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UFC feeling confident about Fight Pass

The UFC has a vision of what their final Fight Pass product will look like, and they offered Bloody Elbow a breakdown of the roadblocks that have stood in the way of that in the meantime.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

Just prior to the start of UFC 168 in December, Zuffa announced the launch of their digital network - UFC Fight Pass. Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta promoted the service as "Netflix for the fight fan." While early subscribers have been treated to exclusive live broadcasts featuring preliminary bouts and even a full event in UFC Fight Night 34, the earliest edition of the product fell short of the announcement's promises.

However, by continually adding content and highlighting it through creative features, the UFC has been able to make Fight Pass a desirable product. Bloody Elbow got the opportunity to discuss Fight Pass with a UFC executive who said that they've quadrupled their projected subscribers for Fight Pass during the 60 day trial period. With the first month of paid subscription coming up on March 1st, the promotion's representative provided some insight into what subscribers can expect to see from the digital network.

Fight Pass debuted with 3000 hours of content using the database that was already available for pay on UFC TV. Since launch, the service has added another 2000 hours of content according to the executive. Heading into the first month of paid subscription, the promotion will further increase their fight catalogue with the full UFC library dating back to UFC 1; WEC shows before and after the Zuffa purchase; and Pride FC shows as well. Some obscure bouts may fall through the cracks at this point, but it's promised that the vast majority of content from these organizations will be available.

The goal is to eventually include the full Zuffa library. For now, the UFC is constrained by broadcast rights. While this will mostly impact the online publishing of present UFC events, Strikeforce events will be significantly delayed. This means that Strikeforce shows will not be available until three years after original broadcast.

For new UFC content, the company promises to release content as soon as possible. For example, at launch their were immediate calls to see the heavyweight battle between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva at UFC Fight Night 33. While it couldn't be delivered at the moment, the UFC did post the event as soon as they were allowed.

For PPV's, typically the events will be available approximately a month after the event as with UFC 167. However, in some circumstances like UFC 168 where the price point was changed, the posting may be delayed.

Aside from the live events, Fight Pass has featured several different "collections" as part of their fight library. These have varied from the favorite fights of different UFC stars, to following the progression of divisions titles through UFC history, to, most recently, following the Pride career of Fedor Emelianenko. These collections have been among the most viewed content since launch and will continue to be a focus. Additionally, they plan on releasing exclusive documentaries, point-of-view walkouts with fighters, and the backstage footage they've featured since launch.

The upcoming season of TUF Brazil 3 featuring Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva as coaches will also be broadcast exclusively on Fight Pass.

For any expecting the UFC to follow in the footsteps of the WWE in including live PPVs as part of their digital network, it's probably best not to hold your breath. The company has no intention of moving their PPV events to the digital network. However, the UFC promises continued improvements and that there will never be a "finished product."

Undoubtedly, the UFC has big plans for Fight Pass that should interest any 'dedicated fight fan', who they describe as their target audience for the digital network. Whether you're a current or new subscriber, expect to deal with some growing pains as they continue to improve and develop the digital network. But, the promotion believes it could be a pretty good deal overall.

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