Dana White Sees a UFC Future Without Pay-Per-View

March 11, 2012
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There are several sports league’s that not only survive, but thrive, without the revenues afforded by pay-per-view. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NASCAR – the list rolls on – are among those sports that draw little or no revenue from pay-per-view.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship from day one, however, has been a pay-per-view company. The UFC was built not only on, but specifically for the pay-per-view revenue model.

But what was once a spectacle, pitting style against style, has grown and morphed into an actual sport, with rounds, rules, and regulation.

As mixed martial arts has come into its own, the UFC has taken it to the highest of highs, and continues to go bigger with each passing day. No longer is the UFC isolated on pay-per-view, the promotion now runs numerous events each year on broadcast and cable television, as well.

Will there come a day when, like the major sports leagues, the UFC will forego pay-per-view altogether?

UFC president Dana White believes it is a distinct possibility.

“Yeah, I do believe there will be a day when there probably isn’t pay-per-view.”

The UFC has grown into a global force under the guidance White, the Fertitta brothers, and the rest of Zuffa, and it will continue to do so.

“With this Fox exposure, we’re only a few months into this deal, but yeah, as we continue to put on shows and showcase talent over the next several years, the fan base is going to grow bigger and bigger and bigger.”

But it’s not necessarily television in its current format that White has in mind.

Several great minds in the world of technology believe that the television industry as we know it is ripe to be turned on its head. Chief among those visionaries was late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who prior to his death told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had “cracked the code” to changing the television industry.

While changes thus far have been incremental, if Jobs was correct, and most pundits agree that a wave of change is coming, it is just such change that White is referring to as being what will draw the UFC away from pay-per-view.

“As the landscape in television continues to change – a lot of people believe everything is gonna go to the internet,” said White recently.

“Like, now, when you buy your cable, and there’s basic cable and you can add other stations. We’re probably gonna get to a point where you can just pick exactly what you want. I want this channel, I want that channel, and I want that one, and that’s it.

“It’s very interesting to see where all this goes over the next several years, but I think the UFC is definitely gonna be a power player in the sports world.”

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  • YES! This is the only way MMA will become as big as the other mainstream sports. Casual fans are naturally drawn to championship events. More people watch the SuperBowl than actually bother watching football. Currently championships in the UFC are off limits to casual fans who arent going to lay down 50 dollars ordering special events.

    • fsunoles09

      more people watch playoffs and superbowl cuz they dont play at the same times and like u said people r drawn to championship events, the superbowl is what you play for thats where legends are made everybody likes watchin the best 2 teams in the world reguardless of what sport duke it out i dont like soccer but world cup time comes im all over it hah

  • Actually casual fans were drawn to the sport when UFC held free events on Spike TV. The Ultimate Fighter brings in the casual fans. The free shows draw people to the sport. But the PPV market is where its at. Especially for title bouts. Trust me when I tell you nobody wants a commercial break to interfere with their UFC. And also they don’t have to pay 50 bucks for a PPV. They can go to a wild wings, a hooters, or any other sports bar type place where for the price of a meal they can watch on several TVs in HD.

    So the casual fan has the same avenues as the hardcore fan does on where to see. And which ones to see as we all tend to be a little picky unless something really good comes along.

  • oxygendrunkard

    They have to bitorrent site, live streaming site. How many people pay for all fights. Realistically? If you want to watch every fight its way to expensive to have a consistent business model with it, as many fights they promote

    Also it irks me when they say ‘free’ tv. Cable costs money… and it might not be PPV in the future but that channel you pick, and select will cost in of itself and that revenue share is what will make the UFC its money

  • Anthony

    Can you imagine watching mma EVERY weekend for FREE(I know cables not free, but way cheaper than ppv) like the NFL? How cool would that be.I dont know about you guys ,but Id be in heaven.

  • adam1848

    I think the UFC should hold 3 or 4 PPV events a year…have a couple titles on the line each time and stacked cards from top to bottom. Offer all of the fighters various percentages of the PPV revenue and huge bonuses. Have everybody fighting hard on Fox / FX all year long trying to get a spot on a big money PPV card. Maybe even have fans vote for who they want to see fight and have a couple slots on each card go to fan picks. Every fan would buy these events, and they could probably fill a 40,000+ stadium. PPV cards should be thicker than some have been lately and by having less fighters on PPV, it would raise the level of competition on the Fox / FX cards and make those more interesting to casual fans.

    • bryanadams

      That’s a bad ass idea! 3-4 HUGE ppv’s a year!

    • that is a great idea! i like the thought of voting on the fights,and the way everything is going interactive nowadays,that would be awesome!

  • maddawgmar

    If they stop PPV then I’d be stoked. I have ordered every PPV since UFC 1, minus two combat tours. Recently the output of PPV fights has increased, and while I love the fact that there are more fights, it also means more money I spend. However it turns out I’m still watching the fights but I say let the advertisers pay their paychecks. I’ve watched it since day one, nearly twenty years, and I’ll watch it for the next fifty either way.

  • Steven UK

    At $50 per UFC event I really feel for you US fans. These events are on a subscription based channel in the UK (ESPN). We pay about $15 per month and get every UFC event live plus a bucket load of other sport thrown in.

  • A move away from PPV would be amazing, as long as they don’t have to increase the number if events to offset the revenues gained from PPV. I can see the UFC getting very watered down if they go to a weekly event schedule.

  • lonniebatt

    I believe that it is beginning to get this way already… if it keeps on EXACTLY the way its going now