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UFC The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a U.S.-based mixed martial arts organization, recognized as the largest MMA promotion in the world. The UFC is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada and is owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC. This promotion is responsible for solidifying the sport's postion in the history-books. UFC is currently undergoing a remarkable surge in popularity, along with greater mainstream media coverage. UFC programming can now be seen on FOX, FX, and FUEL TV in the United States, as well as in 35 other countries worldwide.

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Old 07-09-2014, 08:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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UFC's aggressive strategy is smart, but it comes at a cost

This was the article I thought I posted up the other day in continuation of the ongoing discussion of the UFC's direction. They're certainly experiencing growing pains, but I'd have to think that it's part of the bigger picture to get eyeballs. Nobody wants to cancel cards, but its precautionary measures. Put on a card and lose millions or cancel it and lose a few hundred thousand and continue moving forward. Their power base will always be Vegas so I get the feeling they've double booked venues for a contingency plan; Mandalay Bay or MGM. Too bad Palms isn't in the picture anymore. Wonder why the Fertittas don't construct a mega resort w/ a convention centre/stadium seating and get in on the action. Then again one of these resorts cost a whopping 10 digits.

They still put on stellar cards, but it feels like the quality has decreased because of the amount of cards they put on. BUT if you really think about it, imagine if all the Fox cards/Fight Nights were gone and they only put on stacked PPVs w/ multiple title fights.

We would all say that the UFC is the best! But we would have one major card a month.

With this strategy they are compromising their brand, but not to a detrimental effect where people will stop cold turkey. Some would just tune in to the major fights, but for most fans we still support and watch all of em when we can. Realistically some of these fight night cards would be headliners for second tiered orgs. This also puts a squeeze on their competition because every other week is a UFC card which cannibalizes themselves, but ultimately hurts their competition even more.

I believe this is the winning strategy for the short and long term.

Quote:
The UFC has adopted a strategy for international growth that has a downside for hardcore fans; oversaturation. There were 6 events in a 4 week period from the end of May to the end of June, that's something along the lines of 40 hours of MMA in a month. About 10 hours a week. That's just from official UFC fight cards, not including The Ultimate Fighter.

The truth is that to expand into new and emerging markets the UFC has to adopt a strategy like this. They have to give European and Asian fans cards that feature local fighters and take place at suitable local times, not 6am. The UFC knows that long term, relying on the Americas as the sole source of revenue will hinder their growth and leave them more financially vulnerable than is desirable. Expanding into Europe and Asia is an important strategy, and one that requires building up local talent and hosting local events.

The long term goal with these markets is to convert them into fans of the "core" product: UFC pay-per-views. This is where we see a weakness in the UFC's strategy. Currently, they don't have the roster to support rapid expansion like this, because to maintain it they need to ensure their numbered pay-per-views - the events fans are supposed to aspire to watch - are of the highest quality. That's not happening.

What we're seeing is the UFC cannibalizing the main card fights of pay-per-views to provide headliners for these smaller fight night and fight pass level shows. Gegard Mousasi vs. Mark Munoz isn't a great headliner, but it's a perfect main card fight for a pay-per-view.

For example, here's the current top 6 fights on the UFC 176 card according to Wikipedia:

Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronaldo Souza
Gray Maynard vs. Fabricio Camoes
Bethe Correia vs. Shayna Baszler
Jussier Formiga vs. Zach Makovsky
James Vick vs, Walmir Lazaro
Lorenz Larkin vs. Derek Brunson

That's barely a Fight Night level card right now. There is a damn good chance that card gets cancelled. Now lets imagine the UFC wasn't putting on 8 cards in under 40 days, here's the fights we could have instead:

Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn
Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown
Urijah Faber vs. Cub Swanson
Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronaldo Souza
Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao
Anthony Johnson vs. Lil Nog

That's a damn good card, right? Sure, the main event is pretty light, but it's absolutely stacked with talent. It's also a card that would be completely possible just using the fighters from non-PPV events in the month or so leading up to UFC 176. That's the quality of main card the UFC is losing through this saturation. By holding 4+ smaller events a month, the UFC needs 8 reasonable main event and co-main event matchups. Those 8 matchups would previously be filling the main card of a PPV. When fans from these new markets take the step up to watching pay-per-views, they're not seeing something worth $60 more than the event they just saw for free. They're seeing something very comparable.

The UFC's saturation within the US makes financial sense; the Fox deal was great, and it really helps to stabilize the UFC's accounts and give it some mainstream credibility. From the standpoint of product quality it's a huge burden. The UFC could pull off a PPV and two international events a month with the current roster, it can't pull off a PPV, two international events and two domestic events per month, which appears to be the aim by the end of 2014.

