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Dave Meltzer: Piracy is a major factor in why UFC PPV buy rates are declining

By Zach Arnold | October 25, 2011

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Jack Encarnacao had a very productive interview with Dave Meltzer on Sunday night and it’s an interview that I think needs some highlighting.

With the estimated PPV buy rate numbers for UFC 136 (Houston) coming in at around 250,000 PPV buys, there is concern about the short-term and long-term future of UFC’s PPV business model. It’s only going to get tougher with increased sports & entertainment events happening on Saturday nights.

Injuries & too many shows are the main reasons why UFC PPV buys are down this year. Those underlying causes are the reason for a reported spike in piracy of UFC PPV events being streamed online. Dave elaborated on this conundrum for the UFC during his interview with Jack.

“I don’t think that there’s one specific reason. I think that there’s probably about 10 different reasons. But the key ones… I think the increase in piracy is one of them. I think too many shows and the effects of… this last one, it’s two weeks between shows. That’s always going to be tough unless you got something incredible. Running a PPV two weeks after your last PPV, I mean we’ve seen it with pro-wrestling… it’s always been, you know, a major effect on it, that’s just too quick. And, you know, just… just so many shows, it’s hard to get people ‘up’ for so many shows. I think those are all factors and also, you know, the different champions as compared to last year.

“Last year, your heavyweight champion was Lesnar, a phenomenal draw. This year we haven’t even had a championship fight and won’t have one on PPV all year. Light Heavyweight champion was one that ‘s realistically probably a wash when you go from Machida to Shogun to Jon Jones. Jon Jones may end up being stronger but isn’t there yet. Anderson’s the same. Georges is the same. And then you’ve got BJ Penn for Frankie Edgar, which is a huge drop. So, you know, all those things play a part in it. And then you’ve got the introduction of the Featherweights and the Bantamweights championships are not over to the point where people are going to run and buy PPVs for them at the kind of level that they did for championship matches a year ago. So, there’s a lot of reasons.

“I have too many friends who started (streaming) in recent months. It’s picked up steam in recent months. How much? It’s impossible to say. I did a poll on my site and last year it was kind of like a 1:1 ratio and now it’s a 1:2 ratio in the sense of buying versus streaming. Now, it’s double the streaming versus the buying, that’s pretty significant.

“I think it’s also affecting boxing, too, because the one thing I’ve noticed… you notice they never did announce that Mayweather/Ortiz buy rate and the reason is obviously because I think they were embarrassed of it and, you know, Mayweather’s drawing… Mayweather hasn’t had a bad PPV number since he had the fight with Oscar De La Hoya four years ago and he doesn’t fight so often that it’s overexposure, either.”

The obvious question, given the upcoming big fight on Fox in a couple of weeks, is whether or not UFC can take their Ari Emanuel-brokered 7-year, $700 million USD television deal and gain a substantial business boost from it by transitioning from a PPV-based business model to a cable/network TV model?

“Well, I’m sure you can try to get as much money from licensing as you can. But the problem with the TV product is that you’re at a fixed number for seven more years, starting next year. So, 2012 to 2018, so they really contractually are going to be able to jack up that PPV price until 2019 unless they can renegotiate a deal and who knows if you can do that. So, that’s going to be difficult at best to make up all that lost money through televisions. Yeah, there are other ways you can do it, but that’s a lot of money to make up. It’s a huge issue and I don’t really know the answer to it and it’s one that’s going to effect everyone in the PPV industry as well as the NFL, the NHL, and all those that have the Ticket events, like Sunday Ticket and things like that. The NFL is going to Congress about this very issue so that tells me this season that they’ve felt a hit, too.”

UFC’s in a pickle right now with their PPV business. Because they’ve gone from a few shows a year to having shows every three weeks (or so), Pandora’s box has been opened. You can’t go back from 15 shows to 6 shows a year on PPV and draw the same amount of cash. We’ve seen this with the pro-wrestling promotional model. The pickle is that you can’t go back to fewer events but if you keep up the breakneck pace of PPV events, you’ll destroy the amount of people that make up your hardcore PPV customer base.

“If we talk about residual effect over the course of years and years, yeah but… the reality is that it’s not going to make a difference because that’s what they’re going to do. Until they feel that it’s hurting them, they’re not going to cut back and at that point, you know, again, will damage be done? I mean, if you cut back from 13 shows this next year on PPV, if you cut back to 6 they’re going to make a lot less money than they would with 13. Even the last show, they’re still making a profit on these shows.

