UFC maps road to global domination


Alan Snel of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote a must-read piece for everyone interested in the business side of the fight business.

And the fight business is booming, as related by Zuffa Chief Executive Lorenzo Fertitta. UFC content is broadcast on 30 television networks, in 328 languages, in 145 nations, reaching 800,0000 households, for a total potential viewership of over 2,500,000,000 people - over one third of the world's inhabitants.

Fertitta projects that the UFC’s annual international revenue will outstrip its domestic revenue by 2015, the culmination of a five-year plan.

UFC’s push for world athletic domination follows several high-profile global agreements consummated in the past three months:
•Partnering with Latin America broadcast powerhouse Televisa Networks to build and distribute a new UFC subscription channel in 20 Spanish-speaking countries, including Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. It’s a model already in place with TV Globo in Brazil, a hotbed for MMA and UFC. The first live UFC event in Mexico City will happen next year. In addition to the new subscription TV channel, there will be quarterly free broadcast events to expose the brand.
•Deepening investment in Asia to stage live events at The Venetian Macau and Marina Bay Sands, the luxury Singapore property of Sands China’s parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corp. UFC for the first time will co-produce a Chinese version of The Ultimate Fighter TV to reach more than 830 million viewers across China.
•Scoring a political victory in Canada with a House of Commons update of a 69-year-old law to spell out that MMA is officially legal north of the border. The UFC waited four years for that law to be updated.
•Staging a world tour with pit stops in Sweden, England and Brazil to hype the UFC brand.
•UFC soon will expand into a new frontier: sub-Saharan Africa, where UFC will make its fights and related content available through smartphone apps in 18 languages.
•In Asia, UFC will unveil its popular “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show in Hindi to reach India’s 1.2 billion people.
•Other global initiatives include live events in new international host event cities such as Berlin, Istanbul, Mexico City, and Warsaw in 2014.

This follows the UFC’s global business strategy of partnering in media production and promotion of its fight events, rather than selling its content to foreign media companies. This approach allows UFC to retain control over its content while directly receiving revenues from its fight events and ancillary revenue-makers such as sponsorships, and sales from DVDs, magazines, video games, and logo gear.

The company has dedicated 20 percent of its 500-worker force to offices around the world. After launching its international push in 2008, UFC followed a strategy of hiring international business talent from other sports:
•UFC hired Tom Wright in 2010 as director of Canadian operations. Wright was a Canadian Football League commissioner and former president of adidas Canada.
•That same year, UFC hired Mark Fischer to be Asia executive vice president and managing director. Fischer has extensive sports contacts in the region, where he had worked since 1997 and was most recently NBA Asia’s senior vice president and managing director.
•In 2012, Garry Cook became UFC’s executive vice president and managing director for operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Cook was chief executive of the Manchester City Football Club in England for three years. Before that, at Nike, he worked closely with NBA superstar Michael Jordan and led Nike’s Brand Jordan campaign.
•In Brazil, where MMA is the nation’s second-most-popular sport behind soccer, Grace Tourinho has been UFC’s exclusive authorized representative since 2012. Tourinho has vast event ticketing and financial experience in Brazil.

Read entire article...


tags: UFC   Dana White   Lorenzo Ferititta   


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Recent Comments »

Ninja Tea Party site profile image  

8/13/13 6:13 AM by Ninja Tea Party

I can't see how they are going to pick up more fans other than the new generation of teenagers. I'm obviously a fan myself, but from the UK and Spain perspective (which is where I live most of the time) then over the last couple of years awareness has barely increased and when it does it doesn't necessarily translate to new fans. One thing that MMA (and combat sports in general I guess, but in particular MMA) is that some people really can't stomach it. This includes guys. This is why I laugh when Dana bangs on about soccer. It's really common in Europe to have a family of all ages gathered to watch soccer. You will never, ever get that with MMA. Certainly not in Spain, that's 100%. You won't get that in the UK either from personal experience, although it seems to have a bit more appeal. Kids in Europe have soccer kits before they can even walk. Team alliances stretch for generations. These people aren't looking for a new sport. Personally I can't remember the last time I introduced someone to MMA and they became a fan. Well, I think it was about 6 years ago or so. Everyone else has either not liked the violence or just enjoy the odd fight but as soon as they leave my house they are not thinking about MMA anymore. Sorry, that's a bit pessimistic, I just wanted to throw it out there because naturally we're all enthusiastic about MMA but from personal experiences trying to talk about MMA with anyone outside of the scene is like having a bucket of cold water thrown over you, you suddenly realise how much of a non-entity it is to those outside of the sport. I mean, I don't like tennis for example but I can name significantly more tennis players than regular people can name MMA fighters. I can't see how we can get more traction.

sevr1 site profile image  

8/12/13 8:05 PM by sevr1

Yes, North Americans. Don't worry though...it's sarcasm. I know they're going to ask us for money while the rest of the world gets it free for the foreseeable future.

