With UFC Fight Night 107 in the books and a three-week hiatus before UFC 210, UFC fans are left to their own devices (Bellator) to get their fight fix. If UFC fans do not choose to spend their time watching college basketball or enjoying springtime weather, they must get their fill by perusing the offerings of UFC Fight Pass.
UFC Fight Pass is an essential streaming service for the most ardent of MMA fans. However, outside of that particular niche, UFC Fight Pass does not attract MMA fans outside of that spectrum. Like all aspects of the UFC’s business, UFC Fight Pass is a property that WME-IMG could utilize to increase revenue over the next several years. Here are some suggestions to improve the current state of UFC Fight Pass.
OFFER ONE MARQUEE FIGHT PER MONTH ON FIGHT PASS
While the UFC may never outright admit it, fighting on UFC Fight Pass is an indication that the fight is not exactly a “money fight.” While the UFC should not look to subvert their pay-per-view or television business to enhance their streaming service, it would not hurt to have at least one fight that UFC fans cannot miss.
While Jimi Manuwa vs. Corey Anderson is a decent fight, it is absolutely not appointment viewing. The UFC has seemingly attempted this strategy in the past by putting Anderson Silva or planning to feature B.J. Penn exclusively on Fight Pass.
Having a marquee fight on UFC Fight Pass is ideal but no easy task. Currently UFC’s fight inventory is noticeably low. UFC 210 is a laughably uninspiring card, and is perhaps the best argument against moving featured bouts to Fight Pass. However, the UFC’s current state of being deprived of stars will likely not last forever. Instead of irrationally stacking fights on UFC pay-per-views a la UFC 205, the UFC could stretch out content by moving some of those fights online.
ELIMINATE “FREE FIGHTS” ON YOUTUBE
Prior to UFC events, the promotion offers a selection of relevant fights for free on YouTube featuring competitors from the upcoming event. While this is a salient strategy for selling pay-per-views, it undercuts the concept of paying for the complete UFC fight library.
This practice gives the moderately loyal UFC fan no incentive to subscribe to UFC Fight Pass in anticipation of mega UFC events. If anything, this process only streamlines the primer process for the UFC fans who are not Fight Pass subscribers.
None of this is to say that the UFC should not use YouTube to promote upcoming UFC events, but perhaps also use the platform to promote UFC Fight Pass. Instead of providing the entirety of the fight, only provide brief clips of the fight while enticing the viewer to subscribe to UFC Fight Pass to view the entire fight.
FURTHER STREAMLINE THE FIGHT VIEWING PROCESS
UFC Fight Pass should receive credit for the simple process of finding fight within a card. The viewer simply has to click on the “watch” tab above the advertised fight and be taken to the fight. The problem here lies in the fact that the viewer must watch the entire promotional package before the fight starts. Sure the viewer has the option to move the cursor forward, but who wants to work with such little precision.
While this may seem like a petty gripe (it is), it’s another example of the free viewer getting something over on the paid subscribers. Both YouTube and cable on-demand airings of fights start at the “tale of the tape.” While the context of the promotional package is very helpful in understanding the importance of a fight, the viewing time can get really long.
Furthermore, with content switching over to mobile viewing, time is of the essence. Getting what you want and only what you want in a timely manner can increase the enjoyment of any bus or train ride.
Speaking of viewing on the go, Wi-Fi and data are not always in abundance during a commute. Recently Netflix and YouTube have offered their content available for download. Despite what advertisements for various streaming services will tell you, mobile viewing can be inconvenient, expensive, and low quality.
By offering content offline, UFC Fight Pass would become an innovator in the sports streaming space. Unlike other sports, MMA has an evergreen quality to it that is unparalleled. The entirety of Conor McGregor’s UFC career can be easily consumed via UFC Fight Pass; good luck replicating this process with Tom Brady’s NFL tenure.
With so much content, that could be packaged to take up so little memory, UFC Fight Pass and offline downloadable content are a natural fit. Perhaps it could even be an upsell feature to UFC Fight Pass.
PROMOTE OTHER PROMOTIONS
One area where UFC Fight Pass is clearly superior to the WWE Network is in their presentation of live non-native content. By being able to view promotions such as Invicta FC and Cage Warriors in addition to the UFC-centric content, UFC Fight Pass is a great product for the MMA aficionado. Perhaps the UFC should let their pay-per-view and television viewers know more about the non-UFC content.
While it might seem counterintuitive for Dana White to promote fights outside of the UFC realm, promoting these Fight Pass cards only gives a boost to his bottom line. Currently, the UFC runs a quick promotional spot for these upcoming events featuring only text. Those who are not already aware of these events are given no incentive to subscribe to UFC Fight Pass.
The UFC produces amazing video packages for sometimes lackluster bouts. A portion of these resources can be used to promote featured non-UFC bouts. This strategy can benefit the UFC twofold. For instance, Invicta FC’s Interim Featherweight Champion Megan Anderson is someone who may be in the UFC very soon. By promoting her future title defenses, the UFC builds interest in her future UFC fights while also promoting their streaming service. The UFC is the global leader in MMA; maybe they should proclaim it even more.
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