Pros and Cons of the UFC Holding so Many Pay-Per-View Events

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IINovember 9, 2011

Pros and Cons of the UFC Holding so Many Pay-Per-View Events

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    It's no secret that the UFC is hoping to grow their business model outward.

    Most of that is free fights, but a part of it has also been the pay-per-view model.

    This year the UFC will have put on 16 pay-per-views.

    Last year there were 15.

    Even if the UFC doesn't expand itself and do any more PPVs, it is still growing and putting more free fights on TV.

    While free MMA is always welcome, having to pay for such a privilege is taxing on fans and sometimes doesn't deliver the excitement they're looking for.

    With the UFC putting a heavyweight title fight on network TV, it seems like there might be some big matchups to come without fans having to pay to see them.

    Here are the problems and the payoffs to having so many PPVs per year.

Pro: More Fights for MMA Fans To Watch

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    More pay-per-views means more fights on TV.  It also means more fights on Facebook and perhaps even a few on Spike.

    For fans of the sport it's the best thing possible.  MMA doesn't have a season, but at the same time there are dry spells and even though they last only a few weeks they can feel like they stretch on for eternity.

    This month alone there are three events the UFC is running.  The first was UFC 138, the second is the fight on FOX and the third is UFC 139 which is their only pay-per-view this month.

    Even though fans are going to get to see a free heavyweight title fight on network TV, most will still pay for more.

    That is because just like football or hockey fans, fight fans are just that: fanatics obsessed with the sport and getting to watch it.

    Those that love the sport enough will pay for every pay-per-view and find a way to see every single fight.

Con: Casual MMA Fans Might Have UFC Burnout

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    As mentioned in the last slide, hardcore MMA fans will always be willing to pay for an event to see fights.  However, many fans of MMA are casual and may not feel like going out to watch the same fighters compete in the same company 15 to 16 times a year.

    Much like anything in life, too much of a good thing usually makes people lose interest.  For every fan who enjoys every fight and could watch the sport every night, there are many more for whom it is either a fad or just something to do.

    That is fine but then the UFC runs the risk of burning those casual fans out when they put on so many events in a year.

    As much as hardcore MMA fans might like to believe that the UFC would stay on network TV or even cable, if it lost those casual fans it wouldn't.

    They drive the MMA economy.  Every time the UFC puts on another pay-per-view they risk burning out that enthusiasm.

Pro: Helps More Fighters Get Paid

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    The top fighters in the UFC can only fight so many times a year.  That means that new talent needs to be brought in to fight for the company.

    More cards mean that fighters who work in what is the equivalent of the MMA indies get a chance to not only earn a nice paycheck but a chance to make fighting a full-time profession.

    The more pay-per-views the UFC puts on the better it gets for fighters who are trying to pursue their chosen career.  

    The truth is that being an MMA fighter is brutal.  Most have to keep full-time jobs while trying to pursue their dream and some just never get the break they need.

    The more fights the UFC puts on the more these fighters will get a chance to shine on the biggest stage and succeed.

    And the more fighters the UFC employs the better the chances are that they will find the next Anderson Silva or Randy Couture.  

Con: Thins out the Top Talent on Each Card

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    There are plenty of talented fighters who compete in the sport today.

    There are only a few top names fans recognize though.  When most fans buy a card they want to see the fighters they recognize and who have consistently put on great fights and won.

    No matter how good an unknown fighter might be, they are not the reason a fan bought the card.

    And the more cards the UFC puts on, the more they have to spread out their name-brand talent.  That means undercards that are filled with those new fighters that fans haven't yet seen.

    That isn't necessarily a bad thing as mentioned in the slide before, but when a fan shells out $50 they want to see the fighters that they are used to seeing and who they consider the best.

    The UFC has been good about keeping top-tier talent on every card, but the more they put on the more they will stretch that out.

    After a certain point it may get to be too much.

Pro: More Pay-Per-Views Means More Venues in Different Locations

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    Every fan should at least see one major live event.  Regardless of what sport a fan follows, it is an incredible moment that should be experienced.

    Some of the UFC's pay-per-views do take place in Las Vegas, but many other times the company goes on the road.  They have not only gone to different states but to Ireland, England, Brazil, Canada and soon Japan.

    The more events the UFC puts on, the better the chance that they will show up in a fan's hometown.

    It also helps the economy of the city that they arrive in and helps create revenue for the state or region and, in doing so, jobs.  

Con: The World Is in a Recession

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    This may be the easiest argument against the UFC pay-per-views.  The economy is not doing well right now and to watch every fight in the comfort of their home a fan would have to pay around $800 if they wanted to see 16 pay-per-views.

    It is possible to split the cost of each one between friends, but that is still costly.  Even if fans go to a pub or bar and only spend $20 on food, they will end up spending $320 for 16 fight cards.

    While most people are struggling to make ends meet, it just isn't fiscally responsible to watch every card.  The more PPVs the UFC puts on though, the harder it is going to be for the fans to get their fight fix.

    And that is going to hurt not only the UFC's bottom dollar, but the support they get from the fans.  

    At the same time, the UFC needs the pay-per-view model to pay its fighters and to turn a profit.

    There isn't an easy answer to how many PPVs the UFC should put on in a year, but with 16 this year they may want to hold off on making any more.


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