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Are UFC’s demographics for Fox Sports overrated in value?

By Zach Arnold | August 12, 2013

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If you believe Les Moonves, the long-time CBS network executive, the answer to the question headlining this post is: yes.

A recent Bloomberg article titled CBS rediscovers fogey power opines that Moonves is onto something. The long-and-short of the article: the 18-to-34 year old demographic is shrinking in numbers and the “disposable income” argument that has been made for years about this demographic is being dismantled. Why? High/chronic unemployment or underemployment given that the heavy majority of jobs being created in the last several years are part-time. So, the new logic is that the old folks aren’t so bad after all since they’re the ones with cash still and are the most loyal television watchers. “Zero TV” has less of an impact on the old fogey demographic than the youngsters.

Peter Vesey, the Vice President of advertising sales for Fox Media Group, shared a different opinion during a recent Sherdog radio interview with Jack Encarnacao. A few notes from the interview…

Vesey also stated that the Culinary Union and other anti-Zuffa political groups are having no impact on chasing advertisers away from buying inventory on UFC telecasts.

One party that is having fun with the launch of Fox Sports 1 is ESPN. Normally, ESPN has employees tight-lipped about the competition and lets the suits handle the trash-talking. Not this time around. Ever since David Hill and other Fox Sports suits have pushed “fun” and “jockularity” as the buzzwords for the new FS1 channel, they’ve been the subject of mockery.

If you haven’t seen the long-promos on Speed for the upcoming FS1 launch, consider yourself lucky. They left a negative impression on me. I’d replace the words “fun” and “jockularity” with “vapid” and “obnoxious” as far as a first-impression goes. Not feeling it.

FS1 feels entirely like Best Damn Sports Show Period on testosterone. In the case of FS1, they had one of two choices to be different than ESPN: be different politically or be different in terms of seriousness. Given the heavy percentage of those in sports media who are left-of-center and heavy percentage who are left-of-center in Fox Sports & Fox Entertainment, there was no way that FS1 was going to be “the conservative alternative” to ESPN as a sports channel ala the Fox News Channel.

So, FS1 could either be the hard-hitting serious sports network or else morph into what they are marketing right now – celebrity, pop culture, FUN, flash. And UFC is a cornerstone of what Fox Sports envisions FS1 blossoming into in terms of becoming a serious network player in the next 5-to-10 years.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 20 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

20 Responses to “Are UFC’s demographics for Fox Sports overrated in value?”

  1. Steve4192 says:

    Haven’t watched any of the promos for FS1 yet, but it won’t bother me if they take a ‘vapid’ approach to sports. People take sports too seriously anyway. In the grand scheme of things, sports are just another form of entertainment. There is no reason to suck all the joy out of them by treating them like real-life news.

    I kind of miss the days before the 24 hour news cycle when there was an unwritten rule amongst reporters about reporting on things that happened outside the lines. Guys like Mickey Mantle would be reviled rather than revered if the press back in their day played by the same rules as the press today.

  2. Omar says:

    Meh. I get the point about the 18-34 demo being overrated, but honestly: that’s bullshit. So you want to appeal to old people, yeah ask the GOP how that’s going. It’s the same thing, when your audience is old white people yeah you can have a stranglehold on that demographic and milk them for what they have, problem: what are you going to do in ten years? Yeah I know you’ll still have old people in ten years, but they’ll be different old people.

    You honestly think the demographic that grew up with Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Shield, Justified, The Wire, Parks, Louie, and 30 Rock is going to watch the shit that’s on CBS? Fuck outta here. Yeah foogies need their programming to, and there’s products to be sold to them (though it is heartless trying to milk old people out of what little cash that they have) , yes this is true. However, you have to think long term. When you’re a company like Ford, GM, Nike, Coca-Cola, or American Airlines you need to think long term. Yeah, the 23 year old recent grad who’s looking for work may not have the disposable income to buy a Caddy, BUT if he grows up liking Cadillac maybe when he gets money he will buy one.

