The UFC: MMA organization or New Media Empire?

Posted: June 14, 2011 in Marketing, PR, Strikeforce, UFC

Last week the UFC initiated a move that could be a true KO in sports.  The dominant MMA organization is in talks to purchase the primary shares of the G4 network.  There have been talks of MMA networks before, but this would be the final cornerstone of a full-blown MMA media empire.

The UFC currently has a Website full of unique online content (updated daily), a monthly print magazine, a Web TV series, an army of social media networks, and TV programs that span SPIKE, VS and ION.  If the UFC purchases the G4 Network it will have a controlling stake in each marketable medium it wants to get its message across in.

The UFC would not be the first sport with its own network as the MLB, MLS, and NFL are just a few sports to already stake ground in the cable landscape.  These sports are, of course, more established main stream products with decades of content that can be replayed during off-season moments.

What’s to gain?

  • No need to create a channel of new shows.  There is no Lack of  original content for the UFC. In fact, the UFC is the owner of the world’s largest MMA library.  UFC, Strikeforce and Pride content is all potential programming. (Including training sessions, documentaries, etc) Now mix in ongoing programs like “Best of Pride”, “Countdown”, “Primetime”, and The Ultimate Fighter. I think you get the picture…
  • No longer tied to other stations schedules.  The UFC would no longer have to deal with the schedules, censors and agendas of another network.  They would be in complete control of the channel, the message and the production of the content. If there is one thing that can be said for the UFC team, they are perfectionists.  If they move this forward, the channel will be the HBO of sports networks.
  • More Ad Revenue.  Nuff said. The UFC would have an entire channel dedicated to a key demographic men and women age 18-30s.
  • Keeper of all data.  Forget focus groups.  With a network coupled with the online data they are collecting through the Website and social networks, the UFC will now have almost every move, click and view of its audience at its disposal.

What is the potential loss?

  • Other than the potential of lost revenue you always have to worry about audience dedication to come to you. You get too niche and you could lose your mass audience.  Spike, ION and Vs can be found on a number of basic cable packages.  As such, the average sports fan can tune in and enjoy the UFC when on TV. Will this UFC/G4 network be the same way or will it become something like the NFL network which requires a special package.  People who are not “die hards” may not become UFC loyalists if they need to pay an extra monthly fee to enjoy the sport.

When you weigh the pros and the cons, there are certainly more reason than not for the UFC to move forward and cement its personal media empire.  As such, the question posed is not whether Dana White and his team can produce and promote or a channel.  The question is what does this mean for the sport of MMA?  What will this mean for other sports?

If the UFC can in fact become its own media agency, it no longer needs mainstream media’s blessing. It will bring the world its content in the format it wants to.  No longer will the UFC reach out to the world, it will ask the world to come to it. Essentially the UFC will be the Facebook of sports.  The walled garden of data will be owned by the UFC with information coming in and selectively targeting what comes out.  This new model could become the blueprint for the other sports to follow suit.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Would you pay your cable provider a bit more to make sure you had a UFC channel?

  1. Ray says:

    I don’t think G4 is a bad channel. I believe that some of the shows they air are the reason that the ratings are slipping. If the UFC steps in this will allow them to have Ultimate Fighter and give them a better lineup. I like when they show older movies like Robocop but that only happens once in a while. It’s too bad that DirecTV dropped G4 from its lineup because if this deal goes through their customers would be without Ultimate Fighter. I work for Dish Network and I subscribe to the service. I’m glad I still have G4 and if this deal goes through I won’t have to miss out on Ultimate Fighter.

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