by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
Biggest Event of 2006: UFC vs. Boxing vs. WWE
With the UFC’s business exploding in every category over the past twelve months, many people have asked how the UFC’s current level of business compares with that of boxing and pro wrestling, which are two of the UFC’s primary competitors.
To examine this issue, we’re going to take a look at the two most relevant statistics for the largest shows of the year in each of the three aforementioned respective genres: Live gate revenue and pay-per-view revenue.
Television ratings information is not available for boxing on HBO or Showtime, and it has proven largely irrelevant in the case of WWE, which regularly produces TV shows with double or quadruple the UFC’s TV ratings while also producing monthly pay-per-views with less than half of the UFC’s domestic PPV buys.
The boxing event with the biggest live gate in 2006 was the May 6th fight between Oscar de la Hoya and Ricardo Mayorga, which generated $7,636,000 in gross ticket receipts.
Even with UFC 66 drawing the UFC’s biggest live gate in history, its live gate total of $5,397,300 is still over two million dollars short of boxing’s high mark in 2006.
However, if the UFC’s own publicly stated predictions are accurate, UFC 66 will generate more PPV revenue than De la Hoya vs. Mayorga.
The fight between De la Hoya and Mayorga drew 925,000 pay-per-view buys in the United States at $49.95 per buy, which generated gross PPV revenue of $46.20 million.
The UFC has publicly and repeatedly predicted that UFC 66 will draw 1.2 million PPV buys, and with a price of $39.95, the gross PPV revenue would be $47.94 million.
The previous all-time record for UFC PPVs was set this past July by UFC 61, which drew approximately 775,000 buys and generated approximately $30.96 million in revenue.
In boxing, the all-time record for pay-per-view buys was set in 2002 by Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis, which drew 2.0 million pay-per-view buys. That event is followed closely in the record books by the 1997 fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, which drew 1.99 million PPV buys.
The all-time record for a non-heavyweight boxing PPV was set in 1999 when Oscar de la Hoya’s fight against Felix Trinidad drew 1.4 million PPV buys. De la Hoya’s upcoming fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., which is scheduled to take place on May 5th, has a strong chance of breaking the 1.4 million record for a non-heavyweight boxing PPV.
With the decline in its domestic business in recent years, World Wrestling Entertainment is no longer in the same league as the UFC or big-name boxing match-ups when it comes to live gate sales or PPV revenue for the largest events.
The biggest WWE event of 2006 was WrestleMania, which took place on April 2nd and drew a live gate of just $2.5 million. In addition, WWE now claims that WrestleMania drew 636,000 PPV buys in the United States (an increase from WWE’s previously claimed figure of 560,000).
If WWE’s latest figure of 636,000 buys is accurate, that would equal PPV revenue of $31.77 million for the event, which would be $14.43 million short of the PPV revenue that was generated by De la Hoya vs. Mayorga, and $16.17 million short of Zuffa’s projections for UFC 66.
Live Gate Sales (United States)
1. Boxing’s Biggest Event of 2006: $7,636,000 (De la Hoya vs. Mayorga)
2. MMA’s Biggest Event of 2006: $5,397,300 (UFC 66)
3. Pro Wrestling’s Biggest Event of 2006: $2,500,000 (WWE WrestleMania)
Pay-Per-View Revenue (United States)
1. MMA’s Biggest Event of 2006: $47.94 million (UFC 66, according to Zuffa’s publicly stated projections)
2. Boxing’s Biggest Event of 2006: $46.20 million (De la Hoya vs. Mayorga)
3. Pro Wrestling’s Biggest Event of 2006: $31.77 million (WWE WrestleMania, according to WWE’s latest claimed figures)