(She was a strawweight. He was a heavyweight. She was nasty on the ground. He was once choked out by Mirko Cro Cop, of all people. Life is not the amount of leg kicks you take, it’s the leg kicks that take your breath away. ‘You’ve Got Wrist-Locks 2‘, coming this fall. / Photo by Esther Lin for Invicta.)
As Marlo Stanfield might say, this sounds like one of them good problems.
We already know that Invicta’s first attempt at selling an Internet pay-per-view blew up in their faces over the weekend. But what exactly went down that night? In an interview with MMAJunkie Radio, Ustream CEO Brad Hunstable took full responsibility for the fiasco, and credited the unprecedented popularity of Invicta’s broadcast for the technical difficulties:
“First off, let me just say how apologetic and sorry we are for what happened for the fans. I’m a big MMA fan. I’ve been in the community for years, and I don’t like it when any of our broadcasters have issues, let alone a sport that I love and am passionate about. I take it especially serious, especially in this case.
Unfortunately what happened was —and the issue was on Ustream’s end, it was not on Invicta’s end — was that believe it or not, our payment system, which is in sort of a beta program at the moment, got overloaded.
There were too many tickets being sold. We’ve done lots of pay-per-views over the last year, from the UFC to the Rugby World Cup to working with World Cup-qualifying soccer matches. The load of tickets being sold, we just hadn’t seen a level of that to date, and that’s ultimately what happened.
I’ve seen the data myself. It’s pretty clear that this was the most popular pay-per-view that we’ve seen on Ustream…We just had not seen a pace of ticket sales at this speed, so we were caught a little bit off-guard.
We don’t expect this to happen again. It’s something that’s a fairly straightforward fix from out standpoint. Unfortunately, we just had never encountered an event of this size and scale. We’ve got to make some changes, and we’ll make those changes over the coming days. We don’t expect any issues moving forward.”
When Shannon Knapp revealed last year that Invicta’s first two events both drew over 200,000 viewers to their free streams, it seemed like a rather dubious claim. (Bellator rarely breaks 200k viewers on MTV2, and they’ve been around since 2009.) But now that Ustream’s CEO is saying that Invicta is blowing away the video site’s previous audiences for UFC and World Cup events (!?), it’s becoming harder and harder to deny: There is an audience for women’s MMA, and Invicta FC has found it. The only challenge that remains is staying in business, and converting online fan interest into actual money.
If they can pull it off, MMA will be changed forever. If not…the tombstone beckons.