Worst of all, this fragmentation is making the UFC's toughest job - creating new stars - even harder. It used to be the case that the vast majority of the fans would see exciting young talent develop, moving from the undercard to the main card to main events. Most fans, or at least most hardcore fans, watched almost event event. Now a fighter could be developing into a monster, but only fighting on Brazilian Fight Night cards. Or international Fight Night cards. Or Fight Pass events. By the time he gets to a pay-per-view main card, most of the PPV viewers have never even heard of him. How is that guy supposed to draw money, when your core audience has never even seen him fight? It takes time and familiarity for most fighters to become draws and the UFC is hindering that process.

There's no easy solution to this. International expansion is vital to the UFC's fortunes going forward. The Fox events are vital to the UFC's financial health. They have no choice but to put so many events on, despite the negative side effects. The UFC isn't only drawing less pay-per-view buys per event, they're drawing less buys per year as fans are turned off by the sheer volume of low-quality events. The ideal solution would be to have international events only use international talent, rather than being headlined by mid-high level UFC fighters, but that makes breaking into the new markets even more difficult... but if the UFC continues to erode their core fanbase, even a successful international expansion won't be a success.

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Old 07-09-2014, 09:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I said this before in other threads, the UFC is willing to lose some hardcore fans at the expense gaining many more casual fans. Financially, this makes sense. There are far more casual & potential fans than there are hardcore fans. Even gaining just a small percentage of the "casuals" as fans it's still a larger number than the hardcore fans.

That is what the UFC has to do if it wants to expand & keep moving forward.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by TheAuger View Post
I said this before in other threads, the UFC is willing to lose some hardcore fans at the expense gaining many more casual fans. Financially, this makes sense. There are far more casual & potential fans than there are hardcore fans. Even gaining just a small percentage of the "casuals" as fans it's still a larger number than the hardcore fans.

That is what the UFC has to do if it wants to expand & keep moving forward.
The opposite is happening. Everyone I know who watches UFC (expect one person) is a casual fan, and all of them have had declining interest,

Casual fans like myself like big fights, stars, etc. with over saturation and more cards, it is more appealing to hardcore fans. Casual fans don't want to watch a Fight Pass card at noon on a Saturday. Heck, most casual fans don't know what Fight Pass is.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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They will slow down IMO. The optimum was a few years ago when we had maybe 20% less cards with a bit more of a gap between them. Let's be honest most cards wth the exception of a few like the New Zealand card are only 1 or 2 fights away from being Stella cards. Even the UFC 176 card that the article trashes is pretty solid IMO. Mousasi\Souza Maynard/Camoes and Formiga/Makovsky are great fight.

What the UFC can't seem to grasp (like many sport and entertainment companies) is that sometimes withholding your product and building anticipation is better than the shirt term profit of putting on a watered down product. Can you imagine Mayweather hitting 1mil buys every fight if he fought 12 times a year? Unlikely.
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I think Dana said in the 175 post fight scrum that they are not thinking about regional. You guys are thinking regionally. UFC is growing a global sport not a regional one. Fight pass is for countries that cannot get UFC on PPV or TV. Fight Pass also will have UFC content and UFC owns it. It is a powerful tool which hasnt even been close to its potential. If hardcore fight fans are turned off by over saturation they are not hardcore fight fans. They may think they are but they are not. A hardcore fan watches every show and still wants more watches every post fight presser and media scrum, watches MMA hour every monday, and so on. UFC is growing and expanding to countries it is not in yet. The people in these countries like Mexico and Philipines are starving for UFC. You guys gotta stop thinking about UFC as only catering to your country. It is growing and expanding and its a good thing.
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Old 07-10-2014, 01:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Have all the free fights in the world you want. Have them every night. I'll do my best to watch as many as possible. But don't expect me to watch a ppv every single weekend when I can't name half the fighters on the main card.

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Old 07-11-2014, 09:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Fight Pass cards have been great, and I've been very happy to be able to watch them live at a reasonable time. Like Dana's said many times, they're not for you Americans, they're for us, the rest of the world. Still, I wish they would really stack every PPV card instead of wasting good fights as Fight Night main events.
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I believe I've figured out how to get enjoyment out of shitty cards, and less quality events. Put on multiple accumulator bets!!
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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PPV's just cost too much money for Americans. I'm not up to date on what other countries have to pay. But it seems Dana doesn't care if anyone outside the United States illegally streams the UFC which is complete bullshit as well.

I'm just tired of the double standard by Zuffa. It's free and cheap for everyone except Americans. I ordered 175 but won't be getting another PPV until GSP or Nick Diaz returns.
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Old 07-12-2014, 01:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I usually either go to the local sports bar or a friends house to watch the fights anyways so no big deal for me. Though it would be nice to actually buy one. Kind of sucks going to other places ESPECIALLY considering I write about this starting Monday paid.
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