This past weekend Ronda Rousey fought Holly Holm at UFC193. In my area of Portland the few bars that showed the fight were packed and had lines around the corner. For those who didn’t get in the bars, didn’t want to PPV the fight, but still wanted to watch it got on Twitter’s phone app and searched for a Periscope link so that they could watch a feed of someone streaming their TV with the fight. A couple years ago PPV accounted for almost 75% of the UFC’s revenue and the threat that Periscope poses could cause serious concern.
When I tried to call other bars they would answer the phone and they began their phone call with, “No, we’re not showing the fight. How can I help you?” Obviously, the popularity of the UFC is still growing with more people talking about the sport than ever after Rousey was KO’d by Holm. However, the price for a PPV is more than what casual fans want to pay to watch. Normally, if someone doesn’t want to pay the price for a product or service they don’t get said product or service. The app Periscope gives the content, albeit in poor quality, to everyone who knows where to find it.
In 2014 the UFC had it’s biggest drop in PPV buys. There were scheduling issues, injuries, and sometimes poor cards, but the bottomline was that there was a steep decline in how much revenue they were earning from PPV.
What this means for the UFC:
It has to be mentioned that the UFC is putting on a lot of quality fights on many different channels and mediums in order to broaden the UFC fan base. Even when Ronda Rousey is fighting, one of the biggest draws for the organization, people were still Periscoping their way around buying the PPV. There has to be more value added to the rest of the card. Maybe the more exciting fight on paper, Joanna Jedrzejczyk against Valerie Letourneau, went completely under the radar to everyone who didn’t actively follow the UFC. When I asked why the people didn’t buy the PPV since they wanted to see Rousey they said, “I don’t want to pay a ton of money for a 17-second fight. A greater emphasis needs to be added on the other fights so that it is viewed as a full night of entertainment. No one currently views the cards that way.
Maybe Rousey’s loss will convince the UFC to market more of their fighters and create brand value for them in order to add value to the card as a whole. The tent-pole fighters like Rousey, Aldo, McGregor, Jon Jones, and a couple more, will draw big numbers regardless. By putting more emphasis on fighter’s brands, which is the most effective way to gain mainstream fans, the UFC can put together fuller cards and lure people away from relying on Periscope to watch one fight.
There’s one solution I see right now to slowing the Periscope pirating. Periscope’s distribution occurs on Twitter and people will put “UFC” in the tweet so that people can find it. If the UFC partnered with Twitter so that any periscope feed that had a keyword relating to the UFC was blocked then I could see a possible end to the Periscope Problem.