With dozens of streaming services available across multiple media platforms, consumers can feel a bit overwhelmed. YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu are pay websites that offer countless TV shows and movies, while products like Apple TV and Roku offer similar programming with the purchase of a base unit.
One big flaw in these services is that they limit live sporting events, if offered, which makes last month’s introduction of the UFC Fight Pass groundbreaking.
Just before UFC 168, UFC President Dana White announced that the new service streams live fights and UFC-related television shows, including The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Unleashed. In addition, subscribers have access to footage from acquired promotions like Strikeforce, WEC and PRIDE.
In theory, UFC Fight Pass seems like a great deal: pay $9.99 a month for vast amounts of MMA footage without any contract obligations. This, however, is a moot point following its launch earlier this month.
To date, Fight Pass doesn’t house footage outside of UFC events. The promised connection to TV devices, gaming consoles, and iOS and Android platforms is also unfulfilled. And while a free trial period runs through March 1, many may be indifferent once the bugs are worked out.
So how can other streaming services help UFC Fight Pass succeed?
Among lessons the UFC can learn from services like Hulu and YouTube is how to connect with subscribers. Hulu Plus connects to one’s Facebook account, showing friends what they are watching. Every service offers free material apart from trial periods, which may benefit the UFC if they choose to allow non-subscribers to view limited content.
The key to UFC Fight Pass’ success may lie in the caliber of its mobile platform. Netflix seamlessly translates to Android and Apple devices, as well as tablets. After logging in, a user’s personal queue immediately pops up. If the UFC’s new service can be tailored to fit the viewer, it may be more convenient that watching on a computer.
Last week, WWE announced plans for its own streaming network. Similar in ways to Fight Pass, they will offer live events, archived footage and behind-the-scenes clips. Surprisingly, the WWE network will also include all of its pay-per-view events, which means the annual WrestleMania event is part of the monthly fee.
The UFC can’t afford to offer a similar package because a big chunk of their revenue comes from pay-per-view events. Conversely, WWE profits more from TV rating than anything else. While it would be nice for Fight Pass to offer live PPV events, it’s not practical. What would make sense, though, is to offer a big event a week or so after airing for a lower price. So far, the UFC hasn’t said when recent events will be available online.
While many online skeptics scoff at the UFC Fight Pass’ imperfections, the network is still in its infant stages. The product is two weeks old and lacks many promised features. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be available in the near future. Although the service is not perfect, and may never be, it’s refreshing to know that there is a product available on numerous platforms that is dedicated solely to MMA.