Bellator 120 Exposes the Inherent Issue with PPV

Bellator 120 just ended, which means that we went through an interesting odyssey of an evening here in MMA land. Just like you would have guessed, most people are refusing to give Bellator their due for an entertaining show. It was entertaining for what it was, but if we are brutally honest, the pacing to the show was just unacceptable, making a fun event into a chore to watch. They already had our money, why drag it out and try to sell everyone on the product even more? People are watching your damned show.

The biggest problem with Bellator 120 was that for all of the things that it might have done right, nothing can negate the fact that it cost money. The event cost $40 in HD (who isn’t buying events in HD?), which still felt like a lot considering the fight that most hardcore fans wanted to see fell apart the week before, leaving King Mo vs. Rampage Jackson as the show’s main event. Mo vs. Rampage played out how we all thought that it would, ended with a controversial decision and Mo going ballistic on the microphone talking about “dick-riding asses,” so it was entertaining for what it was.

It was still $40, though.

People are going to be trying to compare Bellator 120 with UFC events and it might not be a fair comparison to make, seeing as though the UFC’s roster is bloated like a whale carcass on the shore right now compared to Bellator’s beached jellyfish, but it is inevitable. Bellator 120 was not worth $40, but in the same vein, most UFC events are not worth $60. We are at the point where consumers are being picky with their disposable income and $60 for 3 – 4 hours of entertainment is ridiculous, especially if you are watching it alone.

Consumers have options and $60 can go a long way for more hours of entertainment. Even a movie ticket costs less than $20 still, books cost less than $20 and videogames clock in at $60 as the highest, a lot less for cheaper, downloadable games or ones on sale. If this is the competition that UFC and Bellator PPVs are facing then no, there is no way that I’m ever going to give either company the money that they are asking for their events considering what they are providing. This is coming from someone who began watching MMA in the mid-90’s and used to scour the internet for tape traders to buy obscure MMA events from.

PPV was a great novelty in the 80’s and 90’s when the idea of simulcasting live events from around the country and even around the world was an amazing feat. The problem is that we have the internet now and the internet has changed everything. People can broadcast anything from around the world, no matter how silly it might seem, which makes the idea of PPV a lot less enticing. Twenty years ago you could buy access to watch a broadcast of the main stage of Woodstock ‘94, now YouTube live streams events like Coachella and other comparable events for free.

What I’m getting at here is that the PPV novelty makes zero sense anymore. Fight sports seem to be the only industries that still see PPV as a viable business model and fans, for the most part, put up with it. Tonight’s Bellator PPV was a fun event but no way in hell was it worth $40 compared to some of the events they give away for free on Spike TV week-in and week-out. The same applies for UFC, who air free fights what feels like every other week, sandwiched by PPV events that just don’t feel special anymore.

From a business standpoint I get why PPV is valuable, but from the consumer standpoint it just makes zero sense anymore. No one is getting their money’s worth out of these events and it won’t help to earn favor with anyone to continue price-gouging fans like this for events where the big fights can just disappear in the blink of an eye thanks to injuries. The only way for PPV to be valuable to the consumer would be for it to cost less, but the days of the PPV spectacle feel long since dead outside of the random Floyd Mayweather fight here and there. That was what PPV was invented for, that is what people want to spend money on; something that feels big, not the run-of-the-mill.