Pay-per-view has been an extremely successful payment model in certain forms of entertainment, namely within combat sports, with some big recent fights breaking existing PPV records suggesting that the option is certainly growing and still profitable, but fans of the UFC will be all too aware how much of a caricature that boss Dana White has become around the whole PPV and pirating model, with creasing quotes like “we’ve found the guy” when referencing a pirate streamer for one of their events. But the likes of the UFC, Boxing, and wrestling with the WWE and their own service have all been suffering from the same problem – the online streaming services they rely on to deliver the content to paying fans is atrocious, and many have no option but to stream illegally.
(Image from mobilesyrup.com)
The act of pirated content has always come down to one point – if there’s a better, more efficient service, users will choose that – gaming platforms have been able to capitalise on this as those on the PC such as Steam were able to largely single handily solve a huge part of pirating games early on – mobile games have been able to do the same as online casinos and popular names like Bull in a China Shop benefit from the widespread availability and ease of access that make it a much more appealing option than to seek out some bootleg copy. Both examples managing to find the easiest answer to the question – there’s a better service available, so why pirate?
This is where the bad service comes in – if you’re paying $100 to watch an event live but constantly get stuck with buffering issues, poor quality, or a less than desirable experience, but can quickly tune into a stream somewhere on the internet and get instant high quality without any buffering and smooth playback, you’re more likely to do the same for the next event. It’s difficult to say why this poor service seems to be so rampant within PPV too, especially with bigger names like ESPN being the backer of the UFC streaming service for example, but it’s certainly something that can’t keep continuing particularly now as so much attention has been brought to it throughout the past year and the lockdowns with viewer numbers increasing and wanting better.
The good news is that there is an opportunity to improve through collaboration – rather than painting a target on those providing the service, it may become better to ask what is being done differently to provide the much better service, although this is very unlikely to happen as had recently been seen as attitudes towards the approach have been met with a lot of hostility in the past.