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Aficianado

Cord cutters unite: Fite TV is here

Fighters Network
28
Apr

Everyone and their brother and their brother’s mother has a good idea for an app these days.

It is the new American Dream; find an unfilled niche, construct an app to fill the niche, release to the masses, watch them flock to it – and you get rich.

As with most elements of the American Dream, the possibility of achieving it is less likely than strivers believe but I found one app that does indeed fill a niche and makes my life a bit better.

Fite TV is an app, which allows you to watch a boxing event to which you probably might not have had previous access, and, when Wi-Fi connected, watch it on the big screen at home, after paying a fee to Fite TV.



Earlier today, one could watch the heavyweight showdown between Top 10-ranked (WBA No. 9, WBC No. 3 and WBO No. 5) heavyweight Kubrat Pulev and journeyman Kevin Johnson, live, from Bulgaria, which just so happens to be where the Fite TV brainiacs work on the app, perfecting it, so watchers can continue to enjoy a buffer-free stream.

I chatted with Mike Weber, the point man for the company, who has been in the pay-per-view space, mostly doing pro wrestling, for three decades. Weber, who’d been director of media relations for WWE, also worked with the wrestling outfit TNA Impact and then started consulting for Fite TV. They told him they were a tech company, first and foremost, and built a better mousetrap. Weber investigated and believed that to be true. Co-founders Kosta Jordanov, Metodi Filipov and Stefan Lilov ran software companies and came up with tech patents.

This is how Fite TV is described by the aforementioned team: “FITE is a digital combat sports network that brings you the best and widest selection of combat sports from all around the world. You can watch free events and PPV events live and on-demand, as well as our large selection of daily shows, exclusives, interviews and community videos. With the FITE app, you can watch on your mobile phone or tablet and even cast to your connected TV, streaming device, game console and more. You can also watch online at www.FITE.tv.”

Now, if you are like me, you might wish boxing fans weren’t subject to the PPV model, that we didn’t have to reach so deep, so often, into our pockets to watch fights. This is sort of an “It is what it is” situation, probably because the sport is a red-light district of sports entertainment. It isn’t easily embraceable to corporations who might be inclined to sponsor it, and because of the violent nature and its freeform construction, it attracts characters who sometimes scare off potential partners adverse to negative publicity. Don King’s personality did much to keep the sport off free TV, arguably, in the 1990s into the 2000s and, thus, we have the model which exists today.

Back to Weber; he told me Fite TV is compatible with 7,000 TV models. Flipps Media was impressed and became a backer. Flipps has offices in San Mateo, New York and Sofia, Bulgaria and is backed by Tim Draper, Earlybird Venture Capital, Aslanoba Capital and LAUNCHub. The first Fite TV event was New Japan Pro Wrestling and Weber saw growth immediately presenting fight/striking sports and “looking for exposure on TV. We do PPV events, have some free live events and have 5,000 hours in our library, on demand.

“We have 29 programs live this week,” the COO continued. “We have now over 300 programming partners. Last Saturday, we had four programs live from Germany, so we’re truly global! We had an event, Rizin (MMA), which ran at 2 a.m. on Saturday, and had a lot of people tuning in, in the U.S. Again, we are a tech company first. Our boxing material is overseen by Roy Langbord, who ran the sports slot at Showtime.”

So far, relationships with the Sauerland crew in Germany allow U.S. fight fans to be more likely to see their talent. Langbord is working on bringing more partners into the mix, so more boxing will be available.

“There are a lot of cord cutters,” Weber noted, so he wants to find a way to serve them. “If you don’t have cable or satellite, you don’t have a way to watch it. Now, with Fite TV, you do. About 20 percent of consumers now don’t have cable or satellite and not everyone wants to go to bar. We are following the technology, going where the tech takes us. The area is getting bigger and bigger, by the day, because of cord cutting. We see growth in the U.S., and Fite TV works anywhere Wi-Fi works.”

They will have more content from China shortly and, really, this is a world tour of locales they feature. Soon, they will have MMA in Lebanon.

Back to cost to consumers: Weber says that boxing has been all about that PPV model for a long spell and he doesn’t see it changing. “We are offering events at $19 and $25,” he says, so he wants to appeal to folks turned off by big ticket PPVs. “From the promoter standpoint, we are app and cloud-based; we have a strong anti-theft element. We’ve seen no stealing of our signal. And will we do the “big” PPVs? That is possible; we are doing some other events with Golden Boy (Promotions). We are there for cord cutters!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

That last statement about cord cutting was the selling point for Michael Woods, who was so excited, he immediately cut his cord. Unfortunately it was the cord to his television. The kids are really ticked now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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