SportsBusiness Journal: UFC Sets Company Merchandise Sales Record in Australia

Quote-to-cash_mediumSportsBusiness Journal(subscription required and highly recommended) has a story today on the UFC's successful trip to Australia.  The article provides previously unknown information on both the gate and the merchandise sales at the event:

UFC 110, headlined by the Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez heavyweight bout, grossed $540,000 in merchandise sales at Acer Arena in Sydney, breaking the previous record of $498,000 for UFC 83 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Total sales also topped the previous arena record held by Iron Maiden.

Acer Arena doesn’t release concessions figures. The arena, built for the 2000 Summer Games, is the largest indoor venue in Sydney and has hosted acts such as Coldplay and Britney Spears.

All 16,500 tickets for the Feb. 21 fight were bought on the first day of sales back in December, trailing only the UFC’s debut in Montreal in 2008 as the fastest sellout ever. The $2.5 million gate for an international event was second only to the fight in Montreal.

 The UFC 103 event in Dallas drew 17,523 people and sold merchandise at $16.36 per cap according to SportsBusiness Daily, which gives us an idea of the merchandising floor.  Combined with this new "record" data, it's fair to surmise that the typical UFC PPV event is doing between $300,000 and $450,000 in merchandise sales.  

What to make of these numbers?  It's hard to really know without a comparison to other numbers, and good comparisons are hard to come by.  Teams tend to keep information secret, and it's hard to know what the best comparison really is.  Some of the best information I've found is on NBA merchandise sales, which is still a rough comparison because there are so many more games.

All that being said, the average for an NBA game is merchandise per cap at around $1.  For the NBA finals in 2008, the merchandise per cap at Boston Garden was $13.  

There are a ton of ways to distinguish a UFC event from the NBA finals.  There are far more NBA games than UFC events, NBA merchandise is more widely-available outside of events, and unlike fans in Dallas or Australia, Celtics fans at the finals have presumably been to a number of games during the season.  No comparison is perfect, but the fact that UFC 103 in Dallas did better merchandise per cap than a Celtics-Lakers final in Boston is pretty impressive.  This is the kind of information sponsors have to look at when they are making the determination whether or not they want to jump into mixed martial arts.  They're nervous about getting into the sport, but at the same time almost all of the data suggests that fans of the sport spend a lot of money on it.

Note:  Virtually every statistic in this article comes from either SportsBusiness Journal or SportsBusiness Daily.  Both are owned by the same parent company, and they are widely regarded as the premier trade journal in the sports business world.  You must have a subscription to read them.  

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