UFC 239 will be the first UFC event behind a paywall and will be only available via BT Sport Box Office.
MMA fans in the UK and Ireland have long enjoyed BT Sport’s offering of UFC events but the company is now set to introduce a PPV model for UFC 239 which is headlined by Jon Jones and Thiago Santos for the light heavyweight belt.
It’s a move that has angered many fans and a multitude of people have been sharing their screenshots of their cancellations from the provider.
Box Office events have often been less than ‘box office’ and BT Sport have rolled out the channel on a number of occasions for various boxing events.
We all know that there is a big difference between boxing and MMA and it almost seems that fans who solely pay for MMA events are being punished for no reason with the latest addition to an already expensive monthly subscription.
A subscription in Ireland costs viewers €29.99 and although there is no price point slated for the upcoming UFC 239 event, it’s likely going to cost a further €24 if the price model for boxing events is to be used.
It’s an absolutely atrocious price hike that many fans are being asked to pay on top of their monthly subscription.
Boxing PPV’s work well due to favourable starting and finishing times but for a niche sport such as MMA where the majority of main cards don’t begin until 3am and finish by 6:30am it’s a ludicrous decision.
Were we in a timezone that would allow people to make a night of it and split the price, this model might work but it’s very unlikely that people are going to gather the masses for a 6am main event next month.
Illegal streaming is rampant with every sport with providers doing their best to implement blocks from illegal distribution but a PPV event is likely to push people into streaming the fights illegally.
In all honesty, could you really blame people when companies make decisions based on pure greed.
This will likely harm BT Sport in the short term and it’s a model that will not work and will not be tolerated by many.
The fact that (at the time of writing) there is no pricing details to speak of, it’s likely executives are using the announcement as a barometer to gauge reaction from customers.
There’s still a chance that they scrap the idea entirely and for their sake and the exposure of the sport, they’d be wise to do so.