The death of PPV is hardly a new topic in MMA discussion. Over the past few years, it has become more and more difficult to ignore the troublesome - yet telling - trend stemming from the decline in PPV sales.
The potential reasons behind this are plentiful, and certainly not mutually exclusive. The problems with PPV revenue could be seen as an indirect result of a fundamental market shift in society due to the advancement of technology. People are simply not willing to part with their hard-earned money for less-than-stellar fight cards and WWE events when there is more demand for subscription television and apps.
Famed pro-wrestling announcer Jim Ross is a firm believer in said market shift, and recognizes that subscription-based networks will become the future of television viewing.
"The mobile world is not going to become a cemetery," J.R. told Bloodyelbow.com. "It is going to become more mobile. It is going to become more of an à-la-carte society with how we consume our entertainment."
An early sign of that transition was World Wrestling Entertainment's decision to invest heavily in their new digital network 'WWE Network' at the expense of PPV. While it appeared to be an revolutionary business decision, it became clear several months later that the road was laiden with unexpected twists and turns.
The company would bear unexpected losses - far worse than what was initially predicted at executive meetings. So great were these losses that the organization was forced to make drastic cuts to their roster, and even delay the production of original content for their network, as well as the building of the new training facility.
However, while the situation may currently appear dire, Ross is quite certain the company will find a way to rebound and turn a profit with this new business plan.
"I think they're hell bent and set that the WWE network is their future, and I don't think that is a bad business plan long-term," Roas divulged. "They are going to be able to control their destiny - good, bad, or indifferent as far as the television product is concerned. I think what they have done is show a lot of other networks what can be accomplished by building your own digital network. I think we will see more various entities follow the WWE model. They may learn from the WWE's mistakes, as with any business, and see where they fell or fumbled."
No matter the "strategic mistakes" that WWE has made in the past, Ross thinks it is a matter of time before they find stable ground again.
"I think WWE had to take a step back and reduce their head count and budget to be able to take several steps forward. I do believe, in the long haul, the WWE network is going to be very successful. I do, however, think that there were several strategic mistakes that were made and all you can do when you make those mistakes is try and learn from them and correct them. I see what they are trying to do and I think that the wave of the future is going to be this network."
What about the UFC? How does the downturn in the PPV market and the rise of streaming networks affect their business?
To date this year, the UFC has produced eight PPV events, only one of which passed 500,000 buys - just barely. Four of the events failed to reach 300,000 buys. This is drastically down from the previous year, which saw five events do over half a million buys, and one that crossed the seven figure mark (via MMAPayout.com).
While many factors are to be noted when discussing the PPV cycle, it is truly a coiencidence that the cycle is in recession during the rise of subscription television? Ross thinks not.
"In 2-3 years from now, we are going to look back on this thing as a genius-like maneuver. Other companies are following suit, so I believe it is the future."