2013 was an incredible year for mixed martial arts and with interest in the sport gathering pace, coupled with some astonishing advancements in technology, this has all the makings of taking the sport onto that all important next level. I'm not professing to be Nostradamus, (or should that be NostradaMMAs), but I feel this year will have some interesting developments for the MMA enthusiast. Here are my predictions for what will be a game changing 2014.
The Rise of the MMA App:
Whilst apps and their use have been around for what seems like an age, never before has their creation and affordability been so easily within the grasp of MMA media outlets. Just a cursory glance at #WHOATV's website analytics reveals the devices used to access news, views and interviews are predominantly mobiles. I imagine this is also the case for media outlets with a similar focus. Given the fickleness of the MMA consumer, it's not exactly rocket science to suggest that in order to retain interest from the viewing public and add value to the news gathering experience, outlets will undoubtably look to craft a user experience that best reflects where their content is being observed. The killer addition to the app will be the clever use of it's 'push technology' that will enable those with the feature enabled on their app to react even faster than they do at present to breaking and emerging stories in MMA.
Localised weigh-in music:
It's no secret that the UFC's production back office has a Rock music fixation but just like the once, ever present 'Gladiator Man', this is set to disappear. What we will see is a transition into localised music. With the UFC's intention to stage around 50 events in various territories, this makes sense. The way in which these tracks are chosen will have an element of the UFC's tradition of making fans an integral part of the selection process. With the introduction of the UFC's 'Fight Pass' they have only just touched the surface of how the use of this channel can be instrumental in improving the interactivity between the user and the fight experience.
The use of drones for filming:
With the advent of drones for social, domestic and pleasure we are only just discovering how the on board camera technology can be utilised. The use of the jib and crane is fine for the standard aerial points of view but I believe in 2014 achieving these will see the introduction of drones that will enable us to experience crowd vantage points at live events from angles never seen before. I discussed the possibility of this with well known videographer Cynthia Vance last year and we both agreed until stabilisation was inbuilt this would be a non starter. Well guess what, this feature is now standard on even the entry level crafts that are priced at around £200. For the film maker creating short movies on a limited budget this opens up the possibility for the narrative structure of a mini feature to be spiced up with amazing shots of subjects. This will undoubtably add to the production values of what's created.
BBC changes stance on MMA
In the UK the BBC has a mantra in which it seeks to reflect the interests of the license payers in it's programming. With the continued increase in staging UK based events by both the UFC and homegrown fight promotions it is inevitable that this year we will see an incremental step towards mainstream coverage in the form of a 'toe in the water' approach by the BBC. Whether this is in the form of a podcast, web based mini documentaries or the inclusion of radio reports that highlight the localised nature attributed to the sports participants, we will see an olive branch extended by the corporation which will prove to be a game changer. This will all be made possible by the reporting tools that enable smaller production companies, reporters and fans to gain access to cheaper software and hardware that deliver high end professional results. This will create a fan focussed, multi skilled, but virtual production team, consisting of enthusiasts, journalists, pundits and fighters.
So there you have it, my predictions. Feel free to grab your torches and your pitch forks head on over to Twitter and let me know of any glaring omissions or even leave your comments below. Even if you have your own thoughts on what 2014 has in store and want to share those with me you can do that via my twitter account, @mikemorganmma using the hashtag #WHOATV.