MTV Networks-owned Spike TV is expanding its relationship
with the UFC, creating a branded destination site for avid fans of mixed
martial arts. The site, UltimateFighter.com, will be tied to the debut of the
11th season of the Spike series The Ultimate Fighter, and
will feature every episode and every fight from seasons one through 10 of that
show. Season 11 will not be available until after the television window, but
the site will still have exclusive content around the show, including the
official post-show The Aftermath.
For example, in the season 11 premiere, a number of fighters
will have to battle in the octagon to see who advances. Only clips from the
fights will make it on air, with the entire bouts being posted on the new site.
Visitors will also be able to look at pages for individual
fighters, and can watch exclusive highlight packages created just for the site.
If they watch a fight, they can skip straight to specific moves executed by
either of the fighters, or to the knockout blow.
Clips from UFC pay-per-view events will not be available on
the site, though Spike executives said that the video library could be expanded
to include other UFC programming if the fan (and advertiser) response is
MTV Networks Entertainment Group Executive VP of Digital Media
Erik Flannigan says the decision to create the site was spurred on when Spike
and UFC looked at where people searching on the web for info about fighter
names and video ended up. More often then not, third party sites such as
YouTube were at the top of the search results. The new site is designed to
capture some of those searches.
"While the business model for UltimateFighter.com will yield
material direct revenue to both parties through ad sales, sponsorship and other
distribution opportunities, the value of the property is equally tied to
converting more of those casual fans to paying customers of the UFC, as well as
converting a massive group of people scouring the web to see footage of fights
into viewers of The Ultimate Fighter and other UFC programming on Spike
TV," Flannigan said at a press event in New York Thursday (March 25).
To that end, when a UFC pay-per-view event is coming up, a
house ad towards the top of the page will feature quick links letting visitors
buy tickets or order the pay-per-view.
The Marines, Burger King and TapouT are the launch sponsors
of UltimateFighter.com, with revenue split between Spike and the UFC. Much like
UFC sponsors get placement on the mat in the octagon, advertisers on the site
will have their ads featured on a virtual mat located behind the video player.
Flannigan says the site and video archive will remain free,
though they reserve the right to charge for other products-such as a mobile
application- down the line.
UltimateFighter.com is the latest effort from the MTV
Networks Entertainment Group to create a dedicated site with a deep video
archive for its most popular programming. Other sites include
SouthParkStudios.com, TheDailyShow.com and ColbertNation.com. In fact,
UltimateFighter.com is built off of the Colbert platform, though visitors
likely won't see many similarities between the two.
Also like those sites, UltimateFighter.com will feature
social media support, including Facebook Connect and Twitter connectivity.