UFC Announces Chinese TV Deal

June 29, 2009

Today the UFC announced that it has signed an agreement with China’s Inner Mongolia Television to distribute its mixed martial arts content: 

“Obviously China is a huge market and the Chinese understand the martial arts probably better than anyone else in the world.  It’s a no brainer that UFC programming will be appreciated in China, and will become a big hit for the NMTV network,” said Dana White, UFC President.

 

Inner Mongolia Television, known as NMTV, is a network broadcast station available in 80 million households, with the potential to reach 240 million viewers throughout all the provinces of China. Starting this month, NMTV will air up to 16 hours of UFC programming per month, including the trademark shows The Ultimate Fighter®, UFC® Unleashed and UFC® All Access, with an option to air recent UFC pay-per-view event telecasts.

 

With this deal, NMTV will air between one to four hours of UFC programming each week on Saturday and Sundays between 1:30-5:30 pm local time, broadcast in languages specific to each province.

 

UFC television programming can be seen in over 100 countries and territories worldwide in 17 different languages. UFC is the largest pay-per-view content provider in the world and is the fastest growing sports organization in history.

Payout Opinion:

The recent TV deals in countries like South Korea, Japan, and now China indicate that the UFC is going about its international expansion the correct way: they’re trying to build a foundation before moving in with live shows. It would be ridiculous to think that just because martial arts originated in the Far East that the UFC would be an immediate live-show and PPV success in the region. Thus, they’ve got to start slowly.

This all reminds me of the discussion we had last year, as a community, when Lorenzo Fertitta revealed that even countries like India were on the list for future live events. I reminded everyone then, as I will now, that despite the massive size and economic potential of nations like China and India, these are still areas with massive discrepancies in living standards – not to mention, general interest in the sport of MMA.

The UFC has enough on its hands just trying to get a foot hold in America and Western Europe, nevermind conquering Asian oddities like communist China or turbulent India. 

However, by slowly planting the seeds in Asia, the UFC is preparing those countries in advance; and, without a great deal of effort, either.

The TUF series and Fight Nights, if marketed correctly, will build their own following and that may open the door to local/regional promotions to begin with live events to further bolster support for MMA in the country.

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