July saw the latest entry into UFC’s successful UFC Fight Pass platform with the launch of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, running Tuesdays. With the first two episodes completed and a third show running tomorrow at 8p, the weekly series features five live fights in each episode, showcasing up-and-coming talent, and offering a slate of viewing options that include Snoop Dogg calling live fights with Urijah Faber on an alternate audio feed of the series, the promotion is looking to leverage its technological capabilities to broaden the company’s appeal and fan base.
Cynopsis Sports asked Joe Carr, UFC SVP, International and Content, about the addition to the UFC Fight Pass lineup, how plans have changed with new owners WME/IMG, and how Snoop Dogg got involved.
On the evolution of UFC Fight Pass: UFC Fight Pass originally launched in 2014 as a live-streaming platform for international events and expanded with the inclusion of original content and events from third-party mixed martial arts promotions. Our success to date has been fairly organic with limited oversight or investment, but WME/IMG views the digital subscription service as a fundamental pillar of our global content strategy moving forward and are investing accordingly. In addition to exclusive UFC live events, our subscribers should expect to see a deeper commitment to original programming like our new, live show, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series given IMG’s expertise in production and content creation. We are also heavily focused on enhancing the overall user experience – we recently released our 24/7 live stream within the app and expect to launch an improved UFC Fight Pass 3.0 in early 2018. The last piece will be weaving advanced metrics, VR, wearable technology and other innovations into our broadcasts.
On the role of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series: The Contender Series is the most high-profile example of the organization’s commitment to its OTT digital subscription platform and premium content available on the service. The show is a sizeable financial investment that also highlights the direction we are headed on this platform. The show accomplishes a few things for us collectively as an organization – for one, it satisfies the most common request we receive from our existing subscriber base, which is to offer live exclusive fights on a more consistent basis. With this series, FIGHT PASS subscribers will now have five fights every Tuesday for the next eight weeks. This show also aids Dana in his continuous quest to identify the next rising star. Talent identification and development have always been a priority for us and now some of the best prospects in the United States will receive a one-in-a-lifetime tryout, live in front of UFC brass in the hopes of realizing their dreams and securing a contract.
On Snoop Dogg: Dana and Snoop have been friends for a while and Snoop has always been a massive fight fan. He cut some hilarious promos for us leading up to UFC 210 and they were well-received by fans. After that, Dana thought we should find a way to get him more involved. Coincidentally, that was around the same time the idea for this show was picking up steam internally and Dana knew it was no brainer to bring him on for this first season.
On other kinds of content we can expect: The focus right now is certainly getting this first season launched and seeing how it evolves going forward, but we have already had preliminary discussions about other original content ideas – everything from fighter-centric reality to an animated series. I think you will see the value proposition materially increase for our subscribers in the year ahead.