UFC follows boxing to movie theatres
As we've discussed on this blog before, the boxing business still can learn a lot from the UFC about how to remain relevant in a rapidly fragmenting sports marketplace. Specifically, we've noted how boxing has followed the UFC's lead in making sure the best fighters face each other.
And if you're following Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic (and this blog will as the next round of bouts approaches), you've got to love the round-robin format, which ensures that a single loss doesn't ruin a fighter's chances of winning the tournament. The organizers of that tournament figured out what the folks at the UFC already knew -- that when the best fight the best, even the best have to lose, and that a blemish on a fighter's record doesn't render him worthless or dent his popularity.
In discussing the tournament with the Star in October, promoter Gary Shaw even cited the UFC when explaining why a single loss doesn't have to be a major setback for a world class fighter.
So instead of undergoing the usual post-loss rehab -- a string of meaningless tuneups to rebuild confidence and allay doubt -- a fighter like Andre Dirrell remains in the running for the tournament crown after his first career loss, climbing right back into the ring against Arthur Abraham March 27.
But this morning comes news that the UFC is set to follow boxing's lead in terms of distributing its product.
Starting with UFC 111, which also takes place March 27, the UFC will begin broadcasting pay per view events in movie theatres in the U.S. (Canada will still have to wait).
Interesting paragraph from the story about how boxing's struggles to retain a share of the combat sports market affected UFC president Dana White's decision to make pay per view events available in theatres as well.
True, but the story also points out that before UFC explored the movie theatre alternative, boxing had already proved it could work without sapping pay-per-view revenues. Floyd Mayweather's September dismantling of Juan Manuel Marquez was shown in movie theaters across the US, yet still sold more than 1 million pay-per-views.
White said he isn't worried about harming the UFC's pay-per-view revenue by making the fights available for the price of a theater ticket that will cost less than buying the fight at home. He believes boxing hurt itself in recent years by making its biggest fights only available on pay-per-view instead of creating alternative ways to watch, including the UFC's extensive business on the Internet.
As White says in the story, it's all about attracting as many eyeballs as possible while maximizing revenue sources. Sure a movie theatre ticket costs roughly a third of a pay-per-view buy, but if 20 people watch UFC 111 in my condo I'm still only paying one fee. However, if all 20 of us head to the theatre, all 20 of us pay to get in.
And you know what that means for the UFC.
Dana White is no fool. There's a reason he's worth an estimated $200 million. He'll take that trade and laugh all the way to the bank. Well, he'll probably curse all the way but you get my point -- either way the UFC wins.
-- Follow Morgan Campbell on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MorganPCampbell