Ring Of Sports Marketing

Sponsorships / UFC

UFC Signs First Official Airline Partner with AirAsia

The UFC has announced a new partnership with AirAsia.  The sponsorship agreement is for multiple territories, leaving open the possibility for other airline partnerships in different parts of the world.  AirAsia will do their first activation on November 25th when the UFC has their first event on mainland China.

AirAsia was founded in 1996 and is a low-cost carrier based in Malaysia.

UFC Vice President of Asia-Pacific Kevin Chang said in the press release:

“This deal is an indication of how much UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts have grown in Asia and around the world… AirAsia is an innovative and fast-growing brand, we thank them for the support and we’re looking forward to creating engaging branded content for fight fans and AirAsia customers to enjoy.”

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Sponsorships / UFC

Modelo To Replace Bud Light as Official Beer Sponsor of the UFC in the US

Image result for modelo beer

The UFC will start a new, multi-year sponsorship deal with Mexican import brand Modelo Especial as the new official beer of the UFC.  Modelo will replace Bud Light who was the first major sponsorship agreement for the UFC nine years ago.

UFC COO Lawrence Epstein said this about the partnership with Bud Light:

“When Bud signed on to be our sponsor, it sent a significant message that UFC was a real player in the sports landscape…  It gave us a tremendous amount of credibility with other sponsors. And not just sponsors. Television networks and venues and, frankly, anybody involved in the business of sports entertainment around the world.”

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Sports Law

Indian Sports Betting Working Group Formed To Prepare For Legalized Sports Betting

A tribal government trade and lobby group has been formed to prepare Native American casinos for the legalization of sports betting.  Many Native American casinos are worried that the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act (PASPA) will harm the total revenue that their gaming creates and then redistributes to Native American tribes.

The chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, Ernie Stevens, believes that the regulation and implementation of sports betting could be a states rights issue.  In PASPA there are exceptions for states that had legal sports betting before the act became law.  It is possible that this goes back to being a state’s issue rather than replacing PASPA with a federal regulatory law.  As Dave Palermo points out, Indian tribes also need to have their own discussions amongst themselves on what regulations and practices they will put in place if PASPA is repealed.

Ringside Analysis

Native American casinos are subject to state law and tribal-state compacts as part of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.  A federal repeal of PASPA may change the way commercial casinos operate because they fall under  federal law while also putting Indian casinos at a disadvantage.  By not having sports betting, the Indian casinos could be without the biggest draw a casino could offer.

One of the most important assets Native American tribes have is the ability to have their own casinos as a way to generate revenue for their own tribes.  I’m sure that some of the tribes’ leaders are concerned that the tribes could miss out on the first mover advantages and maybe lose out on a golden opportunity to get ahead of the rest of the commercial casinos.

[h/t Legal Sports Report]

MMA / Sports Law

Conor McGregor May Speak to US Congress on Extending Ali Act to MMA

Conor McGregor is only a few weeks away from the richest fight of his career and is now supposedly going to speak to Congress about extending the Ali Act to MMA Fighters.  Congressman Markwayne Mullin has been told by Conor McGregor’s team that McGregor is going to go to Capitol Hill and advocate for passing a bill that would help give greater transparency to the financial information in MMA in order to better protect MMA fighters.

The Ali Act was passed in 2000 and is designed to help protect fighters through financial transparency, tighter regulations, and help maintain the integrity of the sport.  One of the cornerstone parts of the Ali Act is that it protects fighters from “coercive contracts.”  Other key parts are aimed to separate promoters from the managerial process of the sport.  Boxing has rankings determined by independent commissions and promoters are not able to have a “direct or indirect financial interest in the management of their fighters.

Ringside Analysis:

UFC COO Lawrence Epstein gave commentary on the article written by Telegraph Sport.  Epstein says that the UFC exceeds any requirements when it comes to the health and safety of fighters, which is certainly true.  The UFC uses USADA for testing for performance enhancing drugs in athletes, which boxing as a whole does not, (Although some fighters require that their opponents undergo extensive testing with USADA) and the UFC has invested millions into a new performance training center near corporate headquarters in Las Vegas to help reduce the number of injuries that fighter sustain during training.

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Boxing / MMA / Ratings / UFC

Mayweather-McGregor Earns 6.5 Million Buys According to Dana White

Dana White is the first person directly involved with the event to give a public statement on the number of PPV buys Mayweather-McGregor earned.  At a studio with Snoop Dogg, Dana White says that the fight earned 6.5 million buys.  The previous record was for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, which doubled the previous record with a reported 4.6 million buys.

The 6.5 million buys would set the North Americna record.  Other countries sold the fight for much less than the $100 price tag we saw in the United States.  Some countries had the fight available for free on television.

