Later this month, on Dec 20th to be exact, the UFC app will go live on the recently re-launched Xbox 360 dashboard. The updated interface has been designed to accommodate the newfound emphasis on apps, which will provide 360 users with a larger variety of media for them to consume.
Thus far, most of the attention has been on the upcoming cable television offerings, and for understandable reasons. The fact that Microsoft was able to do the impossible and actually convince cable providers to break up their offerings for a game console and reach out to a new audience that otherwise would have nothing to do with their services is a modern miracle.
Granted, the plan thus far is far more ideal (having to already be a cable subscriber makes the ability to watch only a few channels via your console instead is rather nonsensical as well as redundant), but also awkward. Plus, we have no idea if the HBO app will be a stand-alone thing, or if you’ll need to be a cable subscriber. If the former is the case, expect spontaneous dancing in the streets once the word goes down.
Meanwhile, the UFC’s app performs in a manner that many might assume, and does so flawlessly. It’s also yet another indication of how dead serious Dana White is, in terms of getting his content across to as many people as possible by embracing current technologies wholeheartedly. Which can’t be said for most other content providers, who are mired in all sorts of minutia, whether it be driven by economics, ego, or simple lack of foresight.
The app is as straightforward as it comes. The primary function allows people to order a PPV if they were not able to do so otherwise. Like myself. I enjoy MMA, but I’ve never been able to enjoy a card live, unless I’m at a friend’s place or bar, because I don’t have cable. Illegally downloading a show is never ideal.
Aside from finding the damn thing, the quality is usually a total crapshoot and magic and excitement of watching something live is totally missing. Sure I can have that with some pals or at a bar, but sometimes I just want to enjoy some fights at the comfort of home. So the app addresses all my previous annoyances and I can enjoy the show all by myself, without having to put on a pair of pants (or any article of clothing quite frankly… interpret that line as you wish).
Ordering the show is super simple. First off, you can’t miss it; right near the center is the a big button advertising the upcoming event. When the app launches officially, expect a large graphic featuring Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem, for UFC 141. But for myself, it’s still Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida, for UFC 140. Just highlight the graphic and you’ll be given the option to order the show in either HD or SD. Because 140 was provided for me complimentary, I had no price points to examine, but I’m assuming it’s on par with what you’d have to pay with regular cable. Otherwise, the credit card I had on file would have been billed automatically.
To kill time before the big night, one can watch the assorted programing leading up to the event in its entirety. I would have to assume most folks get everything otherwise, but all chopped up. Though there was a version of the weigh-ins that had been edited down, which I’m assuming is what was shown via the regular channels.
I also had access to assorted interviews with fighters, a look at their work out regime, stuff that you’d normally find on the UFC website, but viewable via the comfort of your couch. Also, you have the countdown content, which I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about from pals that actually do have the money for cable.
As for viewing the fight itself, it was a mostly smooth experience. At times the video would ever so slightly hiccup, but nothing crazy. Perhaps my internet connection was faulty or maybe they’re still trying to work out the bugs. Though I have to wonder if it would have been worse if I was watching the HD feed. And afterwards, I was able to watch the show again for the following 24 hours. Basic standard cable operating procedures, nothing wacky or out of the ordinary.
Also after the fight, the Fight Card, which provides stats relating to each of the competitors, were quickly updated to reflect the results of the most recent match. As for the other interactive features, like the friends leader boards and the advertised Fight Picks, none of them were available, either because they weren’t ready or because I simply have no Xbox friends running the app as well.
So overall, a great start to the UFC/Xbox experience. Will this bring fans to the sport of MMA? It certainly has a great chance thanks to the tight integration and total lack of nonsense. If anything else, it’s a model in which all other media providers for the platform need to seriously look at and study.