App Review: UFC.TV Offers Up-Close Experience, But Some Empty Features
The week leading up to the UFC's 20 anniversary event was spent testing the VOD library and other features of the UFC.TV mobile application, developed by NeuLion. Saturday night's UFC 167 in Las Vegas was then viewed on the app, without tuning in to the PPV feed on TV. The app is available on a range of devices including iOS, Blackberry, Android, Samsung Smart TVs and Roku. This review was conducted on an iPhone 5 version 7.0.2, with AT&T service. Overall, the experience was high quality, but with some hiccups and feature oversights. UFC.TV is a free download with in-app purchasing capabilities. Users have the option to purchase UFC PPV events directly from the app for $44.99 (SD) and $54.99 (HD). For $74.98 (SD) or $84.98 (HD), fans can upgrade to a six-month subscription to UFC.TV's fight library, with a 50% discount for users purchasing a live PPV event. According to iTunes, most customers are purchasing single SD PPV fights.
KNOCKOUTS: Bonus features are offered within the live streaming player after the prelims have concluded. Fights are viewable in English and Spanish and from three camera angles: live, Red Corner and Blue Corner. The corner camera angles were stripped of the broadcast voiceovers, offering crisp, raw sound, like being in the front row at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Live scoring and pre-fight stats are available for most matches on the fight card. Users can submit their own round-by-round scores to see how they compare to the audience.
SPLIT DECISIONS: In addition to live video, a PPV subscription includes access to fighter profiles, news and free video. Event replays are well done, but a bit lengthy. The replay of UFC 167 is over 2 hours and 40 minutes long. The fight library offers a large selection of video including preliminary fights, UFC title fights, UFC Hall of Fame and submission of the week. Also available is a listing of featured fighters, fights by weight class, UFC en Español and episodes from the TV series "The Ultimate Fighter." Basic news is available along with a TV schedule, link to UFC.com for mobile, the UFC shop and Octagon Girl profiles. There is no advertising within the app.
FISH HOOKS: Watching live events from a mobile device proved confusing during UFC 167, as each segment has a separate stream. When the early prelims ended, I had to close the video and locate the feed for the next set of prelims (which in this case was unavailable due to Fox broadcast restrictions). Purchasing an event on UFC.TV for mobile is not exactly user-friendly. Clicking purchase prompts users for an iTunes login. The assumption is that entering this information charges your account instantly, and pricing tiers are not made available within the app. A section explaining the subscription products is recommended, as the current path to conversion may cause hesitation with potential buyers. On the flip side, subscriptions purchased on UFC.TV's desktop site are easily transferred to mobile devices with a simple log-in in the account section. During UFC 167, the Red Corner camera angle was pulling a feed from the rafters, definitely not showing live action from the Octagon. User scoring is a cool feature, but there is not really a payoff. This could be an opportunity for some deeper user engagement. The Twitter chatter section simply did not work, as not a single tweet populated during the event. With the exclusion of preliminary fights, many of the fight library sections are outdated, offering video from over nine months ago.
BOTTOM LINE: UFC.TV offers a highly compelling selection of live and on-demand video for fans. Non-paying users have access to almost nothing, so this is a quality example of corralling avids and upselling casuals without giving away product. Wish list items include improved in-app purchasing instructions, proper social media integration, fight alerts, and shorter replays in the vein of NBA or NHL condensed games that are focused on highlights. UFC.TV has the content, but broken features like Twitter integration and the Red Corner camera leave room for improvement.
Amie Sheridan (email@example.com) is a writer in Philadelphia.
See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
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