So I’ve been a bit grumpy about my love, the UFC, lately — what with all the changes (the controversy brewing over GSP, the talk of uniforms, the ‘Ronda show,’ and so forth, I’ve voiced my share of criticism). FIGHTPASS came along right in the thick of all this and so, of course, some of us were hesitant and instantly skeptical.
Much of the grumbling I heard was along the lines of this: “What?! Dude, how much do we already pay for PPV’s? And now they want $10 more?” Well, sit down so we can break this down, buddy.
One PPV per month, roughly, assuming you order each and every one, works out to about $700 per year. Sounds hefty when you think of it that way — but that’s what most modest-budget hobbies will cost you. It’s still galaxies away from what mid-end or high-end hobbies (e.g., boating) will cost you. And it’s far less than what you’ll spend on even ordinary recreational activities, such as going to the movies each weekend (add up what THAT little hobby ends up costing and you’d be surprised). Or your Starbucks every morning?
My point: no, ordering PPV’s — even each and everyone — does not make for a prohibitively-expensive sport. Not to mention, there are multiple ways to offset the costs of PPV’s (invite friends over and have each person chip in, for instance, or go watch a PPV at a local participating bar or restaurant).
Alright, but is this extra $10 a month worth it?
Notwithstanding my own initial scoff that I would ‘pass’ on FIGHTPASS, something I deemed worthwhile only for the most hardcore of fans, I have reconsidered.
Let’s say you don’t care about the fight library (which, most fans do but let’s err on the extreme here and assume you don’t care to go back and watch any past fights or show a past fight to a friend) and let’s say you don’t care about the special reports and videos exclusive to FIGHTPASS. Let’s say you also don’t even care about TUF (the Chael and Wand season will be exclusive to the site).
Let’s consider the $10 price solely based on whether it’s worth it for the live cards (namely, live international cards) shown on FIGHTPASS.
[There will be about two of these per month, broadcast live so you’ll have funky viewing times (might be early morning on a Saturday or late afternoon, etc.). I Tweeted that I didn’t think it would work because folks don’t want to adjust to different times for each fight. But, on second thought, isn’t that part of the fun? The fact that it isn’t routine? And since when do we UFC fans concern ourselves with routine? Heck, we jump from Facebook fights, to FOX, to then the PPV… And, a Saturday morning or afternoon card is, actually, sometimes more convenient than one in the evening so, I take back my initial assessment regarding the times.]
With about two international cards per month that you care to see, we’ve got a cost of about $5 a card. So, for about the price of a cup of joe and a doughtnut, you get to watch a live event that cost 7 figures to produce, often with top talent on the card (e.g., Alexander Gustafsson fight).
OK, but some of you might still be grumbling: “Yeah but those fights could’ve been shown for free on FOX or FS1! Why should we now have to pay extra?”
I hear ya’ but you’re wrong. My sources tell me that the networks passed on certain fights — hence, the only way to bring those fights to the fans is via a digital network (FIGHTPASS). The other options are: not broadcast the fight at all (!) or put it on PPV. C’mon. So isn’t FIGHTPASS the reasonable, best course? And, don’t forget — as the UFC tries to build up its international business, and more fights takes place internationally, is FOX or even FS1 going to broadcast a card that starts at 3 pm EST? Also, how are international fans supposed to watch? On some channel specific to their own country? Would deals have to be worked out with each nation’s top TV networks? What a mess. FIGHTPASS solves all this is one neat, compact offering for all.
What did it for me was realizing… I could go back and watch a fight I missed! Previously, just as with NFL games, if you miss an event, well, too bad (unless it’s a PPV which you could order the next day).
But here’s another huge benefit I see: FIGHTPASS gives us freedom and it leads us more and more into the realm of being freed from our cable overloads. As you know, currently, with cable, we pay for a variety of channels that we don’t even watch. Reportedly, my cable company pays ESPN $5 for each subscriber — BUT I HATE ESPN! I have Lifetime — but I never watch crap movies about a scorned-woman-turned-detective!
The future will mean paying for only those channels and content that you actually care to see. FIGHTPASS gives us that. If you cancelled your cable, or can’t afford to keep your cable description, FIGHTPASS is a great alternative where you can still watch fights for a fraction ($10/month) of what you pay in cable. In the near future, broadcast TV will no longer exist. We will watch and consume content online (connected to large screens, of course), including sports. Many have told me they only still hang on to a costly cable subscription in order to watch sports — so how cool is it when a company is leading the way in providing content directly to the consumer and giving us a chance to, at least for some of its content, bypass the middleman?
So, isn’t the UFC simply accommodating what many of us need and want? Heck, I wish the NFL would be so generous and provide some digital content.
Thus, consider me a FIGHTPASS supporter. Sign me up!