The all-female MMA promotion Invicta Fighting Championships held its first pay-per-view event this past weekend (Jan. 5, 2013) from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.
Let's just say things didn't go exactly as planned.
After a large majority of fans revealed having issues with the online Invicta FC 4 pay-per-view through Ustream, Knapp made the unprecedented decision to take down the paywall and offer the pay-per-view completely for free for anyone who wanted to watch.
The event went on as scheduled and while there were still occasional lags with the stream, the ladies brought it like usual with a few standout performances in particular to set up what is expected to be a very successful 2013 for Invicta.
Knapp spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission last night about Saturday night's pay-per-view issues, potential network deals and wardrobe malfunctions in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's start with something simple before we get into specifics. What were your overall thoughts on Saturday night's show now that you've had a bit of time to think about it?
Shannon Knapp: I think the show was amazing. I think each and every time we get better at what we're doing in terms of production, except the streaming stuff (laughs). Ignore that side. But when it comes to the fights and the overall energy and everything, I think we keep getting better at that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Saturday night was your debut with pay-per-view through UStream but you had the issues with processing payments and had to give it away for free. What actually was the specific issue with people buying the show?
Shannon Knapp: I did receive an e-mail with apologies from UStream and I believe it was a problem with their payment gateway. People kept timing out with the round circle that was buffering and things like that. Some fans were trying for over an hour and they're scared to refresh because they're scared it might double charge and things like that. It was brought to my attention via all the social media that it was happening. We had reached out to UStream and no one was contacting us back at that point so we decided it was time to take the paywall down, issue that refund and stay true to the commitment that we've given to our fans.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Was it difficult having to make that decision to put that refund out there because this was supposed to be that big pay-per-view debut to start bringing in that revenue stream?
Shannon Knapp: Absolutely not. It was the only thing, the only right thing to do. One of the things that's very important to us is we stand behind our product. We guarantee every time, I say, "Hey, give us two minutes, three minutes, five minutes of your time and you will love this." That kind of thing. If people aren't getting that value and we asked them to pay for it, we will absolutely refund that money. Especially if some pay and all of the sudden you give it away for free. At that point, you have to refund the money.
I'll tell you what's been the best thing has been how many people don't want their money back. I think it's very important. Fans deserve customer service. You need to deliver what you promised and if you can't, you've got to make the adjustments to make it right and it was a no-brainer for us, completely a no-brainer for us to go in there and do that because it was the right thing to do.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): While the events have been going well and the fan support has been tremendous, this has been the third of four events now where you've had streaming issues. You've done everything from switching companies, providers, all sorts of things to try to make the stream go off without a hitch. What is going to be the ultimate solution to get your event to stream on the internet without having all the issues?
Shannon Knapp: I'm a bit speechless at this point, which doesn't happen very often. (laughs) It's not like I don't go into these situation and explain to them that we have a lot of traffic and prepare them with all the information that we need to accommodate our product and we just can't seem to win at that. I think the ultimate solution is to put more pep in my step and pursue a broadcast partner more actively. I think a stable platform, something we can rely on and depend on is the ultimate solution. Aside from that, I don't know.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mention the broadcast partner potential. Do these issues make you want to jump at a deal with a broadcast partner just because they would be so much less likely to have these issues, even if the deal isn't perfect?
Shannon Knapp: Yes and no. I'm still apprehensive about doing anything in a hasty manner just for the fact that when you get in positions like that, you start to make bad decisions just to put a band-aid on a problem. The bottom line is we're still going to be selective because we're looking for a partner to grow the business and I've seen it happen so many times, bad decisions made, partnerships that don't work and we just want to align ourselves with a good partner that is beneficial for the sport.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you eventually line yourself up with a broadcast partner, would that also mean the end of pay-per-views, at least the online type you tried on Saturday night?
Shannon Knapp: You know, I think we're always going to be doing some kind of streaming just for the fact that no matter what network you're on, you've got all the support from other countries and we're trying to get it out to as many people as we can just to grow. I'm gonna say that we're all gonna do something in some capacity but yeah, certainly a much more stable platform would be healthier for everyone involved.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Okay, let's touch on a couple other things. One was during the Leslie Smith vs. Raquel Pennington fight, you had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction towards the end of the first round. What steps can you do to prevent that, or was it just a freak thing? I remember Dana White banning a certain banana hammock after Dennis Hallman had a similar incident in the UFC.
Shannon Knapp: It's something we weren't out there suggesting that's for sure. I've never seen anything like that before (laughs) and I didn't actually see it happen. I'll have to go back and review tape and it's definitely something we'll discuss with the athletes the next time we have a meeting about appropriate clothing to make sure these things don't happen. I really think we should take into account that you're fighting and certain apparel might not be appropriate. I'm sure it was never Leslie's intention by any stretch of the imagination but for sure we'll address it and move on.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on Bec Hyatt's performance. She stepped up on eight days notice and put up quite a fight against Carla Esparza. Even though she lost a decision, she definitely got her licks in on the feet every time the fight was standing. Did she beat your expectations?
Shannon Knapp: I couldn't have asked for a better replacement. She stepped up and she delivered. Coming into the fight, a lot of people were saying she shouldn't be in the main event but I think she proved she belonged there. I think she made an impression and I think she's amazing. I think she's someone you should keep your eyes on. You'll be seeing a lot more of Bec and Invicta is definitely going to have her back for sure, definitely.