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« | Home | »

The lay of the land for UFC in Q1 2011

By Zach Arnold | March 4, 2011

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The short version: More negative than positive trends.

The long version: More complicated and detailed.

Heading into Q2 and the rest of the calendar year, things look real big for the promotion. However, the Q1 has given us a glimpse into what the fans think and, so far, the fans see a lot of ’second-tier’ fighters that they may watch on free TV or even take a pass on but would never consider paying to watch in a high-profile position. Dave Meltzer says the initial estimate for a buy rate for UFC 127 (Australia) is in the 250-300k range for Jon Fitch vs. BJ Penn. About what I expected. Plus, we know how Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar drew on PPV. Throw in the military charity event on Spike and the ION time buys and what you get is that there’s some interest, but not nearly the explosive kind of numbers that you were seeing as recently as a couple of years ago.

With more content available and much of it looking the same production-wise and booking-wise, today’s breed of fans are more selective and impatient as opposed to the old school MMA fans who treated everything as a big event.

(Jeff Thaler was talking to me on the phone a few days ago about this. Jeff says ‘hi’ to everyone out there in the readership.)

Yesterday’s UFC show on Versus drew a 0.7 cable rating. Expected, but not a great number. Especially compared to TNA drawing a goofy 1.4 rating for their dreadful wrestling show on Spike TV. Irony there given that Joe Warren, of all people, was on the telecast to plug Bellator on MTV2. The Versus shows for UFC simply aren’t drawing the eyeballs like the Spike TV telecasts and even the Spike shows are stagnant right now.

I don’t think UFC has plateaued by any means in terms of live business, but the TV side may be where it’s going to stay the same or decline a little. With Australia proving its worth as a big-time foreign market and Canada proving to be golden, the question now becomes what to do internationally and on television in a landscape where a lot of fans Stateside are giving more fighters the thumbs down than the thumbs up in terms of paying to watch them or even watch them for ‘free’ on cable. I would be remiss in forgetting to note how Strikeforce did on Showtime last month as compared to some of UFC’s cable TV events.

So I’ll throw the question out there — is the MMA fan base fragmenting into anti-UFC and pro-UFC as far as viewership goes? Normally, the pattern has been that you have your UFC fans and then some of those fans will watch ‘the competition’ but treat it as secondary. Are we starting to see real polarization in choice? I’m not talking about the simple message board flame wars, but a real honest-to-goodness polarization taking place amongst MMA consumers?

What can UFC do about the general consumer placing many of the fighters in the second-tier ‘not gonna pay to watch’ category? Let’s hear your constructive thoughts. Yes, I said constructive.

Bonus question: Has bad officiating (referee work & judge scoring) chased some fans away from watching the sport?

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 36 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

36 Responses to “The lay of the land for UFC in Q1 2011”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    I wrote this in the previous thread but it really pertains more gothic topic…..

    This show got wrecked in the ratings. Under 700,000 average. It means a few things.

    1) Both the Versus and ION ratings show how much of a niche this sport really is.

    2) Versus is not a good channel for MMA. I’ve always said anything under 1 million for an average means its just not enough viewers. Really the only station to provide that stability for the sport has been SpikeTV.

    3) Speaking of SpikeTV….. It is becoming more and more obvious that they need the UFC just as much as the UFC needs them.

    4) Too much MMA on TV? Is viewer fatigue starting to set in? It’s only going to get worse over the next 3 months between the UFC, SF, and Bellator. I think people will always come out for the biggest fights. But when they run 3 shows a month and there are 2 other companies putting on MMA at the same time….. Something is going to suffer. Which is most likely Bellator’s ratings…. SF Challenger and lower level championship cards….. And the lower level UFc cards. Heck, this is their 3rd best event of March…..

    To add to this specific topic….

    I do think the UFC has hit a plateau in US ratings. There is still room for growth internationally but that’s it. The only way for them to break that plateau is to get on a much more high profile cable channel like FX or get something like 6 shows a year on CBS or NBC. But I don’t see that happening. How can they sell a big contract to NBC when they have ION ratings like that?

