Go Fight Live CEO David Klarman on Internet pay-per-views and site’s future – Exclusive

With only about the top five percent of combat sports events being broadcast on pay-per-view each year it’s easy to see that the majority of shows go virtually unseen. That’s why in 2008 David Klarman set out to deliver the other 95 percent of content to the masses with Go Fight Live (www.gfl.tv), an internet based pay-per-view website specifically dedicated to all things combat.

“So there are all of these shows and all of this content that is never getting a mass audience and some of it is pretty good,” Klarman said. “If you’re looking at boxing, it averages over 800 events per year in the United States alone. MMA is probably at least equal to that now, and I couldn’t even tell you how many events there are for professional wrestling each year.”

So in being aware of all this available content from MMA, boxing, pro wrestling, and others, it was Go Fight Live’s mission to become the hub for all types of combat sports.

“Go Fight Live started as a content based company,” Klarman said. “We were looking to aggregate a bunch of content and give promoters and fighters and viewers basically a place to go to watch this type of content.”

But Klarman and team quickly realized that they would have to also focus on technology if they were going to accomplish their goal of becoming the hub for combat sports.

“If you would ask me today what kind of company we are I would say that we are half technology and we’re half content,” Klarman said. “We now deliver our content to mobile phones, ROKU boxes (a set-top device that streams content from the web), and we’re building other integrations with other set-top boxes.”

And it is with that kind of technology that Klarman and Go Fight Live have begun to redefine what a pay-per-view is and create what they call the iPPV (internet pay-per-view).

Not Your Traditional Pay-Per-View

For years ordering a pay-per-view has been somewhat restrictive for the customer. Besides requiring a cable or satellite subscription, consumers are limited to where they can watch an event they purchase and how many times they can rewatch it. That’s not the case with Go Fight Live and the iPPV.

As long as a person has an Internet connection they can watch a show on Go Fight Live either on a smart phone, a computer, or on a web based set-top box like the ROKU. The device doesn’t even have to be their own since each individual has their own personal account and login information.

“It’s the concept of when you want, how you want, and where you want,” Klarman said. “You get to watch whatever show you want to watch and it doesn’t matter where you’re at or where you sit.”

Once an event concludes Go Fight Live uploads a high quality version of the show to its servers so that customers can watch the replay on demand as many times as they want. Even those who didn’t purchase the event when it aired live can still buy the show and watch it as many times as they want.

“It was our policy day one (to provide free replays for customers),” Klarman said. “So anywhere in the world you are that there is an internet connection you can watch basically whatever you bought on Go Fight Live. You don’t have to worry that your DVD might scratch, break, or get lost. You don’t have to deal with it. You can have your own combat sports library right here on Go Fight Live.”

While Go Fight Live gives the customer more freedom in watching their content, the iPPV format allows promoters that normally wouldn’t be able to afford the costs associated with a traditional pay-per-view the opportunity to reach a mass audience.

“It’s less expensive because you just need an Internet line instead of a satellite truck and most venues have the Internet,” Klarman said. “It’s easier to do and less expensive so that a promoter’s ability to make a profit on an event is much greater because they’re not spending as much money out of pocket.”

Besides eliminating the need for a satellite truck, the iPPV model also does not require promoters to make a large deposit or guarantee a minimum number of buys; two costs that are often too expensive for smaller promotions.

“The cost is significant,” Klarman said. “You’ve got to write a pretty large check just to reserve a spot, and while it’s refundable it’s still a large check. Sometimes they require minimums for you to reach too and if you don’t reach the minimum they take it out of your deposit. In other words, if they say we need a guarantee of 2,000 buys at $30 each and you only get 500 buys at $30, then you’re stuck with 1,500 buys at $30 each to pay for.”

In addition to all of that cost, promoters still have to market their event, which is something that isn’t provided by cable and satellite providers.

“Go Fight Live is different,” Klarman said. “We’re a marketing arm for promoters. We have 250 affiliate websites and 50 talk shows that work with us and market our shows. We also have writers and public relations people who work specifically on marketing our shows to the public as well.”

On top of all of that Go Fight Live offers a global viewing audience with people from 199 different countries having watched content on the site thus far.

“If you wanted to offer something globally through satellite forget about it,” Klarman said. “Only the very top events are offered globally because to do that you have to integrate with a huge number of potential satellite feeds and different television stations and it’s just a mess. Now I’m not saying that there are a million different people in Poland watching us, but there are people in 199 countries accessing our content.”

