As Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships has risen in popularity, that growth has not been completely reflected in the company’s pay-per-view numbers. Thanks to illegal streaming, BKFC founder and president David Feldman is thinking outside of the box.
In an exclusive chat with Sportsnaut to promote this weekend’s BKFC 57, the former pro boxer explained what he feels is the root cause of the problem.
“The real problem here is it’s easier to illegally stream it than it is to buy it. And that’s the problem. You click a link and you watch it. When you sign up for a pay-per-view you have to put your name in, your credit card number, you got to do this and then you buy a pay-per-view. It sucks.”
Instead of focusing on the law enforcement aspect of copyright laws or the never-ending battle of technological security improvements, Feldman feels that the best solution is to simply circumvent the traditional pay-per-view market.
“The way we’re combating it is we’re working on a TV deal. And two-fold is we’re going to give it to them free and we’re going to make our money through ad revenue,” Feldman said. “So we’re not going to have to charge for the events or we’re not going to have to charge a significant fee. It’s going to be a lower fee,” he continued.
BKFC President: ‘Illegal Streamers Don’t Equal Buyers’
The ultimate objective is to make the decision easier for fans of bare-knuckle fighting to make the ethical choice.
“It’s like ‘Hey, do I want to illegally stream it or do I want to pay five bucks for this event and support these guys’…I go on my social media, I’m into the fans, I go in there and I hear and see people go ‘Yeah I can’t wait to illegally stream this.’ And I go like this to the guys, I said ‘Hey guys BKFC would really appreciate your support and really appreciate if you bought this instead of illegally streaming this so we can do more events like this. And they come back and go ‘I’m absolutely buying it now.’”
In December, Feldman told SiriusXM’s Jimmy Smith that 1.3 million unique IP addresses streamed their final event of 2023. Even with that staggering number, he feels it’s impossible to pinpoint just how much money was left on the table. “Just because you have illegal streamers doesn’t mean that they were going to buy. Some were going to be, but it was easier to click it,” he said.
While Feldman believes that the UFC can “press a button and do pay-per-views,” he acknowledges BKFC’s lack of brand recognition as a barrier to success with that business model. He “100%” believes a media rights deal that could broadcast the fights on free TV, or an app is the path towards that wider audience.
BKFC 57 takes place this Friday, Feb. 2 from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL. Luis Palomino will defend his welterweight title against former WBA light middleweight champ Austin Trout in the main event. The event begins at 8 PM ET and will air on Fite TV and the BKFC app.