    And this will effect the rest of the business. Bellator is going to be in a world of hurt. They are either splitting audiences with SF or changing times to avoid the UFC. And only the real diehards are going to watch 6 straight hours of MMA on the night of a UFC PPV. As for SF…. We have seen that their challenger shows still can’t draw any reasonable ratings to get a larger fan base interested in their cards. And the championship cards need to prove to be sustainable at a higher level before I would be willing to say they have increased overall viewership.

    I don’t think the judging has much to do with fans. I just think there is just too much MMA. The UFC already splits their own audience by running so many shows. SF and Bellator will dent each other enough that it’s not good for the overall growth of the sport.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      “What can UFC do about the general consumer placing many of the fighters in the second-tier ‘not gonna pay to watch’ category? Let’s hear your constructive thoughts. Yes, I said constructive.”

      Very simple. Don’t put shows like Fitch/Penn on PPV. That show could have done 2.5 Million on SpikeTV due to Penn’s name value. But expecting people to buy it is an insult to their fanbase. One PPV per month maximum.

      And in the case if weaker title fights like Edgar/Maynard…. Do what they are doing for their 3rd fight. Stack the card with high quality named fighters.

      Also don’t forget that the general fans don’t know who these FW & BW fighter are still. The TUF in September will change that and give them more potential “stars” to headline cards. One of my predictions for 2011 was that PPV numbers would be down due to the transition both internationally and with weight classes the UFC is doing. Sofar that seems to he true. I expect that trend to continue until at least the end of the year. By next year…. And once Aldo, Faber, Torres, and Cruz are seen a few times by UFC fans…. Things will get better.

      So I guess the UFC is already doing what is necessary for the future. They just need to let time run it’s course for it to happen.

      “What can UFC do about the general consumer placing many of the fighters in the second-tier ‘not gonna pay to watch’ category? Let’s hear your constructive thoughts. Yes, I said constructive.”

      I think they have already started that process. It was the entire reason the WEC was merged in the UFC. More title fights at the top of cards. More potential room for stars.

      The problem is that 2011 will be a transition year to make that happen. Fans will have to see Aldo, Faber, Torres, and others a few times to make that a reality.

      More weight classes was the only way international expansion could ever work in the long run. It’s also the only way higher level of interest can be obtained for fighters. The more title fights or #1 contender fours is necessary. But they aren’t there yet….

  2. Joey says:

    If they want to make a bigger impact in TV it looks like upgrading the real estate is necessary. Spike hit for them and is now a mainstay but ION, nah. They’ll have to move to bigger channels like higher level cable and network.

    I like the FX idea because their primetime shows are pretty gritty and man friendly, a UFC main event leading into SoA, Justified, or Lights Out is a good idea.

  3. David M says:

    I agree about not putting on weak ass pay per views that have no undercard (like BJ v Fitch). However, in the minds of Dana/Fertittas, 300k buys x 50 dollars > whatever additional revenue they could have gotten from making that fight the number 2 show on a PPV. I am assuming they have done a bunch of research on this and have come to that conclusion. Shogun v Jones should draw a huge buy rate, and while having BJ Penn on the card would certainly make the card even more awesome, Fitch’s presence only makes people less likely to purchase the show.

  4. Light23 says:

    I don’t think “anti-UFC” consumers exist outside of a small number of hardcore MMA fans who frequent forums.

    Seriously Zach, this isn’t pro wrestling. There’s not two “products” in Strikeforce and UFC. This isn’t like WWE vs TNA. It’s all just MMA. Fans just want to see high level MMA, entertaining fights, and intriguing matchups. Pro wrestling isn’t a sport. Any promotion can create great storylines and top wrestlers, but you can’t just create top 10 MMA fighters.

    I watch MMA for the fighters. Which promotion puts on the fight is meaningless to me, as long as it’s an intriguing fight. The only difference between the promotions is commentary and production. Strikeforce has crappier production than the UFC and Bellator, but at least it’s a nice change.

