T Nation

NFL Lockout and MMA


#1

Hey guys. I am from europe so i do not really know what is going on in the NFL. But i do no there is a poosible NFL lockout.

This seems to be a perfect chance for our sport and especially the UFC. Although i do not have any demographic data i think UFC and NFL are propably recruting the same fan base.

If there is no NFL season the fans will look for something else. NBA, UFC etc will profit a lot.
PPV buys should skyrocket.

what do you guys think ?


#2

here is an related article:
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31751_162-20045836-10391697.html


#3

I can see how there will be more time and dollars to spent on MMA with the NFL out of the way. If anything this will just accelerate what is already underway. MMA is the premier combat sport on the planet and will very soon take its place among the top sports for viewership anway.


#4

Unless a big name from the NFL transitions to MMA I don't really see it getting a significant amount of new attention. Football fans are football fans, if anything I see there being some staggering numbers for NCAA football once the season comes around.

Some players have already transitioned to boxing but realistically they're only going to be a fighter or fighters that fight a designated loser and collect a little bit of money until the lockout is over. The attention for either sport will probably be minimal other than some filler on ESPN.


#5

I don't see a football lockout helping MMA any more than the baseball lockout helped lacrosse and soccer (football to everyone outside the US). Not enough commonality in schedule or difference in audience draw, those NFL fans who would be inclined to watch the UFC probably already do so.


#6

Really, on the planet? I think boxing still holds that title. Wrestling is pretty popular across the globe, but defining what constitutes the combat sport of wrestling might lead to a semantic black hole.

EDIT: Are you stating that it should be the premier sport and that its popularity will soon reach that level? To me the premier combat sport would be the one that the majority of the people picture when someone says professional fighter. I think most people picture a prizefighter. Though that may be/is changing.


#7

I've debated this point more than I'd like on this forum in the past. I'll just say that I'm a huge boxing fan and always have been since I can remember. My father used to take me to boxing matches and exhibitions. I saw a lot of the greats in person. And as an adult I remain a fan of boxing and a real student of the history of boxing. With that said, if you look at the growth curve there is no denying that MMA is on a very huge upswing, while boxing has very much leveled off and in fact has gone down a bit. This is not something that I want, it's something that is happening.

One more point, if you look at the larger demographics of boxing you'll see that there are many, many more fans who are over the age of 40. Not so with MMA. As boys start to get interested in combat sports they now have a choice, and many are choosing MMA that would have had no choice but boxing in the past. And as the over 40 fan base begins to pass away where are the new fans coming from?

So in a nut shell, I love boxing and MMA but I think the growth curve is on the side of MMA at this point in time.


#8

Ah, got it. Thank you for the clarification. I was hung up on premier. Semantics/too much dictionary got the better of me. I agree with you about the trend, and lament it for similar reasons. Its a shame that the current generation knows so little about boxing. I personally blame the amateur rules for creating fights and fighters that prioritize volume of contact over real damage.


#9

Internationally I'd say boxing is more popular, nationally the popularity of each sport often depends on who you're talking to.


#10

I agree it does matter your location. But it's the overall growth of the sport that is meteoric.

For example on a quick google search:

Top 10 North American PPV buy rates, 2008

  1. Boxing: Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao, Dec. 6, 1,250,000

2. UFC: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture, Nov. 15, 1,010,000

  1. Wrestling: WrestleMania, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Paul â??Big Showâ?? Wight, March 30, 670,000

4. UFC: Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch/Lesnar vs. Heath Herring, Aug. 9, 625,000

5. UFC: Lesnar vs. Frank Mir, Feb. 2, 600,000

6. UFC: Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin, July 5, 540,000

7. UFC: St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra, April 19, 530,000

  1. Boxing: Felix Trinidad vs. Roy Jones Jr., Jan. 19, 500,000

9. UFC: Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans, Sept. 6, 480,000

10. UFC: B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk/Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida, May 24, 475,000

As you can see 7 of the top 10 PPV in NA were MMA events.

But, I agree with you boxing is more popular in some parts of the world than other parts.


#11

Boxing has averaged better buy rates over the years, MMA just puts on more PPVs. They did go from averaging 158,000 buys to 620,000 over the span of four years but the growth is stagnating and their best selling product, Lesnar, is damaged goods. The real question is what the UFC does in the future, of course they'll put on the same amount of PPVs but I'm interested in whether the average buys per year will increase or decrease because it really didn't improve much from 2009-2010[3,000 buys].

