ROUNDTABLE: Considering the UFC relies so heavily on PPV buys, do you see a need for them to make changes to their business model?

BY MMATorch Staff

Considering the UFC relies so heavily on PPV buys, do you see a need for them to make changes to their business model?


The UFC’s pay per view buys have come down considerably over the last few years. There are several factors that may be contributing to that. One factor is that the frequency and the overabundance of pay per views and television fights have contributed to viewer fatigue. The WWE for example completely eliminated cable pay per view in favour of providing all their events on their streaming service. The UFC could easily do so also, considering they already have their own streaming application. There are still pay per views that do very well for the UFC. Perhaps a hybrid model would work, with Super cards on pay-per-view and lesser cards streamed on the app.

FRANK HYDEN, MMATorch Columnist

I absolutely see a need for them to make some changes. For one, they need to decide if they want to stick with PPV or follow other sports and make the move to network/cable television. Or they could go OTT and make a UFC channel. Whatever they decide to do, though, they need to embrace it. If they want to stick with PPV, they need to cut down on the number of events they put on FS1 and FS2. A huge number of diluted cards is not as good as one solid FS1 card and one good to great PPV card. Injuries happen, so it’s not always possible to have good cards to put on, but when they stretch themselves so thin, one injury can prove disastrous. I personally would like to see the UFC go full television or create their own network, but they need to jump in with both feet no matter what they do.

SEAN COVINGTON, MMATorch Contributor

Absolutely, I believe they need a streaming network much like WWE. They have a ton of money and a ton of footage and programming to pull it off. They also have an international presence; it’s a no-brainer.

ZACK HEYDORN, MMATorch Contributor

Absolutely. In a world where content is at people’s fingertips at a moment’s notice, the PPV model is becoming less and less important. For major fights and events, I think folks will pony up big dollars for PPV. The McGregor/Mayweather fight is a perfect example. People don’t have enough money to pay for events on a monthly basis that are nowhere as big as something like May/Mac. Couple that with the fact that they can watch WWE PPV’s for $9.99 a month and it’s not hard to see that UFC is behind on this.

RICK MONSEY, MMATorch Contributor

The UFC needs to stop flooding the market with subpar PPV’s (UFC 208, 209, 212, 215).  They make the most money when they’re patient and stack a card, obviously (UFC 210, 214, 217).  The beginning of 2017 was an example of how to not release PPV’s.  Hopefully that changes in 2018.  They should find a way to utilize Fight Pass better, it seems to be wasted.

JOSHUA GARCIA, MMATorch Contributor

It would be tough to change their business model now, but they could.  If they were to drop the number of PPV’s they have they could have potentially more supercard type PPV’s that generate big buys to make up for the PPV’s that don’t sell.  If they had quarterly large PPV’s with TV and Fight Pass fights between I think they would generate much more interest in their product.  They could have bigger name fighters doing the TV and Fight Pass fights to draw a larger viewing audience while saving the really big names and fights for the quarterly PPV’s.  I would also expect them to raise the cost of these bigger PPV’s even though I would not want to pay the higher rate.

DYLAN BOWKER, MMATorch Contributor

I think UFC sees their future in the Fight Pass model. Most industries that have an element of entertainment are monetizing their efforts with subscription based services. In the last few years they have been making more of a concerted effort to get Fight Pass over. The service has gotten big main events in the past, certain events are broadcast exclusively on that platform, and there are multiple points of attraction for modern fans. Also, the comprehensive library of content they have is essentially a catalogue of almost every significant MMA moment of all time.

The UFC still has the ability to draw huge numbers on PPV given the right set of stars being available, i.e. / UFC 217. Despite this not being a huge year for UFC pay per view buy rates, they are still capable of using that as a viable medium as evidenced by 217 estimates hovering around just shy of 900 K buys. That being said, the long term future is in Fight Pass and they are clearly laying the foundation for that service to be the big money maker.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS ROUNDTABLE: Which do you consider to be higher profile, opening the main card or headlining the prelims and why?


1 Comment on ROUNDTABLE: Considering the UFC relies so heavily on PPV buys, do you see a need for them to make changes to their business model?

  1. I’ve watched every big UFC ppv in the last three years or so (Brock, Conor, Jones, GSP, Rousey). Notice I didn’t say I’ve BOUGHT all of them. I am one of a growing number who can say the same.
    PPV is over. Either go the way of WWE (OTT) or do huge television numbers and get huge ad revenue, but we’re done paying 50+ dollars to see the two fights per card that interest us.

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