Schaub: UFC Lost Casual Fans with Paywalls

UFC 236 marked the first time the UFC had a pay-per-view air exclusive on the ESPN+ platform and while the action may have been great, things did not run as smoothly.

Many on social media, including future UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping and UFC fighter Katlyn Chookagian, complained of error messages, freezing or laggy streams and other technical difficulties.

Former UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub had his own difficulties, detailing them on a recent edition of the Below the Belt podcast.

 

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Don’t make us turn to the dark side.

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“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 [expletive]…than ever!”

To order a UFC pay-per-view through ESPN+, fans must have an ESPN+ subscription, which costs $4.99 per month and then order the event. The UFC made an offer of being able to purchase UFC 236 plus one-year of ESPN+ for a total of $74.99, or the event itself for $59.99 for those who already had an ESPN+ subscription.

People wishing to purchase UFC 236 first had to order the event via their computer before being able to watch the event on any device, including tablets, cell phones and gaming systems. UFC President Dana White acknowledged difficulties fight fans had trying to order and watch UFC 236 and said things would work better for next month’s UFC 237. This includes being able to order the event on any device through the ESPN+ platform.

Still, Schaub feels a service like ESPN should not be having technical difficulties and adds that two paywalls will turn away the casual fan base, hurting potential popularity for fighters.

“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,” Schaub 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.’

“You’re not allowed for hiccups anymore. When you work with ESPN, Disney, there’s no hiccups. When DAZN has hiccups, which they do, ‘Oh, it’s DAZN.’ I have nothing to base it off of. Of course, there’s gonna be some [expletive] ups. Whatever. You’re figurin’ it out. You guys are new.

ESPN? I don’t have time for hiccups. I watched your programming since I was two years old. There should be no hiccups. Especially when the UFC goes, ‘Guess what! This is the only way to watch the UFC.’ There can be no hiccups.

UFC 236’s preliminary card on ESPN already experienced a low for the UFC’s events on ESPN thus far, coming in at 836,000 viewers.

This pay-per-view method is expected to last throughout the UFC’s current deal with ESPN, which was extended to 2025 with the announcement of the ESPN+ pay-per-view agreement.

Original Story: BJPenn.com

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