UFC President Dana White Goes to War Against Illegal Streamers

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Chris Unger – Getty Images

By Jordan Colbert, SPORTS EDITOR
Ultimate Fighter Championship President Dana White has used the first quarter of 2021 to declare war against illegal streaming of pay-per-view (PPV) events, a market that has swelled to new heights since the COVID-19 global pandemic that saw an uptick in illegal streamed events of nearly 50 percent higher than the previous year.
A month back at the Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor II pre-fight press conference, White used the platform to zero in on an unnamed streamer that the company had in their crosshairs should the streamer start linking to the PPV, but alas, the mystery streamer would never go live, thus foiling White’s unveiling of their new anti-stream tactics.
Despite a setback that cost the UFC their first big target of the anti-streaming campaign, White told reporters after UFC 257 that each event they will continue to target one prominent streaming site after another until the problem ceases.

UFC 257 marked the first of the UFC’s flagship events to be set at an all-time high price of 69.99 and with the UFC having the pay-per-view market cornered, it’s hard to envision a scenario where that number does continue to climb, as it has yearly for some time now.

The fact of the matter is, the closer the UFC crawls toward the boxing model of event promoting, the harder it will be for the company to combat people flocking to illegal streams instead of purchasing events. In previous iterations of the sport, fans would be treated to five truly pay-per-view worthy fights, but in 2021, watered down events with a single money grab fight has been the model the UFC has shifted toward.
Part of what made the UFC unique was the consistency it maintained in terms of the quality of the product. Why pay for one single boxing match when you could get five UFC fights for the same price? The business model was a no brainer.
But with big stars such as Conor McGregor, Israel Adesanya, and Jon Jones demanding bigger and bigger pieces of the pie every year, the UFC’s switch to the boxing pay-per-view model may very well have been inevitable.
Nevertheless, the company has a real problem when it comes to its pay-per-view buy numbers with 2021 opening up with their lowest average yearly year push since the company began being featured on ESPN.
Illegal streaming is undoubtedly a problem that Dana White and company will look to get ahead of throughout the 2021 calendar year, but with more and more customers becoming dissatisfied with the price of flagship UFC events, it’s an uphill battle with no real end in sight.