[Opinion] A Fistful Of Reality: Why The WWE & UFC Are Wrong To Support SOPA
With the furor over SOPA & PIPA within the past few weeks, it may come as a surprise to some to find out that many of their favorite companies support SOPA. For fans of sports entertainment, it might come as a shock to see the names Zuffa, parent company of the UFC, and the WWE backing the bill. For companies based around controversy, whose growths benefited directly from the internet, regulating what helped them to stay in business throughout the 90’s would not seem to be a wise game plan.
It also wouldn’t seem wise in the wake of hackers, such as the group Anonymous, to be involved with a bill that would result with a retaliatory attack on your website. The UFC met this very scenario on Sunday (1/22) when visitors who ventured to UFC.com were redirected to UGNazi.com, a site that contained a picture of an animated Hitler and a message claiming responsibility for the hacking incident. The WWE has yet to face any online retaliation for their support of the bill, although anything is possible in the future.
Zuffa and WWE’s support of the bill is understandable. Both companies are directly impacted by online piracy of their products. WWE’s pay-per-view buys have continued to decline as online piracy and streams of their shows have increased. The UFC also loses a lot of money when their cards are pirated online. However, one cannot say that online piracy is always the reason that people are avoiding paying for pay-per-views from both companies. Both have made it a habit to over saturate the market with pay-per-views on a monthly basis, with the UFC often airing more than one pay-per-view a month. These cards run for $45 to $55 a piece, and in an economic downtrodden era, it is not very wise to try to bleed your hardcore supporters of what little money they do have. Diehards want to watch every card possible, and that is a feat that is often not feasible for many fans due to monetary issues. At the same time, some of the cards are just not worth paying the money for, but hardcores are going to still do what they can to watch them and stay abreast of the latest MMA and professional wrestling happenings.
For two companies that pride themselves on being cutting edge with their online presence; their support of SOPA makes them seem so archaic. The fact is, SOPA is an all-encompassing way for the government to control the internet, free speech, alternative news sources, and truth. The UFC and WWE may not seem like companies that fall into any of those categories, but they both are when it comes to entertainment that one may not deem as appropriate. Not that many years ago, WWE was shocking fans with the Attitude Era and pushing the envelope with crass and violent programming. During the same time, The UFC was fighting for its survival after being pulled from most cable and satellite carriers. It was the net savvy fans that helped to build the WWE into a cultural phenomenon and one of the most popular forms of entertainment in America for a number of years. The fans created a plethora of web pages about wrestling and took to any online pop culture polls to insert wrestlers whenever possible. Many of the same fans took to the web to create MMA websites that spread the news and results of cards that were nearly impossible to view. These cards were almost inaccessible due to government pressure to censor a product, outright violating the pursuit of happiness.