The Rise of MMA: Numbers Don’t Lie

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Marketing, PR

As a PR guy there is nothing I hate more than crunching numbers.  However, the irony is there is nothing that beefs up a story you want to tell (or prove) like numbers. Thankfully, someone has crunched a few that I thought you may all find of interest.

How often do we hear the UFC claim that MMA is the fastest growing sport with no numbers attached to it?  Well, the fine folks at The MMAPayout released a piece this week focusing on the actual numbers behind the UFC fanbase.  It is a very interesting snapshot, and the graphs certainly help you visualize where MMA (at least UFCs MMA) sits across the major sports affiliates.  Below is a snapshot of a few choice pieces of information and graphs, please visit the above link to The MMAPayout for the full piece.

“There’s no shortage of news or information available regarding the UFC’s growth from a pay-per-view or gate perspective, but there’s considerably less information where the growth of its fan base is concerned. I suspect this is the case because the UFC is a relatively new sporting phenomenon that’s yet to gain the requisite level of acceptance that would make it worthwhile for survey companies to collect the data from consumers needed to produce relevant information on the fan base. However, the times are changing and we’re now beginning to see some information emerge related to the demographics and psychographics of the UFC fan.

Today, we’ll be taking a glimpse at the age and gender demographics of the UFC. I’ve also included information from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, and MLS to provide some context to the overall sports landscape, which will help to put the UFC’s current fan base into perspective – both its strengths and shortcomings.
The following information was mined from the Simmons Research Database.”

Images from The MMAPayout

“The global size of the UFC fan base is difficult to estimate, because there are material components of the fan base not included in the above survey or that do not live in the United States. We must reasonably adjust for American children (12-17), Canadians, British, and other fans throughout the world.

The following is a bit of envelope math using the American 18+ interest level (13%) as a foundation for adjustment and should only be taken as a loose estimate for the purpose of framing a conversation regarding the UFC/MMA fan base.

  • Americans 12-17 at 13%: 800,000. This group accounts for approximately 8% of the American population and assuming the same overall interest levels between adults and children (which is conservative considering that the interest level for MMA is likely to be higher for youth) we arrive at 800,000.
  • Canadians at 18%: 6,000,000. The sport has exploded in the country of 34 million people and the UFC’s interest levels in Canada far exceed that of the US in every demographic; 18% of the entire popular seems like a fair and conservative estimate, which gives us 6 million people.
  • British at 8%: 5,000,000. The sport is slowly picking up speed in Britain, but still not close to enjoying the interest levels in Canada or the US.
  • The World: 20,000,000. The rest of the world — including markets such as Japan, Korea, Brazil, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East — likely numbers into the 20 million range.

The above estimates would then put the global size of the UFC fan base at roughly 65 million. The growth potential is considerably higher, but that’s still a pretty solid number all things considered.”

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