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Schaub: UFC ‘lost so many casual fans’ with ‘two paywalls’ and problematic ESPN+ PPV stream

Brendan Schaub puts the UFC on blast once again, this time for the issues during the ESPN+ stream of UFC 236.

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UFC 236 was the first event to be streamed exclusively on ESPN+. And like many first-time ventures, it encountered several “hiccups” like error messages and poor quality streaming, which UFC president Dana White did acknowledge.

Former UFC heavyweight turned staunch critic Brendan Schaub experienced the same issues, which he spoke about during a recent episode of his Below the Belt podcast.

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Don't make us turn to the dark side.

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“Did anyone else have problems with ESPN+?” Schaub said (transcript by “So, I have all the family around. We got food and everything. Everyone ready? Here we go. Click. It goes, ‘This service does not work on this device.’ I’m like, ‘Ok, well, that’s not good.’ Try doing it again. Nothing. Try doing it from my phone. Nothing.

“ESPN, UFC, I’m trying to give you $80. And then finally I went, ‘Yo, if I don’t figure this out in five minutes… I’m going to turn to the dark side and have to illegally stream this.’ I must’ve got 2,000 DMs with different links. When I clicked on that link, that thing was better quality than I had on my f—ng… Than ever!”

Schaub says these problems aren’t doing both the fans and fighters a favor, which can ultimately hurt the brand, overall.

“What’s best for the fighters, what’s best for [Israel] ‘Stylebender’ [Adesanya] and Kelvin Gastelum and Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier, is getting as many eyeballs on this thing as possible,” he said. “Not limiting, making people pay behind two paywalls so you’re getting this very small number of diehards that are going to tune into this thing. That’s not the best thing for the fighters.

“You’ve just lost so many casual fans. Cause you know what my dad did when I couldn’t figure it out? He went, ‘Who cares? Oh, it’s too much. I’m out.’”

The preliminary fight numbers for UFC 236 already showed a significant drop with the new broadcast platform, as it garnered an average of 893,000 viewers and 0.39 rating, a far cry from UFC 235’s 1.48 million viewers and 0.63 rating.

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