    The reason I watch UFC so much, and why I’m excited about their shows, is because they book very interesting matchups and have 5x more of the top talent than anyone else.

    I’ll watch Strikeforce too – but only if they put on good fights e.g. I’ve bought a PPV package with all the Grand Prix events, and I’ll be buying Diaz vs Daley on PPV.

    The only reason I’d be anti-Strikeforce is that they’re horribly incompetent. The UFC almost single handedly carries and grows the sport, and they do a pretty good job at it, so I don’t want these other numpties to get huge and mess it all up.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Seriously Zach, this isn’t pro wrestling. There’s not two “products” in Strikeforce and UFC. This isn’t like WWE vs TNA. It’s all just MMA. Fans just want to see high level MMA, entertaining fights, and intriguing matchups. Pro wrestling isn’t a sport. Any promotion can create great storylines and top wrestlers, but you can’t just create top 10 MMA fighters.

      I used to think of it that way but I think the Feb. show felt like a turning point of sorts. Perhaps that is the Fedor fans en masse speaking, but there does seem to be an increasing, albeit small, audience that is anti-UFC and whatever is the alternative will be their platform to exercise their voice. Just like PRIDE, etc.

      And as far as top fighters go, it’s in the eye of the beholder as we’ve seen over the years with ranking lists featuring lots of non-UFC Top 10 guys from Japan and some not being able to tell fact from illusion.

      • Nottheface says:

        “And as far as top fighters go, it’s in the eye of the beholder as we’ve seen over the years with ranking lists featuring lots of non-UFC Top 10 guys from Japan and some not being able to tell fact from illusion.”

        Hell, I remember when Tim Sylvia and Arlovski were billed as the best HWs in the world and Liddell was the number 1 LHW because none of the UFC fans realized that Liddell was KOed by Rampage only a few years earlier.

        I think for a number of hardcore Strikeforce fans it has less to do with being anti-Zuffa or loyalty to Strikeforce and more to do with money. For the price of one HD UFC PPV you could get Showtime for 4 months and get the Diaz vs Cyborg, Fedor vs Silver, feijao vs Hendo, and Diaz vs Daley cards as well as all the Challenger cards and a bunch more programming. For someone with a family and can’t afford the $50 + every month for ppv and who doesn’t want to got t a bar to watch it, it seems like a pretty good deal to get your mma fix. I know a few guys this description fits,

        • Precious says:

          MMA is not asprin where you go the store and choose the non branded variety because it’s half off.

          Everyone who follows Sf or Bellator follows the UFC.

          You cant follow MMA without following the UFC. SF or Bellator is primarily followed by the hardcores who crave content in addition to the UFC NOT INSTEAD OF the UFC.

          Zach Arnold is wrong. This is not prowrestling or asprin.

        • Isaiah says:

          Right on, Precious. The “anti-Zuffa” MMA fan is a myth. There are fans who only follow and respect UFC-promoted fighters and fans who follow all of MMA closely, but there are no fans who watch non-UFC MMA exclusively or who doubt that a large majority of the best fighters in every division except arguably HW are in the UFC.

        • nottheface says:

          Precious,

          I am not saying they are not UFC fans, I am saying that they have chosen to focus on Strikeforce because they can’t afford to watch the UFC ppv events and they’re not going to go to a bar to watch it. With Strikeforce they can explain it away to their wives by saying their purchasing Showtime and get their fix on major MMA events.

  5. Chromium says:

    Zach I gotta disagree with you.

    Casual fans are not going to be nearly as aware of UFC prelims on ION or UFC events on Versus as they would be of any UFC even on Spile. Those are very excellent ratings for their respective networks.

    Fitch is not even much of a draw for hardcore fans. The card also was seriously lacking depth after Condit pulled out. You had Penn and Bisping as the biggest draws. 250k-300k is pretty bad, but I don’t think anyone really expected it to break 500k. It seems it got about the same as Velasquez vs. Nogueira at the last Australia show.

