UFC Lobbies For Legislative Reform To Combat Piracy

Media conglomerates believe online piracy affects entertainment media’s income in a significant way. Whether it’s movies, TV shows or PPV events. UFC  has been battling illegal streams for years. Recently UFC’s parent company, Endeavor, revealed what they need the most to combat online piracy. As if the UFC’s 81% profit margin isn’t enough.

The general counsel at the UFC and deputy general counsel and co-head of litigation at Endeavor, Riche T McKnight, was talking about the situation during his recent interview with ‘SportsPro StreamTime Podcast’.

McKnight explained that they know how to stop illegal streams. However, that’s not the problem. The problem is that the existing method to fight piracy is not quick enough to tackle the ongoing illegal stream.

“It’s not that the social media platforms, broadcasters, and others haven’t had an answer [to piracy], it’s just that the [methods] are slower than what you need for a live event. A typical UFC event will go for seven to eight hours but the main card, which most people are interested in, is only a couple of hours and the main event, which is the one fight people really want to see, might go to 15 minutes.” McKnight said.

McKnight explained further by taking an example of a one-fight that people actually care about. A lot of people usually care about one fight and may think it’s not worth it to pay full price to watch the rest of the cards.

“These platforms have not had to fight piracy with that degree of speed and immediacy. If we don’t get streams taken down within hours, preferably minutes, it could be enough to dissuade people from purchasing the event. If someone knows Conor McGregor is fighting, and they can stream for 15 minutes and see the Conor McGregor fight that might be enough to keep them from making a purchase.” McKnight said.

McKnight believes the solution for this problem is for big technology firms to develop a program that can work fast enough to stop illegal streams during broadcasting. He also wants legislation to be reformed so third-party platforms have better incentives.

“We’re in the process of trying to have the DCMA reformed to bring it up to date with the reality of the balance of leverage between these parties,” added McKnight.

However, McKnight missed one big reason for the horde of illegal streams: huge PPV price. The current price of the monthly UFC events is $74.99. If you add on UFC fight pass and ESPN + which are required to watch the event – you reach a number of about $1000 that an average fan has to pay during the year to keep upto date on all UFC events. Some people believe having a reasonable price is needed to tackle piracy.

Earlier last year Dana White was mercilessly mocked for trying to intimidate pirates into – well not pirating.

“We’ve been one of the leagues that has been so proactive on piracy,” White said. “I love how cool and tough these guys act on social media because let me tell you what, we’ve caught a lot of people. Let me tell you what they do, they cry. They cry and they beg not to be prosecuted and all this other stuff.”

“We just overcame a huge hurdle in the piracy world and we’re going to catch some of these guys in 2021. I look forward to the crying and the begging. We’ll see how tough they are when they get caught.” White said in January of 2021. Yet there were no updates.

But even White conceded later:

“They’re never all going to go away,” White concluded. “They’re going to be out there, and we’re not trying to get rid of all of them. I just want to catch a few. That’s all I’m looking for. You can’t shut the whole thing down, that piracy industry is going to go on forever. Let me catch a few and watch what happens — and I will, oh it’s coming.”