UFC teams with Samsung to show content on VR device

May 30, 2017

Engadget reports that UFC fights have been added to a list of content for Samsung’s new VR Live Pass.  The X Games and Live nation were also a part of the announcement by Samsung on Tuesday.

Selected events will be available via the Samsung VR app in early June.  Users with the Gear VR can watch events from anywhere with the device.

Via Samsung news release:

“We are excited to offer Samsung Gear VR users the opportunity to experience their favorite live music and sporting events through our industry-leading VR ecosystem,” said Younghee Lee, CMO and Executive Vice President, Samsung Electronics. “Partnering with these companies to expand our VR services helps us to open up a new gateway of opportunities for fans and demonstrate our commitment to delivering experiences that make the seemingly impossible, possible.”

“We’ve always felt that the potential of combining UFC events with virtual reality would give our fans the ultimate enhanced experience,” UFC Chief Operating Officer Ike Lawrence Epstein said. “We’re excited to partner with Samsung on this game-changing initiative to further revolutionize how fight fans consume our content and live events around the world.”

Payout Perspective:

This is an experience for the early adopters of the virtual reality phenomenon.  Essentially, you would be watching the UFC with the headset on your head.  Not sure how that looks out in public.  But, the move is a way to bolster Samsung’s sales of the device and it is obviously geared toward the younger demo.  The UFC has been a company willing to be one of the first to use new technology and we will see how this works out.

ONE Championships eyes U.S. streaming deal

March 16, 2017

The Singapore-based ONE Championships is near a streaming deal which will make it easier for U.S. fans to watch its fights.

Currently, it costs $9.99 per event on the promotion’s web site to watch ONE Championship events.

ONE spokesperson, Loren Mack, indicated that the company will still have events onllne but the new deal will make it easier for fans in the U.S. to watch.

The promotion is based primarily in Asia and has a vast following there than in North American where big MMA diehards follow the sport.  For more on the promotion, we interviewed CEO Victor Cui a while back about the company.

Payout Perspective:

The new deal will likely make it more accessible for fans here in the U.S. which leads me to believe that it will partner with someone with an existing over the top platform.  The plan is a sign of growth for the company and a hope to open up more fans to the sport via a streaming deal.

GGG-Jacobs to stream PPV online

March 15, 2017

The GGG-Daniel Jacobs fight set for this Saturday will not only be available via traditional PPV, but will be online at TheRingtv.com.

The PPV will go for $64.95 online and will vary via traditional PPV depending on your distributor.

In addition to Gennady Golovkin, Roman “Chocalito” Gonzalez is scheduled to fight Srisaket Sor Runvisai on the same card.

Payout Perspective:

GGG’s first appearance on PPV in October 2015 against David Lemieux drew about 150,000 PPV buys.  He once again gets Chocalito on his undercard as the two are inextricably paired together on cards.  Will the online option help PPV buys?  Maybe for hardcore boxing fans that can purchase it on their phone or iPad.  While it’s a great option in this day and age, I don’t think impacts the overall buy rate.

UFC 200 to offer 4K PPV stream

July 9, 2016

The Verge reports that UFC 200 will be available in 4K making it the first organization to offer its streaming PPV in this technology.

The 4K availability is limited to those in the US and Canada in ultra HD resolution on select Sony TVs.  People wanting to take advantage of this will need the UFC’s app, a 2015 or 2016 Sony 4K Ultra HD TV and pay the requisite price.  Of course, the PPV Saturday will also be available via normal PPV distribution methods as well as UFC.TV.

The UFC’s partner, NeuLion, will be providing the 4K stream.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC has been an early-adapter when it comes to technology and this foray in to 4K will be watched by other leagues and entertainment companies as how this will be executed and the demand for such a product.

WWE and Snapchat announce multiyear partnership

April 1, 2016

Variety reports that World Wrestling Entertainment and Snapchat have signed a multiyear deal that will start this Sunday at Wrestlemania.

The image messaging app will produce and distribute Live Stories from Wrestlemania and other events.  According to Variety, “WWE fans will be able to contribute video and photos that will be curated and packaged by Snapchat along with WWE-supplied content into a brief video available to the app’s more than 100 million daily active users.”  Snapchat will cover other WWE live events throughout the year.

