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UFC PPV numbers aren’t looking so hot lately

Now that UFC on FOX ratings have been re-evaluated into an acceptable range, we can all breath a little easier. MMA fans tend to hyperventilate a lot about the business side of things. I think it’s because we’re secretly afraid that our sport is a fad and we’re just waiting for everything to go the way of pro wrestling. Or worse: the way of Japanese MMA. And when you hear numbers like this, it’s hard not to get a little anxious:

The latest PPV estimates we’ve gotten from cable sources are about 225,000 buys for UFC 136 (Maynard vs. Edgar III) and 280,000 for UFC 137 (Diaz vs. Penn). I should also mention that sources close to UFC claim the 136 number is considerably higher and 137 is identical to our estimates, and that both numbers are likely to end up in the same ballpark.

Remember back in those salad days of 2009 where the worst numbers you were seeing were 300,000 for some rinky dink show in the UK that really should have been on Spike? Now we’ve got fights like BJ Penn vs Nick Diaz in Vegas failing to crack that number. There’s been a lot of talk about the effect of piracy on PPV numbers and I don’t doubt that it’s a factor. But I also think the UFC got greedy with the number of PPVs it was running, and then got bitchslapped extra hard by the injury gypsy curse.

Back in the day, a fan would buy every single PPV event there was because that’s just what you did. But after a year of Evans vs Ortiz and Rampage vs Hamill cards, that inherant value placed upon PPV events has gone away. Fortunately, as surly as UFC brass might get when put on the spot about these issues, they do seem to recognize the problem. PPV events are being scaled back from 16 in 2011 to 10 in 2012. Even if half the company’s superstars blow their knees out, they should be able to put together cards that are actually worth what the UFC is charging.

  • Billytk

    I’m not surprised the buy rates are down so much @ $50 a show there’s no way people were going to continue to order every event when there are almost 2 a month not to mention the watered down level of the cards put on.

  • Mixed Martial Adam

    I’m a huge fan of the sport and I try to watch everything I can. But holy shit, life gets in the way. If I was able to check out every PPV that Zuffa threw on tv I’d be spending literally 30 Saturdays a year at home watching fights – not to mention TUF, Fight Nights and any other MMA programming. As much as I’d like to do that, my friends, my family and my wife would all have a problem with that (as would my accountant).

    I used to be so excited to watch an event because they only happened once a month. I’m still excited to watch, but I’m not arranging my life around any random card. For example, I still get excited to fuck my wife, but I’m not passing on a night out with the boys when I know I can just fuck her next Saturday when they’re not around (and watch online porn on Sunday to catch up).

    As much as piracy may be an issue, people having lives and restricted budgets are a much bigger issue. Until MMA reaches a level where the mainstream sports fans are watching, the current fans just don’t have the time or money to check out every event and that has to bring down numbers. There is a slightly larger fan base than in 2009, but for some reason three times the number of PPV events. As a fan that’s great, but until there’s more eyes watching the current viewers just can’t keep up.

    Hopefully FOX can bring in some new eyeballs to help raise PPV numbers, because the UFC is serving dinner for 20 and only six people are at the table trying to eat it.


  • malonth

    I’ve been a very loyal UFC fan, buying almost every show if I was around. But at $55 a pop for the good, the bad and the ugly, I have to put my foot down. I’m saying no to ufc 139.

    First, the fight headlining the card, Rua v. Henderson, is just ok. In terms of the UFC LHW division, the fight is pretty much meaningless. Is Dan Henderson at 42 really going anywhere in the LHW division? No! Henderson is a middle weight and even there he lost badly to Jake Shields. Rua took a vicious pounding from champ Jon Jones and tapped out. A win over Forrest Griffin does no at all put him back in contention. There is a Pride nostalgia to this fight, but that is all.

    Next up is Silva v. Cung Lee. Silva was at his peak in 2002-2006. He is totally washed up at this time. Cung Lee is barely an mma fighter. This fight has absolutely no relevance to the MW title picture. You might as well throw Tank Abbott and Royce Gracie into the mix.

    And I’m supposed to pay $55? No thanks!

  • Sodomize Intolerance

    Best news I’ve heard in a while.

