Ring Of Sports Marketing

Date archives January 2016


New York Judge Denies Injunction to Legalizing MMA in New York

Judge Kimba Wood denies injunction requested by Zuffa LLC and the UFC.  The UFC wanted to put on UFC198 at Madison Square Garden on April 29th.  A request was made for an injunction against the current law banning MMA in the state.

MMAFighting says:

Their suit against the law banning MMA continues, but must work its way through the state’s Second Circuit before any further judiciary action can be taken. Legalization efforts have historically been pushed through the legislative chambers in the state, albeit unsuccessfully to date. More recently, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo included language in his budget that would allow the UFC and other promoters to host MMA events. However, if MMA authorization is still included in the final budget, the deadline for approval isn’t until March 31.

UF COO Lawrence Epstein commented:

We are disappointed by the District Court’s denial of our motion for a preliminary injunction and its effort to redirect the litigation to the state courts.  One thing, and one thing only, prevents Madison Square Garden and other New York venues from hosting UFC events that are allowed in the other 49 States in the Union – that is the New York law that we believe violates the federal Constitution. Today’s decision, while disappointing, only underscores the importance of UFC’s pending appeal to the Second Circuit. UFC will evaluate this decision with an eye to pursuing every effective avenue to bring New Yorkers the same live events available to spectators throughout the United States.

Ringside Analysis:

I found it highly unlikely that the courts would allow an injunction against an active law.  The UFC asked for an immediate decision on the ruling to put on the event so the company will continue to fight for legalization on the issue through legislation.  It is not surprising that on a shortened timeline a judge will deviate from the current status quo.


UFC Announces Partnership with British Wrestling Association

The UFC and the British Wrestling Association are now working together to promote amateur wrestling and Olympic wrestling in the United Kingdom.

From the Press Release:

The British Wrestling Association is delighted to partner with UFC,” British Wrestling Association Chairman, Nations and Regions Committee Barry Pollin said. “Wrestling is one of the foundations of mixed martial arts and UFC athletes share our traits of hard work and mental toughness that propels them as some of the highest performing athletes in all of sports.

Many amateur sports that make up parts of Mixed Martial Arts such as wrestling, boxing, muay thai, jiu-jitsu, are ignored on the amateur and olympic level.  It isn’t until someone makes it to being a PPV-level boxer or is in the UFC that the athlete gains some recognition.

Ringside Analysis:

The UFC needs as many fighters as possible to meet the basic needs of providing content across all their mediums.

Perhaps the biggest benefit is the development of better athletes and fighters.  A large part of determining athletic participation is societal incentives and the most recognized sports in the world are soccer, basketball, and in the US, football.  By getting more elite athletes to participate in amateur wrestling it will create more and better talent when the athletes enter the UFC.

(via UFC and British Wrestling Association announce partnership | UFC ® – News)


Sports Tracking for Football Could Lead to Greater Strategy

Advanced statistics have been the new area of focus for many of the top sports organizations.  Advanced stats completely changed the way people view the sport of baseball.  Basketball is maybe the ultimate sport in blending traditional scouting.  Football has been a sport bogged down in dogma and with such small sample sizes and vast variables it was extremely reluctant to using advanced stats.

Chris Brown writes that teams are using statistics and tracking devices to better determine player accuracy, reaction to play calls, and space covered.  Brown believes that in the near future teams will be able to take statistical models of players and pit them against each other in simulations.

Ringside Analysis:

I’ve said many times that MMA and Boxing athletes are most likely training inefficiently, resulting in more injuries and not reaching their full potential on fight night.

With the advanced tracking that some pro sports are beginning to use there are some new possibilities for combat sports.  It’s possible that during training, tracking devices can be placed on the different points of contact for fighters.  The speed of each movement can be tracked to find out what the fastest punches are and what movements can create strikes or takedowns and then quickly avoid being countered.

(via Football Strategy’s Radical, Tech-Fueled Revolution Has Begun | WIRED)


NextVR To Broadcast Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions in Virtual Reality

Fight fans can now watch PBC’s main event, Danny Garcia against Robert Guerrero, in virtual reality through the NextVR app.  Cameras will be placed around the ring allowing viewers to get right up onto the action.  Commentary and match stats will also be on the app.

