From The Editor's Desk

Will Periscope Kill Or Save The UFC Star?

The pay-per-view numbers for UFC 190 over the weekend may provide evidence into whether or not Twitter’s periscope is going to destroy a major revenue stream for Zuffa, Inc. or redefine how the company generates paid, at-home viewership revenue. While the Pacquiao-Mayweather Jr fight may have been the first real battle between the live-streaming app and PPV, the UFC stands a better chance at being knocked down by how its revenue streams are currently measured, especially when they schedule their main events each time.

Ronda Rousey’s 34-second knockout of Bethe Correia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was in front of an estimated 14,723 fans at HSBC arena. Yet the larger revenue impact is felt by those PPV buys, at $60 each. Even some media sites are questioning why to buy a UFC PPV fight.

That being said, UFC’s Dana White says that UFC 190 is trending ahead of UFC 189.

Here is a breakdown of UFC PPV numbers:


Let’s suggest that the average PPV buy for a UFC bout is 925,000 – that means that Zuffa generates $55,500,000 from each fight it telecasts each month.

Boxing is in the same boat. They also have various issues, despite the largess of the Pacquiao-Mayweather Jr fight, which established record numbers of PPV buys.

Here is a breakdown of PPV numbers for boxing:


With Periscope being able to by-pass many of the PPV barriers, that could reduce that number by well over 200,000 by UFC 200 and beyond as the service catches on. The Pacquiao-Mayweather Jr fight had upwards of 30 live streams of the fight, with one stream reportedly carrying 10,000 viewers at one time. It is only a matter of time before this becomes a huge issue for the UFC to tackle.

Here are the Nielson Twitter Numbers:


While Nielson reports a unique audience of 6,083 – 99,690 impressions and 934 tweets about UFC 190, the question must be asked – what were they tweeting about? Was it the fight itself? Was it how quickly that Rousey beat her opponent? Or was it something else: “Hey, here’s my Periscope link to watch the fight.”

Notice how drastic the number for UFC 190 is, compared to the other 4 sporting events that night. Even NBA Africa garnered 85,000 less impressions than UFC 190.

A key component to this issue is how to gauge a fight card in general. Rousey’s efforts in the octagon are lightning-quick, but the entire PPV buy itself extended far beyond a reasonable time on a Saturday night. This was also a complaint about the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight May 2, another Saturday night.

What Audience Was The UFC 190 Attempting To Reach?

Periscope may actually cause tweaks to how UFC and Boxing fight cards are managed. Is there a reason to have a 7 p.m. Pacific time fight on the West Coast that stretches until long after 10 p.m. before the main event happens? Exactly which audience was the UFC attempting to reach that night?

Here is a time zone breakdown of some select countries internationally:


This comes down to a fundamental question about how fight cards are designed. It is as important to keep “stringing” a customer along for value, going through 19 different bouts before the main event? Even in the country where the bout was hosted in, Rio de Janeiro, it was 2 a.m. before the entire event finished. For a heavily religious country such as Brazil, I would think that some folks have church in the morning.

Could UFC Benefit From A PPV À la carte System?

Would the buy be just as effective toward PPV buys for the UFC if Rousey fought Correia at 7 p.m. Pacific Time, with other bouts left after for the MMA junkies who want to watch it?

Remember, there are two different audiences here. The UFC fan base, and the casual fan base who wants to watch the main event. And while Periscope shouldn’t be actively pirating live PPV events, it may also be exposing exactly what UFC viewers want, instead of what the UFC wants to give them.


The lesson of Napster isn’t that it destroyed the music industry, it’s that it reframed how the music industry operated. Prior to Napster, music labels would be put 1-2 great hit songs on an entirely overall bad CD, thereby forcing the consumer to buy the CD or get nothing. Once Napster came into view in the late 1990s, it enabled music fans to receive exactly what they wanted. Music labels fought it initially, but what arose from that period was a different way to view music. Now, iTunes is the music distribution point of choice, where people are willing to pay a one-off system for the songs they want, instead of what the music label wants to force them to receive.

Translate this to the UFC and Boxing. What if all major consumers want is the main event? Why not have them pay for it, and schedule it at a reasonable time period? It might be a boon for the industry as a whole. Get what you pay for and nothing else. The NBA is doing this with their League Pass, allowing users to buy a $6.99 subscription to purchase one game, instead of being forced to buy the entire season. All of this is better than the alternative, of allowing Periscope to wildly stream for free what could be sold by the UFC À la carte.

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