Chromium site profile image  

8/12/13 6:28 AM by Chromium

@JerodR: the non-team-sports equivalent of what you're suggesting, from boxing to wrestling to tennis and gold, is a tournament, not purposely dividing the champion in two so they can be re-merged once a year. For all intents and purposes the title is split in two every time a new challenger steps into the ring. Crowning some other dude "Champion" whether he fought for it or not and then fighting the original champion would be no more meaningful. That the median number of title fights for any given division is a whopping 2 makes your suggestion impractical on top of pointless. Having more tournaments (other than the TUF ones I mean) would be rad, but only when the occasion calls for it. These things take too damn long otherwise. If there's a champion verses champion fight and someone wins a belt in another division, have them vacate their first belt and have a tournament to crown someone new. Depending on the division you could have 8 or 16 people. However this only makes sense in rare circumstances like that.

XIITT_JBASS site profile image  

8/12/13 5:57 AM by XIITT_JBASS

No mention of Australia? :(

Wicked smahtMF site profile image  

8/12/13 1:40 AM by Wicked smahtMF

love these threads

MMALOGIC site profile image  

8/12/13 12:58 AM by MMALOGIC

  I dont believe zuffa expects to sell out the same way everytime just like I dont believe zuffa expects to sell 1m ppv's with every event.   what zuffa wants is a good baseline for a good market and an ok baseline for an ok market.  The UFC has been to jersey 4 times and the baseline is around 2m dollars for ppv fights.  2.1m for rashad vs Bisping, 2.1m for shogun vs Jones, 2.7m for Jones vs chael, 4m for gsp vs hardy.  Is Zuffa losing sleep because jersey only pulled 4m once?  I dont believe so... same way I dont believe zuffa is losing sleep because ufc 100 was the only ppv to ever hit over 1.3m buys.  The baseline is important... the spikes will come but you need to establish a good baseline. what will a market produce if zuffa staged an event once a year for over 100 years.  that's a more important number in gate revenue and market development.  Are advertisers targeting that market?  for example, hawaii would pull a great gate but advertisers arent really targeting that market so why do you really need to develop that market.  Ad buyers and sponsors want the major markets like NY, LA, Toronto, etc... if zuffa can stage an event in Jersey (NY) once a year over 100 years and average a 2m gate... that's what every business wants.  the one off stadium shows do not mean as much in the grand scheme of things. So far Stockholm has been 2m a year every year for fight nights. Sydney has been 2m plus for all 3 visits.  This is what zuffa is collecting.... a venue/market you can go back to every year and collect x dollars.  if "x" = 2m dollars that's wonderful.  if x = 1m dollars that's not bad either.  Zuffa is gonna collect as many 2m dollar venues/markets as it can and it will also collect as many 1m dollar venues and markets as it can.  Zuffa can make fights/events for both and monetize the beamed content for both through licnesing (ala fox) and/or ppv/subscription.

sevr1 site profile image  

8/11/13 11:27 PM by sevr1

Dana, listen to the man. I know you say "There's nothing like going to a live event" and all that, but it's more waiting and boredom than one can handle. The fights are awesome, but the repeated promos, etc that he mentioned bore people. I know you always want to make your product better, and he gave some good ideas. One other suggestion I have, is between fights have some type of official meet and greet stuff between the guys not fighting and the fans. I'd say stagger when they have to do it, that way people get a chance to meet them, but are not bugging all night. Just an idea.

JerodR site profile image  

8/11/13 11:23 PM by JerodR

There are different levels of champions in individual sports as well. There are a number of individual sports where you could be a national champion and not win the world championships. It is hard to keep limited weight divisions, limited champions, yet employ more fighters and expand on a global scale. Of course the UFC model works well as it is but the thought is what is that next step? Although the NFL, NHL, MLB are team sports in order to be like them sooner or later you would think you would have to adapt some kind of similar structure.

kevsh site profile image  

8/11/13 11:21 PM by kevsh

I'm sure Zuffa is still happy coming back to Toronto, but unless the card features a GSP superfight their numbers will continue to drop. And that's Canada's biggest city. What about Winnipeg? Ottawa? or say Quebec City? I highly doubt a 2nd event in smaller markets would come anywhere near $2M.As for SF in San Jose, sure they did well there but it's honestly apples and oranges. The UFC clearly believes that just showing up on foreign soil is going to sell out every time (just ask UK fans, for instance) and I'd imagine there's a bit of a price difference, for starters. I see your point overall but if you're running the UFC you can't tell me you're completely satisfied if your revenue drops in half between your first and second visit to a city? No one who owns any business wants revenue drops like that, period.

ssj site profile image  

8/11/13 10:24 PM by ssj

because mma is such a team sport and all