The recent news that UFC 173 barely cracked 200k PPV buys and the rumors that UFC 174 PPV numbers could be much worse has many people speculating on the causes.
The first cause could be that despite the UFC having the world’s best MMA fighters, they have too many cards. This weekend there isn’t a UFC event but it’s the first time in a long time that has been the case. A couple weeks ago we were gifted two events in one day, with a Fight Night in Berlin and an Ultimate Fighter Brazil finale in Sao Paulo. The promotion will be doing the same next week when they host two fight nights; one in New Zealand and the other in Texas.
We get a ton of UFC fights free and as an MMA fan, I’m happy about it but with so many free events, it does take a little shine off their PPV. Knowing we can watch solid if not spectacular fights every weekend when it comes time to shell out $50 for a PPV, it means that PPV needs to be infinitely better than what’s offered on Fight Pass or Fox Sports.
Fights every weekend is great but it takes away some of the magic, some of the anticipation that used to go along with the monthly PPV events. You’d count down the weeks and days until the jam packed PPV Saturday was ready to begin. But now there’s less buildup, less anticipation for the big events, and there’s the $50.
Another look at the recent PPV cards, sure they had title fights but the casual MMA fan hasn’t bought into the lighter weight divisions, bantam, feather and flyweight divisions offer great fights but right now, their fighters are relatively new so their names aren’t enough to carry a PPV card.
The lightweight division draws less numbers than the bigger weight classes, except for BJ Penn; the lightweight division has never had a PPV powerhouse.
It’s a little damned if you do, damned if you don’t right now with the lighter weights. The UFC needs to showcase these fighters on free TV to build up there names and entice the PPV buying public to buy their events but after showing so many fights on free TV, asking someone to buy a card headlined by a guy they watched for free for so long might not work.
I don’t know the answer, I’m not a business major so maybe the UFC’s diversification away from strong PPVs is good for the bottom line but seeing back-to-back events with low buy rates appears troubling. If only that people are missing some great fights.
This could all be for naught as the UFC has another huge event scheduled for July 4th weekend…and another card schedule the very next night.