When Lyoto Machida walks to the Octagon this Saturday, it will be about 3 AM local time in Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil.
Is the UFC doing its fans and business a disservice by doing this? The answer lies somewhere in-between.
For local fans, it’s downright horrible. The first preliminary bout on this Saturday’s card is scheduled to start at 10:30 PM local time. On the west coast of the United States, the event will be finished by 10:30 PM PT.
As a result of the awful local start times, Brazilian fans have not been turning out in droves for the UFC’s Fight Night cards in Brazil. UFC Fight Night 28 headlined by Glover Teixeira versus Ryan Bader had a total attendance of 5,126. Mineirinho Arena, which housed the event, holds a capacity of up to 25,000 people. Also, UFC Fight Night 29 headlined by Jake Shields versus Demian Maia was attended by just 6,621 fans.
The lone event that had minor success in ticket sales was UFC Fight Night 32 headlined by Vitor Belfort versus Dan Henderson. The event did bring in 10,565 fans, but only filled two-thirds of the Goiânia Arena’s capacity.
For the UFC, it’s a necessary move to keep the business profitable.
The promotion’s TV deal with FOX is worth an estimated 90 to 100 million dollars annually. The amount of money that every show in Brazil will bring in at the box-office pales in comparison to what the UFC’s deal with Fox is worth.
The UFC has been forced into a battle between global expansion and catering to its television broadcast partner. If the UFC continues to put shows on at horrible local times, their goal for “complete world domination” will fall flat.
On the flip side of the coin, if the UFC put on shows at decent times for foreign markets, it would completely devalue their deal with FOX. The bottom line is that the UFC can’t sacrifice their second biggest money maker for a foreign market. It’s unfortunate for those fans but they should know that help is on the way in the form of UFC Fight Pass.
UFC Fight Pass is simply the vehicle the UFC is using to broaden their global reach. With this platform the UFC is able to put on shows in Asia, Brazil, Europe, and Australia without compromising the local start time. It also allows for fans stateside and around the world to either watch the event live or at a later time via the service’s DVR option.
Many have seen UFC Fight Pass as a ripoff but it is a necessary tool for the UFC’s global expansion. The UFC just need a little patience from fans worldwide. Once the UFC gets Fight Pass rolling, foreign show times won’t be at horrible hours for those in attendance and fans around the world will be able to watch the event on their own time.
The start times for foreign audiences are bad right now, but they will get better soon.
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