Engadget says:

While Fox says this is the first North American boxing card to be broadcast live in VR, it’s not the first time this has been done worldwide. Just last weekend, they Hayemaker 360 Android app provided virtual reality coverage of David “Hayemaker” Haye vs. Mark “The Dominator” de Mori live from the UK. Viewers of that event needed only Google Cardboard to get in on the action. You’ll need a Samsung Gear VR headset to watch Saturday at 8PM ET, though, and the stream will be available through the NextVR app.

NextVR has also covered NASCAR and the US Open for FOX Sports.

Ringside Analysis:

It’s promising that Al Haymon and the PBC are being aggressive with bringing new technology to the fights.  The organization has experimented with putting cameras on the head of referees and now the group is taking advantage of new technology to push watching the sport to the limit.

With boxing really lagging in the younger demographics, the new VR capabilities could be enough of a draw for some casual sports fans to tune in and watch the fight.


Uniform deal works for UFC, Reebok

Uniform deal works for UFC, Reebok


UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter Coaches Named: Team Joanna v. Team Claudia

The Ultimate Fighter Season 23 starts April 20th at 10ET/7PT on FS1.  Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the UFC strawweight champion, will coach against Claudia Gadelha, the number one contender.

A group of eight light heavyweights and eight strawweights will each be competing for an UFC contract.

The show finishes July 8th, part of international fight week, featuring Jedrzejcyk’s strawweight defense.

Ringside Analysis:

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC and The Ultimate Fighter Platform will hopefully launch her personality and fighting style into the casual sport fan zeitgeist.

The UFC is still making hard pushes into Europe so Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who is from Poland, will draw some eyeballs on the continent.

(via Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha to Coach New Season of TUF | UFC ® – News)


Tina Fey and Ronda Rousey to Co-Star in Comedy Film

A new film title “Do Nothing Bitches” has been acquired by Universal Pictures that is set to star Tina Fey and Ronda Rousey.

Deadline says:

The logline is being kept under wraps but I hear it is a female-empowerment tale dealing with wealthy pampered wives who get a rude awakening at a camp where Rousey plays the no-nonsense instructor. You can get a sense of her attitude about this, as the concept for the film originated from an interview Rousey gave this summer about female self-worth that has generated more than 3 million hits on YouTube. She sold 57,000 T-shirts with the phrase.

The film has been inspired by this interview by Ronda Rousey:

Ringside Analysis:

This reminds me of the move “Heavyweights” where Ben Stiller stars as the fitness-crazed camp counselor.  With Tina Fey this movie will be a commercial success and Rousey will reach an entirely different audience than the ones she has thus far.

It’s also important to point out that Rousey is a featured actor in the film.  Unlike her cameos in “Fast7″ and “Entourage: How many cameos can we put in one movie?” Rousey will be in a new role that might help usher her away from fighting in the UFC and towards an acting career.


Athletic Tracking System, Catapult, Helps Prevent Athlete Injuries

Catapult is a new analytics software that can track athletes’ biometric data.  The app gives out easy to read numbers and give information that can aid in deciding a player’s activities, whether it be in practice or on the field.
Some of the leaders in sports science, Oregon and Florida State, have been using the software for the last few seasons.

The factors that cause an injury are not always noticeable to anybody watching an athlete or may not even be perceivable to the athlete.  Using the feedback from the tracking system, the energy output and effectiveness can be a quantifiable indicator of training performance.

Ringside Analysis:

As the article points out, one of larger drivers of fan engagement is having a star performer.  Having a star is incredibly important for fight PPV numbers to soar.  The UFC has had issues with fighters being injured during training camp and unable to fight, setting back the UFC’s plans.  The most recent example is Jose Aldo injuring himself weeks before UFC 189.

The training for combat sports still seems relatively primitive when compared to the other premier sports in the US and world.  Especially with the contact required to train for a fight, and the hours that goes into training for a fight, the need for analytics to illustrate the biometrics of an athlete is crucial.  Often injuries can happen when someone is pushing themselves too hard and it would be helpful for the team to know when they have to stop someone from training.

