The lure of putting fights on PPV is strong. Put together a card with some unique angle (Fedor Emelianenko, fights in a bowl, etc) and let the cash from the hardcore fan base rain down. However, the reality is PPV has killed a number of shows.
Few understand this as well as Invicta FC CEO Shannon Knapp, one of the first female executives in mixed martial arts, with prior experience in the UFC, IFL, and Strikeforce.
Tonight Knapp takes Invicta into traditional television PPV, for the price of $14.95 - what UFC 1 cost in 1993. The event features a ferocious rematch between Marloes Coenen from The Netherlands, vs. Cris Cyborg from Curitiba, Brazil the city and gym that spawned Wanderlei Silva and the entire Chute Boxe team. The best female fighters from Japan, Canada, Scotland, Australia and Austria will also be in the cage tonight.
In an interiew with Dave Meltzer, she discusses the challenges of promoting the first all-female MMA card on PPV.
Ironically, Knapp was not initially a proponent of WMMA.
"I was very old school," she said. "Usually when a promoter came to me, they would say, `What we want is hot chicks.’ I had no respect for it and it turned me off because it wasn’t about talented female athletes. They were just looking for good looking girls. I first thought it was taking a spot on the show for one of the boys. It wasn’t really until I saw Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg and Marloes Coenen. They trained like the guys. They fought like the guys."
"We’ve had so much growth, we’ve exploded, but I also know that I worked for companies that overemployed and at the end of time, they weren’t successful. We always have to be very budget conscious."
"This is our biggest card. I always struggled with going to pay-per-view. It took a while for me to make my mind up about a televised pay-per-view. My mind has always been that you never go to pay-per-view until you really build things up. It took a while to break this mindset. We got a good enough (financial) deal. This wasn’t costing me any more than the last show. I was already buying satellite time. It’s just providing more options for the fans to watch it, and hope it will lead to more opportunities for the athletes and for sponsorships. It’s a big step for me. I had it so stuck in my head after all these years that you never go to pay-per-view until you’ve really elevated the brand, but I think it’s a good move. We have nothing to lose. We’re just going to get new viewers."
"If everybody else is like me, I just purchased the UFC show last week. We’re being conscious about the economy. We wanted to make sure as many fans as possible have the opportunity to see it. If we were driving the price up, we’re cutting off some fans. This was a good fair price, a manageable price for fans. But I’m not selling my athletes short. I think they’re worth a lot more. But coming off a weekend pay-per-view, I just want to make it a fan-friendly price."
"The one thing I can always depend on is with my athletes, there is no playing it safe. They’re there to battle. They’ve all been fighting just for the opportunity to get in the cage. They take it very serious. It’s a huge card. It’s history, the first all-female MMA pay-per-view. Sometimes I feel bad because they’re carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders. They will all be judged. They are the pioneers, each and every one of them on the show."
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Tonights event airs live at 9 p.m. ET for $14.95, on both on pay-per-view on virtually every system in the U.S. and Canada, and also on the Internet though Ustream.TV.
A free two-hour, four-fight pre-show will air at 7 p.m. Eastern on the Internet at UStream.TV, as well as on television through DirecTV, The Dish Network, and Fight Now TV in the USA. Canadian viewers can catch it on Bell TV, Viewers Choice and The Fight Network.
Invicta FC 6 is being distributed in North America on both cable and satellite pay-per-view (PPV) via iN Demand, DIRECTV, DISH and Avail-TVN in the United States, as well as Bell TV, Shaw PPV, SaskTel, TELUS, MTS and Viewer's Choice in Canada.
Viewers outside North America can purchase the live show at Ustream.TV.
MMA gear now available at the UG Store