    It was pretty obvious when the UFC started having at least one “filler” match on the main card that they needed to scale things back a little.  With the injuries, there’s been at least 2-3 filler matches and main events that should never be main events.  I can recall the days when events were spaced out enough that sometimes 2 belts were on the line.  If one title match fell apart, then the other steps in.

    As far as piracy, the people who will pirate the events do.  There hasn’t been a sudden influx of pirates to result in these ratings.  Blaming this or that rather than not being able to put on a quality show worthy of $50 is just shunting the problem.  Just like a television series, there needs to be a certain draw that will make people set aside time for the UFC, not just tune in whenever because there’s nothing else to do.

  • Mixed Martial Adam

    @malnoth That’s funny, I would gladly pay $55 for 139 as I think the card is sick. Shogun is still a top 3 contender and Henderson (only 40 btw) is the current Strikeforce champion and just finished demolishing the greatest HW of all time (as a glorified middleweight). This main event fight has HUGE title implications if Henderson smokes Shogun. 

    Wandy vs Cung Le is a fun, fun fight which means little but should be action packed. We all want to see Wandy smash him out and Cung Le is a flashy as it gets. Also – NOT EVERY FIGHT HAS TO HAVE TITLE IMPLICATIONS. Some fights are just fun. Every time Leben fights it’s fun, but should we banish him to the undercard because he’s never going to win a title?

    Faber and Bowles rematch is a big deal and should set either up for a contenders match.

    Story vs Kampman should be sick too.

    If you’re going to bitch about card quality try Rampage vs Hamill or Ortiz vs Evans – 139 is as solid as it gets without a title being on the line. Sick, sick card.

  • CAP

    Not to mention Cain/JDS was plucked from this card and replaced with Shogun/Hendo. Still a more solid card than RampageHammil, OrtizEvans. Sure I’d like to buy every card but that’s not realistic. This weekend alone there are three decent cards with SF Challengers, Bellator (fuck yeah Alvarez) and 139. Plus you get a UFC appetizer with the Spike prelim fights.

  • malonth

    I will likely buy the upcoming Jones v. Machida event. I’ll give 139 a pass.

  • frickshun

    ^^You’re a jerk & nobody likes you any more. Go sit @ another lunch table. Let’s alienate him, fellas!!

  • iamphoenix

    I don’t know who malonth is but on Fricks word alone, I’m not sharing any of my chicken basket. It’s all mine bro I can’t give any up or else the others will think I’m big pussy bitch. Street Cred homie you ain’t earned it bruthuh…real talk motherfucha click clank, 40 G’s up in dis bee yotch etc etc black people talk etc etc

    also…I haven’t read anybody elses comment here so maybe this was already tpyed and submitted for attention:

    When I first started buying PPV’s it was after the TUF Finale 1. Bought every single one because hey, what’s 40ish dollars every OTHER month. Lately it feels like 50ish dollars every two weeks. That’s just an insane amount of money because if Occupy Major Cities has taught us one thing, it’s holding up signs asking to give us money for things we want.

  • fish tacos

    Even the sports bars are cutting back. I live in Madison, WI and only 2, a Hooters and a BW3, are showing 139.

    More bars step up for bigger cards (5 showed Rampage/Jones) but this is nothing compared to a few years back when both BW3’s, Hooters, Pedros East and West, Legends, Scatz (real name), and State Street Brats all showed every PPV.

  • iamphoenix

    is the bar really called Scatz (real name) because that just sounds silly now doesn’t it.

  • frickshun

    Fish Tacos does a lot of bresearch (bar research).

  • malonth

    Free UFC is one damn reason to support OWS, aka Parasites on Parade. Dana White, Zuffa, GSP, etc. are all damned millionaires many times over. Just who are they to make the trailer trash who occupy this forum spend a good chunk of their welfare check on a ppv event?!?!?! What’s a UFC anyway if you can’t afford Ring Dings, Nachos and Colt 40 Malt Liquor!

    At any rate, the PPV buy price should be heavily graduated towards the high income brackets as set forth in the Communist Manifesto. Those idiots who are working at Safeway for $10 an hour should pay $350. Anyone with a membership on this forum should get a tax credit towards the ppv purchase.

    Power to the People!

  • CAP

    Monty’s Blue Plate Diner in MMMMMadison! Check it if you haven’t taco fish. They won’t be showing the ppv but it’s good eats.