimed Lesnar was willing to return. “We have a great relationship with him,” said White. “We’ll see what happens.”

Furthermore, Lesnar’s longtime friend Paul Heyman noted this summer that Lesnar still has an intense drive to compete in the Octagon.

Unlike every other time Brock Lesnar’s name has been in the headlines over the last few years, this round of “Is Lesnar coming back” speculation isn’t a gimmick to drive up pageviews during a slow news week. This appears to be the real deal. Lesnar is coming back. However, unlike conventional wisdom would have you believe, it won’t do a damn thing to turn the UFC’s fortunes around.


Zuffa Earnings Down 40 Percent in 2014 Due to Fighter Injury, Reports S&P

Dana White Fertittas Brock Lesnar Lorenzo Frank III MMA photos funny
(Looks like it’s time to start calling some old boyfriends, boys!)

In August of 2011, the UFC inked a multi-year deal with FOX, in what remains the biggest broadcasting deal in MMA history. As per the deal, the UFC increased their amount of events per year from 27 in 2011 to 32 in 2012. What followed was the now infamous year of the “injury curse”, wherein over 105 fights were cancelled due to injury.

It’s been much of the same for the UFC ever since, with most of the promotion’s champions being forced to the sidelines with long-term injuries or other affliction’s in the past two years. Fun fact: There have been just 11 title fights in 2014, with six of those fights belonging to Jose Aldo, Ronda Rousey, and Demetrious Johnson. Fan complaints of oversaturation have reached a fever pitch, and in July, the UFC was forced to cancel UFC 176 in the wake of Aldo’s injury.

But you already know this. Any MMA fan who has been paying at least half-attention to the sport in recent years has seen the negative effects the UFC’s increased schedule has had on their product. What you might not know, however, is just how bad the injury bug of 2012-2014 is affecting Zuffa’s earnings, and Standard and Poor’s recent assessment of Zuffa (via MMAJunkie) paints a pretty ugly picture…


UFC 177′s PPV Numbers Confirm That Nobody Cares About Little Bantamweights, Either

(“I’m not mad at you, TJ, I’m just disappointed.”)

Let’s be honest, UFC 177 was all but doomed to be a pay-per-view failure before it even got out of the gate. The only fight with even a trace of heat on it was the main event, an all-too-soon rematch between Renan Barao and TJ Dillashaw, which lost one of its players the day before the event was scheduled to take place. Toss in the fact that the card was reduced to just 8 fights after Henry Cejudo went and Henry Cejuodo’d and you’ve got yourselves the makings of a real stinkeroo right there.

And while it’s true that UFC 177′s PPV figures are supremely underwhelming – MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer pinpoints the number around 125,000 buys — the card really performed better than it had any right to. Despite losing its main event at the last minute, UFC 177 still outperformed UFC 174, which final estimations pinned between 95,000 to 115,000 buys. In any case, UFC 177 marks just the third time in the modern era that a UFC pay-per-view has scored below 200,000 buys, along with 174 and UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie, which netted just 180,000 buys.

The concerning issue here is that the amount of exposure given to the lighter weight classes through FOX events has had little impact on the pay-per-view numbers generated by its most reliable stars — specifically, Demetrious Johnson, who has headlined three UFC on FOX events but has yet to see any increase in his PPV sales despite his success. As Meltzer explained…


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).


Numbers Confirm That WAY More People Receive FOX Sports 1 Than FUEL TV

Dana White Fertittas Brock Lesnar Lorenzo Frank III MMA photos funny
(That awkward moment when you realize you jumped ship way, way too soon.)

I imagine that after receiving the ratings numbers for Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen this morning, Dana White calmly asked everyone to get the fuck out of his office, closed the door, threw on some Rage and did the following…

It would be hard to blame him if he did, because early figures for the UFC’s debut on the FOX Sports 1 network are nothing short of astounding. According to a press release sent out this morning, Saturday’s main card at the TD Garden averaged over 1.7 million viewers, shattering the UFC’s previous FUEL ratings like they were Corey Hill’s leg:

FOX Sports 1, driven by UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SHOGUN VS. SONNEN, posted an average audience of 1.71 million viewers in prime time (8:00-11:00 PM ET), a more than 10-fold increase compared to that which SPEED, FOX Soccer and FUEL TV combined to deliver on the comparable night a year ago (141,000). Among younger demographics the comparisons are even more significant. FOX Sports 1 viewership was over 25 times greater than SPEED/FOX Soccer/FUEL TV among both Adults 18-49 and Men 18-49, and 40 times greater among Adults 18-34 and M18-34. 


‘TUF 17 Finale’ Draws 1.7 Million Viewers for Highest Rated FX Finale Yet

(Cat Zingano’s emotional entrance that was sadly cut from the FX broadcast. “The fights that will silence WMMA detractors,” indeed.)  

Just a quick update on the TUF 17 Finale, which continued with the recent trend of steadily rising UFC events to air on the FX network this past weekend. Whether it was the lure of seeing Uriah Hall cement his status as “The nastiest guy in TUF History” (Spoiler Alert: He didn’t.), the promise of the next challenger to Ronda Rousey’s throne, or the chance to catch a good old fashioned throwdown between two of the WEC’s finest, the TUF 17 Finale was a clear success all the way from the quality of the fights themselves to the ratings numbers the event was able to draw in. MMAJunkie’s John Morgan passed along the numbers via Twitter:


‘UFC 157′ Ratings Update: Rousey and Carmouche Prove That Girls Can In Fact Run This Motha

(And the song Ronda chose to accompany this momentous occasion with? Oh, you best believe it was some Geto Boys. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.) 

Of all the controversy that was brought to light in the weeks following the announcement of UFC 157 (WOMEN HEADLINERS?!, Dan Henderson playing second fiddle to WOMEN HEADLINERS?!, etc.), one issue that seemed to cling around more than most was that of pay-per-view buys. Specifically, how the UFC honestly expected a card featuring WOMEN HEADLINERS to draw diddly squat for viewers in the male-dominated sport of MMA. Because if we wanted to see two broads fight over a leather and gold belt, we’d go to Macy’s on Black Friday, amiright?

Well, we hate to spoil the misogynist fantasy, but it looks like WMMA (or at least Ronda Rousey) could turn out to be a huge draw for the UFC. The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer spoke earlier today about the preliminary PPV estimates for UFC 157 and suffice it to say, they are a lot better than many of us would have predicted:

Over 400,000….they’re absolutely thrilled. The show, it was…they had predicted 250. Budgeted 250, I shouldn’t say predicted. But I mean, the predictions internally were 250-300. So they blew away their predictions, big time…They’re expecting big replay buys. Big replay buys means 25,000-30,000 more than they have right now. It could do mid fours, maybe more, but that’s a nice number to say.


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


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:


‘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…