FightNight Live Streams Boxing, MMA, Muay Thai to Facebook Live

Social interactivity shines during the unique broadcasts from Linacre Media

The internet is giving boxing fans some great deals. Consider that, in December, Showtime Sports began streaming undercard bouts to Facebook Live for free. And, just yesterday, Linacre Media began streaming entire multi-fight lineups to the same platform at no cost in a series called FightNight Live. Not just a live feed, FightNight Live combines multicamera production with a social element that lets fans interact with the announcers. That’s more interactivity than fans would get if they were right there in the arena.

“There’s a gap in coverage for boxing and MMA and Muay Thai and other sports. We’re looking to fill by making this service available to rightsholders and giving the benefit to fans,” explains Mark Fratto, principal/director of business development, Linacre. “Events like these haven’t been covered by traditional television and traditional boxing. The digital customer and the cord-cutter are basically relegated to trying to watch spectator’s live feeds off their cellphones.”

FightNight Live combines the immediacy of live video with the connectedness of social media. That social element begins as soon as fans log in and are able to talk to each other as they wait for the first fight. During the matches as well, they can interact with each other — providing their own commentary, Fratto says — or upload questions and have them answered by the announcers, not just between rounds but during the matches. Between bouts, fans can take a look at behind-the-scenes coverage they don’t get with standard boxing broadcasts.

The first event in the FightNight Live series was streamed in 720p from the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun arena in Connecticut, but future lineups will come from all across the country. Linacre is still signing deals, so no schedule has been announced yet. Fratto can’t say when the next event will be, but an announcement should be coming soon. Follow FightNight Live on Facebook for updates.

Just because FightNight Live is an online broadcast doesn’t mean the operation is scaled back. Linacre is producing a multicamera stream with on-screen graphics, ringside commentators, and producers monitoring the Facebook feed and routing questions to the experts. It’s a professional package.

Facebook weighs heavily not just in Lincre’s distribution strategy but in its marketing strategy as well: Linacre is using the social network to build an audience through targeted advertising. Reaching out to Facebook members who have shown interest in boxing, mixed martial arts, or Muay Thai, Linacre is spreading the news to potential viewers. It’s running targeted ads on Instagram and Twitter as well.

“I really think Facebook Live delivers the content in a way that we want it delivered. I think they have the best ability for fan interaction, for viewer interaction,” Fratto says, adding, “The team has been great to work with in terms of helping us maximize how we’re going to reach a broad audience and also a targeted audience.”

For a little background, New York City-based Linacre is a production-services company, handling live coverage for around 200 events a year. It has covered soccer, basketball, football, volleyball, and more and has worked with CBS Sports Network, Madison Square Garden Network, ESPNU, Comcast Sports Network, One World Sports, ESPN3, and the Campus Insiders Network. That’s pretty impressive for a company that’s only 2½ years old.

For the Mohegan Sun stream, Linacre partnered with D2 Productions, which provided the production truck, engineering, and some hardware, including an encoder. Rather than inserting standard commercials, Linacre plans to monetize the FightNight series by integrating branded content into the event.

“This production is designed to be cost-efficient and lean. We have a number of people wearing a number of hats to make sure that this gets on-air and is great quality,” Fratto says. “When we made the formal arrangements to do this show with the promoter and with Facebook as a platform, we got right into building graphics and animations and licensing music and making sure we were ready to go on this first show. We’ve had conversations with many others, and we’ve had a great deal of interest from other rightsholders who want to move forward with this. The next round is solidifying those dates and events and getting ready to roll on those shows.”

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