UFC 139 Roundtable: Did the Marketing Push For UFC on Fox Kill UFC 139's Buy Rate?

HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: UFC President Dana White speaks as UFC Fighters Junior dos Santos (R) and Cain Velasquez (L) during the UFC on Fox: Velasquez v Dos Santos - Press Conference at W Hollywood on September 20, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Matthew Roth: The UFC's super busy schedule in October and November has caused several events to be overshadowed by the marketing push surrounding UFC on Fox. Is it possible that UFC 139 could be the best UFC card top to bottom of 2011 yet won't break the 300k mark on PPV? What is a realistic buy rate for such an overlooked event?

Tim Burke: Well, I think they used UFC on Fox to promote UFC 139 to a degree, but not nearly as much as they pushed UFC 141. This card rivals UFC 136 on the depth scale, and that didn't get to 300k. There's the line of thought that it's been three weeks since the last PPV and that could help, but I think fans might be a bit burnt out at this point. I overestimated UFC 137, and I think that this will do worse than that. I'll go with about 260k. That sucks, but it is what it is.

Fraser Cofeen: I think Tim is right on with this one. I don't see anyone on here as a real draw, and, while I am excited about a lot of these fights, and you are excited about a lot of these fights, they aren't big sellers. I'm also not convinced that "depth" sells PPVs - I think it's more the one big selling fight. And if BJ Penn couldn't break 300k for 127, what's to indicate Shogun or Henderson will get there this time? 280k sounds good to me.

Dallas Winston: As I've mentioned, I'm fairly ignorant on the trend of PPV numbers. I don't think the buy rates will reflect how deep and compelling this show is overall and will add that this is a rock-solid, twelve-fight event that hardcore fans should eat up.

It has a little bit of everything: historic legends (Pride never die?!) in the headliner, fan-friendly strikers and an exciting newcomer in the co-main, former WEC poster boys looking to regain footing (Faber, Torres), a handful of rising stars (Le, Weidman, Pace), competitors that always "bring it" (Brown, Lawlor, dos Anjos), pivotal bouts to define contenders and/or intriguingly matched opponents. 

It's also a challenging card to preview and predict. The matchmaking is excellent and I can see every single fight going in either direction except for the McDonald vs. Soto fight.

Matthew Roth: I think the big issue is that the UFC is really just running on empty at this point. When they were promoting a single card a month, they had the resources to put all the muscle behind the card. It also meant that the cards were deep and had strong headliners. 

They're talking about 34 cards next month. That means there's a total of 18 weeks where there won't be traveling and setting up. The sheer scope will mean that there will be certain cards left behind. I think we saw what happened when a Fox card is sandwiched in between pay per views and spike cards.

Faber is arguably the biggest star on this card at this point. He's going to carry the pay per view which means it'll be lucky to break the 300k mark. It'll likely settle around 275k which is a bummer because this really is the deepest card they've promoted this year.

SBN coverage of UFC 139: Henderson vs. Rua

Tim Burke: I hope you meant next year, Roth. 34 cards next month means BE's world is going to go boom.

Josh Nason: This event is really, really deep and one of those "for the hardcores" type shows. I mean, Miguel Torres is fighting on Facebook. Zuckerberg wins again!

I'll be optimistic and say it exceeds 300k but not by a lot. There are a few college football games going head-to-head but nothing like we've had implications-wise the past few weeks. After four straight weeks, there is a bit of UFC exhaustion but the hardcore fans will help pull this out.

By the way, did you realize the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion is main eventing a show three weeks from this Saturday? I haven't heard boo about it and this is supposed one of the promotion's biggest stars. Yikes. 

KJ Gould: I think it could go more than 300k just because a lot of people opted out of Edgar vs Maynard 3 probably to spend on GSP vs Condit, and when that fell apart a lot opted out of buying Diaz vs Penn as its replacement. Fans should have quite a few PPV pennies saved as a result and might choose to splash out on fights featuring Wanderlei, Shogun and Hendo. Without me intending to jinx anything, we're almost guaranteed that the two top fights are going to end violently and spectacularly following what could be a 15 minute Fight of the Night candidate as Faber and Bowles go at each other like whirling dervishes. 

