As promoters are putting together a show, one thing that they take into consideration is whether or not the show will be broadcast on the internet for the public to see. If they decide to air it online, then another decision has to be made: to charge or not to charge?
Naturally, promoters are in it to make money, and charging people to watch their fight cards online seems logical because it is another way to profit. Additionally, if you don’t charge for the stream, it could encourage people to stay at home, not buy a ticket, and not buy concessions throughout the night.
For access to a high-definition viewing of a pay-per-view UFC event, fans have to drop 60 dollars. Considering that the UFC is generally putting out two pay-per-view events each month, most fans cannot afford to order multiple events each month, let alone two UFC cards and several online streams, even if they’re as cheap as 10 dollars.
One of the leading MMA promotions in Asia, One FC, is an example of a promotion that charges 10 dollars to view events. For what it is worth though, One FC’s recent card featured big names in the sport of MMA. Three Gracie’s, Jens Pulver, Andrei Arlovski, and top bantamweight Bibiano Fernandes.
Buying a One FC card is one thing, again due to the talent level of the fighters, but what is in it for fans to spend money to watch local talent fight across the country? Sure, there may be a top local prospect who is inches from breaking into the big time, but when you learn that he is fighting Joe Nobody, is it really worth spending the money and the time to tune in? More people would be apt to watch the stream if it was free, but at the same time, the promoter would not make as much money if they provided it free of charge.
But think about it. The biggest online MMA streams this past year have come from Invicta FC, and the promotion charged absolutely nothing to watch the action. Sure, there was a big reason for people to tune in as the events were all-female affairs; however, you can’t argue with the results. There have been rumors and speculation that after the success that Invicta has had, it could land a television broadcast deal soon, perhaps with AXS TV, which is home to many promotions. The all-girl league very well could be on TV soon, which is a huge pay check for the operation, all for virtually giving its product away.
A promotion that is trying to fall under the category of “major promotion,” such as Invicta, sending out its stream for free is one thing, but at the local level, Massachusetts’ Cage Fighting Xtreme promoter Linda Shields disagrees.
“It’s more interactive when the event is full and [people are] cheering on the fighters,” Shields told The MMA Corner. “Local MMA events don’t have the fan base to carry a live stream, so it hurts the attendance. People are more likely to buy the online stream and watch as group to save on tickets and transportation costs.”
Not only would they be saving on tickets and transportation costs, but on beer, soda, popcorn and t-shirts. Maybe if a promotion was trying to crack into the television market, then being able to draw in a big streaming pay-per-view audience is appealing. But for the local show that is just trying to put on a great night of fights and come out with a chance for profits, it’s all about making the arena experience a top priority.
Photo: Jessamyn Duke prepares to enter the Invicta cage (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)