As usual, the guru Dave Meltzer is the first person to throw out a number in regards to the UFC 139 buyrate. And while no one was really expecting a huge number and this is just an early indicator of the final tally - this isn't good. Here's what he had to say in this week's Wrestling Observer (subscription required):
Very early estimates indicate the PPV numbers are going to fall very slightly less than UFC 138, so a first estimate would be around 270,000, although more accurate numbers won’t be available for two weeks.
The key thing here is the last bit - this is not the final number. But let's be honest. The number isn't likely to double in the next two weeks, so this event will be another in a long line of disappointing PPV buyrates that stretches back all the way to UFC 130. With the exception of UFC 135 (which did about 475k), every card has done under 350k. And the last three have all been under 280k, if this number holds steady.
There are many things that can be used to justify the low buyrates - injuries to major stars like Georges St. Pierre and Brock Lesnar, the Fox deal taking away a PPV windfall fight, etc. With only two PPV's left in 2011, the UFC is guaranteed to be way down in PPV revenue and buys compared to 2010, even if they drew a gigantic number for UFC 141. Sure, UFC on Fox was a huge success and a big positive for the sport. But in terms of PPV, which Dana says will continue to be the core of their business model -is there cause for concern yet?