Combate Americas is pateando el culo y tomando nombres
On April 13 Bellator had 403,000 viewers between Paramount Network and CMT, for a show that aired in prime time. The same night Combate had 764,000 viewers between Univision and Univision Deportes, for a show with a main card that aired after midnight ET.
That 765k viewers didn’t just double the Viacom backed Bellator. UFC Fight Night 131 in June 1 averaged 512,000 viewers and peaked at 593,000.
Combate Americas co-founder and senior vice-president Mike Afromowitz says the success is due to serving underserved segments of the market.
“There are millions and millions of Hispanic households in the U.S.,” said the long-time MMA vet Afromowitz. “They’ve proven their passion for combat sports over the years. And that’s before we even start talking about Latin American countries. The other companies only get to Mexico every so often. We’ve made a conscious effort to reach out to those markets and we’re starting to see those markets respond in a big way.”
And then there’s Mexico, where Combate is broadcast on Azteca 7. The four events in April and May averaged 3 million viewers, which compares favorably with the 2.7 million viewers that the popular AAA lucha libre events got on Televisa. Combate is now carried on ESPN Latin America in 21 Spanish-speaking countries.
The success of Combate should come as no surprise. The UFC was founded in 1993 by McLaren, Art Davie, Rorion Gracie, Bob Meyrowitz, and David Isaacs. And it has done pretty well.
As McLaren points out, US consumers buy more salsa than ketchup, and in time, Combate will push for the English speaking market.
“It’s first things first,” Afromowitz said. “We’re still building this out in our core areas. Eventually, we’re going to get around to building the brand on the English side, but we’re still in the process of ramping up the product for our core audience and markets.”
The success of soccer is such that wars in Latin America have enjoyed ceasefires to watch crucial games. Wisely, the most recent Combate event was on May 18, and the promotion will build behind the scenes but stay off the air during the World Cup. Anticipate a roaring return in August.
In the meantime, hopefully the English-speaking MMA media will wise up to the simple fact that MMA at the highest level is not just the UFC and Bellator any longer.