I made this comment on Luke Thomas' article entitled "Actually, fighter sponsorships are the UFC's problem." just wanted to repost it here, revised a little bit, and see what people think, and if i'm missing something.
These FightPass events are, for the most part, those events that used to be on FUEL TV. let’s look at some of these old UFC on FUEL TV events, and their ratings. MMAMania has a good breakdown of the ratings for these events if you want to do a google, that’s where i’m getting my information for this.
So in the 4 FUEL events (UFC on FUEL TV 7-10) that occurred in the first 6 months of 2013 prior to FUEL TV being no more, only #8 (Stann vs Wanderlei) did over 500k. now this event was live in Japan in the morning, so it could be shown live in primetime in the states, which is significant. #7 didn’t crack 200k. #9 didn’t crack 250k. #10 did a little over 300k. if we go back a little further, into 2012, the other 6 FUEL TV events peaked at 217k, and had a horrendous low of 88k for the Macau, China card, which aired live in the morning/afternoon in North America. if we compare FS1, or bigFOX, or PPV events, sure, the FightPass is a significant step down. but the cards on FightPass were for the most part not on those platforms. obviously there might be some overlap, the lines aren't necessarily clean between the FUEL, FX, FOX system, and the FS1, FOX, FightPass one. but given 2014 is expected to have the most events in UFC history, it's not unreasonable to assume that the FightPass events are either content that formerly would have been on FUEL, or all together new content.
now given the stats regarding the FUEL TV ratings, is it accurate to say that these FightPass shows represent a significant loss in potential sponsorship revenue if they would otherwise have been on FUEL, or not existed at all? obviously more fights means the UFC needs more fighters, so for a lot of guys, especially the local fighters on these shows who might not have gotten a UFC fight otherwise, it's infinitely better financially than not getting a UFC fight. when compared with FUEL TV, without knowing the subscriber base of FightPass, it's impossible to say for sure, but again, FUEL TV, with a 10:00 airtime, pulled 88k for the Macau card. is FightPass's subscriber base less than 88k? does anyone know what FightPass' subscriber base is? as well, it seems clear these shows are accessing the markets in which they take place in a way few events have before.
not to mention, these shows are all on TV domestically, and many places still have TV deals in place that include these events. the exclusion of America and Canada (where they still seem to air on SportsNet1 on tape later that evening so far) from the television audience is obviously very important,since they are arguably the two most important, or two of the three most important markets at least. but is there no opportunity to tap the domestic market? if American companies can deal with the tax, and still somehow sponsor fighters, why can’t these fighters find sponsors when fighting in Brazil, or Sweden, or wherever? what about the fighters actually from these places, which usually something like half the card is made up of? they can’t get sponsors in their language, in their country? these fights are happening in prime time domestically. these sponsorship opportunities should be as valuable to domestic companies as a 10:00 time slot and 200k (or less) audience would be to an American company. now you could expand the argument to say that FUEL TV cards were also unfair to fighters, but at that point, your talking about what was at the time almost completely new, additional content. Free TV content moreover. so again, what's better, a fight with less than ideal sponsorship opportunities, or no fight at all.
if any fighter’s management can’t sell any company on sponsoring for these events, if they can’t demonstrate the potential value, that’s on them, that really is their problem. certainly UFC telling us, or at least the fighters what kind of subscriber base they have for FightPass would make the job easier too (i think it could be argued a subscriber watching on FightPass is more valuable to a sponsor then a single viewer on FUEL TV or any network). maybe they do, i don’t know. but there seems to me to still be potential to make money.
i'm still waiting to see the UFC uniforms things take shape. it will be interesting to see how that affects sponsorships going forward.