(via How Tracking Football Players Can Help Reduce Injuries | WIRED)


In Interview with CNN, Lorenzo Fertitta Says UFC Made $600M in Revenue

Lorenzo Fertitta sat down with CNN digital correspondent Rachel Crane and he outlined the growth between 2014 and 2015, saying that the UFC made $600 million in revenue.

Feritta said:

The exciting part of the platform that we’ve built is that we’ve been able to embrace really different tiers of revenue.  So we have our basic pay-per-view business.  Our premium championship fights sit on pay-per-view. That is our biggest source of revenue. Then we have our media rights, which is really similar to the rights that we sell to FOX for all of the programming we give them, and then we have embraced the over-the-top platforms, where we launched UFC Fight Pass, which is a subscription service, $9.99 a month where you can access the entire UFC library. And then we also put exclusive live UFC events from around the world on that format, as well as original programming. So we really have those three sources of revenue.  Three ways to monetize our content.

PPV revenue is the majority of the income for the UFC so branching out into other forms of monetizing their content was a must for the UFC.

Fertitta also points that even though FOX pays $100 million a year from FOX, the UFC still has to pay for the production of the events.

Fertitta finishes with a response to Ms. Crane’s question about fighter pay by saying that there is an open market for fighters.  He specifically mentions Bellator, which is owned by Viacom, as a strong competitor because Bellator has potentially more financial support than the UFC does.

Ringside Analysis:

I think any year would be an improvement over 2014, which was filled injuries and scheduling issues that wreaked havoc on the PPV schedule.  The UFC mentions fairly regularly that they don’t have to discuss any financials because they’re a private company so this interview gains some valuable insight into their business.

“Over-the-top” (OTT) programming has been a growing business opportunity for sports organizations.  The NBA has used OTT programming to much success.  It gives content to people, mostly millenials, who have cut the cable cord but still want access to content.  UFC Fight Pass is getting premium content and gives access to the UFC library.

Ultimately, 2014 demonstrates how important it is for the UFC to diversify their revenue streams.  When I was doing the bulk of my primary research, PPV accounted for 75% of the UFC’s yearly revenue.  PPV success can be inconsistent on a month-to-month basis.  The deal with FOX brings consistency.  Fight Pass, a subscription model, can bring consistency.  The deal with Reebok brings consistency.  I believe that the pushes with UFC Gym, while not only creating more UFC fans through participants, is used to bring consistency to the yearly revenue projections.  PPV will most likely always be the biggest source of revenue for the UFC but other streams will bring more consistent revenue on a yearly basis to depend on.


McGregor Rumored to have Demanded More Money for UFC197

A Brazilian newspaper, Globo, wrote, that according to sources, the UFC postponed their announcement for UFC197 because McGregor hadn’t signed his fight contract.  The UFC reportedly wanted to make an announcement during halftime the halftime of the Green Bay – Washington playoff game aired on FOX.

The report singles out Conor McGregor as demanding more money for his fight fee.  Dos Anjos’ manager, Ali Abdel Aziz, has hinted that Conor McGregor is scared to fight Dos Anjos.

McGregor’s manager has denied that McGregor is holding up the UFC197 announcement.

Ringside Analysis:

I always thought that eventually a star would believe his value to be higher than that of the UFC, so much so that the tail might start wagging the dog.  I hardly believed that it would happen so soon.  McGregor has said that he’s going to make $100 million with the UFC.  If he is that valuable to the UFC he might find himself throwing his weight around and seeing just how much he can get out of the UFC.  McGregor is the type of person that I believe would maximize any leverage he has and it will be interesting to watch how the UFC responds if more sources come out saying that McGregor is in fact demanding more money to fight.

If McGregor believes his value to be more valuable going it alone than sticking with the UFC, where he receives a percentage of overall revenue, we might see our first athlete follow in the footsteps of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and become his own boss, arranging his own shows, and taking all the risks necessary to reap the biggest rewards.

(via Report: McGregor demands more money, delays UFC 197 announcement – Bloody Elbow)