UFC brass have been talking a lot about how much money they’re giving up putting a heavyweight title fight like Junior Dos Santos / Cain Velasquez on free television. How much? MMA Fighting takes a looksie:
According to Sports Business Daily, the UFC forecasted that if it was on pay-per-view, a Velasquez vs. dos Santos heavyweight title fight would have brought in about 800,000 pay-per-view buys.
That would have made it a huge success and financial windfall. By those estimates, the event would have raked in about $40 million in revenue, money which is shared by cable and satellite pay-per-view distributors in splits which are not public record but believed to be near 50/50 with some variations. That would have meant around $18-20 million in revenue for the UFC. Even if the event did 400,000 buys — a number which SBD suggested was more likely given the results of recent similar fights — the promotion still would have earned something around $8-10 million in revenue.
But can you put a price on a successful first broadcast show? How much is that worth to the UFC in the long run? The UFC is fortunately running with a long-term vision and the assumption that lost revenue now will translate into way more fans in the future. And if they keep on putting up fights like this, I don’t doubt them. It also says something that they were willing to give up a fight this big in a year where virtually all other big business matches have fallen victim to the great gypsy curse of 2010-11.