“Now, at some point, when you erode the base, at what point does that come to play? I’ve mean, we’ve seen the example of pro-wrestling where 2001 in North America, 300,000 buys would be a bad show. That was kind of like the base. And now the base is, what, 71,000, 75,000, in that range, 10 years later. You don’t want that to happen because right now the UFC’s base is below 300,000 and you don’t want the day to come from 10 years now where it’s 70,000 in North America. Then, the damage is done.

“UFC could get better, it depends on the stars, it depends on so many things out of everyone’s control. But, yeah, I think that, you know, I think 8-to-12 is in my gut is the optimum number. I think once a month people will handle. I think it’s when you get to those two PPVs a month or two weeks between shows, that’s when people start going, ‘Oh my God, $110 on this month’s cable bill as opposed to $55,’ that’s a big difference I think in people’s eyes.

“I certainly wouldn’t add shows, that’s for sure. But I don’t think they are thinking as far as adding PPV shows, either. Dana’s mentality, to me, was always once a month is as much as you want to do but I think that this year they ended up with 15… Believe me, three weeks (for a gap) is better than two. I think four weeks os optimum in building it. I’ve seen them get away with three, but two I think… I think two is a big factor in this last buy rate (for UFC 136).”

The ‘hope springs eternal’ situation is that the Fox TV platforms will help Zuffa create new stars more readily and easily. Dave thinks the results will end up being mixed.

“That’s what you hope for but it’s not a guarantee. That’s what they said about the CBS thing and remember Robbie Lawler & Scott Smith on the first CBS show. They had a hell of a fight. But when they had the rematch, nobody wanted to see it. And it’s a rematch off a network fight that millions and millions of people, like six million people, five million people, whatever the number was, saw that fight and you’re doing a rematch and people didn’t really care. So, it’s… you got to still have something.

“But, you’re right, in theory you get these guys… that’s what you want with Cain (Velasquez). You want Cain or dos Santos, whoever wins this thing, in front of this big crowd and it will revitalize the Heavyweight division because so many people saw it and, you know, hopefully that works. I mean, hopefully, the live fights on FX which is a higher-rated network than Spike drives The Ultimate Fighting ratings higher and with more eyeballs, the winner of the Ultimate Fighter first season on FX can become a Michael Bisping or a (Forrest) Griffin or somebody like that who actually walks right in as a star as opposed to Tony Ferguson…”

In pro-wrestling, there’s always been a great debate about whether the man makes the title credible or if the title makes the man credible. From last year to this year, the value of UFC title fights hasn’t meant as much at the PPV box office.

“Well, I think that a title fight means more than a standard main event as a general rule but as far as the value of the titles diminishing, I don’t think you can argue that because I just remember when Shogun Rua and (Lyoto) Machida… I had thought that two Brazilians, this is going to be a tough sell, and they did 450,000 buys which is even then a good number. So, at that point, it was like, okay, you have a championship match in the UFC, I mean every championship match was doing real well.

“Well, this year, Edgar and Maynard on January 1st did not do particularly well and on this last one you had two title matches on the same show and did even worse. So, yes, the value of a UFC championship match has dropped. But again I think knew going in Featherweight and Bantamweight it was going to be like that anyways. But Lightweights… Edgar’s a struggle right now. Jon Jones is still doing fine but, ummm… I don’t know, I think people expected him to do better because he’s got a lot going for him including the hype that he might be the new all-time great and I don’t know if people are skeptical or they don’t believe the challengers.”

Give me your thoughts on what kind of impact you think UFC’s television deal with Fox will have on creating new challengers and what some of the hurdles of the new business deal will be (in your estimation).

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 34 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

34 Responses to “Dave Meltzer: Piracy is a major factor in why UFC PPV buy rates are declining”

  1. Light23 says:

    I can’t imagine piracy being a major factor in PPV buyrate declines.

    Watching a PPV is generally a social thing, and the average number of people watching per buy is eight (for the bigger shows anyway). When you split a PPV, the cost is relatively small.

    I don’t think people are hooking up laptops to their TV and browsing around for an unreliable stream, instead of chipping in $10 each.

