Ring Of Sports Marketing

Date archives November 2015


MMA Is Its Own Best Advocate

The Fertitta brothers and Dana White have had a very unique and refreshing vision for combat sports.  The vision is very different from what  the general population would expect from the fight game but that is largely due to the extremely ineffective marketing that the UFC had before purchased by Zuffa LLC.

Instead of relying on outside agencies to create content the UFC has created an internal content creation team of about 85 employees according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Why this makes sense for the UFC:

The UFC has a full calendar of events that are constantly subject to change the world over.  With the amount of content necessary to properly promote a fight, agencies could easily be overwhelmed .  Not to mention it would be incredibly expensive given the rates some agencies can charge, which would add up over time.

Also, the Fertitta brothers and White have often said that people on the outside don’t necessarily get what the UFC is trying to do.  By having an in-house team it is much easier to have some creative control and direction of the content.

Lastly, in the sports world you have to own your own content.  You have to be your own advocate because the news does not have the same incentives you do.  You have to be able to profit directly off your own content.  You have to create content because today that is the best marketing, especially with the stories the UFC wants to tell.

For example, when the UFC acquired StrikeForce one of the big components to the purchase was the library that StrikeForce had.

(via Beyond cage fights, UFC is also media organization | Las Vegas Review-Journal)


Ufc on Periscope

Ufc on Periscope


John Oliver Takes Down Daily Fantasy Sports As Gambling

John Oliver brings together a lot of evidence to show how Daily Fantasy is exactly like gambling.  He addresses a provision ruling where a judge said that Daily Fantasy didn’t fit the exact definition of what is illegal according to one specific law partially because it can be defined as a game of skill.  That doesn’t mean that it’s illegal in general, or maybe not even to that one specific law if there was a closer investigation.

His greatest point was comparing daily fantasy, a supposed game of skill, to poker, which is also considered a game of skill but is still classified as gambling.  The evidence shows that Daily Fantasy is more skill-based than Draft Kings or Fan Duel wants you to believe because only people who have the same skills such as experts in probability and algorithms, like those necessary in poker, are successful.

What this means for combat sports:

John Oliver might have gotten ahead of the courts on this one.  He compiles an excellent list of evidence and accurate comparisons that clouds the decision that supposedly makes Daily Fantasy “legal” while showing that Daily Fantasy is described almost exactly like gambling is.

If Daily Fantasy is ruled as gambling according to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 then it could hurt a possible opening for combat sports to incorporate fantasy into their schedule.

The combat sports organizations might have to retool or help support other means of Daily Fantasy that are legal.


Holm KO’s Rousey and Changes Women’s MMA

For years Ronda Rousey has been an unbeatable fighter in the UFC.  No one even came close and fighters had tried almost everything to beat her.  What separated Holly Holm from the others is her confidence and ability to fight without fear.  Ronda Rousey was MMA’s Mike Tyson, minus the legitimate clinical craziness, with her textbook technique, physical superiority, and confidence.  She met her Buster Douglas in Holly Holm, which might be the best thing for women’s MMA.

I don’t think cockiness or a lack of humility is what did Ronda in.  Through her experiences she was by far the best fighter in the world and in order to prove to the world that she was going to go down as the greatest fighter of all time she wanted to beat Holm at her own game.  When your mindset goes from winning the fight to beating everyone at their own game to be the greatest of all time the strategy changes.  Sun Tzu would say that she lost sense of her own talents and strengths while not recognizing the strengths and weaknesses in her opponent.  Maybe she understood Holm’s talents because at the weigh-in Rousey looked more like Beth Correia than Ronda Rousey and Holm looked more the part of Rousey.

Tyson was a fighter who was so dominant that if he didn’t finish his opponent in three rounds he would lose it mentally.  As Rousey took a left hand and stumbled before taking a left kick to the head I had flashes of Tyson getting knocked out by Buster Douglas and grabbing for his mouth piece.  It’s like when a superhero becomes mortal or maybe an angel losing its wings.

For months in-between her last fights Rousey and the UFC went back and forth on social media with Floyd Mayweather about who was the most dominant fighter.  Kevin Iole in his article in the aftermath of Rousey-Holm that Rousey’s knockout made Mayweather’s 49-0 run even that much more impressive.  Mayweather never lost sense of who he was as a fighter and even with all the things that seemed like a distraction such as his money and cars he was still dedicated to his craft more than anyone else has ever been dedicated to something.

We’ll see Rousey back.  And in the rematch I expect Rousey to win.  She will fight the opponent in front of her instead of fighting to prove her own perfection.  Holm’s strategy worked perfectly.  She played to her strengths, used her length, used her cardio, and avoided everything she knew that Rousey was better at.  When you get to such a high level of any sport it’s not how much of a bad-ass you are.  It’s about how smart you are, not just in training but also in fighting.  Holm was the smarter fighter that night.

