UFC Theater Partnership Pays Dividends

April 5, 2010

UFC 111 marked the debut of the organization on the big screen as it partnered with NCM Fathom to broadcast the PPV live and in high definition across 309 theaters in the United States. We won’t receive any word on the success of the in-theater event for at least another week, but MMAPayout.com has learned that the extent to which NCM Fathom helped to promote UFC 111 within its theaters – something that highlights the value of partnerships like this one for the UFC.

In partnering with Fathom, the UFC reached audiences in 775 theaters (7,500+ screens) with a digital trailer running on the in-theater ad network and lobby entertainment network for a total of 31 million in-theater impressions. Movie-goers also saw posters in their local theaters as well as larger-than-life standees in 309 theaters that featured Georges St-Pierre and Dan Hardy in an 8-foot standee.

Fathom also developed a toolkit for fans to interact with the brand and each other over social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The kit enabled fans to view online trailers, download virtual badges, find links to UFC content and pages, and to sign up for web/newsletters.

On the PR side, Fathom also arranged to have several UFC and WEC personalities – approximately 20 in total – attend the event at their local movie theaters for a meet & greet session that involved pictures and autographs prior to the event viewing itself.

Payout Perspective:

Even if the results are somewhat modest in terms of the number of people that attended the live screening, the UFC has still come out far ahead on this deal. The company has found yet another distribution medium that offers a unique and captivating experience for fans. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also tapped into another advertising avenue that reaches a slightly different demographic than what they’d typically get from Spike or Versus.

The price point was the most criticized part of the deal – $25 is admittedly pretty steep – but I have a feeling the UFC and Fathom may look to re-evaluate the price depending on the results of this first event. You’ve got to think a product of this nature is going to be pretty price elastic; meaning that an increase in price will greatly reduce quantity sold. Typically, when that’s the case, it’s better for an organization to lower the price and increase quantity sold because the number of additional units moved exceeds the loss in revenue per unit, which ultimately leads to a greater profit.

Moreover, there are additional exposure effects to consider here – it’s not always about the short-term. If the UFC were to cut prices by $5-$10 on these tickets, the increase in the number of people attending would have positive future effects on the company’s awareness.

A live event is without question the best conversion tool this business has, but it might be the case that the in-theater experience becomes a close second. At that point, if you’re the UFC, you want to drive as many people to this theater experience as possible.

7 Responses to “UFC Theater Partnership Pays Dividends”

  1. jv on April 5th, 2010 10:19 AM

    The other reason to try and drive numbers from the theaters perspective is the concession action. The UFC doesn’t get a taste of that so they will want to keep the prices at a higher point than the theater owners.

    One question that needs to be asked is what percentage of these are net new viewers and how many are either skipping the PPV prices or being funnelled off from the bars.

  2. mmaguru on April 5th, 2010 12:40 PM

    Great analysis, the exposure alone is worth it. Perhaps it will even play into casual fans buying the PPV (not necessarily going to the theater to watch).

    Now whats up with Strikeforce/CBS promotion. I seen a quick advert during the finals of the Miami tennis event, but not much other than that.

  3. Stan Kosek on April 5th, 2010 1:56 PM

    Guru, they are running promos during the NCAA tournament, mostly focusing on Hendo

  4. UFC 112 Ticket Demand Overwhelming In Abu Dhabi, Would It Be In Dallas? on April 5th, 2010 4:25 PM

    […] 309 theaters across the United States, and while the final numbers aren’t in yet, it appears the added exposure and marketing alone make it a worthwhile venture even if the numbers don’t meet […]

  5. Jose Mendoza on April 5th, 2010 5:51 PM


    I touched on this before:



    But I will be covering some new stuff pretty soon.

    Regarding theaters:
    30K-50K attendance for around 309 theaters across the United States was an early number we heard, where the success varied greatly from one market to another. Like Kelsey said, some more definitive numbers will be released in a week or so.

  6. eJiuJitsu » UFC 112 Ticket Demand ‘Overwhelming’ In Abu Dhabi, Would It Be In Dallas? on April 6th, 2010 7:55 AM

    […] 309 theaters across the United States, and while the final numbers aren’t in yet, it appears the added exposure and marketing alone make it a worthwhile venture even if the numbers don’t meet […]

  7. jv on April 6th, 2010 11:51 AM

    12,000 seats is hardly over whelming for a UFC card with 2 title fights. Of course you could put one seat in and call 2 seats overwhelming under the UFC theory.

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