In the ever evolving consumer landscape, the UFC saw fit to offer a package, Fight Pass, which would serve as ancillary income to their bottom line. Two other contributing factors helped to push this offering to the forefront. The first being the UFC’s goal of expanding globally and having the ability to market events tailored to a specific region. The other contributing factor that allowed for this digital offering is the increasingly blurry line between the internet and television. Movies, television shows, videos are all streamed and watched regularly on digital devices. The internet can be accessed on most new TV’s nowadays. Heck, even Netflix produced shows that were nominated for Emmys. The UFC saw this as an opportunity to get out ahead of the curve with Fight Pass, all while servicing their global expansion needs and creating a new source of revenue.
Then the WWE had to come along and screw everything up. Just over a week after the UFC officially announced its new platform, the WWE formally introduced their digital network. At a time when the UFC was hoping to ease Fight Pass into the minds and habits of fight fans, WWE’s network offered a chance for comparisons and complaints. Had just about any other sport or company come out with a similar platform right after Fight Pass was introduced, it is unlikely fans would ever make a comparison. However, due to an overlap in fan base as well as similarities in entertainment and promotion, it was inevitable that the two offerings would be looked at side by side.
At first glance, the gripes seem legitimate. The cost of the WWE’s network seems to provide access to a bit more content and even PPV access. Digging a little deeper though, and one can see that there certain pitfalls to the WWE model as well. For example, being locked in for 6 months at a time may turn some consumers away. While the networks are similar in the type of offering, the comparisons ultimately stop when discussing sport versus sports entertainment.
The introduction of the WWE network may have been calculated or it may have been purely coincidental. Either way, it was good for UFC fans because it drew eyes and evaluations to the Fight Pass offering in ways that had yet to occur. This kind of scrutiny over the product will likely garner improvements from the UFC and result in a better experience for fight fans.
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