After four straight disappointing numbers, UFC 107 shocked pretty much everyone, affirming the value of a great pregame show as it did, based on the latest estimates, more than 620,000 buys. That will end up probably tripling Survivor Series’ North American buys that took place the next day.
What is curious is that the wide variance between UFC 106 and UFC 107 isn’t notable in looking at non-PPV numbers that you could look at regarding interest in the show, such as amount of clicks on major web site coverage of the shows, web site activity regarding the shows, which almost always directly correlate with buy rates. In looking at these numbers, 107 was ahead of 106, but there was nothing that would indicate 107 doing almost double the buys.
Historically, when looking at these types of numbers, you usually can get a good indication of where the PPV numbers are going to fall. For 106, the buys were much lower than those numbers would indicate, but for 107 they were much higher and right now I can’t come up with a reason why this would be. Within the company, the belief is B.J. Penn has become one of the top draws. In the arena at 107, the most popular fighter was Clay Guida. But Guida is your classic example of a guy who gets a great response, probably helps a little with TV ratings but I don’t see him as a PPV draw, and obviously Zuffa doesn’t see him as a big one either since Guida vs. Kenny Florian wasn’t even promoted on the Countdown show.
See the sky isn’t falling and the casual audience isn’t losing interest in the UFC, they’re just not willing to shell out $45/$55 for cards that aren’t very appealing.
We’ll likely similar numbers to UFC 106 for UFC 108 and UFC 109, but they should start to pick back up again with UFC 110 and skyrocket for UFC 111 when GSP returns to defend his title and Frank Mir presumably challenges Shane Carwin for a shot at Brock Lesnar.
The UFC brand alone is powerful, but clearly the winning combination is the brand coupled with star power in meaningful fights.