Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in the United States and TV networks can't seem to get shows covering it on the air fast enough. CBS, Showtime, VERSUS, Spike TV and even ESPN are increasing their coverage of the sport.
It has all but pushed boxing into obscurity and MMA's already large following continues to increase at a pace that other mainstream sports can only dream of seeing.
Andrew Simon, CEO of HDNet Fights, has the distinction of running the network with the most MMA programming in the world. The channel is seen locally on DirecTV, Verizon Fios and is coming soon to Comcast.
We talked recently about what makes the sport so popular.
Simon on what makes the sport fun to watch » There is non-stop action -- it combines so many different types of fighting. There is punching like in boxing, take downs like in wrestling and the use of the legs as weapons like is the case in a number of popular martial arts disciplines. So you have fighters who need to be versed in a number of differ types of combat before they become champions in this sport.
Simon on how HDNet presents the sport »
We have made Friday night destination viewing for MMA fans. Our plan has been to give viewers a mixture of both live event shows as well as news shows like "Inside MMA" and "Fighting Words with Mike Straka" that allows the audience to get to know the fighters. This month alone we will broadcast five MMA events from four different countries. May 7th, Maximum Fighting Championship from Edmonton; May 14th, Mark Burnett Presents: King of the Cage from New Mexico; May 21st, K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 in Bucharest; May 28th, the K-1 World Max Final 16 from Japan; and on the 29th, the DREAM 14 in Japan.
Simon on the MMA audience »
The most important demographic measures, including income and education. The MMA fan base represents higher levels versus the overall population: approximately 47 percent of the fan base has an average household income over $75,000 and approximately 57 percent of the fan base has a college education. MMA [demographics] are approximately 80 percent of the audience is male and approximately 56 percent of fans are aged 18-34.
Worth noting is that MMA pay-per-view telecasts have crushed wresting and are gaining on boxing numbers. There is no doubt that MMA is here to stay and is a force in the sports world.
Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.
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MMA gear now available at the UG Store