What this means for the UFC and Rousey:

People might actually take the whole women’s divisions more seriously instead of viewing it as Rousey and everybody else.  With Holm’s extensive boxing and competitive fighting experience she wasn’t getting the respect she deserved from fans and casual fans didn’t care who Rousey was fighting because they showed up to watch a demolition.  Meisha Tate, Holly Holm, and the fighters in the 115-pound weight class might start getting the attention they deserve.

The UFC went all in on Ronda Rousey.  She justifiably should have been the face of the UFC the last few years with her dominant wins, beauty (as much as I hate to say it that’s a significant part of marketing women), and being one of the few legitimate athletes who should be role models and that she was a role model for young women everywhere who are largely alienated from the sports world.

However, now the UFC needs to figure out how to better market Rousey.  She is no longer the unbeatable titan.  She no longer has the 0 on her record the same way Mayweather does.  Marketing wins and losses is always a terrible idea in sports because once a loss occurs there’s really no way to save the person or team because winning was their whole brand.  The UFC has to re-position Ronda Rousey differently in mainstream marketing since her greatest strength is in mainstream marketing.

Marketing the recovery of Rousey’s image and finding who she really is as a person and athlete would be fantastic.  Honestly, I don’t find the marketing of an unbeatable athlete that cool.  There are so many better stories to tell.  I think this is a great opportunity for the UFC to really market who Rousey is.  Rousey has been doing a great job telling her own story and with the UFC backing her on it the results could be much better.  Marketing the rest of the women’s division would also greatly enhance all of the fighter’s brands, positioning in the market, and their individual fights.

I would love to see an interview with Ronda Rousey and Brene Brown. Rousey now has to come back from a loss that was viewed by millions.  Fighters can often really struggle with a loss, especially after feeling invincible for so long as the “baddest on the planet.”  Tyson reaching for his mouthpiece is the embodiment of feeling knocked off the perch of invincibility.  Brene Brown’s most recent book, Rising Strong, is about the “people who whole-heartedly get back up and go another round after getting their asses handed to them in big and small ways.”

I view Rousey’s loss as an entry point into a brand new world of marketing.  Maybe it’s one of the best things to happen to the sport and maybe it could be one of the best things to happen to Rousey.  Fighters who take a loss come back better than ever and are pushed to new heights.


MMA’s Most Dominant Fighter to Disappear After This Weekend

Ronda Rousey will be fighting Holly Holm this weekend in Australia.  Rousey is the sport’s most dominant fighter crushing everybody she has faced.  Only Miesha Tate has been in the realm of competitive.

Years after Dana White said that the UFC will never have a woman fighter, Rousey is the face of MMA and the UFC.  She’s constantly in public promoting herself and the sport.  Based on her statements she’s going to be leaving the sport temporarily.  However, while I view it as a sign that she might be burned out on being in the public and being a bonafide celebrity transcending the sport, others think this is her way of dodging Cris Cyborg Justino, who might be physically superior and the only real threat to Rousey’s throne.

Rousey is the A-side of the fight so gets to dictate some terms, which means Cyborg would need to drop weight since she is in a higher weight class.

In the past Rousey has also said that her career has an expiration date that is approaching.  Through sponsorships, movies, and other partnerships she probably doesn’t need to enter the ring and get punched in the face to make absurd amounts of money anymore.

In music artists need to be making and releasing music constantly to stay relevant.  Maybe Rousey is planning on her leave of abscence from the public eye to create more desire to watch her fight and increase the value of her appearances.  If we miss her we might pay more in a few months when she fights again.


Boxing Is a Brutal, Fading Sport. Could Football Be Next?

Boxing Is a Brutal, Fading Sport. Could Football Be Next?


FocusMotion Mapping Could Improve Athlete Safety During Training

FocusMotion is a technology that has joined with the Dodgers’ Accelerator Group partnering with R/GA.  The device is a piece of wearable technology that has the goal of mapping all human movement during a workout.

Sports Science has become an increasing part of the sports landscape, most notably pioneered by Chip Kelly at Oregon and now with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Tracking athlete movements so that training can be tailored to their individual needs has been shown to take athlete’s to the next level.

What this means for Combat Sports:

Combat sport training seems to still be twenty or more years behind modern training for other sports.  By continually doing too many rounds sparring and other forms of training to excess fighters become susceptible to injury, which puts not only the individual fighter at risk of not performing or having a shortened career, and thus losing money, but also the promotion company of not being able to put on a top event.

