What drives PPV buys?

While the UFC and Fox Broadcasting Company announced a landmark seven year, $700 million television rights deal two years ago, and live gates routinely run into the millions, PPV is where the money is. Yahoo Sports' Joe Napoli recently broke down the different factors that determine the size of UFC PPV buys in the TUF era.
Weight Classes:  Generally, the higher classes do well, and the lower classes do poorly. Complicating matter, lightweight GSP is the UFC's biggest PPV draw. BJ Penn is the only major draw at 155 and below. Title Fights:  It's difficult to measure exactly how important belts are in generating extra buys, though they certainly help. Champions are successful fighters, and successful fighters tend to be draw regardless of belts. Title fights give legitimacy, and they allow fighters like Benson Henderson to headline events when they otherwise wouldn't. Grudge Matches: If the UFC can convince fans that two fighters hate one another, there is a spike in PPV sales. For example, GSP vs. Diaz, and Rashad Evans vs. Quinton Jackson. The Ultimate Fighter:  The six TUF headline fights averaged 675,000 buys, well above the PPV average of 469,000. Superstars:  UFC's PPV success is centered around a few key fighters - GSP, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Cain Velasquez, JDS, and Ronda Rousey. When at least one of these fighters headline, the event can be expected to produce over 400,000 buys, sometimes well over that. A Good Dance Partner: A lower-level star like Vitor Belfort may not be able to draw big numbers against a lower-level star, but against the right superstar, they can more than double the PPV sales the superstar would normally generate. Expectations of Seeing a Great Fight: Surprisingly, this has little influence over PPV buys. GSP has consistently outdrawn Anderson Silva, despite the latter putting together the more exciting performances. Fans pay to see "big fights" and don't seem to consider the expected viewing quality. This has been true across PPV. Floyd Mayweather has never been known as an exciting boxer, but he is the biggest draw in the sport. Rematches:  Most rematches, even when the first fight was entertaining and competitive, do not create a great deal of additional interest. Outside Factors: There are numerous outside factors that manipulate an event's PPV success that haven't been taken into account in this piece. These include the undercard, direct competition from other programming, and the length of time between PPVs. So a perfect PPV would be two superstars, in the light heavyweight and heavyweight division, with title on the line, bad blood between the two, following a season of The Ultimate Fighter.
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