As a fight promoter, every upcoming show is the biggest event in the history of ever. However, with the UFC flooding the MMA market with so many insignificant cards featuring even less significant scraps, fans are becoming more selective on how they spend their spare time and money.
Sure, most of the UFC’s shows are of the free variety courtesy of the blockbuster broadcasting deal they inked with FOX back in 2011. UFC Fight Pass, their $10/month online network, also provides an inexpensive avenue to showcase talent.
But the bread and butter of the UFC has historically been their pay-per-view business. That hasn’t been the case of late, and UFC president Dana White (pictured) surprisingly admitted so at the NeuLion Sports Media & Technology Conference.
“This year, yeah, pay-per-view numbers are down, but this business isn’t what everybody thinks it is,” White stated (courtesy of sportsbusinessdaily.com). “Trust me, we love pay- per-view. When these big events happen, the pay-per-view numbers will come back. But we’re much more than a pay-per-view company.
“Every time we go into these other countries, it just keeps building more and more momentum. We hear all of this negative stuff here in the United States because they don’t get the whole global strategy. … We’re killing it in all of these other countries.”
When the UFC initially signed their seven-year deal with FOX, The Sports Business Daily Journal reported the bidding reached an average of $100 million a year. With that kind of steady income rolling it, it’s understandable why the UFC’s primary focus hasn’t been PPV dollars.
FOX requires them to put on x amount of shows each year, so the UFC is going abroad to do so. It’s a win-win for the UFC, they fulfill their commitment to FOX while invading countless countries with their product.
Unfortunately for MMA fans, it’s come at the expense of big PPV shows. What’s disconcerting is White’s “When these big events happen, the pay-per-view numbers will come back” line.
Um, it’s PPV. When you’re asking fans to drop $54.95 to watch five fights, shouldn’t all of those cards be big events?
Consumers aren’t stupid. If the PPVs are watered down, at what point do UFC PPVs simply blend together with free FOX cards? Has that already happened? Who wants to pay $55 to watch FOX-worthy talent?
UFC 180 is up next. Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt, who have never headlined a UFC PPV, battle for the interim heavyweight title.