For the consumer the price for an iPPV is between $10 and $15 per event. That, coupled with Go Fight Live’s global reach and affordability for promoters, the site is quickly becoming what Klarman had hoped it would be, a hub for all of combat sports.

But getting Go Fight Live to where it is today has not been an easy journey for Klarman and his team as challenges both seen and unforeseen have arisen along the way.

Challenges

“Obviously streaming on the web was nothing new when we started Go Fight Live,” Klarman said. “But we built a very robust infrastructure for streaming and we built a lot of systems to enable people to have a high quality experience online.”

Klarman and his team faced a unique set of problems though in creating an infrastructure to accommodate users from around the world.

“The problems that we faced were that everybody had a different computer, a different Internet provider in their house, different speeds for that internet, and they use different browsers,” Klarman said. “When you add all of that up it’s different from cable or satellite because basically that gear, the cable and those set-top boxes, is all kind of the same so people get a very uniform delivery and can count on it. So we’ve really had to innovate technology wise a lot to be able to deliver a consistent product to people.”

One of the tools that Go Fight Lives provides potential customers is the ability to test out their Internet speed and signal quality before they purchase an event.

But even with all of the advances in current technology Klarman realizes that nothing is perfect and problems can still occur.

“Internet broadcasting is not perfect,” Klarman admits. “You’re going to have bumps in the road. The alternative is to not have access to the content. It’s like your cell phone. Even today 30 years later you still go into places where you have no cell coverage, but think about where cell phones were at just 10 years ago. It’s getting better.”

Klarman wants every ProMMAnow.com reader of this article to experience what a Go Fight Live iPPV is all about so that’s why he is giving you free access to an iPPV of your choice. Details about how to get your free show are at the end of this article.

Piracy

Another persistent challenge that faces not just Go Fight Live but the entirety of the pay-per-view business is the increasing threat of piracy. Just this past month Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested a New York man accused of running two illegal streaming websites and seized the domains. While the sites are alleged to have pirated pay-per-views from big name promotions like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Go Fight Live isn’t immune to its share of piracy as well.

Typically pirates will run auxiliary cables from the video out in the back of their cable or satellite box into their computer that has a special graphics card to accept those inputs. Since Go Fight Live streams its content straight to computers coupled with the widespread availability of screen-sharing software, pirates can seemingly stream an event illegally in fewer steps.

That’s why Go Fight Live has taken extra steps to thwart would-be pirates.

“What we’ve done is we have built basically an encryption into our video that allows us to, when we see an illegal stream happening, be able to trace it back all the way back to the person who paid for it,” Klarman said. “Because you paid for it somehow we have the ability to trace it back all the way to your name and your address because we have your credit card information. Even if you paid through PayPal or Google I still know who you are.”

Despite all of that, Klarman knows that there are still going to be those out there who will want to pirate content from Go Fight Live.

“Everybody is looking for something for free,” Klarman said. “I get it, but look who you’re hurting when you pirate. You’re hurting every single promoter that is trying to build their business. I mean $10 or $15 to watch a live event is not a lot of money. These guys are not making a lot of money.”

In addition to hurting promoters, pirates also hurt the fighters and competitors who are trying to make it in their respective business.

“How long does it take for you to get onto ESPN as a boxer or to get onto Showtime or HBO?” Klarman asks. “That’s the top tier content, so why not give some of these younger guys the opportunity to be seen by a larger audience? Give them a chance so that somebody may see them and their career and give them a bigger opportunity for them. That’s what it’s all about, and piracy takes away from the profitability of these shows and ultimately limits the opportunities that the competitors have to make a name for themselves.”

The Future

Looking into the future Klarman said that he would like to eventually get into other areas of content aggregation, but he admits that Go Fight Live has taken up the majority of his time.

The site, which is continually expanding its combat sports offering, broadcast its first sumo event earlier this year and is looking at expanding its coverage to Sambo, shoot fighting, stick fighting, and even arm wrestling as well.

“We really want to grow and be an all-inclusive combat sports destination,” Klarman said. “If we want to be considered a combat sports network we have to try and provide all the different types of combat sports that exist. We know about some [combat sports] and there are some that we don’t have any clue about yet, but that’s what we’re going for.”

Details on how to get a free show of your choice from Go Fight Live:

  1. Go to their website here
  2. Enter in your email address in the form provided.
  3. Enter the title of this article in the subject form.
  4. Where you are supposed to write your message say that you read this article, type the promo code PROMMANOW1, and put your top three choices for shows that you would like to see. Some shows may not be eligible so you might not get your first choice. 
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