3 Reasons It's Time to Give Fight Pass a Break
UFC Fight Pass is like a young racehorse. It's a little gangly now, but it'll grow quickly into something useful, with the right attention.
The UFC streaming service got off to a rocky start with security and navigation issues, but it adjusted itself accordingly after consumer response. Most of the problems seemed to come from a hurried launch rather than a conceptual flaw, and now we should look at Fight Pass for what it was meant to be: a wise, if premature, media decision that gives fight fans more of what they want and poises the promotion to expand its influence.
The reality is that we have more viewable content now than before Fight Pass came online. We have libraries of previous fights. We have overseas fights. We have prelims. We have more, and it will grow.
Obviously, they bombed the execution, but the concept is solid and can be improved on. The UFC prides itself on giving the fans what they want: the most exciting cards, the best access, etc. Whether or not they deliver is beside the point. They have to keep the perception.
To keep that reputation, and the allegiance of the fans they won with that reputation, the UFC will have to adapt Fight Pass to what the fans demand or else it won't sustain itself. As Bleacher Report’s Chad Dundas points out, the service will only be worth the trouble if it becomes cost-effective for fans; if the fans continue pointing out their disapproval with Fight Pass, the UFC will have to concede to demand in order to keep their reputation.
Innovation often comes at the cheap end of the market, like the Model T or Walmart. But they had to hit the market and work out the kinks before they disrupted their respective industries.
Room for UFC Expansion
Fight Pass implies there are, or will be, more fights now than in previous years, so many that the past few years has seen worry about an excess of UFC events. After all, we can't pay for 20 UFC PPV cards.
UFC Fight Pass acts like a gas valve to let some of the pressure off of the demands of network affiliation and event pricing. The UFC is always looking for better mainstream access and has seen a fair amount of success with the FX/Fox Sports 1 merger, but they have miles to go.
Until they have a product to deliver, they won't be able to fully command the same spots as the big four American sports. They need to pump up their output to show the major networks it would be worth the investment to take them into a full network spot.
In the meantime, they can't charge us PPV prices for every card, and fledgling Fox Sports 1 can't possibly have the budget to keep up with every event. Fight Pass allows more fights to happen beneath PPV price, under UFC control. Until the Sunday comes when we can watch Junior dos Santos for free on NBC, Fight Pass is better than shelling out 30 PPV tickets while the company builds their output.
Smart Media and Business Move
UFC Fight Pass reaffirms the promotion's place at the forefront of media trends. They know they have to let us watch what we want, when we want, at least in part. That's what our generation demands, and UFC moves in stride with us for the most part.
A creature of the digital age, Dana White and the UFC have always been media-savvy, which helps them rise as quickly as they have. They grew with media trends, using reality television and social media to court their target demographic, the millennials, who prefer to have direct contact with their media.
UFC Fight Pass is a node of customizable, a la carte content, the newest and most influential step in media. We get to pick and choose on Netflix instead of watching our Futurama reruns on Comedy Central's schedule. We have Pandora stations that determine our music for us. We browse libraries of old sports clips on YouTube.
UFC outruns much of the pack when it comes to releasing their content. Companies usually keep old clips to themselves to make a buck from DVD sales, so sports networks lag behind media such as film and television. WWE and MLB, among others, delved into this realm with good results, with the WWE’s site serving as a role model for Fight Pass.
Regardless, the UFC is making a sound, forward-thinking media decision with Fight Pass, one that will keep them from stagnating their approach.
You can follow DJ Summers on Twitter @djsummersmma