    My understanding is UFC 126 got somewhere around a million buys, which is a spectacular number and the most Anderson Silva has ever done. If nothing else it showed that depth on a card matters, and the UFC has that in spades.

    I don’t think the fanbase is anymore fragmented than it was two years ago. The anti-UFC fans are mostly a portion of the hardcore MMA nerds like us.

    The other remaining large promotions outside the UFC aren’t really surging or anything. StrikeForce is doing well financially but they are disorganized as hell with their booking, and can’t seem to develop depth in any division outside of HW. Bellator is doing okay carving out a niche for themselves but they are taking a huge gamble going on MTV2 (not that they had a choice). DREAM and Sengoku may have both done their last shows.

    Right now the UFC is a hundred miles ahead of everyone else and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, nor does the UFC appear to be on a downswing in terms of popularity.

    That being said, unlike Light23 I’d be fine with another promotion getting big if they managed to get their act together. No one is doing the sort of booking where their success might actually hurt the sport, the way EliteXC pushing Kimbo Slice as their biggest star was a fiasco waiting to happen

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Casual fans are not going to be nearly as aware of UFC prelims on ION or UFC events on Versus as they would be of any UFC even on Spile. Those are very excellent ratings for their respective networks.

      I would agree with you there. The demos are much friendlier on Spike for UFC than they are on ION and Versus. That said, the name of the game is to try to parlay the ION time buys into PPV buys and as we’ve seen with two weaker PPVs (Maynard/Edgar II & Fitch/Penn), it didn’t really work. Your point is well taken that what UFC delivered on the time buys is far better ratings than what ION pulled on their own accord with their programming.

      The UFC 126 show had major league to it and it was by far the company’s biggest highlight on PPV, with Toronto pre-ticket sales as the company’s most positive story.

      I don’t think the fanbase is anymore fragmented than it was two years ago. The anti-UFC fans are mostly a portion of the hardcore MMA nerds like us.

      I really don’t know about that. I think the SF ‘tournament’ was a way for Showtime to try to create an anti-UFC wave and create some pro-SF fans similar to PRIDE fans. It works with Fedor on a card (given Dana’s vitriol towards him), and maybe it might grow with Alistair if/when he fights again.

    • Light23 says:

      That being said, unlike Light23 I’d be fine with another promotion getting big if they managed to get their act together.

      Naw, I’d like another big promotion as long as they were competent. Having two large promotions seems to lead to more quality events, even if the talent pool is split.

      I loved having PRIDE and UFC, although in hindsight I’m not sure I’d want PRIDE back – rare title defenses, mismatches, freakshows, the rare fixed fight etc.

      My only possible objection to two large promotions is that it could hinder the sport entering the mainstream. A lot of casual observers like having just one champion unlike the fractured mess in boxing.

  6. Joe says:

    I think it’s a much more simple matter of market correction. Most casual fans see the UFC and MMA in general as a sport that’s good for the occasional thrill but is too brutal and perhaps confusing to be an every day sport.

  7. EJ says:

    “So I’ll throw the question out there — is the MMA fan base fragmenting into anti-UFC and pro-UFC as far as viewership goes? Normally, the pattern has been that you have your UFC fans and then some of those fans will watch ‘the competition’ but treat it as secondary. Are we starting to see real polarization in choice? I’m not talking about the simple message board flame wars, but a real honest-to-goodness polarization taking place amongst MMA consumers?”

    No, let’s not confuse the ratings as some people have different shows on different channels on different days and times draw not surprisingly different numbers.

    “What can UFC do about the general consumer placing many of the fighters in the second-tier ‘not gonna pay to watch’ category? Let’s hear your constructive thoughts. Yes, I said constructive.”

    Nothing, the UFC must continue to push their brand above anything else. They must make every show must see and push whoever is on these cards as must watch fighters. Now as always more stacked shows and titles fights will be bigger than overseas and more regular shows. But the UFC can’t change what’s helped make their business so successful. If that hurts them at times they can afford to since the way they structure their pay can make shows like UFC 127 very successful for them business wise even with a lower buy rate.

