Pushing The Envelope On Marketing MMA Backfires

August 22, 2008

While coverage of mixed martial arts can seem ubiquitous at times, it is good to remember that that you are operating in a regulatory environment that isn’t always so friendly to the sport. Fox Sports World Canada recently found this out the hard way:

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council today released its decision concerning a promotional spot for International Fight League (IFL) programming broadcast on Fox Sports World Canada, which aired around 7:00 pm. It included repeated images of bloody faces and provocative voice-overs highlighting the fighting. The CBSC concluded that the early evening broadcast contravened the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Violence Code.

In a somewhat head scratching decision, the Council found that showing the IFL itself before the 9PM window was permissible but the promo used to market the show was too adult in content and was acceptable only after the 9Pm safe harbor hour.

The regulatory environment here in the States is somewhat more amenable. Cable stations like FSN and Spike are exempt from broadcast standards acts imposed by the government, accounting for the sometimes wall to wall coverage on these mediums. Network television is a much more regulated environment, with CBS and NBC airing their MMA content only once in the safe harbor hours after 9PM. While MMA has received much greater acceptance over the past 2 to 3 years, it would be interesting to see the response if MMA were to be moved to an earlier time slot or placed in a week-end afternoon slot. Both are time periods where children would have greater access to the product.

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