In a new interview boxing promoter Bob Arum has some interesting things to say about the UFC’s deal with FOX.
Speaking to fighthubtv.com Arum suggests that having so many free cards on the network and it’s subsiduary stations is in fact hurting rather than helping their numbers, claiming that they are in decline since the start of the deal
To be fair, he says it’s still too early in the deal to come to any conclusions, but he suggests that the UFC may have to adapt their current model, making a bigger differentiation between PPV’s and the free shows by keeping their biggest stars for the pay-per-views.
Arum has been an outspoken critic of MMA in the past and has often been at loggerheads with UFC president Dana White which means you always have to take what he says about the sport with a pinch of salt.
There is some logic to what he’s saying in this instance though, I’m sure even the UFC themselves have harbored at least some concerns regarding the high number of free cards Vs PPV’s they’ve been offering lately.
However, it should be noted that the UFC’s PPV numbers are not falling as Arum suggests.
The reality is that the sales figures were already in decline in 2011. While the three PPV’s so far this year haven’t set the world alight, two of them have actually shown some signs of improvement with UFC 143: Diaz Vs Condit pulling 400,000 while UFC 144: Edgar Vs Henderson did 375,000.
Some might argue that UFC 143’s sales are a little low given the hype surrounding Diaz leading up to the fight, but when you consider that his UFC 137 fight with BJ Penn last year did just 280,000 that’s actually a solid increase.
Meanwhile, international UFC events never fare particularly well from a PPV perspective, so the 375,000 drawn for their UFC 143 visit to Japan was actually pretty respectable and showed a big rise from the 225,000 that shelled out for Frankie Edgar’s last title defense at UFC 136.
So it appears that Arum has been speaking out of school a little here and isn’t in possession of all the facts.
Nevertheless it will be interesting to continue to monitor the PPV numbers for the rest of the year. Personally I think if they can stay injury free they’ve got some great opportunities to produce some good numbers with the fight cards they’ve got lined up in the coming months.
For example, April’s UFC 145: Jones Vs Evans fight is one of the biggest of the year, UFC 146 will generate a lot of interest due to the fact it’s got an all heavyweight main-card headlined by Junior Dos Santos Vs Alistair Overeem in May, and UFC 147 in June is a must see event given that it’ll be hosted in a stadium in Brazil and will feature a must-see title rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen.
Based on that I’d say the UFC are getting the balance right in terms of star power for their big PPV shows.
Take a listen to Arum’s full thoughts on the UFC’s current business model below.