Overall, UFC 150 was a good show. The main event was exciting. It didn’t have fireworks, but it was exciting because at no point was it clear who was going to win the fight and it went 25 minutes, right down to the wire. The semi, with Cerrone vs. Guillard, was one of the most exciting one minute fights in UFC history. Guillard dropped Cerrone right away, and hurt him worse than he’s been hurt in his entire career. But Cerrone came back with a high kick and a straight right that knocked Guillard out.
From a business standpoint, that wasn’t so good.
After the show, Dana White noted that they were expecting to take a hit on PPV. He received word that DirecTV went down all night so people with that provider were unable to purchase the show. Since he was at the show, he was probably only getting sketchy details. I was able to get the show on DirecTV with no problem. But there was an issue. Apparently if you automatically ordered through your remote in much of the country, there was no issue. However, if you tried to order by phone or by computer, there was a problem with the system that made it impossible, although the issue was apparently fixed in time for the replay show. We received a lot of feedback from DirecTV subscribers, split almost 50-50 between those who were able to see the show, and those who couldn’t, and many wanted to see it and gave up, not buying the replay. It was significant enough that it cost them a fairly significant number of buys that they would have gotten. But probably not enough to change it from a low number to even close to an average number.
Very early numbers indicate about 190,000 North American buys (this is not a direct buy number or even a strong estimate but just a very preliminary figure). While nobody going in expected big numbers, that would still be below most expectations. As we always say, there is significant potential margin of error this early, but suffice to say this show probably did not do well. We’ll have a better read on this in two weeks.
It looks to be the lowest number for a PPV that came from North America since 2005.
This is one show. Going forward, there are going to be big shows and there are going to be shows that aren’t so big. The fan dynamic has changed greatly. Part of it may be inevitability of doing so many shows, that shows are watered down and people are more willing to skip the ones without strong main events. UFC does feel in many ways closer to a sport like boxing than a more entertaining sport that has more of a modern feel to attract more than just fight fans, which was how it came across 2006-2010 when it was doing its big numbers. The idea of getting a bunch of people together to watch UFC isn’t the same as what it once was.
But going back a few years, what this means is the big ones will stay big, and maybe get bigger. But the secondary ones won’t do what they used to do. One bad show doesn’t necessarily indicate anything because we are only a month removed from a gigantic show, and the November and December PPV shows this year should do well.
You can argue too many shows, and this is the fourth PPV in seven weeks, and that’s asking a lot from the consumer base. I think more and more than anything more than one PPV per month is probably overdoing things. The group of guys getting together on Saturday night to watch UFC are not going to do it weekly. Sure, for the UFC nuts, they would like a show every Saturday, but if you market based on that fan base, you’re going to get 50,000 buys and drive away the masses.
This was a very good show overall. It was only three weeks after the disaster of a show in Calgary, but seven days after a really strong show on FOX. I don’t see show quality as a big issue, good or bad.