Is it finally time for the UFC to stop showing preliminary bouts on Facebook?
Ever since signing with the FOX Network last year, there's been a huge surge in the number of UFC bouts airing on cable and network television. However, the promotion is still stubbornly holding onto the idea of showing a small handful of fights on Facebook.
Even in the early days with Spike TV, the UFC never really committed properly to the idea of showing free fights on the popular social network. More often than not, only one or two fights are aired online, forcing fans to jump from computer to television channels to PPV broadcasts in a single night.
But even with the FOX deal giving the UFC access to three different TV channels, they don't necessarily need to take Facebook out of the mix.
Dana White consistently says that the company needs more fights on TV and more fighters to fill those airtime hours. If that's the case, there's no better method than to funnel all your prelim fights through FX and Fuel TV.
From a company standpoint, that's more TV exposure for fighters, more advertising, and more chances to build up familiarity with casual viewers.
But what's the real problem with showing fights on Facebook? Stretching out fight cards for no reason, making things inconvenient and confusing.
UFC on FX: Browne vs. Bigfoot was a perfect example of why one-fight (or two-fight) Facebook video streams are unnecessary.
Asking fans to have laptop or tablet access for such a small portion of the card is a time-waster, and in an event like the Jeremy Stephens controversy, a single cancellation makes the whole exercise pointless.
In a perfect world, the UFC could air a three-hour preliminary special for every fight night on FX or Fuel TV, ensuring that viewers at home or fans out in sports pubs are able to get the exposure of a full fight card with minimal hassle.
Not every fan can count on prelim cards getting "bumped" up to TV or PPV. Putting everything on TV at the bare minimum eliminates that conflict.
But if the UFC wants to give people some real value for tuning in through Facebook, either have a sizable five-fight lineup or just save the whole thing for TV.
In the future, the UFC needs to go all in or just do nothing—stop dangling a single fight in front of the Facebook crowds in some half-assed attempt to cover extra bases. It's not worth the hassle.