WME-IMG has named Michael Ma the new CEO of the company’s subsidiary in China. Ma spent the last 13 years with the NBA helping to build the association’s brand in China, one of the largest growing markets in the world. Breaking into the Chinese media marketplace is one of the keys to WME-IMG’s global expansion.
The UFC has attempted to break into Asia without much success. The company sold off part of the ownership in the company to Flash Entertainment with the hope that the new partners could help expand the UFC’s influence in the continent.
Michael Ma has said that it is likely that an UFC event will be held in Shanghai in 2017.
WME-IMG has managed Chinese athletes and run events in China before and the UFC is a new addition to the talent agency and entertainment management company’s expanding portfolio. A Chinese investment group including Tencent Holdins, FountainVest Parnters, and Focus Media is already working with WME-IMG to expand UFC’s place in the Chinese market.
The UFC recently laid off many of the company’s employees in order to cut payroll to $27 million. A few of the former employees included executives who were in charge of the UFC’s international offices. It appeared that WME-IMG was going to leverage the resources it already owns to take the UFC into the future and this new hire is part of the WME-IMG’s expansion.
WME-IMG is taking content to the Asian continent. As WME-IMG Co-CEO, Ariel Emanuel points out, there are billions of people in Asia and the distribution channels to those people need content. The UFC produces a lot of content through live events and other promotional materials to fill the distribution channels with.