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UFC’s staunch support of SOPA & ProtectIP causes heartburn & backlash

By Zach Arnold | January 23, 2012

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As I was looking to post information for UFC’s February fight cards, I noticed UFC’s web site went crashing down about an hour ago. Now we know why

Screen capture of hacking here

UFC.com was back up shortly after it was taken down, and UFC President Dana White responded to several Tweets about the hack with little concern, saying – among other things – “I’m in the fight biz not the website biz. Who gives a s***!?”

In addition to the web site going down, UFC Twitter accounts also got hacked (this according to Luca Fury and MMA Supremacy).

The group responsible for the hacks against UFC’s properties claims that it’s not Anonymous but has sympathies for the hacking group, the same group that has gone after US Government web sites, the RIAA, and other major backers of the hideous SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) & Protect IP pieces of legislation. Also, the US Government going after the web site MegaUpload and international authorities arresting the man the British tabloids label as ‘Dr Evil’ has set off a chain of hacks against those supporting heavy-handed anti-piracy legislation & tactics.

Dana White’s cavalier reaction to UFC fans about the web sites & Twitter accounts getting hacked has raised some eyebrows:

UFC attorney Larry Epstein fanned the flames on Sunday by coming out with a pro-SOPA op-ed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. We won’t blockquote any text from the article since the LVRJ & Stephens Media are in co-hoots with infamous copyright lawsuit troll firm Righthaven. No wonder the LVRJ published UFC’s pro-SOPA piece.

For Zuffa to not see the consequences coming for their boorish stance against Internet users is unfortunately not surprising given the ham-handedness of the company’s current Public Relations strategy. We first wrote about UFC’s love/hate relationship with the First Amendment on November 29th. Between this and overplaying their hand against ESPN on the fighter pay issue, it’s time for Zuffa HQ to rethink their current PR strategy. They are at risk of disconnecting their relationships with some of their biggest fans & supporters. It’s one thing for ESPN to argue about fighter pay because most fans aren’t that interested in the matter (yet). However, we’ve seen a serious & genuine backlash by Internet-savvy customers who are punishing any company that is backing SOPA & Protect IP. Just ask GoDaddy how that’s been working out for them.

For UFC, supporting SOPA & ProtectIP presents a genuine opportunity for them to feel a real financial backlash from fans who had been spending good money to buy PPVs. Now those individuals may channel their inner Anonymous and just find an online stream to watch instead.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 13 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

13 Responses to “UFC’s staunch support of SOPA & ProtectIP causes heartburn & backlash”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    I don’t think Dana White see’s the internet at the future anymore. I think they see it as a supplementaly resource and that’s about it.

    They have taken all of their web content and put it on Fuel TV. Facebook Prelims are gone, and now we have Fuel TV Prelims. Ariel Helwani’s MMA Fighting interviews were gone for the last show. Instead we have him doing interviews on FX and Fuel TV.

    The UFC had that weekly show on their website done by one of the ring card girls. That is gone and now we have UFC Tonight.

    I think White learned, just as the big networks and content providers have…. Is that the serious money is not online.

    SOPA is just a bad policy that won’t happen because of all of the backlash. But some regulation is coming.

    On a side note…. I give Ariel Helwani less then 6 months before he officially leaves MMA Fighting and becomes a full time UFC interviewer as his main job.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      On a side noteā€¦. I give Ariel Helwani less then 6 months before he officially leaves MMA Fighting and becomes a full time UFC interviewer as his main job.

      When the sale of MMA Fighting happened to SB Nation, my initial inclination is that if Ariel wants to ask for big money, he would head to Fox and officially be associated with UFC through proxy. That has happened.

      I have no clue what the value of UFC Tonight is.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        SBNation better have signed guys like Helwani to good contracts before they purchased the website. I doubt they did.

        I actually think Dana White had huge dreams for the internet. But not anymore. Not by the way he is acting.

    • Megatherium says:

      The leap from MMA Fighting to UFC employee is not a big one, at least not editorially.

  2. Mark says:

    I’ll defend Dana on this one. I don’t think we meant “We don’t take the internet seriously for our business.” He meant “We’re not exclusively an internet company so hacking our site doesn’t do us any real damage.”

    Which it doesn’t. I know Anonymous and their offshoots think they’re staging the great social protests of the 21st Century by hacking sites and taking them down for a few hours. But few of their targets really seemed to care. It’s not like UFC lost a million dollars in revenue for being down a few hours. They probably won’t even remember it happened in a week. Nor do I think anybody at Zuffa is savvy enough to really “get” what the SOPA protests are about, so there are far worse media people than them on this.

    But if Dana is giving up on the internet like 45Huddle thinks, then that’s probably for the best. His pipedream of moving TV PPV to iPPV is such a longterm goal you might as well forget about it for years. Because it’s very hard to sell things online now, and most people aren’t comfortable with streams to pay money for it. Go Fight Live shows get under 3,000 worldwide buys for their biggest events. There’s not much money in that.

  3. Chris says:

    I just can’t believe people are still paying for UFC PPV’s.

  4. Mark says:

    On a side note, UFC got advertised pretty well for the 1/28 show during the Giants/49ers game. Far better than CBS plugged their MMA shows during football with the 15 second ads. I hope they end the “Sympathy for the Devil” ad for the next show. That worked for the Cain/JDS “who’s the baddest man in UFC?” promotion, but looks out of place for 3 fights.

  5. Fitch42o says:

    Good!,boycott ufc for supporting internet censorship.

  6. The Gaijin says:

    Fedor to fight Bobby Lashley in 2012. WELP!! One can only assume Kimbo is next if Fedor manages to get by this awesome challenge.

    And I saw UFC announced it has banned all weapon related sponsors for its Fox shows. Some people are up in arms about it and while I don’t like to see fighters limited in their sponsor opportunities, this is just a part of the growth/maturity of UFC’s business and them having to work with the realities of being on a big network and its affiliates. Not to mention they probably want to move to having more brand prestige sponsors anyways.

  7. [...] that his stance on backing SOPA & ProtectIP would become a demerit used against him. Then the UFC web site got hacked and Dana’s response to that was boorish in nature, especially given that people have ordered [...]

  8. [...] Fight Opinion looks at how this hacking trouble began, with Zuffa’s firm stance in support of the SOPA bill [...]

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