Another Take on UFC's Facebook Strategy

This is a guest post by BloodyElbow.com reader, tech enthusiast Andrew Machado. You can follow Andrew on Twitter: @pelechati.

I read yesterday on BloodyElbow.com why the UFC went with Facebook to live stream the four preliminary fights from UFC Fight for the Troops 2. I found that article to be a bit misleading. There are a few primary factors/reasons the UFC put the preliminary fights on Facebook. They are as follows:

1. Scale. Plain and simple, the best bang for the buck is letting the nearly 600 million users of Facebook the opportunity to watch UFC fights by simply becoming a fan of Facebook.com/ufc. This was talked about earlier in the week on the site.

2. Leverage. I believe about a year ago Zuffa held the fighters conference to explain to them about bettering their brand by leveraging Twitter and communicating with their fans more often. This same type of tactic applies in streaming the fights on Facebook. UFC.com will never attract the level of frequent visitors that sites like Sherdog and Facebook do. It's why you constantly see them putting videos on YouTube, running contests on Twitter. If you can't beat them, join them. Take a look at their news section, you'll see many articles that are actually hosted somewhere other than UFC.com.

A lot of users talked about how beautiful the stream was on Facebook.  The stream was simply a Microsoft Silverlight embed most likely streamed directly from the provider of Zuffa's choosing.  There wasn't any special magic that Facebook provided Zuffa by allowing the stream to take place other than the nearly 600 million users on the service. My hunch is Zuffa knew how many streams they were going to get or had a basic idea with market research, so they were able to get a hosting company like Akamai to handle all the traffic.  

Also the reason the stream gets nicer when full screen is because more pixels are needed to maintain image quality at a larger size. I'm sure most people probably left it in a small window in an extra browser tab, but when you go full screen they will push a bit more data down the pipe to your computer to make the image that much more crisp. By doing this approach they save bandwidth on the people who don't make it bigger, but at the same time ensure the users who really care to make it full screen get a great picture as well.

For the next set of prelims that is not televised I think UFC will add in the Facebook Chat feature that sits to the right side of the stream. This will allow you to chat with friends and publish out updates about the stream to your newsfeed. They likely didn't do that for this version due to testing scaling (if the fights for some reason went viral through Facebook's newsfeed the hardcore users could've seen streaming problems). You can see an example of what the chat looks like here.

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