I think UFC on Fox despite the fight's shortness did enough to pique the interest of many who tuned in and it could help the UFC 139 buy rate. That's generally the whole point of a television deal -- to offer enticing fights as a promotional effort for an upcoming PPV -- but it may be too early to gauge how successful a tool it is off of one show that wasn't without drawbacks.

UFC had to make a big deal about their first appearance on Fox because of the pressure of success that surrounded it and making sure they beat the peak number for the CBS Elite XC show which was a whole card that over-ran compared to the one UFC fight with too much preamble. UFC 139 shouldn't suffer too badly for the comparative lack of promotion.    

Fraser Cofeen: Josh - good call on Jones! That show has absolutely been left in the dust behind 141. I remember there was a lot of talk about the UFC potentially having this monster fall right now, but it's not happening, and I don't think either 139 or 140 will really draw great numbers. It will be really interesting to see if Lesnar brings 141 over 1,000,000.

Tim Burke: I highly doubt Lesnar/Overeem does over one million buys on a Friday night in the middle of the holiday season. Overeem isn't a draw, and I doubt Brock can bring in a million again after his embarrassing performance against Cain at UFC 121.

Josh Nason: NYE shows traditionally do well and while this is the night before, I think it'll do just fine.

Fraser Cofeen: It might, but again, what happened to this great end of 2011 people were anticipating?

Tim Burke: Sorry Josh, but NYE shows only did well until UFC 92. The last two haven't been good at all:

UFC 108 - 300k
UFC 125 - 270k  
 

Josh Nason: Post NYE is different than pre-NYE. To me, that's an important distinction to make as people are doing things on NYE regardless of whether it's a weekend or not. How did UFC 92 do? That was 12/27. Other than that, you're looking at Japan back in the glory days. I do believe those were pretty hot NYE shows as they did 'em all the time.

Tim Burke: I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. People are doing things on January 2nd, as opposed to December 30th? That's a flimsy excuse for the last two "New Years" cards doing bad numbers. And comparing how cards in Japan did to how cards do in late 2011 in North America makes no sense.

Josh Nason: I think there's more of a deterrent for people buying a show a few days after a holiday like NYE than there is a day before. The Friday before NYE when people aren't doing anything and may be looking for something? I think that could play more in its favor. The main reason those two cards did shitty:

- UFC 125 (1/1/11): Maynard/Edgar II on top, a few weeks after GSP/Koscheck on PPV.
- UFC 108 (1/2/10): Evans vs. Silva, an injury-riddled card, enough said.

Brock Lesnar is enough out to outdraw both those by himself. Japan was more a reference to how MMA and NYE aren't foreign concepts.

Flimsy excuse that, homeboy.    

Tim Burke: You make a blanket statement. It was analyzed and proven wrong. And now you provide excuses for why it was proven wrong. The point is that the original blanket statement was still wrong.

I'm not saying Lesnar's gonna do 300k. I'm saying Lesnar won't do a million, as I stated originally. Nothing you've said has changed my opinion on that.

Homie don't play that.

Josh Nason: How was it proven wrong? It's my opinion, just like yours.

Tim Burke: "NYE shows traditionally do well"

That's not an opinion, sir. That's a statement of fact. If you believe the card will do well, that's your prerogative and I'm not trying to talk you out of it or anything like that. To each his own. I was simply responding to the statement.

Anton Tabuena: I love you guys, please don't fight. Think about the kids!

Tim Burke: It's all good Anton, I have nothing but respect for Jason. If I came across like a Roth, I apologize. I was just discussing the topic. Bro hug, Nason? (Editor's Note: A Roth? Well I never!) 

Josh Nason: Listen Tom! I consider 1/1 and 1/2 different than traditional NYE shows. That may sound crazy, but I think it's a different mindset once you've done something big for NYE or spent a shitload of money. The star power, however, is really where I think the difference is. Remember that Lesnar was supposed to fight Carwin on one of those shows, which would have made a big difference.

We're all good, Anton! Just some healthy debating on a Thursday night with no ill will. We should have our own show on Spike or something.

- Jason

Tim Burke: Cartoon Network!

- Tom

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