    I think the real problem is the vast swathe of UFC shows, which are often of a lower quality. People are willing to get together once a month to see a title fight, but not every 2-3 weeks to see some random undercard fights, and something like Ortiz vs Evans.

    The novelty of MMA/UFC has also worn off due to overexposure, and in addition newer headliners like Edgar aren’t draws. Even a guy like Silva – you’re either paying for a quick squash, or a 5 round farce. When you’re a new fan, any undercard UFC fight is very enticing, but once you’ve watched for a few years, they start to feel random and pointless.

    • Dave says:

      Where did you get that 8(!!!!) per buy figure from? I’ve never heard that before and it seems absolutely ridiculous, like it is figuring in views from bars or something.

      I also don’t buy the whole ‘social’ aspect to it, my friends interest quickly waned on UFC and I haven’t had someone over to watch a PPV since around 2009. They all just gave up watching.

      • Mike says:

        Eight doesn’t seem unreasonable given my experience. I routinely (and I mean 90% of the UFC PPVs) have my house full of 8-12 people, and know of at least 1-2 other households with similar numbers of folks watching at the same time. I can’t speak to any kind of real statistics… I haven’t done a poll or research… but those are my personal experiences. None of the dozen or so fans of MMA that I’m close to have ever even seriously considered missing out on action and taking chances on watching a stream.

      • Jason Harris says:

        Everyone I know watches the fight with a group of friends, the same as they would a boxing fight. Maybe my experience isn’t typical, but I can’t imagine there are that many people just sitting alone in a dark room every Saturday night watching pirated MMA streams on their computer.

      • Light23 says:

        I got it from MMAPayout who cited Sports Business Journal or something.

        I think it was actually 8.8, but this may be for the bigger PPVs, like Lesnar/GSP fights.

        I was just checking the UFC schedule, and realised how insane it is recently.

        Oct 1 – Cruz vs Johnson
        Oct 8th – UFC 136
        Oct 29th – UFC 137
        Nov 5th – UFC 138
        Nov 12th – Velasquez vs Dos Santos
        Nov 19th – UFC 139.

        In the space of 7-8 weeks you have six shows 😮

      • Light23 says:

        Sports Business Journal has apparently reported the number is 8.8 viewers per buy for a typical PPV, although I think that would be more in line for the bigger shows (600k+ buys).

        The UFC schedule has been insane recently. From 1st Oct- 19th Nov there are six shows, sometimes with one week in between them. It makes a big difference when you have to pick and choose between three weaker events in a month, and one loaded event.

        • TommyGuns says:

          I believe Meltzer noted in either a recent newsletter or radio show that the 8.8 person number is taking into account the average 50-150 people who watch it at bars.

  2. Dave says:

    Piracy will become more and more of a major factor as technology continues to improve and become easier for the general public to use.

    People are still in denial over it, which is funny. I mean, Napster got huge in the early 00’s why? Because it was really easy to use and the tech savvy friends showed their friends and their family and soon you had parents using it to download songs like it’s no big thing.

    The same thing happened for torrents and streams aren’t exactly difficult to track down, nor are they as shitty quality as they were a few years ago. What it comes down to is, stuff like Netflix is widespread and the idea of watching something on your computer went from this really nerdy anti-social thing to do to something everybody does or is at least very aware of.

    UFC doesn’t help itself by streaming prelims on Facebook, either. It just makes people more conscious of watching it on their computer and takes away any “social” aspect to it. On top of that, due to their PPV contracts they charge the same amount for their online streams, which is really ridiculous.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Companies increase piracy by either not giving the content in the format that the consumer wants or by making it too expensive for what the market is willing to spend.

    The music industry is a perfect example of not giving consumers the format they want. 10 years ago, everybody I knew was pirating music. Today, everybody I know buys their music legally through either Amazon or iTunes.

    The UFC is a perfect example of making the product too expensive for what the public wants to spend. And in there case, it’s two issues. First, some cards are not worth $55. Second, there are too many PPV cards.

    I’m not exactly sure what FOX will do for the UFC. It will certainly give them more exposure. But it isn’t going to solve the PPV Buyrate issue. Whether you put content on HBO, Showtime, or even PPV…. When you limit the number of potential viewers by putting hurdles up, it hurts your product in the long run.

    The UFC needs to get away from the PPV model. I know they think it’s the end all for what they have. But the real end game should be a monthly show on FOX and a weekly show on FX.

