Is the UFC’s New PPV Deal with ESPN the Death of Impulse Buys, or Short Term Pain for Long Term Gain?

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UFC, ESPN+
Credit: UFC/ESPN

The UFC’s new exclusive deal with ESPN/ESPN+ for PPV in the U.S. can be looked at two ways, but the extension of their broadcast deal is nothing but a win.

There’s a couple of ways of looking at the UFC’s new PPV deal with ESPN and ESPN+. One, simply, is that it’s the death of the casual fan’s ability to impact the success of a card. Or, better yet, the death of the impulse buy.

For those not familiar with the lingo, an impulse buy is exactly what it sounds like. Whether it’s the candy at the checkout aisle, or ordering a PPV last minute after a pre-show special, impulse buys capitalize on the consumer being convinced, last minute, to plop down their hard earned cash on something they might not have otherwise.

A casual fan who has the guys over on a Saturday night might decide to order a Conor McGregor PPV at the last minute, purchasing the event via their set top box or even calling their cable or satellite provider the old fashioned way. If a hockey or basketball game is a blowout, they might order the fights instead. Or maybe the build up and pre-show is just really, really good.

Click. Purchase. The UFC has a sale.

Those are the buys the UFC will lose now that the UFC has struck a deal with ESPN to make ESPN+ the exclusive home of UFC PPVs in America. Canada and the rest of the world, no change. But the bulk of PPV purchases come from the good ol’ U.S. of A. And there, you’ll need ESPN+ to order the big cards. Do anyone see a casual fan signing up to a streaming service last minute to order a fight? It’s a gamble.

The flip side of this is that the UFC has cut out the middle man. Middle men, actually. Dealing with multiple television service providers always did complicate things in terms of marketing. Want to offer a $5 off deal on a PPV? Well now you have to deal with dozens of cable and satellite providers nation wide. Plus their were the inevitable disputes, which occasionally became very public.

No longer. And wisely, the UFC has finally got around to bundling at least one PPV with the purchase price of ESPN+ moving forward. Similar deals could follow. Add to that the fact that this deal extended the UFC’s overall broadcast agreement with UFC by two years, and it feels like nothing but a win.

Check out the latest episode of the Drive In podcast below, as we cover the deal, plus T.J. Dillashaw testing positive and relinquishing the title!

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