Ratings Report: Jones, Rousey Receiving Surprisingly Lower PPV Numbers in 2014
The UFC is filled with big stars and talented fighters. For two decades, the organization has featured the best in the business and introduced hundreds of talented mixed martial artists to the general public. Within those two decades, a hand full of huge names have stuck with the masses, and those names almost insured huge fan interaction, high tickets sales, and large pay-per-view numbers. Names like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Georges St. Pierre, and Anderson Silva brought hype no matter who they were fighting.
Last year was a rather successful year for the UFC in terms of PPV buys, with industry estimates placing them at about 6 million buys. Two fights topped 900,00: one featured George St. Pierre and one featured Anderson Silva. Since both of those pay-per-view powerhouses are no longer fighting (at least for the moment) the next remaining (currently active, not injured) big draws are Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey.
It is estimated that UFC 170 and UFC 172, headlined by Rousey and Jones respectively, both pulled in about 350,000 buys this year. In 2013, the lowest pulls came in at around 200,000. These numbers are showing a huge deficit from the typical numbers seen by household name fighters. While many factors may be at play here, one very important component to the PPV numbers game is how current fans view the big fighters, and how they view their challengers.
While 2013 was a great year for women’s MMA in general, Ronda Rousey really came to the forefront to be the face for women in the UFC. And while she fought plenty of worthy opponents, her biggest draw was against Miesha Tate, a fighter with a little more exposure. When she was placed up against Sara McMann early this year, despite McMann impressive credentials, she was a less known fighter and seen as more of a place holder for a bigger fight.
Similar to that is Jon Jones. His domination of light heavyweight division leave no doubt in anyone mind about his superstar status and skill. But when he was most recently paired up against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 last month, it barely brought in the numbers that a fighter of Jones’s caliber would typically see, because the fans saw Teixeira as a place holder for Gustafsson or Cormier.
After four events this year, the UFC is estimated at around 1.68 million buys, which is a little bit higher that what UFC 168 last year pulled in single handedly. Unfortunately for other talented fighters, the pay-per-views may not come rolling in, even if they earn a shot with a top contender until fans get the fights that they feel like they need to see. The trend will ultimately be given a little more clout when we see the return of huge draw Cain Velasquez in November, a Jones vs Gustafsson rematch in the later part of the year, or a Rousey match-up with any of the women that the fans have been looking for.
Why do you feel that big stars aren’t seeing the PPV numbers that previous title-holders and fan-favorites have received?