  4. Norm says:

    Is streaming really knocking off 50k, 100K, 250K in PPV buy rates? I doubt it, but hey maybe people are voting, in a way, with their wallets.

    IMO, there are too many PPV cards and not enough depth on those cards.

    Scale the PPVs back to 1 per month. Make an honest attempt to have 1 championship fight per PPV and a legit co main event along with 3 other interesting fights.

    Run as many “free” shows as you see fit, but use them to build a following for younger, lesser known fighters.

    I also thought it was a mistake when they increased the price of PPVs from $40 to $50, and then to $60 for HD. IMO, $40 was the sweet spot for SD and HD PPVs. Hell, offer some type of package discount to you faithfull customers that buy a significant number of the PPVs.

    Also, fix the issues you have with the legal streaming options you do offer. I’ve heard nothing but complaints about the quality of streaming and the customer service RE: the poor stream quality.

  5. Paradoxx says:

    Real #s or STFU

  6. chris says:

    Piracy is just an easy cop out excuse, because it’s piracy not greed that is the issue at hand, right?

    300k x 60$= 18 million, 50/50 split with the ppv providers means the UFC gets ~9million for their cut of a 300k buyrate PPV.

    9 million times 15 ppv events in 2011 means the UFC’s cut of ppv revenue will be a MINIMUM OF 135 Million dollars.

    Yanno I made less than 30k in this shitty economy this year?

    Piracy in this digital age is part of the cost of doing business, ANY DIGITAL BUSINESS, not just the ppv biz. It isn’t lost “revenue” where in reality, you wouldn’t have probably been made that revenue to begin with off the large majority of those pirates.

    Who does piracy hurt? Nobody but selfish greedy fuckers that’s who.
    Dana and co. should be happy that even in this climate, they have such a diehard fan base that people look for any means necessary to see their events. This is something they should be proud of. Regardless of “lost revenue” claims.

    For me, in all actuality, after all my bills are paid at the end of the month, well hopefully paid out in full, and I’ve skipped either having breakfast or lunch for a week or two, sometimes I have just enough extra cash to pull together, 65 bucks to order a UFC ppv every now and then. No extra cash for new shoes, or new games, or a new winter coat at the moment, so I consider myself fortunate if I have enough extra cash during the year to order 2 maybe 3 ppv’s because it’s all I can afford.
    It sucks but I consider myself lucky, they’re plenty of people who only eat 1 meal or 2 a day because they can’t afford anything more, me? I skip meals just so I have a little bit of spending money, so I don’t have it bad at all.

    ZUFFA needs to stop their greedy behavior because of these claims of lost revenue and realize that if people are watching and they’re still making big money than they’re on the right track.

  7. wolfman says:

    i dont think the ufc will cut back on ppvs, they have a

    415 million dollar loan to pay back in 3 years

  8. Stel says:

    Well, I’ll tell ya….back in the day I would trek over to the only person I knew who had a dish and throw down the full $25 and watch the ufc 21- 24.By ufc 24 I realized it wasn’t as good as it was and I really didn’t want to pay $25 to watch it alone.
    Later someone would always want to watch the tape I made. And later when I tried to sell a few of my original source recording ppv’s on ebay 21-24 I got shut down by Gordon Biersch the beer company had complained about “copyright”.
    Now seg still owned the copyright to those shows and not to mention I was within my rights to sell those tapes as it was an original and I paid for it. So how the hell does gordon beirsch have any pull with ebay re something they don’t produce and never had anything to do with??

    At that point when I realized some faceless corporation was frowning on me, using its pull to screw with me. I decided I sure wasn’t going to be spending a dime on zuffa/GB ppvs. Others were so I watched many of them on PPV on tv.
    But then I decided to boycott them after the tuf show, when the fights were weak and when dana was cussing all the time, it got ugly everyone was “standing and banging”and a 3 hr ppv was just too long for what it was. Remember Pride was in full swing at that time and was not to be missed.

    Now with UFC shows generally having more than 50% decision ratios its just boring, last show was 2 of 11 finishes?
    I don’t watch UFC streams because its still 3 hrs long, and I can’t fast forward.
    So I watch, on average, one fight per ppv later on youtube etc… and I actually buy some of the dvds, which run about $10 a few months after the “event” but its selective now, who wants to buy crocop vs mir or couture vs Tooney? for $10 even?
    SO the ufc has itself to blame for the declining ppvs, it was great back when they had 4 a year for $25. You looked forward to them, and savored them. Now you just reluctantly try to get through them like a $55 loaf of stale bread.

