When the UFC signed their new TV deal with Fox last year, their schedule became bloated. There were 17 pay-per-view events last year, and nine this year already with four more in the works. That's in addition to the hefty amount of cards on Fox, Fuel, and FX, a major jump over the cards that aired on free TV last year while the UFC had deals with Spike and Versus. This has led to lower buyrates on PPVs this year, and DirecTV is offering an incentive to fans to save a little money: buy five, get one free!
The deal covers the remaining four events next year as well as the first two of 2013, the second one of which will likely be the company's yearly event on Superbowl weekend. It also presents some good publicity for UFC after the unfortunate events surrounding the cancelation of UFC 151. At $54.95 per show for HD, you'll save a good chunk of change with this sale, and you won't have to worry about forgetting to order for the rest of the year.
The final four events this year all have title fights announced, with this month's UFC 152 featuring a pair: Jon Jones defending against Vitor Belfort after the cancelation of UFC 151, and exciting flyweights Joseph Benavidez and Demetrius Johnson square off for the first ever UFC title fight in that division. UFC 153 in October features a newly changed featherweight title fight, with Jose Aldo defending his title against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Welterweight champion Georges St Pierre fights for the first time in a year and a half at UFC 154 in November against interim champion Carlos Condit. At the company's year-ending show, UFC 155, the heavyweight title will be contested in a rematch of the first Fox show, with champion Junior dos Santos defending against Cain Velasquez.
The idea of a PPV package is something UFC (and pro wrestling) fans have clamored about for a while. Depending on the reception to DirecTV's package, is this something that could gain traction in the industry? Some fans who would only order maybe two or three shows might opt for the package, handing over extra money that they wouldn't normally spend. At the same time, the diehard fans who would buy every show anyway will be spending less money, but getting the same content.
I think the future will see a "yearly plan" of sort come into focus, especially for companies with their set one PPV per month schedule. WWE PPVs are $44.95 each (with the normal exception of Wrestlemania). If the company offered a package to buy all PPVs in a year for something like $400, WWE could probably reap some rewards from people who look at it as a tremendous value. DirecTV has taken the first step into the potential future of the pay-per-view industry, and this could be a very interesting few months in relation to PPVs.