Is Zuffa Wasting Money by Keeping the WEC Alive?

Urijah_faber_mediumIn a previous article posted by Kid Nate this morning, some excerpts from Jake Rossen's piece over at Sherdog.com were attached regarding the WEC's current outlook along with some of its future aspirations to break out into being a much more profitable organization with lofty aspirations to appear on pay-per-view next year. Not only will the promotion try its hand at attracting fans to buying yet another Zuffa-promoted MMA card, but it'll also try to run events on a month-to-month basis until next summer while also trying to produce its own breakthrough reality series.

In related news, Urijah Faber also re-signed with the WEC to a multi-year deal that has probably added a lot more cheddar to his pockets considering his impact on bringing the WEC into a much better position that it was previous in a couple of years ago. Rossen's article pointed out that Faber was a part of two bouts in which one million people tuned in for the main event bouts. That should exude some confidence in next year's PPV potential, right?

I'm not convinced by the numbers, and I'm not optimistic that the WEC can turn the promotion into a mighty power that will help Versus thrive along with bringing the lighter weight classes some much needed greenbacks.

Where is the problem? Marketing. Did anyone realize that WEC 43 is taking place on Saturday? Does anyone actually care? The problem that I continue to circle around when thinking about a scenario in which the WEC stands alone as the lighter weight class promotion under Zuffa is how they advertise the events and their own fighters. While I receive constant updates via Google Reader, emails, Twitter, and any other online means I have in obtaining MMA information, the WEC is literally non-existent in the realm of television, the place where casual fans dwarf MMA's hardcore fanbase.

Some fans would say that the WEC is advertised on SpikeTV, and if you're a fan of Versus -- you'll see plenty of commercials advertising upcoming cards. Unfortunately, I watch Versus more than probably 3/4 of the entire MMA fanbase because I love hockey. But, I don't watch SpikeTV unless a UFC Fight Night or The Ultimate Fighter is in season. The relentless scrolling marquee of UFC Unleashed shows that appear on the Comcast TV Guide as I browse what's on TV on Saturday doesn't convince me to flip the switch because I've already seen all the fights, and the weekends of other major sports dominating the airwaves outrank fights I've already seen.

I understand that Zuffa is trying to draw in new fans, but I don't think airing WEC advertising during re-run UFC Unleashed shows is going to help the WEC's cause to become a legitimately profitable organization that can pay their fighters a lot of money. The NHL isn't bringing droves of viewers to Versus, and the UFL probably won't either. Sports Soup certainly didn't win me over either. Face it, it isn't working.

It just doesn't make sense why Zuffa would spend money to create completely new revenue sources when sources are already in place that can sell the WEC fighters and give them a much bigger stage to perform. WEC wants a reality show? The Ultimate Fighter can have a season of bantamweights and featherweights after they establish themselves to UFC fans on UFC cards. Not enough marketing? The UFC marketing machine is everywhere, why not throw the WEC into the same batch of extensive coverage that their fighters and events enjoy?

Not only does a merge fix the problem regarding pay that fighters continue to complain about, but sponsorship dollars also increase for those fighters. It also solves issues in which the UFC loses main event status fighters due to injuries, signing on for the A-Team movie, or losing spectacularly toward the end of their career. WEC main eventers like Urijah Faber could potentially headline events and add the pool of PPV draws down the road. It would likely give them an even bigger bargaining chip against Asian and European talent as it would be the UFC, not the WEC. While the WEC is already having a huge effect on Japanese talent coming overseas to compete within the promotion, adding those divisions to the UFC will only garner even more interest.

I'm a firm believer that Zuffa should move toward a merge. For an industry that is very concerned with the viability of their business models and the dollars coming in, it makes absolutely no sense to me why the WEC would try to create new streams of revenue from different sources when those different sources already exist in the UFC. It saves money, but it also brings these guys into the casual fan's home without much effort. Wake up and bring the WEC to the big show!

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