    • Jason Harris says:

      “I haven’t liked MMA since 2005 but I still watch all of the events online and feel like posting on forums about it” – Internet Guy

  9. Progress says:

    Reasons for decline:

    * Weak to very weak cards.
    * Champs that fight once or twice a year.
    * Generally shitty economy – people have other priorities.
    * Too expensive at ~50 bucks.

    But why care about that when you can blame the unknown (piracy)? Because clearly, if 1 million people stream it, every last one of them would have paid had streams not been around. Sigh.

  10. King Famous says:

    This is a good topic, and I find it funny that big media does 2 things very well:

    1. Blames lost profits on streaming that may or may not exist according to “industry pros” who are calculating that streaming to benefit their empty argument.

    2. Make existing customers pay for said illegal streaming by jacking up existing rates.

    If streaming was so bad for the movie industry, how is it that Paramount Studios is going to build a 700 million dollar expansion to their brick and mortar studios in LA?

    The users of this site have clearly laid it out – the PPVs by the UFC have been weak, the price is too high, and there are too many. The product has softened.

    I only have 1 hardcore mma fan out here and we used to get together with friends – 4 or 5 of us and throw down and it was fun – until the product got weak.

    I think the last fun we had was the card with Hendo doing a flying forearm on Bisping.

    After that, friends moved away and splitting 60 bucks was too much for me and my friend.

    My other friends that watch boxing and fights have hookups with cable, internet – we all find a way to watch.

    Its funny how the internet is what kept mma alive – yet every major corporation who has no kept up with the media – getting fat on their steak and shrimp, now wants the little man to pay for their short-sighted lack of imagination and their inability to learn about new media.

    I’m sure I’d use all my legal might and dollars if I had them to force people into doing what I wanted too.

    But that is not how things are going to work. Everyone will have to make less or not make it at all.

    I would buy every single internet stream from yahoo and the ufc if the price was 40 bucks, hands down. But the same price for TV? Ha!

    The Fox thing will be interesting – if their take on it is anything like that commercial with Cain and Dos Santos that showed them yelling like cavemen in a Fox logo in flames, well, then my hopes are not too high.

    Either way, I’ll be watching and listening on any form of media I choose, at the price I want.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      If streaming was so bad for the movie industry, how is it that Paramount Studios is going to build a 700 million dollar expansion to their brick and mortar studios in LA?

      Hollywood is heavily subsidized by both political parties in D.C. through tax breaks & credits.

  11. Trust Doesn't Rust says:

    I watch illegal streams of most UFC’s and have no qualms about it. I have two young children and can’t even begin to rationalize spending $55 to watch some fights. Maybe if it was $5-$10 I would pay. For a really really big fight I’ll go to a bar or a friend’s house (the last one was Shields-GSP, and even this only because I train with a few ex-Cesar Gracie guys). It just feels like a rip-off to pay that much, especially when there’s so many UFC’s.

  12. Jason Harris says:

    I never realized how lonely the MMA fans posting on forums are. “I have no friends and I stream it by myself on Saturday nights because screw those guys they want too much money and I hate their product but I stream it anyways!”

    Yowch.

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      I have plenty of friends. The issue is having friends who want to watch cage fighting.

      • Trust Doesn't Rust says:

        yeah, and beyond this maybe my idea of a good time with my friends isn’t ordering a pay per view. i love MMA, but i consume it like i do any other sport. if i’m home on a saturday and there’s an interesting fight on then i want to watch it, but i don’t want to spend a bunch of money or make a bunch of big plans to have to do it.

  13. Safari_Punch says:

    The UFC has been pretty stale in presentation for quite some time. It is not surprising in the least why there has been a decline in their PPV numbers; everything just seems to be the same. One big blur with no differentiation between fighters, vignettes. Nothing.

    I’ve never bought a UFC PPV ever. I have gone to bars to see the odd fight (Jones/Shogun), but I can’t fathom paying $50 on a regular basis and watching any of their shows from home. The last MMA PPV I purchased was Affliction 2 because it was an event having Fedor and no bar was going to show it.

