Dish’s streaming service for cord cutters, Sling TV, will host its first ever pay-per-view event this weekend, by offering coverage of UFC: 214: Cormier v. Jones 2. The fight between former titleholder Jon Jones and current champion Daniel Cormier is taking place on Saturday, July 29 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Access to the event will be offered to Sling TV viewers for $59.99.
What’s notable about this news is that it’s not a one-off event for Sling TV. Instead, we understand that Sling TV is planning to make other pay-per-view events available in the future, too.
The company wouldn’t detail what other plans it has in the works, but offering fights seems to be its area of focus for now.
“We are looking forward to our first pay-per-view event this weekend, and although we haven’t announced specific plans to offer other fights, we will carry additional pay-per-view events in the future,” Ankit Bishnoi, director of content acquisition and strategy at Sling TV, told TechCrunch, when we asked about the company’s broader pay-per-view plans.
The move to expand into pay-per-view could help make Sling TV a more compelling offering for sports fans, when compared with its streaming rivals.
The inability to able to stream pay-per-view events has been one of the larger challenges facing cord cutters, though internet TV services could easily accommodate additional channels and streams, as needed, for these one-time events.
In the past, some pay-per-view events have offered the ability to watch via their website, which cord cutters could then “cast” to their TV through devices like Chromecast or Fire TV, for example. But this is a more clunky solution, compared with traditional cable TV.
Meanwhile, some past HBO events were only available to pay TV subscribers, leaving the network to tell cord cutters to go watch at a bar. The end result is that cord cutters often turn to illegal streams instead, or VPN services to access livestreams outside their market.
UFC has been more cord cutter friendly, so it’s not surprising it’s the first to make a deal with Sling TV. Last year, UFC redesigned its subscription service UFC Fight Pass, making it easier to watch events on desktop and mobile. It also offered pay-per-view events that were accessible via the web and streaming devices.
But the deal with Sling means you can order the events and watch via your internet TV service, similar to how you could with cable.
Interested users can buy the purchase the UFC fight by logging in to “My Account” on Sling.com, then clicking on the UFC 214 fight banner. Once purchased, a new channel will appear in the guide, and content will air as soon as event coverage begins on July 29, says Sling. The fight cannot be recorded with Sling’s DVR, however.
Sling Blue customers can also watch a live feed of the 8 PM ET fights on FXX by logging in to FXnetworks.com using their Sling TV credentials.
“Since we launched in 2015, we have focused on putting customers first, while pushing boundaries no other live [over-the-top] service has gone near,” said Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV, in a statement about the event. “Integrating UFC 214 directly into the Sling TV experience is the next step in Sling TV becoming a true cable replacement.”
Sling TV isn’t the only cord cutting service attempting to cater to sports fans these days. Sony’s PlayStation Vue this week just announced a new, $10/month sports pack add-on including NFL RedZone and 13 other sports channels. And FurboTV has been expanding its sports offerings to include a Premier package that includes regional coverage from Fox Sports and Comcast SportsNet, along with national sports channels such as Fox Soccer Plus, Golf Channel, beIN Sports, and NBA TV. Other apps, like Hulu Live TV, DirecTV Now, and YouTube TV carry sports channels as well, though lineups vary.