Payout Perspective:

This partnership is a push by the company to reach out to a younger demographic as those that use Snapchat tend to skew on the younger side.  It is also a way for the WWE to reach out to fans on other social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other digital channels.  The article also indicates that one of the other big pushes is for this partnership to help bolster the subscription base of the WWE Network.

UFC App now on Amazon

November 13, 2015

UFC announced the launch of an official app on Amazon’s Appstore.  The app will be available on Amazon Fire streaming devices which will allow users access to UFC PPV broadcasts starting with this Saturday’s UFC 193 and UFC Fight Pass.

Via UFC press release:

“We are thrilled about the new UFC app on Amazon’s Appstore as fight fans can now enjoy the UFC experience on Amazon Fire TV’s set-top-boxes and Fire TV Sticks,” UFC Senior Vice President of Digital Edward Muncey said. “UFC has always been on the cutting edge of utilizing technology to engage our fans, and now Amazon Fire users can view exclusive content wherever they are.”

UFC 193 App

The UFC app will initially be available in North America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, China, Japan, Australia, Spain, France and Italy, and will support in-app purchasing in local currencies. The app will provide access to UFC weigh-ins, press conferences and other live streams, bringing fans closer to UFC and their favorite athletes anywhere with their Amazon Fire device.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC app comes to Amazon just in time for the holidays.  The news should bolster Fight Pass subscriptions.  It could help with PPV sales as well although we may never hear an estimate of those purchases.  What this move does is make the UFC available to more people on a widely used platform.

The UFC and NFL took down Deadspin twitter account Monday

October 13, 2015

The UFC and NFL filed take down notices for copyright infringement against the twitter accounts for the sports web site Deadspin and the Vox Media-owned SB Nation Gif account per CNN Money.  As of Tuesday morning, the Deadspin account had returned to twitter but the SB Nation Gif account remains suspended.

THIRD UPDATE:  The UFC only filed a take down notice against Deadspin and not the SB Nation Gif account per NY Times.

SECOND UPDATE: Per Forbes.com, the UFC specifically took issue with a Deadspin tweet related to Ronda Rousey’s last fight.  One could surmise they played the entire fight from UFC 190 or at least the KO.

UPDATED:  For those wondering, takedown notices are governed under Title II, Section 512 of the DMCA which is found here.

Takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) were issued to both Deadspin and SB Nation for alleged violations of copyright.  Both twitter accounts routinely use GIFs from the NFL and other sports.  Per CNN Money, there were 33 pages of notices filed by NetResult, an Internet copyright monitoring company acting on behalf of the NFL and UFC.

Engadget reports that the takedown list request includes a number of video files from Deadspin’s main account and @SBNationGif.  The requests will be submitted to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse – an independent 3rd party research project studying cease and desist letters concerning online content.

Per ESPN, the NFL and Twitter announced a two-year content and advertising deal that would send more NFL video highlights and pictures from games through Twitter.

Although maybe not a direct correlation, Deadspin has published critical pieces of both the NFL and UFC.  Recently a Josh Gross article about Vitor Belfort received much praise for his investigation that the UFC allowed Belfort to fight despite troubling drug test results pre-fight.  But the article received a scant reply from the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

The take down of both twitter accounts were interesting for the sheer fact of the multitude of followers that use each for news/entertainment and thus it was a noticeable loss on twitter.  It could be just coincidence that Deadspin have published critical articles about the UFC and NFL.  You may also say the same for SB Nation although the use of gifs may be the key to the take downs.  Notably, the UFC has cracked down on gifs of fights in the past.  At a time when the ownership of new technology is still somewhat unsettled, these take downs represent the progression of protection of league rights in media.  MMA Payout will continue to follow.

Fight Pass to undergo future growth

September 8, 2015

UFC Fight Pass is making moves as recently hired Eric Winter is seeking for expansive growth in the coming months.  In a couple recent interviews he has provided some insight into the future of the digital platform.

MMA Fighting reports that Winter foresees more original content as well as the eventual hope of holding weekly live cards on the over the top platform.  In addition, Winter stated that Fight Pass will go under a technology update which will include an updated search functionality.  He also indicated the signing of more organization as content partners.  Currently, InvictaFC and TitanFC have deals with Zuffa for live streaming of its fights on UFC Fight Pass.

Winter who came over from Yahoo to be the new Senior Vice President and General Manager for UFC Fight Pass plans big things for the digital platform.

