Thursday, July 13, 2006

UFC and Sponsors....

I read an interesting AP article today on the growth of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Below are some tidbits from the story:

* "Company executives wouldn't disclose what kind of audience their pay-per-view fights are generating but they did say recent numbers are at least comparable to World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the WWE had four events that averaged 482,000 pay-per-view buys in the fourth financial quarter of 2006. However, UFC's cable ratings lag well behind the WWE broadcasts on USA Network."

* "For Spike, the series brought in serious advertising dollars targeting men between the ages of 18 and 34, the network's prized demographic. Burger King, the U.S. Army and Taco Bell are among the advertisers."

I must be jaded, because I bet there are less than 10 companies/products in the United States that would want to be associated with this League. I don't care if a half a million people watch an event, what happens when someone dies and the press decides to ask for a comment from the top sponsor of the event. I am surprised it is sanction in over 20 states.

Now, don't get me wrong, do to the fact that the boxing industry is in shambles, fans are looking for another violent sport to watch. It's a smart move for the U.S. Army to be an advertiser. Hell, I would even consider being a top sponsor of the whole League. This is the perfect target audience for them.

The Boston Globe noted earlier this year: "UFC has been spotlighted over the last year in Time, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and many major daily newspapers around the country. The Las Vegas Review-Journal now has its chief boxing writer regularly cover UFC events and media outlets debate over how much space to devote to the results."

Not bad for a League is trying to make a name for itself with mainstream fans.
Companies/products that should be associated with UFC -- Maxim, Casinos, TAG, Budweiser (maybe), Certain hard liquors.

It will be interesting to see how this League grows. If they spend money on marketing and PR, and become legal in New York, they could become the next version of the AFL in four or five years. I would have to believe that their fans are extremely loyal and could be the perfect audience for a cutting edge, slightly risqué product.


At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hags is a HUGE fan of UFC. Even I have been know to watch while stumbling across the Spike channel. The best show is the one where fighters live in a house and then compete to get some sort of contract. This is the best reality show out there - there is drama, but then at the end of the show they get to beat the heck out of one another.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger The Hag said...

I've always loved UFC. In it's infancy, it was essentially legalized bar brawling. Now it's a lot more technical in nature (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, grappling, wrestling, etc, etc). I think Bomber hits on one of the best aspects of the "Ultimate Fighter" reality grow to like or dislike certain cast members, and if you're lucky, you can witness your least favorite getting their ass kicked. If only "Real World" had a similiar outlet...I'm sure there are millions of people in the world who would've love to have seen Puck getting elbowed in the face.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Bob said...

I'm right there with you, Hags. We bought the original UFC on PPV and had a party my sophomore year. 60+ events later I'm still a big fan.

I assume you've seen the fight where Tim "the Maniac" Sylvia refuses to tap out of an arm bar and gets it broken for his trouble? The best part is he doesn't seem to notice it's broken and gets mad when the ref stops the fight.

Come on, that's good television!

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Bob said...

A couple more points:

1. I won't bother to feign indignance that UFC is grouped with WWE, but for the record UFC is a legitimate competition, not just cartoonish entertainment.

2. "what happens when someone dies"
Um, hello? Boxing, NASCAR, football, etc. To paraphrase Will Ferrell, that's what full-contact-sport athletes do; they die.

3. "next version of the AFL"
Does this statement imply UFC:WWE::AFL:NFL? If so I refer you to point #1.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Milne said...

Bob -- Good points. It will be interesting to see if this sport is really able to grow. While I don't agree, I think the government is going to get involved if the sport becomes legal in more states and generates more media coverage. With all the censorship going on, I would be shocked if the government didn't try to ban it.


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