It’s been a year of significant change for the UFC. 2013 introduced Women’s MMA to the largest promotion on the planet and then Fox Sports 1 brought a sense of stability with respect to regular broadcasting of non PPV events. However among the biggest changes is the sheer number of bouts that are on the schedule for 2014.
Was FightPass a good move for the UFC and more importantly for it’s fans? How can they keep the schedule of international events on the radars of fans all over the world? Would it have made more sense for them to roll out a regional offering for each respective area? How many US MMA fans will stay up late or wake up early to catch a fight in China live? Does anyone really care that much?
There’s no doubt the UFC is the dominant force in MMA and they certainly have the flexibility to experiment in the market with new ideas and approaches to expanding their audience, but is there a point where they can begin to chip away at their base? Essentially driving them to competitors like Bellator, WSOF and possibly even Glory World Series?
The feedback we often get about general UFC practices on our social networks is more on the negative side. It’s certainly shame to see that since the UFC has the potential to really set the bar as high as they would like. But with issues like fighter pay, medical care, questionable management of PED abuse and then the somewhat overhyped last minute co-main event changes (not to mention the increase in PPV costs) fans may begin to be so disgruntled they either tune out or tune into a competitor. If not for the sake of seeing something fresh and new.
The UFC has been trying to change it’s image. They want to be seen as more open and inviting. Embracing WMMA and even LGBT athletes but is this really the sort of evolution the market demands? Or is it an attempt to appeal to the broader (as yet, untapped) mainstream market, which by all accounts is far less likely to watch MMA than say a true combat sports fan.
There’s quite a bit of buzz among industry professionals that while the UFC is making some sound strategic moves by expanding their presence internationally, they may be spreading themselves too thin and risk losing their brand identity in the process. This is a challenge that many large companies face and they often spend millions in marketing consulting and brand management projects to really nail down the best way to represent themselves.
Ultimately though, beyond the business behind the scenes, the real question is how do the fans feel about all that’s happening with the UFC as of late. Do you agree with FightPass’ subscription model? Are you ok with the increase in PPV costs? How does fighter compensation and long term care factor into your feeling of support for the promotion? Finally, is the UFC doing enough to truly manage the abuse of PEDs in the sport?
What other thoughts do you have? We want to hear from you! Leave us your thoughts in the comments.