The UFC Starts Off 2017 By Increasing The Cost Of Pay-Per-View Buys… How Will Fans React?
The UFC had a very strange 2017. Although President Dana White swears that it was the most lucrative year in the history of the company, statistics contradict his claim. Pay-Per-Views sold very badly, particularly in the latter half of the year, partly due to the lack of star power available to sell events.
Conor McGregor’s boxing match against Floyd Mayweather was the UFC’s main source of income last year. That fight sold the second most Pay-Per-Views of all time. White might argue that if McGregor had been available to fight in the octagon the results would have been similar. That is unlikely because boxing is so much more affluent than MMA and is embedded in popular culture.
The news that the UFC is actually increasing the cost of PPV buys comes at a surprising time. It’s an interesting move for a company hoping to expand further in 2018 – albeit a risky one. Let’s take a look at how cards have changed and think about what fans are getting for their money.
Keen-eyed fans will have noticed that a trend has started to develop regarding the creation of fight cards. They are becoming increasingly top-heavy, with a distinct lack of name-recognition in the preliminary and early prelim rounds. Basically, they are starting to look more like boxing cards than the MMA cards of old.
This is something that Dana White used to swear was a key difference between MMA events and boxing cards. The upcoming UFC 220 is a case in point. The main event and co-main events are both stellar title fights, but the remainder of the card lacks stardust.
Up-and-coming contender Francis Ngannou – potentially the UFC’s next big star – faces Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight strap. In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier defends his Light Heavyweight Championship against Volkan Oezdemir. No complaints there. Both are excellent fights.
Lack of Depth
After a brief glance at the other fights, you might not be as enthusiastic. Never mind the Prelims, just look at the rest of the Main Card. Immediately before the co-main event is a fight between Calvin Kottar and Shane Burgos. With respect to both fighters do a pair of unranked, unrecognisable featherweights deserve Main Card PPV status?
UFC 221 is very similar. It starts off with an interim title fight between Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero in the Middleweight division. This is followed up a Heavyweight clash between Mark Hunt and Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is most recognisable for being one of Ngannou’s early victims, but Hunt is well known and has pedigree. A decent couple of fights.
Once again though, the remainder of the card is weak. For dedicated fans, yes, there are some good fights. But for casuals and newcomers there isn’t really much to get excited by. You could make a case for Li Jingliang attracting the Chinese market. Apart from him there isn’t much else. Prelim fighter Ben Nguyen was in a famous viral video, but not many people would know his name if they were asked.
The UFC have announced that Pay-Per-Views are increasing by $5.00. Instead of $59.99, fans will have to pay $64.99, as can be seen in the image above, taken from the official UFC website.
It will be interesting to see how fans react to this, and if the increase will have any detrimental effect upon PPV sales. Arguably those who pay to watch these events are getting less for their money than before, so it is definitely a risk by the UFC. Especially considering they might soon be without their biggest star in Conor McGregor.