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The UFC needs a pricing structure

When both Jose Aldo and Rampage Jackson went down with injuries, effectively sending UFC 153 to the bone yard, the UFC responded with replacement fights and fighters. No thang there, they’re used to it, and they’re good at it. They scrapped the main event and replaced it with Anderson Silva vs Stephan Bonnar. For the co-main, they called upon Fabio Maldonado to step in and face Glover Teixeira. Not exactly the greatest lineup in the world, but they saved the event. The question is: Is it still worth the same price?

Kudos to the UFC. Given the extreme circumstances of losing two headlining fighters in a single day, they did a good job of salvaging the show. But let’s be honest here, Silva vs Bonnar is a pretty sucky main event, at least at $50. And Teixeira was only in the co-main event because he was fighting Rampage – a proven draw. Their PPV sales are going to suffer greatly because of this.

This is exactly why the UFC needs a pricing structure based on the product they’re offering. Every UFC pay per view is priced the same. The reason is because they’ve built their business on the UFC brand, not any one particular fighter. It’s the anti-boxing strategy and has worked wonders for them. But now that their PPV business is stagnant, and with all the shuffled events as of late, they need to price accordingly. Take UFC 147 for example – Wanderlei Silva vs Rich Franklin II. They offered a weak product to consumers and sold only 140,000 PPV’s. UFC 148 had a blockbuster main event and sold a million.

A Ford Focus is priced differently than a Ford Mustang. One will get you to work, the other will get you laid. You can enjoy a Miller Lite or a Milwaukee’s Best – both of the Miller brand. The former will treat you pretty decent, while the latter will send you to the emergency room the next day with severe anal trauma. Because of that, they come with a different price tag. They’re the same brand, but they’re priced based on cost, quality, and demand. Almost every product we buy is priced that way.

If they priced events according to quality they’d see higher sales. Maybe they’d experience a temporary lag in immediate revenue, but they’d be exposing more people to their product. Make no mistake about it, consumers pick and choose their purchases. The UFC is relying on Anderson Silva to carry this card, but the casual fan is going to say, “Who’s Silva fighting? Bonnar? Get the fuck outta here” and they’re going to decline to make that purchase at $50. At $29.99 though, maybe they say, “Yeah why not,” and buy it.

If there’s one absolute truth to economic theory it’s that people respond to incentives. Offering a shit card at the same price as a great card is no incentive to buy. Consumers don’t care that you made a valiant effort to save the show. They care that they have some loot left over for beer and wings.

  • Letibleu

    I am no longer buying this card. This is now a bar quality event or a pixelated stream event. Half price I would still buy it though.

  • agentsmith

    Except then they’d have to answer to not only fans but the fighters to justify why certain cards are priced the way they are. You’d get fighters bitching that the card they’re headlining should be worth more, bloggers commenting that certain cards should be priced higher or lower, etc.

    Plus I bet it would often come out in the wash, like $60 x 100k buys vs $30 x 200k buys equals the same revenue, that kinda thing.

  • randlemansvertical

    steven boner by submission

  • Letibleu

    This article is popping up everywhere. Tony, keep it up!

  • theinsaneoneJustinMcCully

    like agentsmith said, that opens a can of worms.

    Weak cards get weak sales or canceled, nuff said.

  • theinsaneoneJustinMcCully

    oh, Bonnar vs Silva is the most shocking MMA thing I’ve heard all year. More shocking than events getting canceled, Hondas latest picture, etc.

    I know it’s not Honda, but deserves a bit of coverage I think.

  • Reverend Clint

    really good post. Ive been saying this for years. especially know have is free anyways a $50-60 price tag is way too much. Im playing Skyrim at this very moment and it cost $60 but I get possibly hundreds of hours of game play. You pay the same for maybe 3 hrs of fights and half of those suck dick.

  • iamphoenix

    I like the idea but what asian smith said.

  • hans peter

    what a retarded article, seriously I would pay 200 to see anderson fight the writer of this article

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