Sunday, February 7, 2010
Can the price determine the success of WEC’s premier pay per view?
For those who are not aware, the World Extreme Cagefighting is a US based company that is under the same parent company as UFC, Zuffa. The WEC features the lighter weight classes such as Bantamweight, Featherweight and Lightweight while allowing the UFC to focus from Lightweight to Heavyweight. Their events can be caught on regular television on the Score, TSN or Versus. However, the company has always expressed interest in making the move to having pay per view events as fighter payout demands are increasing but has not made any serious moves until now. It was announced recently that WEC 48 was going to be their premier pay per view event with a fee of $44.95. Although it has been made clear that they would only be doing this for one or two events a year, the subject has been in heavy debate since its announcement.
As a fan of the brand for some years now, if there was a card that is worth paying for, it is this one. The proposed main card will feature 5 fights, with 2 of which being title bouts. As of now, the card will feature a featherweight title between Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber, a lightweight title rematch between Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone and a number one contender fight between Manny Gamburyan and Mike Brown. Each of these 3 fights brings a lot to the table in regards to talent and entertainment value for the fans. A main event that is featuring a rising phenom and the former king pin of the weight class that wants his title back. Then, a rematch for a fight that has won “fight of the year” honours from various publications. And a number one contender bout between two determined fighters that do not want to be derailed on the road to a crack at a title. As much as I would love to break down each fight, I would prefer to leave it to the key mma sites. Either way, I strongly recommend for you to make the time in searching these fighters on Google Video to look up ether fights or highlight reels (ESPECIALLY FOR THE TWO TITLE FIGHTS). I watched a Urijah Faber highlight video when I first heard of WEC and I have been a fan ever since of both him and the WEC. Even, look them up on Google to see their fight records.
However, I personally can understand the argument from the mma community regarding this event becoming a pay per view. WEC, even though it is under the same “umbrella” as the UFC, does not have the exposure and overall appeal to both regular and casual mixed martial arts fans. The card is pay per view worthy but a lack of knowledge and following of the featured fighters can be disastrous in regards to this first event. WEC General Manager Reed Harris spoke out on the situation in an article on MMA Junkie, saying that “if you know the WEC, you know what you can expect”. Although I liked how he tried to sell the idea, there’s a problem with that logic....sadly, not a lot of mma fans follow the WEC. I have friends ranging from strictly UFC viewers to the ones that consistently stay up late to watch Dream and Sengoku..and sadly, the consensus is clear from both scenarios....they are not too interested in the WEC. The only people that can see the true value of this event are, sadly, regular WEC fans, which, let’s be honest...isn’t big enough on the wide scale for strong buy numbers. With those two factors in mind, I questioned the “regular UFC rate” for this premier pay per view and thought it would be more beneficial to even go to $30.99. In many ways, the WEC will have a lot of work to do in not just promoting this event and convincing mma fans as whole that this event is worth paying for, also educating the fans on what the brand has to offer. It has already been stated that the event will be titled “UFC Presents WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber”, which is huge because it creates the connection for UFC fans to watch the event, and the UFC is going to be helping with the promotional work. Rather it is event previews showing through UFC programming (which we saw at UFC 109, excellent work btw), having a WEC Unleashed show to showcase these fighters or even creating a “WEC Countdown to WEC 48”, work will be needed to get people talking.
At the end of the day, rather it is $40, $30 or $10...or even if its casual fans, die hards or first time viewers...the WEC has the responsibility in presenting the value of both the brand and this event to the entire mma community for WEC 48 to be a successful event and have people coming back for more. As a business student, I am aware of the power of perceived value....if the people think something is of high value, whatever the case may be.....price can be forgotten instantly. If the value isn’t shown, the price of this event will dictate the success (or failure) of this event.
Posted by Daniel A at 8:05 PM