Being an MMA fan is expensive. Between the 12 pay-per-view events the UFC hosts every year, plus the cable or satellite bills needed to watch all the fight cards on television, not to mention a Fight Pass subscription if you want to catch all the other fights, it’s not cheap if you want to be a fan of this great sport. And later this year, it’s about to become even pricier with the launch of subscription streaming services ESPN+ and DAZN. My initial reaction when I heard the DAZN news this week was, “They actually want us to pay more for MMA?”
We all figured the day would come when the UFC, and now Bellator, would start to put streaming services at the forefront of how they distribute their content to fight fans. But instead of replacing the previous ways of watching fights with streaming services, these promotions are having them in addition to the older methods of content distribution as far as television and pay-per-view go. Being an MMA fan has always been expensive, but somehow it’s going to be even more expensive now, even though the sport has less stars competing than it ever has. It just doesn’t seem fair to fight fans that this is happening.
Next year, if you want to catch all of the fights, these are the minimal expenses an MMA fan will have to incur. If you want to catch all 12 of the UFC’s scheduled pay-per-views, that’s going to be at least $700 dollars. If you want a Fight Pass subscription, that’s another $100. If you want ESPN and ESPN+, you’re looking at hundreds of more dollars (if not thousands) between your cable/satellite bill and the subscription fee. And that’s just the UFC.
Bellator is on Paramount Network, so you’ll need to get the channel for that, costing more money. If Bellator does a couple pay-per-views, that’s even more money out of your pocket. With DAZN, Bellator’s new streaming partner, that’s another couple hundred bucks a year. And then if you’re a real hardcore fan and want to watch other organizations beyond Zuffa and Viacom’s properties, you could be spending more money on iPPVs. And this is just to watch the sport on television and on your computer/phone/tablet. If you want to get tickets to an actual event, that could add hundreds to the total tally. An MMA fan could be spending thousands a year just to keep up with their favorite sport. It’s not fair.
I can’t think of another sport that is as expensive to watch as MMA is. If you’re a hockey fan, you get NHL Center Ice and you’re set. If you’re a baseball fan, you get MLB.tv. If you’re an NFL fan, you get NFL Game Day. If you’re a basketball fan, you get NBA League Pass. With these subscription services, you pretty much get every game you could ever want to watch, and actually, you’d get way more content considering how many games take place in these big four leagues. And they’re much cheaper, as you’d be paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars less than what it takes to be an MMA fan. It’s mind boggling how expensive it is to be a fan of mixed martial arts. It shouldn’t be like this.
No wonder why illegal streaming is on the rise. It’s always been a problem, but these days, it’s easy to type a few letters in on Google and get access to high-quality streams that you don’t have to pay for. Even fans that have disposable income are just fed up with giving so much money to these MMA promotions that they turn to illegal streams. This is why I always thought the UFC should have went the WWE route where you get a cheap monthly price and get to watch tons of events via their live stream. Instead, both the UFC and Bellator are letting greed take over and are expecting fans to shell out tons of money to watch the sport at a time when there aren’t as many superstars competing as there have been in the past. The catch-22 of that is it means the UFC and Bellator need to find other avenues to bring in more revenue, but it’s only hurting fans’ pocketbooks, and fans are responding by not wanting to pay. Just look at the decline in the UFC’s pay-per-view sales in recent years. It’s obvious fans don’t want to pay as much as they did in the past. With the ESPN deal, the UFC had a great opportunity to dump the PPV model, or at least lessen it, but the UFC is choosing to be greedy and forcing 12 cards a year on PPV still.
I love MMA. I think it’s the best sport out there, and when I got into it a decade ago I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap to be a fan since it was still a fringe sport at the time. But somehow it’s gotten even more expensive over time even though it’s gained popularity and moved to the mainstream. I love the UFC, but I’d rather go to a bar and get some food and drinks with my $60 than hand it directly to the UFC for its sub-par PPV cards. I’m excited for these events on ESPN+, but between these cards and Fight Pass I know it’s going to be expensive to watch all of the fights.
I love Bellator, but I’m not sure if I want to be paying an extra couple hundred bucks to watch its streamed events on DAZN in addition to the extra money I have to pay every month to have Paramount, which is not part of the basic cable package. I love this sport, but it’s probably the most expensive sport to be a fan of, and it seems like for whatever reason that it’s actually getting even more expensive as time goes on. And until the greed from these MMA promotions starts to dwindle, it’s likely going to get even more expensive in the future. I don’t know what’s going to change, but perhaps once the customers respond by not signing up, then these MMA promotions will finally start to see they are just charging fans too much money to watch the fights.
Do you see yourself getting a subscription to a streaming service such as ESPN+ to watch more MMA?