This news produced both excitement and bewilderment. I'm both excited the UFC is deciding to air their entire fight card and now wondering why on earth I'm flying all the way to Toronto to see something everyone else at home will be able to witness. Let's hope the atmosphere at the Rogers Centre makes up for the travel. To wit:
From the UFC twitter account:
Take two: 5 reasons to "like" us at http://www.facebook.com/ufc: we're airing ALL FIVE UFC 129 prelims on 4/30 live and free on Facebook.
Claude Patrick vs. Daniel Roberts and Ivan Menjivar vs. Charlie Valencia were earlier announced to be streamed on Facebook, and now more Canada vs. USA match ups, Jason MacDonald vs. Ryan Jensen, John Makdessi vs. Kyle Watson, and Yves Jabouin vs. Pablo Garza have been added to the streams on the popular social networking site.
My only hope is that the UFC continues this policy of allowing fans at home, notably hardcores, to watch an entire card via Facebook and the normal distribution channels thereafter.
I have to wonder, though, why the UFC is doing this. I don't mean why are they airing the entire UFC 129 per se, but airing more and more under card fights. I have to wonder what's more valuable to them: keeping under card fights hidden in the UFC Vault service where users have to pay to watch a fight after the fact or to attract an audience around their hugely popular social media and networking apparatus? And really, does the airing of under card fights on Facebook ultimately cut in to Vault purchases post-event? My sense is that with the growth in free live content via Facebook we've seen over the past year, the answer is no. UFC fans might go to the Vault to watch previous UFC stars they've heard of compete, but under card fights, generally, lack name talent. There are exceptions, even in UFC 129. But the number of purchases for two fighters the overwhelming majority of UFC fans are unfamiliar with is a product that's best given for free to hungry UFC or MMA hardcores if said product can be offered as a way to solidify the strength of a key social media platform.