We’ve all been hearing about the UFC’s newest online digital library of past events, behind-the-scenes videos, and exclusive content for several months now since Dana White’s big announcement. During the month of February many got their first taste of the service as the UFC offered a free trial of the new service dubbed “UFC Fight Pass”, which has now gone live since the beginning of March.
This past weekend was the first big content day for members of the UFC Fight Pass community, with a live event streaming from London on Saturday morning featuring top contender Alexander Gustafsson and undefeated up-and-comer Jimi Manuwa in the main event. Then, on Sunday there was the debut of the highly anticipated third season of The Ultimate Fighter : Brazil with heated rival coaches Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen which is available exclusively in the US on UFC Fight Pass.
So how does the new service stack up, and are you getting enough bang for your buck?
Live events are going to be the biggest push of content from the UFC. As this past weekend shows, the UFC is slowly making the transition to moving the many events that often float under the radar to being available live and included with the UFC Fight Pass membership. This weekend was a prime example of an overseas event which did not find a home on US television, and served as a great first event to show the usefulness of the new service. The event premiered live as it happened in London, with a 12pm PST start time and was almost immediately up for rewatching after the event had concluded. With more and more events popping up every year, the UFC Fight Pass looks to serve as a means of getting out all the content possible to the fans, no matter where they live, or what cable/satellite service is available to them. This also includes the on-going international Ultimate Fighter shows, which have been difficult in the past for fans to find in the US.
For the casual and hardcore fans, most of this new UFC Fight Pass is a dream come true. It’s a one stop place to view nearly every UFC fight in the company’s history. From the debut of the organization, to the latest events, everything is available with a click of a button. It’s a vast library of UFC content, and scanning through all of the fights to choose from, I felt slightly overwhelmed with options – in a very good way.
Additionally to the UFC events, members can go through The Ultimate Fighter history and watch each individual season of their breakthrough tournament format reality show in its entirety. From the classic Bonnar vs Griffin battle in season one, to the newest overseas adaptations like TUF: CHINA - it’s all there.
Taking things another step for classic MMA fans, the UFC has also made available much of the content from the many promotions that have been acquired by the UFC over the years. This means that all of the best Strikeforce, Affliction, WEC, and my personal favorite – Pride, events are available in their entirety.
As a topper on this big old ground and pound cake, the UFC has used the front page of this service as a varied list of categorized bouts. Want to see the best knockouts of 2013? How about following the UFC Middleweight title each time it has changed hands in the company’s history? What are the favorite fights of your favorite MMA superstar? These categories are updated and changed weekly with many categories focusing on big upcoming events in the future.
Honestly, after a short amount of time with this service I only have a few complaints.
The built-in video player with the service seems to have issues adjusting to full-screen, losing the progress bar at the bottom of the screen preventing users from skipping ahead in the video without exiting the full-screen function. This isn’t a big ordeal, just a small nuisance that wouldn’t be noticed while watching a full event – but for someone who is skipping through events looking for particular fights or fight moments, it can be a small hassle.
With all of this content going back over the last couple decades, there is a noticeable quality difference between the events from many years past. Some of the classic content from the early UFC days, as well as Pride events and early seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, are not available in HD. This isn’t really anything that can be remedied, as it’s just the way these events were filmed in their time, but it’s very easily to identify while watching through today.
All of this content comes with a monthly price tag of 9.99$ US. For less than ten dollars a month, the UFC Fight Pass is giving out a ton of old content with the bonus of additional live events and access to new content that can’t be seen anywhere else. The WWE has a similarly priced and featured service, so it stands to reason that the UFC isn’t asking for too much in return for their content. One complaint already being brought up, is that the WWE service provides fans with PPV events included in the service, while the UFC does not include live and full PPV cards with the monthly service charge. Also, when looking at other online streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix which provide substantially more content, it’s hard not to notice they cost dollars less per month with nearly endless content.
If there was one large glaring issue to be had with the new UFC Fight Pass service, is that lack of options to view the massive amount of content that has been made available to the fans.
Currently the UFC Fight Pass is only available from their website, which puts many long-time fans of the UFC in front of their computer screen to watch their favorite fights – instead of their couches. The UFC currently has a phone app which isn’t supporting the UFC Fight Pass content yet,. Also, there is the Xbox app which has let users view/purchase live PPV events, and watch exclusive content in the past, but does not currently support the UFC Fight pass either.
And while the UFC has stated that they have plans of bringing the UFC Fight Pass to as many platforms as possible, right now members are stuck watching exclusively on their computers.
Despite a few pitfalls, the UFC Fight Pass brings all of the content promised, and then some. From unique categorized fight collections updated weekly to every classic battle that has taken place in the octagon, from every season of The Ultimate Fighter to the freshest events taking place all of over the world - the UFC Fight Pass brings the content in a big way.
The lack of viewing options may hurt the initial burst of members looking to pick up this new service, but in the long run I believe that the little bugs will be worked out, and as time goes on more and more devices will have access to playing the content anytime and anywhere.
With the exciting new season of Ultimate Fighter Brazil, several live events on the horizon, and still a lengthy list of classic bouts to watch at my discretion – I’ll be a happy camper for quite some time thanks to the UFC Fight Pass.
If you're still on the fence, or just want to try it out. Check out the website HERE and try a 7-day trial for free and see if you like it!