    The only way you’d be able to see every UFC event on PPV is if you either went to a bar or had a party for every show. If your buddies don’t want to watch any of the fights, why would someone pay $50 to watch it with one other friend or by themselves? I can understand the streaming culture.

    • Light23 says:

      Yeah, the stale presentation is something that gets to me too. It’s like there’s a standard “event template” that never changes, and they just plug in whatever fight card is running.

      Even big shows with title defenses feel like run of the mill broadcasts.

    • edub says:

      I watched Affliction 1 and 2 at bars.

      I personally pay for pretty much every PPV with one or 2 other people max. That’s just me though.

  14. mmaok says:

    I normally buy 3 to 4 PPV’s a year. Was at a party during the last fight (Edgar vs Maynard) and the host had it on the big screen tv. Watched most of it with the other guests. Was shocked to learn later that it was a internet steam that he had hooked up to his tv. It was HD, a stream from ESPN in London I believe. I am paying big $$$ while I believe the majority is watching for free.

  15. RST says:

    One things for sure, flooding the market with too many watered down cards in a tough economy is NOT the reason.

    (What tough economy? says UFC.)

  16. wolfman says:

    i think it worked for the wwe when they were hot, but it simmered down.

    the same is going for the ufc now, they are not as hot as they were, and even the casual fans now will not buy every single ppv

    the problem people dont discuss is the ufc has a huge loan to repay in the sum of 415 million. so they are going to keep gouging the fans, as long as they can

    but they are eroding there hardcore fan base , alot of the hardcore fans i know , do not buy half of there cards now

  17. CLINTK9 says:

    I’ve been a MMA fan since 1994 and ordered/payed for my share of PPV’s. I had directtv for dark ages and everything. TUF actually ruined mma for me. UFC Created Stars getting main events and what not stopped me from buying alot of PPV’s! I also was NEVER a fan of LW classes. no matter how quickj & technical they are. Small guys fighting just does not interest me, nor most people I know.

    1st, The majority of ppv main events became a MMA Star I liked (Jackson,Liddell,Ortiz,Penn) vs a TUF Star (Jardine,Joe daddy,Rashad,Griffen) or even TUF star vs TUF Star Main Events. While tons of Great MMA Talent was all over the world.

    2nd, add in some totally crappy main events (Silva/Cote,Lietes,Maia,) and LW classes no one cares about.

    3rd, watered down cards with either the same guys on the undercard over & over or guys I’ve never even heard of on a $55 PPV!

    Limit PPV to 1 every 6 weeks, and Stack the Shit out of it. Idont buy alot of events because there is usually only 1-2 fights I want to see, and with quick ko’s and boring decisions being possible, 2 fights is not worth it.
    I’m 39 & live 90 minutes from any friends that would even consider pitching in, and ususally they are too busy or dont want to. and the card better be good for me to drive that far. Buffalo wild wings, 3 drinks, 2-3 fights I like seems to be my usual UFC Night.

    UFC is also not as big as some think. I live right by NIU U(HUGE College) and been to some parties out there, hoping a UFC was on, but no one even knows or cares its on. They care about the other sports!

    WW(Other than GSP or Penn),LW,BW,FW Should NEVER Main Event a PPV, EVER!

    LESS CARDS, MORE STACKED!

    136/137 should have been combined:

    GSP/Condit
    Penn/Diaz
    Edgar/Maynard 3
    Stann/Sonnen
    Cro-Cop/Nelson

    139/140 should be combined:

    Bones/Machida
    Shogun/Henderson
    Wandy/Cung
    Ortiz/Lil Nog
    Mir/Big Nog

    The Free UFC138 Card on Spike could have had some of the other decent fights from these cards on it:

    Aldo/Florian
    Leben/Munoz
    Kongo/Mitrione
    Faber/Bowles
    Legend Fight(Ken vs Tank)

    I would Gladly pay my $60 by myself for those 2 cards, and actually be excited to see the Free spike card.

  18. […] Meltzer: Piracy is a major factor in why UFC PPV buy rates are declining | Fight Opinion With the estimated PPV buy rate numbers for UFC 136 (Houston) coming in at around 250,000 PPV buys, […]

  19. Joel says:

    There are two reasons the UFC is ASKING for piracy and shooting themselves in the foot.

    #1. Ludicrous pricing.

    #2. You can no longer purchase to keep. 24 hour PPV is the only choice now. It’s basically a $50 rental, who in their right mind, you know? I would NEVER pay money for a product I don’t get to keep.

