Friday, Friday, there's a big fight going down on Friday. If there's one area the UFC really needs to focus their marketing and promotion on this week for their end of the year Pay Per View show featuring the Mega-Headline bout that is Brock Lesnar vs Alistair Overeem, it's making sure everyone knows it'll air on a day of the week that's not the norm.
But even if Zuffa goes all out and creates something like a 'UFC on Friday' logo with Dana White wearing a t-shirt and starting every Youtube vlog this week with the 'Friday' message, the UFC still has an uphill battle with casual fans that are used to Saturday shows. Even if the UFC opt for a Rebecca Black viral video remix for the purpose of getting an irritating mantra stuck inside people's heads, the UFC could still lose out on hundreds of thousands in potential PPV purchases.
The Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer expressed his concern for the Friday event at the beginning of December when he was a guest on the FightFans Radio podcast (transcription by me):
Of all the things, the Friday night concerns me the most. It's a big enough fight to where I think it'll do over half a million (buys) no matter what, but I just think there's going to be a lot of people who on that Friday night are thinking "Yeah, tomorrow night is the Lesnar fight", and then they're going to wake up on Saturday and see the results and go "Oh my god, I missed the fight!". Because we're so intuned as creatures of habit, I mean I never think on Friday night of UFC, OK? Ever ... but when I wake up Saturday morning it's like "There's probably a UFC fight". So I think that Friday is going to hurt, especially with this fight.
I know why they did it ... it'd be hard to book hotels, and that's true. In Vegas to get people in ... they didn't want to compete with New Year's Eve entertainment. But I think with this fight, if it had been on New Year's Eve it would have been just gigantic on Pay Per View, and I'm worried a little on the Friday aspect. It'll still do well though, but I just think there's going to be ... a hundred, two-hundred thousand people that would have bought that show, on Saturday morning are going to go "Oh my god, the show was last night!?". Even with the awareness of the show coming up, just because it's Friday and ... they just don't think about it (being) on Friday.
... if this was like an Edgar / Maynard show on December 30th, I mean I think it would have done, like, horrible! Now because it's Lesnar I think there's going to be a lot of awareness the week (of), and a lot of people are going to figure it out. But ... the one thing that always hits me is when WWF [sic] does their 3 hour RAWs, and like 20% of the audience still tunes in at 9 o'clock. And this is with them going on TV usually for 2 weeks, "We've got a 3 hour RAW in 2 weeks, we've got a 3 hour RAW next week ..." over and over, "Don't forget we're on an hour early, don't forget we're on an hour early ...", and still 20% of the audience doesn't get that message, and I'm afraid that like that's what's probably going to happen here, that 20% of the audience is going to go "Yeah I know, Lesnar's fighting this week" and not think about it until Saturday morning; "Oh yeah, lets get together and watch the Lesnar fight", you know, with their friends.
I just feel like it's going to be 20%... maybe it'll be more, maybe it'll be less, but I think a pretty darn significant percentage is going to miss that fight because of it being on Friday.
UFC 141 top to bottom is a very solid card with Nate Diaz vs Donald Cerrone almost guaranteed to excite, and for a few people the return of Jon Fitch against the rising NCAA Champion Johny Hendricks is intriguing in its own right. With Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem closing the show, the strength of the card can not be faulted.
But as Meltzer mentions, we tend to be creatures of habit that get used to a routine, and Friday night is bound to catch a lot of people out who would have otherwise caught the fights live. For a year plagued with injuries, the fallout from the bitter separation of Spike TV and the UFC, and not a single PPV card that has cracked the 1 million mark this year, 2011 has to be considered one of the worst PPV years in the post-TUF boom era.
Short of a Mayan apocalypse, let's hope 2012 fairs better.