    “Bonus question: Has bad officiating (referee work & judge scoring) chased some fans away from watching the sport?”

    I think so, i’m about as hardcore fan as there is but even I get disheartened when I see bs decisions like Kampmann vs. Sanchez. That is the one thing that can hurt the business and the UFC and AC’s must work together to fix what is mma’s biggest problem.

  8. Dave says:

    I think Zach is bringing a pretty valid point up here with the possibility of UFC fans and non-UFC fans. All fan bases fragment over time, it is just how things work.

    There are options now, and when there are enough options available, fans are allowed to pick and choose what they watch. Part of UFC’s rapid growth and expansion is that with the good comes the bad. With the ability to promote more shows and have more fighters under contract, you give fans the ability to pick and choose what they care about. When you had 12 shows a year and a limited roster, it was a lot more difficult to miss a show.

    When there was a UFC show, it was “the fight” that night. You could be confident that the show you were seeing was the absolute best card that they could put together and you’d get your money’s worth.

    Now having a bloated roster that gives them the ability to put on lesser cards has sort of killed the buzz surrounding the shows. I sort of joked around with people about last night’s show, because it was so forgettable and poorly promoted, but it really was. I was on vacation for six days without a computer and then on Wednesday it hit me, “oh right, there is a UFC show coming up.” I had also, to a smaller degree, forgotten about Fitch/Penn.

    What is funny is, I write about fighting every day. My daily rotation of sites I read don’t forget about the fights, they always have stories up about them, but I without thinking skip those stories to ones that interest me, because I know there are so many shows and if one doesn’t appeal to me I don’t have to worry about it. On top of this, during a bad economy putting on this many PPVs you force fans to pick and choose, or lose $120 a month.

    The fact that other promotions exist and provide counter programming and an alternative to the more watered down UFC shows. Part of the problem with a possible splintering fan base is that Bellator and Strikeforce, UFC’s main US competition, offer shows that are essentially free. As long as you get the network they air on, you can watch it. In Strikeforce’s case, you pay 10-20 dollars a month and get access to Showtime’s other programming like Dexter and Weeds that people seem to enjoy.

    UFC has a problem in that the top tier fighters are on their own level and the rest all tend to blend together. Fighters that have built up a name for themselves get replaced at a rapid pace. Take for example Brandon Vera. Vera has headlined, had his name on the marquee for the last 2 out of the 3 shows he has been on. He also lost all three of those fights and was let go of UFC until Thiago Silva tested positive for PEDs.

    So Brandon Vera, a name big enough for UFC to justify having his name on the marquee for a numbered PPV event and a live television special, was expendable in a heartbeat. So let’s say you do let go of Vera, he goes and signs with Strikeforce and all of a sudden another name fighter shows up there and strings together a few impressive fights.

    In UFC they replace Vera with another fighter, an up-and-comer who has mainly been on undercards and minor cards, so now he is being pushed as the ‘real deal.’ The problem is, until he gets major wins or fights real competition, fans have no reason to invest in him. On the other hand, you keep Vera around and put him on undercards and let him work his way back up to the main cards and people will see another name they recognize on an undercard or minor card and feel compelled to watch.

    I know people don’t like pro wrestling analogies, but back in the day, WWF let a lot of their ‘older’ wrestlers go, they went to WCW and WCW was able to take these established names and effectively counter WWF programming for years. That is how you fracture a fan base.

    • EJ says:

      That’s quite a reach on multiple counts we’ve seen that guys leaving the UFC to go to other orgs hasn’t helped them get over with the fans. Whether it was AA and Big Tim going over to Affliction or Henderson going to SF didn’t translate in them gaining more popularity for these orgs.

      The other thing that stops mma from being anything like wrestling is that it’s real and when a guy is washed up there is no way to re-work him and give him a new gimmick. Once guys fall off and are done they are done for good a guy like Vera simply can’t compete at a high level anymore.

