So here we are just hours away from the WEC’s first ever pay-per-view event. A little over a week ago I felt fairly sure that despite the strong line-up WEC 48 was going to struggle to make headway on PPV and predicted in the region of 60-80,000 buys.
Now I’m feeling a little more optimistic…the emphasis is definitely on ‘a little’ though.
Why the change?
For me the marketing strategy for the event has been well thought out by the Zuffa execs. To all intents and purposes they have presented this to the fans as a UFC event, and while that might rub some people up the wrong way, I think it’s a smart move under the circumstances.
With Dana White’s media blitz and pre-fight blogs, the UFC’s broadcasting team of Joe Rogan, Mike Goldberg and Bruce Buffer on-board, a special ‘Countdown To WEC 48’ show, and two prelim fights airing live on Spike TV before the show, this event has been given the full ‘UFC’ treatment.
It’s more of a push than I had anticipated, and it’s bound to have some effect on the final numbers. How much remains to be seen though.
One factor that still reigns me in from getting overly optimistic is the lack of heat that I’m feeling about the event from fans, despite the strong promotional push. The forums haven’t exactly been burning up in anticipation for this show, and much of the talk surrounding it has centered on how it’s going to fare on PPV and whether people are going to buy it, rather than a real buzz building for the fights themselves.
It’s been clear from the pre-fight talk that there is a reluctance from some fans to pay for something that they were getting for free previously on Versus.
What’s interesting about the promotional push however is that it’s tapped into the larger UFC fan-base who are more used to paying for events, and spread their reach onto the Spike TV platform with the countdown show and prelim special which will reach a host of new ‘casual’ fans who may not even have been aware of the WEC’s existence.
Rumors suggest that 75,000 buys will be needed for the show to break-even. White himself has suggested he won’t be happy with anything less than 180,000 buys.
I really want to believe he’s right. Anything around that mark would be an excellent result under the circumstances, not only for the WEC, but for the sport as a whole.
I’m not quite as optimistic though. I’m hopeful that they can at least get past that crucial break-even mark, but I’m still erring on the side of caution and expecting them to land around the 100,000 mark.
It might not be the kind of numbers the UFC president is looking for, but under the circumstances I would view that as a solid performance, and at least leaves some hope that they can try this again at a later date.