Recently, the UFC announced their intentions to launch an online digital network that will feature their big plans for international expansion for the coming year. The expansion includes several events and the UFC has decided to broadcast those events online as part of the new network instead of on one of the Fox Sports channels as part of their current broadcast deal.
The decision has been met with criticism as it means that a lot of content that was previously available for free will be pay-to-see going forward. However, the UFC's Chief Content Officer Marshall Zelaznik appeared on The MMA Hour on Monday with a lot of new information to get fans excited. Zelaznik used to be the UFC's Global Director and has helped establish the promotion in different areas of the world, his explanation of his new position gives a glimpse of the direction the company is taking:
One of the things we're trying to do is get hyper focused on all the content that's being distributed and created for not only the US market, but for the international markets.
So, it seemed as we were evolving the way we look at our business and we built these offices up in all these places all around the world that the training wheels can come off and I don't have to manage those offices like I used to.
[We're] looking at how quickly this whole world of content delivery is changing and making sure that we are instep with what is happening in this space.
As Zelaznik alluded to the importance of online content availability has become a larger and larger issue for all distributors. Especially the younger audience that the UFC banks on expects to have their interests readily available at any whim. Historically, the UFC has struggled with as they've aggressively pursued illegal use of their content on popular networks like YouTube. Zelaznik explained that the new network will freely feature more content than has ever been easily accessible to fans in the past. Here are the big highlights:
Not definite yet, but likely to be found at UFC.tv
Hulu and netflix have set the baseline for subsciption services. While some come at as much as $15-$20, he expects the UFC to be at the lower end of that spectrum.
There are no plans to incorporate live PPV's into the digital network
International fight nights will run live on the network, as well as other live content including from US shows.
Subscribers will get access to the entire Zuffa library (including Strikeforce, PrideFC, EliteXC, et al) eventually
Events will be uploaded as possible depending on rights clearances, though the international cards will be available immediately
Will only be available at launch in US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with intentions to expand in the future
Possibility that TUF: Brazil 3 and other int'l TUF shows will air on the service, but not official yet
Personally, I'm very excited about the network. A complete and continuously updated archive of Zuffa's full library would be worth it alone in my opinion and Zelaznik promises more content than that.
What do the BElitists think about the prospect of an online UFC outlet?