      Even fans of SF or Bellator know that the UFC is the big boys and they have the best fighters. Basically they are the NFL or MMA and in the end while fans might enjoy other shows they know that the UFC is the standard and that isn’t changing anytime soon.

      • Dave says:

        So do you think that Vera is shot? I’ve never been a fan of his, but it seems weird that a year ago they were promoting him as the real deal and a prospect that was back on track and now were so ready to just get rid of him. I don’t think that he has degraded as much as he found his ceiling. You know about gatekeepers, right? Guys like this are gatekeepers, and if you waste any amount of money promoting them, why cut them loose?

        Ok, so, Joe Stevenson. This guy won one of the seasons of TUF and has gotten FOTN 3 times now, yet found himself in his second “do-or-die” situation and lost a third fight in a row. His losses, for the most part, have all been to top-level competition and he dominated Nate Diaz in 2009. Cutting him says he isn’t on the ‘UFC level’ and tells everyone that, but does that mean the guys he beat aren’t?

        Plus it’s weird to justify cutting guys with name value while there are some fighters in the UFC that without a doubt do not belong there. That is why when people push that UFC level crap I just kind of laugh it off, as their roster is so bloated right now. Look at the UFC 127 undercard for recent proof of this.

        • Tommy says:

          Great article.

          Is the MMA fan base fragmenting into anti-UFC and pro-UFC as far as viewership goes?

          No, the promotions behind the UFC are just not nearly big enough for fans to think this way. SF is a solid number but they no they are #2 and are a distant #2. BFC is a default #3 and I dont think are any fans out there that are so anti-Zuffa that they would force themselves to only watch the BFC on MTV2.

          Could MMA fans ever split into WCW and WWF mid 90s pro wrestling factions? Sure it could but not for 3 or 4 years and the UFC would have to make more than handful of slips up for this to occur. I dont see any way that happen. It would have to be a perfect storm.

          Has bad officiating (referee work & judge scoring) chased some fans away from watching the sport?

          I think this is more of media agenda than something that actually affects the fans. Bad referees/judge scoring happen in all sports and any casual fans coming over to MMA may be already used to these type of things in the NBA, NFL, or MLB.

          If fans are going to leave MMA after a few bad decisions here and there they probably already viewed MMA as a fad anyway.

          In order to grow MMA has to cultivate and attract mainstream sports junkies (nightly sportscenter watchers, big into the three mainstream US sports but not sure about MMA yet), maybe by 2011 “the pro wrestling fans who converted over MMA” keg has been tapped.

        • EJ says:

          Vera is shot, one thing i’ve come to learn about mma is that once you’re done 9 times out of 10 you’re never coming back. Vera has not only lost he’s looked scared and unable to just go out and do what he used to do early in his career. At this point he brings nothing to the UFC which is why they have no problem releasing him again after he loses his next fight.

          Stevenson to me has also reached the Vera level of a guy who simply is a shell of what he was. He should have never lost to Danziq or Castillo, right now the UFC LW division is stacked if he can’t beat guys at that level he offers nothing to the UFC. You can’t just have a big win or two and then come up short against guys that he’s lost to not at LW and not at this point in his career.

          I don’t thik it’s weird it’s just how it is, some divisions can afford to let you keep guys around while in others you can’t. In the end the UFC has to have a bloated roster just for the ammount of guys who drop out of fights alone. But every couple of months they do their spring cleaning and the cream of the crop stays and guys who can’t cut it go seems reasonable to me.

  9. Zheroen says:

    “I don’t think UFC has plateaued by any means in terms of live business, but the TV side may be where it’s going to stay the same or decline a little.”

    I was at the event at the KFC Yum! Center, and there were a LOT of empty seats. I bought my ticket for $95 the day that they went on sale, but I wish that I’d waited – my brother ended up getting better seats the day of the show, and only paid $20.

