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UFC PPV numbers: Hows does 2011 compare with 2010 through the first 3 months?

The UFC is driven by PPV(pay per view) as that’s where the company makes its bread and butter. 

We’ve all seen the interviews where this has been communicated by Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the numbers from last year compared with this year after the first three months. 

Check out the stats for 2010(all PPV estimates via Dave Meltzer):

UFC 108 300,000 PPV Buys Las Vegas, Nevada
UFC 109 275,000 PPV Buys Las Vegas, Nevada
UFC 110 240,000 PPV Buys Sydney, Australia
UFC 111 850,000 PPV Buys Newark, New Jersey
  1,665,000 PPV Buys  

Check out the stats for 2011:

UFC 125 270,000 PPV Buys Las Vegas, Nevada
UFC 126 725,000 PPV Buys Las Vegas, Nevada
UFC 127 260,000 PPV Buys Sydney, Australia
UFC 128 450,000 PPV Buys Newark, New Jersey
  1,705,000 PPV Buys  

That’s a 2.4% increase over the prior year. I thought it was interesting that the UFC visited the same exact cities in the same exact order. The UFC also used the same formula per month. That’s one PPV in January, two PPV’s in February, and one PPV in March. Some other notes that could affect the numbers:

-2010 featured one title fight during this time span with GSP defending his title against Dan Hardy.

-2011 featured three title fights during this time span with Frankie Edgar defending his title against Gray Maynard, Anderson Silva against Vitor Belfort, and Shogun Rua defending against Jon Jones.

-The largest PPV draw during this time period in 2010 was GSP(main event champ).

-The largest PPV draw during this time period in 2011 was Anderson Silva(main event champ).

So even though 2011 is slightly ahead of the 2010 pace, that would be expected with three PPV’s featuring title bouts. I think title bouts influence PPV’s numbers to a degree. It certainly could account for the 2.4% increase here. It seems as though the baseline for the Australian PPV number falls right in line with the other foreign markets prior to 2009, around 250,000 buys. However, recent trends indicate that the baseline is rising with  UFC 93 and UFC 99 both doing close to 350,000 PPV buys, taking place in Ireland and Germany respectively in 2009. Also, UFC 112 did around 500,000 buys in Abu Dhabi last year. However, it should be noted that the event featured two championship fights to headline.

It’ll be interesting to see how these numbers trend in the next three months. UFC 129 features a monster PPV draw in GSP, and that card will do huge numbers as he defends his welterweight title against Jake Shields. Randy Couture will also be on that card.

Also, the return of PPV behemoth Brock Lesnar in June will spike numbers and he could possibly fight again before the end of the year is out. He was only able to fight once in 2010. GSP was only able to fight twice in 2010, and it looks like he’ll keep that pace possibly in 2011. He might fight three times in 2011, but I wouldn’t bet on it. He hasn’t fought three times in a year since 2007, and the only reason he did that year was by accepting a fight with Matt Hughes to help save the UFC 79 card when Matt Serra had to withdraw due to injury. 

Also, it’ll be interesting to see how Jon Jones fares as a PPV draw now since he is the champion. I expect his next fight against Rashad Evans to do impressive numbers, certainly bypassing the 500K buy-rate. I’m sure the smack-talk that’s already beginning will help hype that fight up, along with fans just wanting to see if he can keep these impressive performances going.

Also, the return of Cain Velasquez in September/October could be a PPV boom depending on who he is fighting. If he re-matches Brock Lesnar, I’m sure the PPV numbers would be great. If he has to fight Junior dos Santos, I would temper those buy-rates just a bit but they would still be pretty good.

So all in all, it looks as though the UFC could certainly bypass their PPV numbers from 2010. Stay tuned as the next couple of UFC PPV’s certainly look impressive on paper.

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