I’ve been saying it for a while, as have many other people, but the UFC simply put on too many events, including too many expensive PPV events. The UFC had a few incredible PPV buys, bolstered by what we’ll call the “Brock Lesnar Effect” which led to them pushing out more and more PPVs to take advantage of that. There have been breakdowns defending the UFC over the past few months, showing numbers and how overall PPV sales haven’t declined, but are holding strong, but the reality here is that the UFC is putting on a larger number of PPVs than they need to, with many of them under-performing, but it all evens out in the end because of having so many damned PPVs.
As a hardcore fan who has many times experienced “UFC burnout,” I’d definitely like to argue that it would be a lot better for everyone if they scaled back the PPVs and their roster and instead concentrated on putting on bigger, better cards, which would in turn get bigger PPV numbers. It would all even out, right? It might even prevent UFC burnout! I don’t see it happening, sadly, but there is some truth in the fact that fans are starting to turn down a crappy PPV card without a huge fight on it. We look to Dave Meltzer for this.
On Aug. 3, UFC 163 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, headlined by Jose Aldo’s win over Chan Sung Jung, the Korean Zombie, is currently estimated at doing 170,000 to 190,000 buys based on several estimates from the cable and MMA industry. It looks to have beaten UFC 161, headlined by Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson, two significantly bigger names, but with no championship belt at stake, by about 35,000 buys.
It says that the featherweight title is worth something, and also gives an ominous message as to the current drawing power of Evans, who headlined a few of the biggest events in company history.
But fans are more and more willing to skip buying every show, especially when the pay-per-view doesn’t have a can’t-miss match. UFC 163 came a week after a major television show, and two weeks before another. The debut of UFC on Fox Sports 1 showed that the UFC fan base for the most part is not a casual viewer. Even though most would agree Saturday’s debut on FS 1 was a stronger lineup than the July 27th show on FOX, the idea that a show on FOX would do a 1.5 rating and a show on an unfamiliar station that didn’t even exist the day before would do a 1.4 is nothing short of staggering.