The Ultimate Fighting Championship will team with satellite distributor DirecTv and technology company NeuLion to offer a 4K feed for Saturday’s UFC 200 pay-per-view event.
The first ever UFC 4K PPV event telecast will be available to DirecTV customers with compatible 4K televisions and set-top-boxes -- although its unclear exactly what percentage of the satellite service’s subscribers will actually be able to access the feed – as well as via the UFC.tv app, according to UFC officials.
The 4K feed will cost $69.99 -- $10 more than the traditional HD feed. UFC executive vice president of operations and production Craig Borsari said the 4K feed will provide UFC fans with an enhanced viewing experience for the mixed martial arts company's biggest PPV event of the year.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to be cutting edge in the technology stage when it comes to TV production,” Bosari said. “This is one of those productions that we feel is going to be the way of the future in sports television, so we wanted to be one of the first to market in 4K.”
For DirecTV, the event marks the satellite service's first 4K pay-per-view telecast, although the satellite service has offered Major League Baseball games and the Masters Golf tournament in 4K since launching its sports 4K initiative this past April, according to DirecTv senior vice president of content operations John Ward.
“People are amazed at the [4K] resolution,” Ward said. “We think that 4K is going to really highlight the intimacy of the sport.”
NeuLion will provide the technological backbone for the delivery of the UFC 200 4K feed. "UFC is our first partner to offer live 4K streaming under a pay per view transaction," said Chris Wagner, executive vice president of NeuLion. “We have worked with our partners to create the only end-to-end solution on the market for the delivery, monetization and distribution of 4K video at 60 frames per second on the world's most popular devices. It’s an exciting time to be in the digital business.”
While 4K will enhance the live fight action from UFC 200, Borsari said he’s excited about utilizing 4K for knockout replay video. “If we wanted to push in on a replay and see a fist or a kick in a tighter perspective, you’re going to see that in a higher resolution than you would in a 1080i or HD broadcast,” he said.
He added that actual PPV buys from the 4K feed is not as important as delivering a smooth, quality picture to viewers.
“We’re not as concerned right now about consumption – this is new technology and not everyone of our fans or viewers is able to watch 4K broadcasts just yet,” he said. “We’re not going to get too muddled down on performance and consumption and instead focus more on technical execution.”
The event will go on without its main event fight after fighter Jon Jones was pulled from his bout with light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier Wednesday night after the U.S Anti-Doping Agency reported that Jones tested positive for a banned perfomrance-enhancing substance. Comier will instead fight Anderson Silva, according to the UFC.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.