UFC 168 is reported to have raked in between 1,000,000 and 1,100,000 pay-per-view buys based on early estimates according to the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer.
In the lead-in to the event UFC president Dana White had been bullish about the possibility that this could be the biggest PPV they had ever done, and while it looks to have fallen some way short of the 1,600,000 buys UFC 100 garnered, anything over a million will undoubtedly still be chalked down as a huge success for the promotion.
As it stands it would put it comfortably in the top 10 UFC PPV’s of all time. If it settles at 1 million buys that would put it at joint 7th, while 1.1 million would lift it up to joint 3rd.
However, it’s possible that the number could still rise a little beyond even that depending on things like people buying replays of the event. There was huge word of mouth after the event due to both viral and media interest stemming from Anderson Silva’s leg break in the main event, so it’s not out of the realms of possibility that there was a surge of people paying to watch the replay and as a result UFC 168 could yet end up displacing UFC 114: Lesnar Vs Carwin (1.14 million) as the second biggest UFC PPV ever.
In hindsight it seems that the UFC’s gamble to raise the price of the PPV by an extra $5 paid off as it didn’t appear to dampen their sales and generated at least an extra $5 million in revenue from an already hugely profitable night’s work.
Overall, the event appears to have been a home-run in all aspects with the live gate of $6.2 million being the second highest ever for the UFC in the U.S, while the UFC 168 prelims on FOX Sports 1 delivered 1.5 million viewers, the second highest rating for a UFC show on the network to date, and also the fifth highest rating ever for FS1, while the subsidiary programming around the event also performed better than usual.
As we’ve discussed previously, the UFC are going to struggle to get close to this number again in 2014 with their two biggest pay-per-view draws, Anderson Silva and Georges St.Pierre now almost certainly out for the full calendar year due to injury and personal issues respectively.
Looking further ahead to 2015 though, if Anderson Silva’s management team are to be believed that the Brazilian superstar will compete again after he fully recovers, then imagine how big his first fight back would be, almost regardless of who he faces. Also, if St.Pierre opts to return to action next year after his extended leave to challenge for the welterweight title against whoever is champion at the time then that would also be a huge event.
So, 2014 might prove to be a challenging year for the UFC, but the future could still end up looking very bright indeed.