    As much as Dana White has professed his admiration of Vince McMahon, it almost seems like the UFC is headed towards a decline not unlike that which the WWE has experienced since their heyday. Rather than learning from the mistakes Vince made, he seems destined to repeat them. The state of the economy as it currently is means that it’s really the wrong time to start booking more events and expecting a fatigued viewer base to shell out $55 once, sometimes twice, a month.

    Holding events in Australia and other foreign markets that are receptive (i.e. not Germany or Japan) is a good strategy in regards to keeping live gates on the up and up, but they would probably be best served either airing those on Spike TV or offering the option to stream those live on the internet for a reduced fee – again, recent trend of unsatisfying (how’s that for an adjective in place of controversial?) decisions may be causing the consumer to reconsider shelling out their hard-earned money for a less-than-stellar PPV lineup.

    • Light23 says:

      I think predicting any major WWE-style decline of the UFC is a bit premature.

      Besides, they’re almost guaranteed to decline in some way. They broke all time PPV records something like three years in a row. That’s not sustainable. All it takes is a few of their big draws losing/leaving and their PPV buyrates will drop.

      Even if they drop from their rough avg of 600k per show in 2010, to 450k, they’re still selling more PPVs than WWE did in 2001, and for probably much more revenue.

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    Long term, the UFC would be best off with a weekly TV show and a once a month “big show”. Asking fans to figure out their schedule on multiple networks just doesn’t work. Different days. Different times. This isn’t the NBA. They don’t have enough fans to pull it off.

    Despite a weekly show being more shows, it brings stability. Fans know what day, channel, and time to tune in every week. Which is why TUF continues to have good ratings.

    I don’t think SF has done much with casual fans. Their challenger cards still get 250,000 viewers. There championship cards on average will still get under 500,000 on average. Basically ther biggest shows of the month are going to do less business then the UFC’s 3rd biggest show of the month. That’s not even a dent into the UFC.

    But back to the UFC…. They are sacrificing American business for International Expansion right now. And that is why things are suffering. But as “bad” as it is…. They are still going to see 2 PPV’s in the first quarter do over 500,000 buys and a Fight Night probably do over 1.5 Million viewers. So in perspective, that is still a strong quarter.

    • Zheroen says:

      I like how you are obsessed with bringing up SF in topics that are primarily UFC-oriented.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I like how you completely ignore the comments section…. Particularly comments by Zach Arnold…. Where he talks about SF. My comments are in reference to his above comments.

        • Zheroen says:

          Is that why in the UFC on Versus 3 results thread, you brought up the rumor about Cris Cyborg going to WWE?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          I brought that up because it was a very interesting piece of news that came completely out of left field.

  11. Paradoxx says:

    There will never be “pro-UFC” and “anti-UFC” factions because anyone who follows MMA enough to actually have that kind of opinion watches everything regardless.

  12. Fluyid says:

    On refereeing and judging:

    I sure hope it hasn’t chased people away. I’ve done quite a bit of judging, and I’m confident that I’m competent. (Of course, every single official I’ve ever met thinks the same thing and all of us can’t be 100% correct, so maybe I’m fooling myself.) Several times I have judged a fight that’s televised and then seen comments online that surprised me.

    So many variables are at play when you’re dealing with something as subjective as fight scoring that it’s almost always guaranteed to be controversial. I don’t guess I have any answers. I think honing one’s focus is an issue no one ever brings up but is really important.

    Anyway, I’m just drinking my huge coffee and thinking out loud right now.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      I completely understand what you are talking about.

      I’ve never judged…. But I was at a Bellator event last season. Within the first 5 rows. Very clear view of the action.

      I forget which fight it was, but I thought the decision was a robbery while scoring it live. I get home and check various blogs and everybody scored it the way 2 ofthe judges had. Then I watched it on my DVR and it was like a completely different fight. I would have scored it differently on TV as well.

      One of the biggest “intangibles” about being live and up close is that you can almost feel which direction the momentum of the fight is going on. Fighters moving forward means ten times as much watching it in person as it does on TV. The power of punches is also much easier to see live.

