UFC on FOX Event Sells Out Ad Inventory for Network Debut
September 20, 2011
During today’s UFC on FOX press conference, FOX Sports President Eric Shanks announced that all ad inventory has been sold as of yesterday (9/19) for the November 19 event scheduled to take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
The event sold out out it’s ad inventory just one month after announcing the event (two months before it’s scheduled to take place) when the newly signed seven year TV deal between the UFC and FOX was announced. MMAFighting reports:
The quick sellout is a positive sign that blue-chip, corporate sponsors are willing to test the waters. In turn, that should mean new opportunities for fighters as well.
“We’ve gotten more credibility now because we’re on FOX with all these big sports leagues,” UFC president Dana White said. “The fact these guys are reaching out to these other sponsors and they’ve had a great response is big not only for us, but for the fighters, too. This will trickle down to everybody. It’s a big deal and yes, it’s been great and it’s only going to get better.”
A few weeks back, AdWeek.com, summarized the past relationship between blue-chip sponsors and the UFC perfectly:
“Given the bloodshed and controlled violence that are hallmarks of mixed martial arts events, advertisers understandably have been skittish about aligning themselves with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. But in the run-up to the UFC’s national broadcast TV debut, media buyers say demand for Fox’s new sports property should be fast and furious.”
Kevin Collins, director of national broadcast buying for Initiative, said the following regarding UFC and mainstream sponsors:
“Content is definitely an issue, but no one’s going into this with their eyes closed…You’re not going to get your traditional Sunday NFL audience, but I expect you’ll find a lot of theatrical dollars, as well as QSR and beer.”
According to FOX Sports chairman David Hill, FOX did it’s due diligence – 10 years worth of research data – before signing the TV deal with the UFC. They don’t appear to be worried about the sponsorship aspect of the deal. “There might be a few companies that have a ‘Do Not Buy’ on the UFC, but there are a hell of a lot of companies that have a ‘Do Buy.’ If you look at the history of the Fox sports media group and what we do, we didn’t go into this with our fingers crossed” said Hill.
UFC President Dana White also shared his thoughts with MMAWeekly:
The hope is that the ad revenues will continue to grow across the board, and the trickle down will hit everything from the UFC itself to the fighters competing on the show.
“Us getting this Fox deal has already taken us to another level,” said White. “We’ve gotten more credibility now because we’re on Fox with all these big sports leagues, and the fact that these guys are reaching out to these other sponsors and they’ve had a great response is big. Not only for us, but for the fighters too.”
SPONSOR QUOTES FROM ADWEEK:
– “One national TV buyer who represents a client that has bought time on Spike TV’s UFC programming said he wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more mainstream brands begin to line up for MMA events.”
– “It’s not going to work for everyone,” said one entertainment buyer. “Some clients are more skittish than others. But we have good relationships with the Fox Sports guys, and we trust that they won’t burn us if we decide to test the waters.”
According to MMAPayout sources, big name sponsors such as Nike, Under Armour, and others who typically sponsor major sporting events (NFL, MLB, NASCAR, etc) on the network have stepped in to purchase the ad slots. As CBS has told us in the past, ad sales and ratings are the two most important criteria in terms of gauging a successful network debut for MMA events. After this week, FOX and the UFC now only need to focus on providing a quality event and attain a good viewership number in order to retain sponsors for future shows.
NOTE: A key point to make here is that although the UFC on FOX event sold out all of it’s ad inventory in about a month after announcing the event, the ad time slots they sold were only for a one-hour show, unlike the CBS shows which were two-hour slots. UFC on FOX only had half the ad time slots to sell for this event compared to a typical two-hour MMA network event.