I'm kind of surprised Jones/Trinidad outsold two UFC events, that fight had no real marketing other than to the boxing community. Trinidad also came out of retirement for the fight. I suppose he's his fans to think for it because Jones really wasn't doing well on PPV prior to that and 500,000 was better than he had done for years prior to that and was better than what he did after it.


#12

I read in an article that the MLB lockout cemented the NFL status in the US. And that was somehow the final needed push to grow the sport that big.

goldengloves is totally right. We will see it if a lockout will help the UFC increase the PPV rates. And i do think the UFC waits till strikeforces Showtime contracts expire and then the will incorporate all their talent. This superfights champion vs champion will give the UFC another boost.

Is the lockout reality now? will there be an NFL season 2011-2012 ?


#13

I am also very curious how the UFC will expand internationally. Now everything is based on their PPV buys but in the rest of the world PPV are not very common. They will have to change their business modell without hurting their buy rates in they US. This is very tricky.


#14

And I was surprised at the gate that Lesnar/Couture drew. But of course the point is that mma is a sport that has only been around since 1993. And in fact in it's latest incarnation (Legalized in all but 5 or so states) only a handful of years. I wonder at this pace where it ends up? As I see where it has gotten in a very short period of time. Too bad the UFC isn't public I'd buy shares with both hands.


#15

I agree. But if you look at some of the fighters that they've been promoting it's obvious that they have a global strategy. Why else would someone like Bisping (UK) be a UFC darling? And of course there are excellent fighters like Cain Velasquez (Mexico). I think Dana White understands the mission and I don't see anything standing in his way to accomplish that goal. All though I seriously dislike the man. Okay that was off topic. :slight_smile:


#16

I don't think they're worried about that, they're probably first and foremost trying to get more PPV buys in America since it's such a large market and it'll account for the majority of their income. They could sell the rights to their fights to foreign networks but trying to make neutral PPVs when accounting for significant time differences would be too much trouble.

I don't think the MLB lockouts cemented it, in my opinion football is just more fan friendly. Baseball was just on a gradual decline and it'd have happened eventually. Baseball and football were also the top two sports at that time. Combat sports are far down the line in terms of popularity, in America I believe they're behind all the major sporting leagues and auto racing. A jump of the magnitude is unrealistic.

Personally I think they'll get it settled and there will be a season, even if there isn't I don't expect anything phenomenal for combat sports. The true football fans will just watch NCAA football and people that passingly watch it will just put something else on. I think the most obvious problem is that most people simply wont want to order a PPV when they can see something else for free.

If you've a billion dollars lying around you could try to buy Zuffa. Good luck with it lol.


#17

Zeb- boxing is different though. There aren't huge events every year like there are in the UFC.... there's only maybe one or two, as opposed to 10.

UFC is more popular among white people, I'll give you that. But boxing still holds the crown amongst the mininorities and Latinos especially... and boxing PPV's- the top ones- blow the UFC away- look at Mayweather vs. DLH.


#18

This is a great article about something similar- how school cuts are putting boxing back on the map.


#19

I grant you that, no question you're spot on. But, many, many years ago boxing did have frequent fights. In fact, even before my time (dinosaurs roamed the earth lol) they had "The Thursday Night Fights" which featured the better boxers of the day who were on the rise. What you are saying is true but it only proves my point. That is, MMA is on a meteoric rise, lots of fighters, plenty of action, while my beloved sport of boxing sits languishing.

Latino's comprise about 15% of the population and blacks an additional 12%. So, if what you are saying is true (and I don't know that it is) 73% of the population favors MMA over boxing. Up to this point in time whites have mostly dominated MMA, so you may have something in your analysis. But that will change as time goes by. I would suspect that when black youths see Jon Bones Jones and other really great black fighters they will become interested in MMA. Just as Cain Velasquez has drawn spanish speaking fans to the sport. It is growing exponentially, that is in every possibly demographic direction and geographically as well.

I know you are not an MMA fan, and neither was I in the beginning. But neither of us can deny that the UFC has made MMA an incredible rising sport. We know where it was only 10 years ago, look at it now. My question is how big will it be 10 years from now? I don't know what will stop it or even rival it in terms of shear combat excitement in the eyes of the typical 18-35 male demographic.

As for me I'll continue to buy both boxing and MMA fights on PPV, but how many people are, or will remain dedicated to both sports?


#20

At least there is one good outcome to such drastic cuts.