Just four events into its history, Invicta Fighting Championships has faced its fair share of obstacles to overcome. With its current broadcast strategy relying on internet streams, the promotion has been tasked with not only putting on a great live show for the crowd in attendance, but having technology cooperate as well.

Unfortunately, the technology side failed to hold up its side of the bargain at the promotion’s fourth event on Jan. 5. The card, featuring a strawweight title fight between Carla Esparza and Bec Hyatt, was offered as a $7.95 pay-per-view stream hosted by Ustream. While many purchased the event in advance and had little or no issues, those that waited until the last minute ran into issues with the site’s paywall malfunctioning.

After numerous complaints via social media outlets, Invicta’s President Shannon Knapp was faced with a dilemma: allow the promotion’s fans to remain upset or lift the paywall—making the stream free for everyone—and refund anyone who had already purchased the event. In typical Knapp fashion, she opted for the latter.

“[I was so] frustrated,” said Knapp. “We moved to pay-per-view as a natural progression of our business. It came down to the point that it has never been our intention to gouge anyone or take advantage of anyone. I thought the right, respectable thing to do was drop the paywall, refund everyone’s money and give it away.”

The decision is something that undoubtedly affects the upstart organization’s bottom line, but Knapp is quick to point out that the promotion’s future is not dependent on the funds from the stream.

“If we were relying on this as our source of income, we’d be charging an astronomical amount of money,” she declared. “Tonight’s stream was the price of a beer at the arena.

“We’re in dialog for a television deal, but we’re looking for the right partner. In the meantime, we were looking for little ways to monetize it, but it wasn’t anything where we had to do it.”

That reassurance should be good news to both the fans and fighters of the promotion. But although the pay-per-view stream revenue wasn’t a necessity, that doesn’t mean the issues won’t contribute to Knapp pushing harder to secure a broadcast deal.

“Our goal is to bring as much awareness to this as possible. The only way I can do that is television,” she explained. “We’re trying to find something that fits us and our needs. That’s how you survive. I don’t want us to be forced to take something.”

Following the announcement that Invicta would be refunding the stream, many supporters of the promotion proclaimed they didn’t even want their money back so long as the stream worked properly. After the series of events that took place with the fourth show, don’t expect Invicta to be using Ustream for its next event.

“That’s a really sore subject. We had heard good things about them. Where else do you go?” she asked rhetorically.

Although broadcast plans may not be finalized for the promotion’s recently announced fifth event in April, Knapp was willing to consider a very different approach—one utilized by the band Radiohead for a previous album release—PayPal donations.

“Somebody mentioned that, I think it’s a very interesting concept,” said Knapp. “From the beginning, our business has been from the internet. Maybe that’s what we do.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to watch. There’s always going to be people who are struggling and don’t have the money to pay for it, but there’s going to be people who love it and will pay $10.

“It’s something we could look to do in the future… or we could be on television,” Knapp quipped with a smile.

Regardless of how the next event is aired, as long as Invicta continues to deliver exciting events, its supporters will keep coming back for more.

Photo: Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)