This is a guest feature by Zak Woods formerly of Watch Kalib Run.
While Zuffa's decision to stream several preliminary fights from UFC Fight for the Troops 2 on Facebook was met with much fanfare over the company's Web 2.0 mastery, the move was particularly shrewd from a technical perspective as well.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship wasn't the first MMA promotion to stream preliminary cards for free online, but they were by far the most successful as a vast majority of fans were able to easily access the a high quality stream with few technical issues. Zuffa utilized Microsoft Silverlight, which the company has been using for years to stream press conferences and weigh-ins through their website.
How was the UFC's first foray into free, online streamed fights a success where others resulted in failure?
Hosting. Plain and simple.
Take for example EA Sports attempt to stream the Jay Hieron/Joe Riggs fight of Strikeforce: Miami. The server couldn't handle the traffic and crashed, and that was with the an e-mail registration gate.
While the UFC's website is significantly more trafficked than EA Sports' website, the UFC brand is also significantly more popular than Strikeforce. Thus it stands to reason that the UFC website was facing a significant risk of a traffic spike sinking their servers. If a server crash would to occur it would leave many fans bitter (being promised something only to see it not work typically makes consumers grumpy).
That's why hosting the prelims on Facebook was such a shrewd decision. In essence the traffic influx was pushed onto the second largest website in the world and their powerful servers rather than UFC.com.
Clearly there were other factors that motivated this decision, e.g. charity, public relations, etc., but it still represented a smart move by the staff of Zuffa.
We reached out to Zuffa for comment but had received no response by posting time.