NBC Sports Network has partnered with the World Series of Fighting (WSF) in 2012 resulting in mixed results and a lot of learning experiences. According to John Ourand’s article with the Sports Business Journal the WSF was trying to “punch above it’s weight.” Under new ownership, the WSF has been renamed to the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
What differentiates the PFL from other promotional companies like Bellator and the UFC is that the fights will be run like a league with schedules and a playoff at the end of the first year.
Facebook will be streaming all fights that are not picked up by NBCSN as well as having a pre and post-fight show.
One of the biggest inherent flaws in marketing the fight game is how sporadic fights can be. Long gone are the days where Friday Night Fights was appointment viewing. Fights can happen on nearly any weekday anytime from the afternoon on the west coast to past midnight on the east coast. The PFL looks to create a solid schedule with the best scheduled to fight the best.
There are a couple roadblocks that the company could run into. The first is that fighters have to recover from fights and by having so many fights in a year and an eventual playoff, that’s a lot of time training and being at risk for injury. One of the UFC’s biggest problems is keeping fighters healthy. Having a fighter withdraw due to an injury could ruin the schedule that the company has planned out for the season. What if the top seed in the playoffs is no longer able to compete? How would that impact the legitimacy of the champion?
This is a one-year deal that NBCSN has signed on for so it is a low-risk investment. The PFL has already had it’s own failures that it will hopefully have learned from, making round two a more successful, and sustainable period.