    Brand loyalty is HIGHLY underrated. Ask the Luke about all the die hard UFC fans that hate that Bellator exists. You think the average CBS viewer will ever change their minds about Coke or Pepsi? Ford or Chevy? Sure their viewers can’t possibly be that smart, but when you’re that old (average age of the CBS viewer is 55) you’re not switching brands that often. The folks that advertise on UFC and sports programs are primarily focused on getting local customers and starting them early.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      If I knew the answers, I’d be working in an ivory tower for a network right now. But I don’t. :)

      I do find it interesting that there is a growing divide in opinion about the value of UFC’s demo. Fox is practically banking on it helping launch their channel into an ESPN rival. It’s historic.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      This is true. I watch Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. This summer I tried to watch Under The Dome. It was like watching a soap opera. Everybody was too pretty and generic.

      CBS has a reason to say this stuff. Their audience skews much older. But there is still a huge benefit to advertising to younger people. Once they get hooked on your product they typically are for life. Advertising to old people is hard to change their opinion and they are not customers for much longer

      CBS has a dated business model. They are not on Hulu. They are fighting a company called Aereo who is trying to stream antenna broadcasts over the internet. They are fighting Dish over a DVR that skips commercials. They are #1 now but they are the least likely to be successful 15 years from now.

  3. king famous says:

    I thought nothing would replace my glee I felt after reading the Japan posts on the fall of pride. But I must say it is fun to watch the ufc grow from a front row seat here in the states. Recently I find myself just reading about mma but watching it less and less.
    Fox is kicking ass and taking names right now. They just got done gutting the NFL network for production talent to launch fs1.
    I’ve got to check local listings however. I’m not sure time warner is actually going to carry it.

  4. Chuck says:

    So….Eddie Alvarez is back with Bellator, and will Chandler a second time on their November 2nd ppv. Hooray??

    Well, at least Alvarez/Chandler 2 is happening. So Dave Jansen will have to wait for his title shot?

    • Steve4192 says:

      The other big Bellator news today is that they have finally scrapped their women’s divisions. All of their female fighters have been released. Most will probably end up in Invicta since Bellator didn’t have 135 pound class, but 125 champ Jessica Eye is open to moving up and signing with the UFC.

      • cutch says:

        Fight Master is moving to Thursday after TNA (for the rest of this season) because of their current ratings, TNA are now on an hour later so Fight Master will start at 11pm.

        Jansen is injured anyway, so wouldn’t be able to fight at the PPV anyway, so the Chandler-Alvarez fight makes even more sense now/

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Alvarez vs. Chandler is a solid rematch. In the around 100 cards Bellator has had, there has been a handful of fights that I thought were both fun to watch and with 2 high quality fighters. Alvarez/Chandler 1 was one of those.

      It does make Bellator’s tagline look rather foolish now. Something about title shots being earned not given blah blah blah. That format was horrible.

      Fight Master is a bust now… And they actually changed it’s time mid-season. Even with Chandler/Alvarez, I can’t imagine this PPV doing much business.

      The payroll for Jackson, Ortiz, Chandler, & Alvarez alone has to be at least $1 Million. Which means if they do a $40 PPV (and get half)…. Bellator is going to need 50,000 PPV buys just to pay for those 2 fights. This has disaster written all over it.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        At this point, it looks like unless Bellator gets a miracle ratings boost AND a lot of PPV Buys… They it will gone from SpikeTV by Spring at the latest.

        The question then becomes… What will happen with the fighters?? The logical options are:

        1) Showtime purchases Bellator and makes a 3rd run with MMA on their network.

        2) UFC purchases Bellator.

        3) UFC purchases only a handful of fighters contracts from Viacom. WSOF gets the left overs.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    And speaking of FOX…. Whatever the UFC is doing, FOX likes it.

    In 2012, they had 18 shows on FOX Networks…. That is a combination of the FOX, FX, & Fuel TV cards (not including prelims).

    In 2013, they are doing 20 shows on FOX Networks.

    Have to assume based on the way they are scheduling cards for FOX Sports 1, that we are likely to see closer to 24 shows in 2014…. Which would be 4 on FOX and 20 on FOX Sports 1.

    That would basically mean outside of PPV, the UFC would be averaging 1 show every 2 weeks for FOX…. And that doesn’t even include the 2 hour PPV prelim shows.

  6. RST says:

    Shoud “entertainment” be requiered to appeal to 13 year ods of all ages?


    Should a sport?

  7. Steve4192 says:

    Am I the only one who can never make heads or tails of RST’s posts? It’s like trying to read a James Joyce novel where Joyce barely has a passing grasp of English grammar and syntax. I can’t tell if I agree or disagree with anything he says because I have no idea what he is trying to say.


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