Amazon Joins Cable Companies, Offers Pay-per-View UFC Bouts

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If you are not a fan of the mayhem known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), you may want to take a look at this story anyway. Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has signed a contract with William Morris Endeavor to offer pay-per-view showings of UFC contests beginning this Saturday directly from Amazon on any Amazon-supported device.

Viewers won’t need a cable subscription or even an Amazon Prime membership to pay their $64.99 to watch the fight by means of a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick; any streaming media player, smart TV, or Blu-Ray player; a game console or Fire Tablet; or any Apple iOS or Android mobile device.

While UFC pockets the lion’s share of the revenues, Amazon’s deal is likely to reflect the cable industry cut of 30% to 40% of the take, according to a report at Recode.

So, what’s so interesting about the UFC deal? First, it’s Amazon’s first try at a pay-per-view offering, and it fits in with the company’s first-ever NFL broadcasts last year. The company sees value in live sports and is apparently willing to pay for the privilege of competing. Amazon is in the running for next season’s Thursday night NFL package as well.

Second, this is another warning shot across the bow of cable operators. Amazon has just added another offering that had differentiated cable and satellite companies from the streaming services. Now Amazon offers its own first-run productions, a full slate of recent and classic movies and TV shows, and now more live sports. If the cable operators aren’t getting a little nervous, they might be whistling past the graveyard.

Oh yes — Saturday’s UFC battle features Cris Cyborg, a Brazilian, and Yana Kunitskaya, a Russian, along with a main fight card of four other bouts. All for $64.99 on any device you own, no subscription required.

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