There’s lots of talk in MMA land about the piss poor pay per view (PPV) numbers recorded for UFC 150 – 190,000 according to guesstimator extraordinaire, Dave Meltzer. The sky is falling, it’s the Second Coming, the Rapture is upon us, and blah, blah, etc. The truth is that it doesn’t matter.
The UFC is a privately held company. There are four owners: The Fertitta Bros, Dana White, and that sheik dude from Abu Dhabi. They don’t have to mail out dividends checks to hundreds of major shareholders. Even a disappointing figure like this one brings in roughly $10 mil in PPV dollars. After the venue gets paid, the PPV companies take their cut, fighter payouts, company payroll, taxes, insurance, advertising, legal, and the dozens of other expenses every company in the world has, there’s still that little thing left over called profit, and it’s some sweet stank. Even if there’s only a mil left over, that’s nice cheese to spread around for a few weeks work.
And for every few crappy selling PPV’s like 147 (175,000 PPV), 149 (235,000 PPV), and 150, there’s a 151 (with a main event of Jon Jones vs Dan Henderson this is at least a 600,000 PPV), or better yet, a 148 (1,000,000 PPV). That’s where they really make their paper. This year alone, with over three and a half million PPV’s sold, the UFC has grossed roughly $182 million in PPV dollars alone, and this is considered a bad year thus far. So maybe this week D White can’t get a new Ferrari or piss away a few hundred grand playing blackjack, but he can next week. It’s kind of like the National Lampoon’s franchise. For every Van Wilder there are a few unwatchable pieces of shit.
But of course the great PPV debate is not about Lorenzo and Dana having to subsist on ramen noodles. It’s about the specters of stagnation and over-saturation. Stagnation is a mild concern. Yes, PPV sales are not great, but lest we forget we’re still kind of in the midst of this whole global economic crisis thang, and consumers are being more discriminating with their dollars. It may end, it may not. If it doesn’t, I can assure you the UFC’s PPV buy rate will be the least of our concerns.
As for over-saturation, that remains to be seen. As long as the UFC is profitable why wouldn’t they flood the market with a product they want to reach the most possible people? The FOX deal is still in its infancy, and barring a public relations catastrophe like Joe Rogan’s neck veins exploding on national television or Ronda Rousey, Meisha Tate, and Cyborg getting caught in a three-way on YouPorn, the deal will be a great success in time. The one thing the UFC has proven time and again is they know what the fuck they’re doing. They’re playing chess, not checkers.