From a critical standpoint, it's hard to be down on GLORY's Last Man Standing PPV. The show was a resounding success if you are a kickboxing fan who tuned in to watch the show. Featuring some of the world's top talents vying for a whopping three GLORY World Championships it was hard not to be excited about the show. The only issue was that GLORY Last Man Standing was on American PPV and American PPV is tough.
I had been critical of GLORY's decision to move to PPV this soon because it simply didn't feel right. There have been arguments as to the viability of PPV right now as it is, with UFC's last PPV event, UFC 174 drawing their lowest in a very long time at sub-100,000 (with reports that it could be as low as 50,000). There was a possible silver-lining with Spike TV and Viacom's Bellator 120 drawing over 100,000 buys, but it also featured two well-known PPV draws in Tito Ortiz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
GLORY's biggest star was Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic who was on the Spike TV portion, GLORY 17, not the PPV portion, with Cro Cop never being much of a domestic draw. GLORY has been on US television for less than a year at this point and is having to basically establish the sport as brand new, educating fans not only on the rules but the names involved as well. It would be difficult for the UFC to sell an event with these names on it, even if they are the best kickboxers in the world. The other issue was the cost of the event, marketed as $35, but that was for SD, HD was $45, which many fans were openly complaining about. It was simply too steep of a cost considering this would be many fans' first time having to pay money to watch kickboxing.
According to Dave Meltzer from this week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter there are no hard numbers on it yet, but in his own words, the PPV "bombed." According to Meltzer it did considerably worse than both the recent TNA and ROH wrestling PPVs, which is both surprising and disappointing. He even joked on a radio program that it did "World Bodybuilding Federation bad." For those unaware, the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF) was Vince McMahon of WWE (then-WWF)'s vision for "sports entertainment bodybuilding" in the early 90's that attempted a PPV and drew a paltry 3,000 buys, leading to McMahon disbanding the organization after the disappointing buy rate.
Seeing as though we don't have hard numbers for either the TNA or ROH PPVs, either, TNA gets an average of about 8,000 buys on PPV and I can't imagine Ring of Honor's PPV debut doing better than that, so that leaves us in the 5,000 range. The truth of the matter is, PPV is on the way out and for a relatively new sport (in the eyes of casual fans) it felt almost impossible to make an impact. The Spike TV numbers were steady, though, showing that GLORY has made an impression on the viewers that it has reached.
It might be time for GLORY to buckle down, build themselves a home base like Las Vegas was for the UFC or San Jose was for Strikeforce, attract some solid crowds and focus on growing their Spike TV audience. Globetrotting and PPV are clear indicators of a successful organization in this realm of combat sports, but it seems unfair for GLORY to be holding itself to these standards after only being on Spike TV a handful of times and only running a small number of shows in the United States.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, launches on March 24th.