    They aren’t going to be around much longer, if they keep up this BS, I can tell you that.

  20. Damien says:

    late post for an old article but what the heck…

    For sake of argument. If they made access and billing super easy/convenient/reliable/etc/ and charged only a single penny (again for sake of argument), then basically anyone who is willing to pay and wanting to watch, will pay the penny and enjoy the show. Anyone who wouldn’t be willing to spend the penny either has been lost in the cracks via inconvenient billing or access or has found it to be an easier process to not pay at all. No one will jump through hoops to stream it free if it’s easy enough to pay a single penny and get on with it. (unless of coarse they are sharing a screen in which case you get many viewers on 1 screen for 1 penny only, but that’s not the point of this absurd example)

    Now with that as a concept, up the price to 2 pennies, then 4, and so on, and then see at what prices people start dropping out. You can find an ideal price this way, sometimes less viewers and a higher price is better than more viewers and a much lower price. It all depends on what people are willing to actually pay for the product, demand, etc.

    I don’t watch the UFC anymore. Why? It’s too expensive and a lot of the fights/shows aren’t worth watching in their entirety (for me) and the company has strongly indicated that they don’t want anyone to watch a free-low res stream or online replay just to keep up with the goings on of the sport, so I respectfully comply and don’t do that. The end result is the same, they still aren’t making any new money off of me and what’s worse is I’m not really up to date or as into the product at all anymore. But obviously I still care or I wouldn’t be posting. But I don’t care $45 a month’s worth….

    I just checked, UFC 156 looks like a good card, I wanted to buy an online stream of it. It’s $45 aprox…. Yeah, right, that’s so far away from what I’m willing to pay, and they don’t want folks streaming it for free in super low resolution (only a die-hard fan would do that anyways), so now the only way I will ever watch it, is at a bar that charges a small cover. I gotta say though, I don’t enjoy watching the fights at a bar, and even when it’s a reasonably comfortable place and crowd, it’s not always convenient for my schedule to keep up on when the event is, planning the evening, transportation, etc. vs. watching it at home or just catching a replay when the feeling hits.

    Their business model is really messed up at the moment, hope they fix it, their product is really good. They are missing a customer in me, even if it’s only for a small amount, but that would add up I am sure. I just go without it entirely, sad to say, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, not at these prices. I can see catching one or two shows live at a bar per year, but that hasn’t happened the last year or two. Also, well before all of my friends got married and started having kids, I was the only one left watching the events after they all meet up once or twice for a show, they really didn’t give a shit about the sport and none of them will ever pay $45 for an online stream, it will just never happen, I would be surprised if half of them ever watch a full event ever again let alone weigh-in’s, pre-lims etc.. These folks might watch a knock-out replay online from time to time when their screwing off at work and one of their co-workers loads up the clip but that’s it, and I think that’s the majority of people.

    I’d gladly pay $2.00 (yes you read that right, two dollars) for a live, one time viewing low-res stream to my laptop or a smart phone (the ability to rewind a little to re-watch a knock-out would be great). When I went to look up the price of the online stream I was expecting a (to me overpriced) $10 – $15 online stream fee, but nearly shat myself when I saw $45 instead… It’s never going to happen, sorry to say, not here, not with me… You can be happy or sad that I won’t bother streaming for free and not watching the sport any more but the end result is you get no money at all and a declining interest.

    The most I was ever willing to spend on UFC, ever, was $5 – $10 (for a really good show) and I’m a pretty big fan, watching from the original live PPV of UFC 1. I don’t mind going to a friends house with cable, and splitting the bill a few ways, and I don’t mind a reasonable cover charge at a comfortable/well run sports bar. Anything more is ridiculous and that price includes the fun-factor of getting together with friends or other viewers/etc., and honestly, if I’m watching it by myself, in a dark room, just to keep up with the sport I like, paying $5 once or twice a month really isn’t that reasonable and I can find better, longer lasting uses of $5 for my entertainment value and budget. Again, $2 for a low-resolution live stream or $0.50 – $1.00 for a replay stream depending on how old the event is, is about the max I am willing to pay. And I have absolutely no problem going without, haven’t watching in about a year now, will keep an eye out for a new bar to watch it at if the price is right and my evening is free, which won’t always be the case.

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