The UFC, A Growing Juggernaut
The following article was written by Warren M. Jackson, a Sports Marketing Agent.
Make no mistake about it: The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the premier mixed martial arts promotion company on the face of the earth. Perhaps you consider them monopolistic. Maybe even bullies. In your opinion, Dana White is probably an aggressive promoter/businessman/asshole. You may have a point, but the fact remains that the UFC means business and this organization is not to be taken lightly in their business model or their growth strategies. To bet against them will make you the loser.
Having signed a new seven year broadcasting contract with FOX, the UFC is in a prime position to introduce mixed martial arts to a broader audience. No longer can the old psychographics be used to claim that the sport is only watched by testosterone-fueled, barbaric males between the ages of 18-34. The new social research provided on mixed martial arts indicate that college educated, middle class men and women between 18-44 are the new variables in the profile of the sport. Let’s not forget that this isn’t the first time FOX has danced with the UFC. Several years ago, Fox Sports Net aired a live UFC event which generated fantastic ratings. BUT, FOX wasn’t ready to dive in the pool head first. In other words, they didn’t want to commit to a deal. After witnessing the success of the UFC and the dedication of its following, FOX has cannon balled into the pool. This broadcasting deal pushes the UFC across many platforms, not to mention the fact that they have full control over the production of the live events aired on FOX. To put it lightly, this is a highly significant hurdle cleared by not only the UFC, but mixed martial arts fans as well.
The only downside that I have observed over the past year was the departure of Michael Pine, the former VP of Sponsorships for the promotion. He did a magnificent job creating a relationship with two major sponsors during his tenure: Harley Davidson and Anheuser Busch. Not to mention, he was instrumental in bringing in Burger King, Miller Lite and caught the eye of the United States Marines. A mighty work he did perform. Pine left the organization to take a job with the international triathlon company, Iron Man. As expected with the growth and popularity of the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts, the blue chip sponsors are lined up at the door. It is only a matter of time before we see that Swoosh or those three vertical italicized stripes in the center of the cage mat. Trust me, they are coming.
I am sure you have asked yourself, what does 2012 hold for the UFC? I am sure the thought provoking pundits will say that a new promotion will come along and challenge The UFC or the hype surrounding the Fox deal will fizzle out. Here are my predictions (while it will take others 12 months to get it right):
- Retail growth higher than anyone’s forecast;
- The ultimate fan experience at live events; and
- A broad and positive impact on society, in particular those who think the participants of the sport and its fans are meat heads.
In closing, we are all witnesses to the unlimited possibilities of the UFC. No longer should we question ourselves with what it stands for, or better yet, what we want it to stand for. There will always be differences of opinion on how the UFC conducts business and how will they deliver their product to the novice fan, as well as the diehard fan. One thing we all can agree on is this simple truth: the UFC has a track record of intensive growth and it is not slowing. The focused strategy of the promotional management team has proven to all of us that they are pretty good at what they do. Market development, product development, and offering a new experience to new fans are part of a strategy that is already in place. Growth is on the horizon. The anticipated risks have been calculated and any obstacle will be overcome. The only question that remains is this: How long will you remain in doubt?