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UFC 161 and 163 Hit Under 200k PPV Buys, May Indicate a Downward Trend

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According to a report on MMAFighting.com, it seems that the UFC’s current PPV strategy might be headed downhill.

Despite having lucrative television deals and live gate ticket sales, PPV buys are still the bread-and-butter of the UFC’s profits. Even the recent FOX Sports deal, estimated at around $100 million a year, is still significantly less than what the UFC earned in 2011 and 2012 from PPV programming. In addition, high profile fighters who have worked PPV Points into their contracts rely on these shows in order to make their money. Overall, a healthy PPV year is what keeps everyone, fighters and management, afloat.

Unfortunately, it seems a few of the UFC’s recent events have not managed to generate the level of interest the promotion relies on. UFC 163, headlined by a bout between Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung, only hit an estimated 170,000 to 190,000 buys.

Meanwhile, even those modest figures beat out the UFC 161 numbers, which was headlined by Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson, two names that you’d think would be big draws.

Many in the industry speculate that it is due to the rising prevalence of “free” programming available on TV and streamed online. The UFC’s recent outings on  FOX Sports 1 have been wildly successful, with the most recent event featuring Chael Sonnen and Shogun Rua hitting a 2.0 – 1.5 rating in the coveted 18-34 demographic, averaging 1.78 million viewers overall.

It seems unlikely that the UFC will downplay their PPV calendar anytime soon, but if these recent numbers are any indication, cable TV may be where the promotion’s future is headed.