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.