Dana White spent the better part of October and November last year proclaiming UFC 91 would challenge Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz’s pay-per-view record set at UFC 66 by selling 1.2 million buys. From the latest reports, his prediction fell short by a little under 200,000 buys, but UFC 92, as awesome of a line-up as it was, shattered everyone’s expectations by becoming the all-time MMA pay-per-view record holding event, according to Mike Chiappetta’s latest report.
Now, only a month later Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn will meet for the second time at UFC 94 in what many are calling the biggest fight in mixed martial arts history. And guess what? Dana thinks it’s going to outsell them all.
“I think it’s going to break the record,” White excitedly told NBCSports.com in a phone call from the UK, where he is filming the first two episodes of next season’s Ultimate Fighter before flying off to Dublin for this weekend’s UFC 93. “This thing’s not getting samller; it’s only getting bigger. Listen, mainstream to me is when you walk out into town, everyone knows what American Idol is. Everyone knows. Not everyone knows UFC, but we continue to grow. Every event, people who have never seen it before show up live or watch it at their friend’s house. And you know what happens next. You’re done. You’re hooked. You’re addicted. The more we get out there, it’s only getting better for us.”
And to help push it over the edge, as everyone knows, the UFC is producing UFC Primetime: St. Pierre vs Penn, which is set to debut tomorrow night.
The cost for the added nudge? A staggering $1.7 million. Dana White filled MDS in on the details.
“This thing is going to be 69 minutes,” White said of the three segments, “and it’s costing us $1.7 million to produce.”
White said the finished product is going to be a dramatic look at the daily lives of Penn and St. Pierre in the weeks leading up to their fight, and that the faster turnaround time will give Primetime a more urgent feel than UFC’s Countdown.
“It’s more like a docu-drama or a docu-soap,” White said. “It’s so real time following the fighters that we’re still editing now and it airs tomorrow night. The voiceovers will be done tonight and we’ll literally still be working on this thing — we’ll get it to Spike two hours before it airs. … Stuff that happened today will air tomorrow. These editors are working in shifts, working basically 24 hours around the clock in shifts. It’s going to be the best show we’ve ever produced.”
In order for the UFC to break even on the investment, the show would have to net them approximately 76,000 additional standard definition pay-per-view buys assuming a 50/50 revenue split with pay-per-view distributors (their deal could be better). Calculation was made before taxes and all that other financial bs that I loathed learning about in college.