Dave Meltzer talks about piracy on the rise and what it means for the UFC:
“I don’t think that there’s one specific reason. I think that there’s probably about 10 different reasons. But the key ones… I think the increase in piracy is one of them. I think too many shows and the effects of… this last one, it’s two weeks between shows. That’s always going to be tough unless you got something incredible. Running a PPV two weeks after your last PPV, I mean we’ve seen it with pro-wrestling… it’s always been, you know, a major effect on it, that’s just too quick. And, you know, just… just so many shows, it’s hard to get people ‘up’ for so many shows. I think those are all factors and also, you know, the different champions as compared to last year.
“I have too many friends who started (streaming) in recent months. It’s picked up steam in recent months. How much? It’s impossible to say. I did a poll on my site and last year it was kind of like a 1:1 ratio and now it’s a 1:2 ratio in the sense of buying versus streaming. Now, it’s double the streaming versus the buying, that’s pretty significant.
“I think it’s also affecting boxing, too, because the one thing I’ve noticed… you notice they never did announce that Mayweather/Ortiz buy rate and the reason is obviously because I think they were embarrassed of it and, you know, Mayweather’s drawing… Mayweather hasn’t had a bad PPV number since he had the fight with Oscar De La Hoya four years ago and he doesn’t fight so often that it’s overexposure, either.”
It’s been a bad year for the UFC, no doubt. 2011 is set to have 15 PPV events, and thus far the only huge fights they had for so many shows was Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort and Georges St Pierre vs Jake Shields. Between too many shows, too little talent, and that pesky recession, they’ve done some damage to their bottom line. Add in the de facto price hike for HD, and it’s no surprise that piracy is only growing as a problem. The number of streams for events is growing, and it’s getting easier for people to send those streams right out to their televisions.
Fortunately, the UFC seems to be paying attention and is dropping the number of PPV events down to 12, which should help not only with the timing issues and wallet fatigue, but weak cards as well. People don’t mind paying for UFC events, but I think there’s a certain quality level they expect that has been ignored over the past two years as non-title events have become way too regular.