Jose Aldo suffered a training injury that might have been the result of overtraining.  The UFC had to revamp and reschedule the upcoming event as well plan the fight card months down the line.  Conor McGregor, Aldo’s  opponent, has been an advocate of new training methods based on movement and not doing as many rounds and other training activities that could result in too much wear and tear.

The UFC has shown that they are committed to better sports science practices for their athletes and they should look into possibly partnering with FocusMotion.  Every athlete in the UFC could opt-in to the program to get the most out of their training while reducing the risk of injury.

(via FocusMotion)


DraftKings and FanDuel ordered to stop taking bets in New York State

The New York State attorney general has ordered that DraftKings and Fan Duel immediately stop accepting bets of New York residents because it has been determined that the games are in violation of the illegal gambling laws in the state.

“It is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country,” Mr. Schneiderman said, adding, “Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch.”

The fantasy industry was legally sanctioned in 2006 by a federal law that stated fantasy sports are a game of skill more than luck.  However, with the payouts and increasing array of fantasy games the industry seems to be slipping more into illegal gambling by virtue of luck-based games.

In a statement, FanDuel said: “Fantasy sports is a game of skill and legal under New York state law. This is a politician telling hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers they are not allowed to play a game they love and share with friends, family, co-workers and players across the country.”

As the New York Times article points out, fantasy sports is now a tough game to align with for the major pro sports leagues.  For example, the NFL has been strongly opposed to sports betting, even though they require injury reports and allow people on major networks and game broadcasts to discuss the lines, and found daily fantasy as being able to have the effects of sports betting without using the words “sports betting.”

The state of Nevada has also stated that daily fantasy should be considered gambling and have suspended fantasy operations in the state until they get gaming licenses.

What this means for combat sports:

Daily fantasy is the biggest way to improve fan avidity for combat sports both domestically and internationally.  DraftKings and FanDuel comprised a great opportunity for combat sports, with their frequent events and straight moneyline bets, the opportunity to get exposure to many other people who otherwise would not know when fights occur or who the athletes are.

Outside of sports betting, which is illegal in 47 states although Nevada is the only state that really allows it to occur, daily fantasy was the best opportunity to create fans through economic incentives.

I really doubt that if daily fantasy is considered gambling and not a game of skill that sports betting will be legalized anytime soon.  The combat sports world could be losing a huge and easy opportunity to gain new fans and increase avidity among the current fans.

(via Attorney General Tells Daily Fantasy Sports to Stop Taking Bets in New York – The New York Times)


ProDay App Could Give a Lot of Insight Into MMA Athlete Training

ProDay is an app that figuratively allows people to train alongside pro athletes.  By sharing workouts that pros are doing an average joe can push himself and feel like he or she is training to be a top athlete.  The app has joined the Dodger Accelerator with R/GA.

What this means for Combat Sports:

One of the big selling points for mainstream sports, as opposed to niche sports, is the athletic abilities of the athletes.  Combat sports are famous for their training regiments.  That’s why people continuously watch Rocky training montages.

In the time leading up to a big time PBC, UFC, or combat sport PPV, the athletes could share examples of their training routines.  They would clearly be extremely challenging to people and would emphasize the athleticism fighters have to have in order to be successful.

For people who just want to get a different workout they could be exposed to a combat sport athlete.  Being a fan of a single athlete is a strong entry point into being a fan of the sport.

Even those who are already fans of a sport or athlete their fandom avidity can be strengthened by getting closer to the schedule of the big fight.  There could be segments for an entire training camp so as the fight approaches the training intensity can be turned up.

(via Dodgers Accelerator Startup Profile Series: Proday Fitness App Provides Workouts Alongside Pro Athletes)


LeagueApps Makes Quick Turnaround Programs a Possibility

The company LeagueApps is a startup that joined the Dodgers Accelerator program with R/GA.  LeagueApps gives resources to for sports entities and events to streamline sport program management.

Many apps that handle program management for sports programs, such as the San Francisco 49ers’ app, are the result of millions of dollars spent on the development of the app and groups of people that maintain and operate the app.  LeagueApps could be a valuable resource to events that don’t have the money or manpower to make an app similar to that of the 49ers.

What this could mean for combat sports:

One of the biggest faults by far in combat sports, based on my primary research, is the lack of education on fighters and events.  Sports programs, and not just ones in the arena, could go a long way in correcting the issue.

Organizations like the UFC, PBC, Bellator, Golden Boy, and Top Rank could use a simplified app to create programs for their multiple events.  The UFC and PBC specifically put on a ton of shows during the week and month.  With the streamlined approach that LeagueApps provides it would be easy for a content manager, public relations team, or any other marketing personnel to put together a program for each event.

I can imagine many more features within the app and program that could expand its effectiveness for the specific needs of combat sport organizations.

(via Home | Sports Registration and Management Software by LeagueApps)