In an interview with Multichannel.com, Winter and Chief Content Officer Marshall Zelaznik talked about Fight Pass and its future.  Although they were asked, they did not reveal the number of subscribers.  They did infer that subscriptions were exceeding expectations.

In the interview, Winter and Zelaznik stated that they do not see Fight Pass following the lead of the WWE Network (i.e., no PPVs on Fight Pass).  They emphasized the company’s commitment to its PPV distributing partners.

They also inferred that virtual reality would be a part of the future on UFC Fight Pass as well as more original content.  They said to be toiling with Google Cardboard for virtual reality.

Payout Perspective:

Some interesting takeaways from the MMA Fighting and Multichannel.com interviews.  The first is that the UFC is not going to move away from its PPV model anytime soon.  Unlike the WWE, the UFC’s business model is predicated on PPVs and it sounds like the company has no plans to change course (like the WWE) when it comes to PPV.  As for the future of Fight Pass, content is king and the challenge Winter seems to have is how to engage its core demo to subscribe when there is so much UFC on television.  The original content should help as well as the live fights.  But, with the fickleness of the demo and cord cutters, the challenge will be having fans pay $10 per month.

Jim Ross opines on future of Fight Pass/WWEN

October 20, 2014

Former WWE color commentator Jim Ross had some interesting comments about the future of UFC Fight Pass as he seemed rather bullish on the future of the over the top model.  The comments come at a time when online services seem to be on the rise…or maybe on the decline depending on what you read.

In an interview with Bloody Elbow, Ross was quoted that the shift for companies such as the UFC and WWE to digital networks is a thing of the future.  Despite the rocky starts for each, he believes that it is a “genius-like maneuver.”

With last week’s announcements that HBO and CBS were offering online services and ESPN providing a streaming-only service for NBA content the week before, it’s apparent that over the top (OTT) network offerings are the growing trend.  But, is there enough of a market for them? Although the model seems to be geared toward cord cutters, it would seem that the addition of so many subscription services would negate any savings from cancelling a traditional cable package? Would it impact ad revenue?

Payout Perspective:

The WWE will make its quarterly earnings call on October 30th and we will see how much of a dent it has made in its goal of 1 million subscribers to its OTT WWE Network.  You may recall it made a meager increase in its goal last quarter.  The last report this summer indicated that it had added just 33,000 subscribers for approximately 700,000 total subscribers.  Even with the addition of an international market, it is unlikely that the 1 million goal could be met. This should be something that other OTT subscription services should take notice.

On the other hand, all reports suggest that the UFC Fight Pass is doing well (although no numbers have been revealed).  But, unlike the WWE, it keeps its PPVs separate from the network.  Fight Pass is geared for the hardcore fan and it would be hard to argue that it takes away from the UFC’s PPV buy rate.  While Fight Pass offers an extensive fight library and live fights from overseas, most of the marquee names and match-ups remain on PPV.

So, will digital networks like the WWE Network and UFC Fight Pass thrive in the future?  Perhaps for the young, cost-conscious consumer that is savvy enough to deal with the online world but do not want to be tied down with a traditional cable package.  But, it’s unlikely to take over.

SBJ reports on WWE Network for OTT feature

August 10, 2014

The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reported on the WWE’s launch of its network as part of its feature last week on Over The Top (OTT) networks.  The article compliments another within the same issue which talks about the new platform in general.

The article on the WWE reports on the tumultuous time it has had with the launch of the network.  Upon the announcement in January, there was much anticipation.  But, after the initial numbers came out coupled with the general disappointment  the rights fees deal caused the stock to drop and momentum to stop.

The WWE did receive some interesting information from the first few months from subscribers.  Despite being off on its projections, the subscribers that have the network are very satisfied with the network.  Many utilize the network at least once a week.  Also, Xbox and Playstation are the two platforms used by most subscribers.  This last part of information would suggest that a younger demo has purchased the network and maybe not as many older viewers (those that one would presume would subscribe for the older content) have the network.

Payout Perspective:

The overarching theme about OTT is the direct competition it has with traditional platforms.  At this point, OTT does not offer live sports with the exception of the WWE Network.  No big revelation in the article about the WWE.  Although the number of subscribers did not hit its target, the users that have it like it. What may be lacking is the older demo that the WWE thought would have been brought in by the vast WWE library.

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