Meltzer: 250k UFC 136 PPV buys

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The early estimate for UFC 136 on 10/8 from Houston is about 250,000 buys.

It once again shows that a rematch of a great match (Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard, whose 1/1 match is a strong candidate for match of the year and a fight where at least to those who saw it, it was very hotly debated who won) doesn’t mean much unless they are with fighters who are over.

This would be the lowest number on PPV for a title match dating back to probably 2005, and this was a show with two title matches (also Jose Aldo Jr. vs. Kenny Florian) and Chael Sonnen’s return against Brian Stann. Two weeks between shows, and coming off a show with what to the public was a far stronger main event (the 9/24 show did almost double this one) also didn’t help.

As great a fighter as Jose Aldo Jr. is, he’s not over, and he only draws with Urijah Faber. Getting the featherweight and bantamweight titles over is going to take time and developing more than one star in the division. But this is pretty clearly showing that the business value of a UFC championship fight has taken a real hit, because there was a time when you could put two guys not known to the general public and call it a UFC title fight and get 450,000 buys.

Stann gets a huge reaction in the building, but he’s probably not a mover, and really he and Sonnen were pushed on the Internet promotion but not on television, and the difference between good and bad numbers is the casual sports fan audience and those finding out from television. All of the TV advertising was based on the two title fights, and not on Sonnen vs. Stann. It’s hard to say because Sonnen is unique, but our own polling showed more interest in the non-title fight not promoted except on the Countdown show than either title fight. And the Countdown show did poor numbers, one of the lowest ever, so it wasn’t going to add casual fans to buyers.

What looks to be the strongest per capita markets are Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Houston (home city), Toronto, San Francisco, Winnipeg, Montreal, Honolulu, Las Vegas, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, Seattle and Denver.

When asked about UFC moving the PPV start time back to 10 p.m. Eastern, Dana White said they were getting hurt on the West Coast, and blaming it on the one hour earlier starting time, saying at 6 p.m., people are still eating dinner. It’s the attraction and the issues with running so many PPVs, not the start time. Boxing has started at 6 p.m. forever on the West Coast, wrestling has started at 5 p.m. forever on the West Coast. The old start time was better for the West Coast but worse for the East Coast. FOX wanting its shows at 8-10 p.m. and UFC wanting FOX shows as direct lead-ins to PPVs was also part of it.

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