There were early signs for a huge PPV total when the prelims averaged nearly 2.5 million viewers and peaked above 3 million.  It should be noted that the prelims had no well known boxers on the card so the people tuning in were there for the names on the top of the card.

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ESPN and Top Rank Boxing Sign 4-Year, Exclusive Deal

The month of August leading up to the Mayweather-McGregor fight saw some of the premier fighters in the sport fight on ESPN.  Manny Pacquiao fought Jeff Horn, Vasyl Lomachenko fought Miguel Marriaga, and Terence Crawford fought Julius Indongo.  Those fights now serve as the introduction to Top Rank on ESPN as the two companies enter into an exclusive 4-year agreement.

HBO and Showtime have dominated boxing broadcasting over the last twenty years.  This is the first time ESPN has made itself a major player in boxing.  According to Dan Rafael at ESPN, there are already 18 cards available for broadcast during the first year of the deal.

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Boxing / MMA

Mayweather McGregor Could Be Most Pirated Event Ever According To Lawrence Epstein

The biggest revenue-drivers for both promoters and fighters are PPV events.  New streaming apps are now allowing people to bypass the financial commitment to watching the fighters by basically leeching off of someone streaming the event.

UFC COO Lawrence Epstein says, via the article:

“For Mayweather-McGregor, it’s going to be tens of millions of dollars [in stolen signal]… There’s no doubt about it. This is going to be the most pirated event in pay-per-view history. I predict that.”

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Boxing / UFC

Mayweather McGregor Ticket Sales Are Off Pace For Historic Numbers [UPDATE]

After tickets for Mayweather-Pacquiao didn’t reach the general public, Mayweather Promotions and Dana White said that they would make an effort so that regular people would have the chance to buy tickets to attend.  Just a few days away from the fight it appears that the fight has yet to sell out.  As CNBC points out, the lowest ticket price for Mayweather-Pacquiao was valued at $4,000 and the cheapest ticket to get into Mayweather-McGregor is $1,500.

From Jesse Lawrence, founder of Ticket IQ:

…despite a series of reality-TV worthy press junkets hyping this fight, neither bots nor humans have been interested in paying face prices. A week after tickets first went on sale, nearly 2,000 tickets hit the secondary market. These tickets were priced at roughly a 30-percent discount to “face price,” and since then, prices are down another 30 percent. With nearly 1,500 tickets still available, it’s likely that prices will continue to fall in the days leading up to the fight.

In the 10 days before Mayweather-Pacquiao, average prices fell 17 percent. If the same happens for or Mayweather-McGregor, the cheapest ticket for fight night would be close to $1,000.

UPDATE: On August 22nd the ticket sales for Mayweather-McGregor may have passed the $72-million live-gate record set by Mayweather-Pacquiao.

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Sports Law

FTC Blocks Merger Between Daily Fantasy Sports Companies Draft Kings and FanDuel

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has blocked the merger between Draft Kings and FanDuel.  Draft Kings and Fan Duel are the two largest daily fantasy sports providers.  If the two companies did merge the new company would control more than 90% of the daily fantasy sports market.

Acting Director of the FTC Bureau of Competition Tad Lipsky said:

“This merger would deprive customers of the substantial benefits of direct competition between DraftKings and FanDuel… The FTC is committed to the preservation of competitive markets, which offer consumers the best opportunity to obtain innovative products and services at the most favorable prices and terms consistent with the provision of competitive returns to efficient producers.”

According to the FTC release, Draft Kings is the larger of the two companies.  While there are other companies in the daily fantasy sports industry, Draft Kings and FanDuel are the only significant players and merging the two would violate antitrust laws.  The FTC argues that the lack of competition would be detrimental to customers as a direct result of the near monopoly.

An administrative trial is scheduled for November 21.

Ringside Analysis:

Draft Kings and FanDuel spent a reported $750 million marketing themselves in the fall of 2015 alone.  The competition was so fierce at the beginning that when it came time to fight the legal battles in states that questioned daily fantasy sports legality the costs became significant.  There was certainly an opportunity to cost to competing against each other for consumers in order to gain first-mover advantages.  The legal ambiguity of daily fantasy sports is what prompted the two companies to start working together and lobbying for the approval of daily fantasy across every state questioning it.

The key argument around the merger appears to be how the companies and FTC define the market.  The two daily fantasy sports company argue that other companies like ESPN and Yahoo are the biggest competitors in fantasy sports and that the daily fantasy sports only represents a smaller niche within fantasy sports.  However, the government argues that the season-long fantasy provided by companies like ESPN and Yahoo are different and not a “meaningful substitute” for daily fantasy sports.