UFC bulks up online Fight Pass service

Redesign makes it easier to watch live events and browse its growing library of mixed martial arts

- Mike Snider @mikesnider USA TODAY

The Ultimate Fighting Championsh­ip has added more muscle to its online presence as part of the buildup to Saturday’s blockbuste­r UFC 200 event.

Subscripti­on service UFC Fight Pass ($7.99 monthly and up) recently got a redesign for desktop computers, Android and iOS devices, making it easier to watch live events and peruse its growing library of mixed martial arts. This week, Fight Pass users can get primed for Saturday’s pay-perview event by watching an exclusive UFC Fight Night on Thursday and then a six-fight Cage

Warriors 77 card on Friday. Then on Saturday, three UFC 200 preliminar­y fights will be on Fight Pass before the pay broadcast starts at 10 p.m. ET/7 PT. That pay-per-view event ($59.95) can be watched via traditiona­l pay TV, on computers and digitally on all major streaming devices (Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox One and smart TVs).

Online delivery isn’t new for UFC. The league began offering pay-per-view live online in 2006 through the site. As the appetite for streamed and ondemand video grew, UFC launched Fight Pass in 2013 through apps to connected devices such as Apple TV and Roku, and Android and mobile and portable devices. (Apple TV, Roku and Xbox One are set to get a redesigned Fight Pass this summer.)

The improvemen­ts in the subscripti­on app — better search functions, improved notificati­ons, larger library of 14,000-plus assets — were meant to coincide with growing interest in UFC 200’s unpreceden­ted 13 fights at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The addition of Brock Lesnar, a onetime UFC heavyweigh­t champ and now a WWE champ, to the event led Fight Pass subscriber­s to refresh their memories about his history. “The moment his name was announced, the search queries for him and his past fights immediatel­y jumped,” said Edward Muncey, the UFC’s senior vice president of technology.

Beyond that, UFC fans can delve into the history of the competitio­ns and watch older bouts dating back to 1993’s UFC 1 event. Newcomers or occasional fans, like myself, can watch an episode of original series Fightograp­hy to learn how Miesha Tate, the current women’s bantamweig­ht champ — that’s the title formerly held by Ronda Rousey — got into mixed martial arts.

And UFC’s online evolution isn’t stopping there. UFC is looking ahead to 4K Ultra HD broadcasts, and UFC 200 can be streamed in that fledgling format on Sony TVs using the UFC 4K App on the Google Play store.

Even in standard high-def, UFC 200 has many more features when viewed online, including multiple camera angles, slowmotion replays and customizab­le audio.

“Let’s say one guy is getting beat up and the other guy is not, you can change the audio from the red corner to blue corner and hear what the manager is saying,” said Chris Wagner, executive VP of NeuLion, which delivers pay-perview events for UFC and other organizati­ons. “Those are the kind of things you just can’t do with a cable remote.”

 ?? UFC ?? The UFC Fight Pass app includes many episodes of the fun reality series Dana White: Lookin’ For A Fight.
UFC The UFC Fight Pass app includes many episodes of the fun reality series Dana White: Lookin’ For A Fight.

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