I had thoughts on how the WWE could do their own channel, and put it out there almost a decade ago on another website. The fun thing is, the WWE did almost exactly what I spelled out that they did, with the exception being allowing a 3 or 6 month subscription, and I also expected that when you bought a PPV, you got access to the In Demand service until the day before the next PPV, unless you bought the subscription. . The lesson as always, what do I know.
The UFC has far different problems with Fight Pass than the WWE does with its network.I could say I’m not really a wrestling fan anymore, the only reason I could tell the difference between Zach Ryder and Zach Randolph is because I’ve seen Randolph play in the NBA for years.
But if you gave me a password to the network?
Oh I would spend all day on it, watching the Hall of Fame speeches, and the legends roundtables, and the War Games matches, and other things like that- I bet I’ll spend more time watching Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine over anything the WWE has put on TV in the past decade, as far as in ring is concerned.
The UFC doesn’t have that- If I get Fight Pass, the majority of casual fans are not going to be pulling up Frye vs Shamrock and watching it- or looking for commentary on Rampage vs Wandy in Pride.
Most users for fight Pass are going to be there for new cards- not looking for a half hour retrospective on Jesse Taylor vs Junie Browning and who deserved to get thrown out of the house.
I think what Fight Pass needs to do to succeed, is not to try to reach new consumers by putting new shows on it, but to basically be FOXSPORTSUFC.com.
Use it as a secondary platform for FS1- almost a digital Fox Sports Ocho. Have all the fights stream there, for customers that can’t get FS1, and maybe for the live cards, have a 5 second delay- that way you still have the shows, but if you want them FIRST- then you gotta watch it on Fox, some people, like myself, I’m fine with begin several seconds behind- in exchange for no commercials, and seeing the corners talking and the full walkout, etc.
I also want when a card is not live, I want commentaries on the fights- how much fun would it be to hear Chuck give a running commentary on his fights with Title?How about seeing guys like Chris Lytle and Matt Serra with a remote control going through their fights blow by blow? Or watching Forrest Griffith doing a MST3K on the Jose Canseco Super Hulk Tournament run?
Thats what I’d be doing on the UFC Fight Pass.
The other big change?
Minor shows. Give me all the MFC, Legacy, USAMMA, etc.How about before Dustin Porier takes on Cub- I show every single fight Dustin has, then every fight Cub has back to back to back, with even some breakdowns by guys like Mir or Jens Pulver.? What’s Chuck Liddell doing? He can’t put something together? I need Fight Pass to be for the die-hards, the big fight fans, the guys that can’t get enough of the fights. Plus the guys that want to get into this- I can “sell” time to the Gracies, and show their Ju-Ju skills, and even have guys like Kevin James “drop by” to talk UFC.
How about a show by Fight Metric showing how they break down a fight? I can show anything I want, and have the resources that the UFC has bought tons of libraries, and can even get more, if I give promotions time on the network, in exchange for their libraries. I mean how many Legacy videos have you seen floating around? How many DVDs of Monte’s promotion are out there? I’ve seen Sport Fight and King of the Cage, but how about Bamma? Jungle Fight?
The issue with Fight Pass is its trying to be an equal platform to everything else, the WWE can do this as they have a TON of cash and can tick off their PPV providers- and the TV ratings are strong enough that USA is going to let them get away with a simulcast. The UFC can’t throw dirt at a PPV providers, and the TV deal is still a bit on shaky ground, as the numbers for FS1 are amazing for a new network, but not on Big Fox, and if the UFC was putting up those numbers on Spike, we would be have major issues.
So how do I fix Fight Pass?
I strengthen the Brand. The UFC has been putting out too many shows, and its killed their second best property TUF. When the TUF show started, getting a UFC contract meant something, it was HARD to do- now the UFC has a roster of over 500 fighters- I can’t name 500 fighters – I don’t think I could name 500 NFL players (by the way, thats 17 per team, Can you give me the entire roster of the Bucks, Kings or the Portland Trail Blazers? Then how are you going to get excited about half the fights on Fight Pass with 2 guys that at 8 fights from a title shot and barely have a picture on Sherdog?
Fight Pass is not going to gain 10K new subscribers a month, what they need to do to it is keep every single stinking subscriber they have. Don’t let a single one go. If I ensure that I have as close to 0% Churn as possible, then I have a captive audience. If I can go to my sponsors and say I have 140K subscribers that have had Fight Pass 6 months or more, and 85% of them spend 4+ hours a week on the site- then I have something to sell. I say I have 250K subscribers and 60% only look at new fights? Thats a much harder network.
Fight Pass can be a win, but in this new game, they simply cannot follow the WWE’s example.