      Now…. One of the worst people to be scoring the fight is the commentator. It’s impossible to talk for 5 minutes and then say who won a close fight.

      It’s why the UFc should have a guy scoring rounds like they do on HBO boxing.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I should also say TV gives judging a false sense of certainty that I don’t find easy to get from seeing a fight live. Not sure why that is….

      • Fluyid says:

        “One of the worst people to be scoring the fight is the commentator. It’s impossible to talk for 5 minutes and then say who won a close fight.”

        Very good point, imo.

        It’s an environment that is totally different from when you’re judging in that, when you are commentating, you’re sitting there talking and both being influenced by and influencing someone else via conversation. It’s just different. When you’re judging, it’s just you. No talking, no looking away, no getting feedback from anyone about your thoughts.

        I’m not saying it’s rocket science, but it’s a way different experience.

      • Bryan says:

        Didn’t they used to have Eddie Bravo chime in with his unofficial score cards on broadcasts?

  13. Precious says:

    So far ppv buys have increased year over year and last year was a record breaker so it’s not like an insignificant factor and there are still huge matchups the rest of the year. If PPV’s are continuing to grow, buyers are increasing and ultimately that’s the most important factor.

    The fight night ratings and versus ratings have been stagnant because of the free prelim shows. The free prelim shows have watered down the value of other “free live UFC content” which used to be a premium.

    But this is not a bad thing. Tuf has been stagnant for years and look at how much the UFC has grown during that time. Buyers are growing and that’s what matters. The amount of ways to “sample” the product have grown over the years “tuf, fight nights, versus, free prelims” and even SF and bellator are means of “sampling” who ultimately lead to becoming a UFC buyer.

    There’s no such thing as a “fracture” in this market. Everyone who is hardcore enough to follow SF or bellator watch everything UFC. You cant be a fan of this sport without following the UFC. You cant say the same for SF or bellator.

  14. Stel says:

    “Has bad officiating chased some fans away from watching the sport?”

    No, the fans have a strong desire to argue and be combative with each other without actually fighting, and this gives them that chance.

    Also a lot of people who wouldn’t have watched some of these events, they hear about a controversial decision and they watch the fight. Its really a natural reaction for people to want to form their own opinion.

  15. TheJudge says:

    I am anti-UFC, but I watch both and will pay for either. Just because I don’t want UFC to succeed and hate pretty much everything Dana White has brought into this sport, doesn’t mean I don’t admit they have many great fighters and that it’s a great organization to follow.
    What can the UFC do to eliminate amount of main eventing second-tiers? (and especially, I would argue, semi-main eventing) Eliminate a division or two. Right now some divisions contain only one or two contenders the people would accept as rivals to the champion. That’s not enough to sustain a division for a year, and people will eventually, correctly, stop buying Josh Koshcheck and Florist Griffin PPVs.
    Another idea? Grand Prixs. UFC now has the contract commitment and fight spacing to ensure these things go through with minor hiccups. They are an easy way to establish credibility and answer questions. Is Cro Cop finished? A tournament win sends him back to the top. Is the new Brazilian rookie for real? Hello, Mr. Rua, and goodbye, Rampage’s ribs, Overeem’s jaw and Arona’s new-found sense of godhood. Heck, even Paul Varelans was considered to be a legitimate competitor after a a couple of tournament wins back in the stone age.
    Even if a UFC Middleweight tourney would not produce a new superstar (too weak of a field) the less impressive status of The Best of the Rest is enough for somebody to be considered to deserve a title shot and not just generate a “this guy again?” groan.

    Has bad officiating turned fans away from the sport? No. MMA fans love to be analytics, and all the flaws of the judging system give them three more people, who they can consider themselves smarter than. “How can those idiots give a 10-9 to what was clearly a 10-8 round? Why, if I was watching this fight, I could clearly see that Frankie Edgar won this round …. blah blah blah”. Plus, bad officiating gets viewers emotionally involved in the feuds and rematches.

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