UFC.com traffic on the Decline?

October 6, 2011

One important indicator as to how popular a product or service is at a given time with the general public is to measure the size of their Internet audience, or how many visitors their website receives.

We decided to take a look at website traffic statistics for UFC.com from the various leaders in the website analysis business. The hope here is get some better insight into the UFC’s popularity trending over the past year through the promotions online presence.

It’s important to keep in mind that data from these analytic sites isn’t 100% accurate, but it does expose some useful directional trends.

First we’ll look at the data from a Quantcast, who’s a media measurement and web analytics service that allows users to view audience statistics for millions of websites:

From the Quantcast measurements we see a fairly steady decline in traffic over the past year. In the latter part of 2010 the site traffic was trending around the million user mark. In early 2011, those numbers dropped off substantially and have since leveled out at around 500k over the summer.

Next is some analysis on the site from Google Trends. Google’s tool gives you insight into the traffic and geographic visitation patterns of popular websites and also allows you to compare data for up to five sites. We’ll simply look at just UFC.com:

With Google Trends we looked at the data up from the start of 2011 until August. Here, we can also see a decreasing traffic pattern emerge, albeit at a lesser rate then what Quantcast reports.

Keep in mind here, the differences we see in the amount of visitors reported by both Quantcast and Google is actually normal because they use different sources of information to build their measurements. What’s important here is that despite those differences there’s a consensus between the sites that visitor traffic is trending down.

Another web analytics service we looked at was Alexa, who’s toolbar plugin collects data on browsing behavior. Alexa takes all the websites in the world, and ranks them – putting them in order by popularity. They also measures web traffic on almost every website on the internet through their toolbar plugin:

With Alexa, we looked at data over 1 full year (Sept.2010-Sept.2011). Alexa doesn’t report the amount of visitors like Quantcast and Google, instead they estimated the percentage of global internet users who visit a website. Keeping in line with Quantcast and Google reports, Alexa also indicates a drop in visitor traffic over the past year.

So here we have three different independent analytic services that are all in one way or another indicating a decline in visitor traffic for the UFC.com website. It’s really no surprise though as these results are indicative of the kind of 2011 the UFC has had with PPV buyrate averages falling and television ratings on a bit of a decline. We can now see some decrease in the promotions Internet based audience.

It’ll be interesting to see if there is a rebound in website visitors as the year comes to a close. The UFC’s top two PPV draws of Brock Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre are set to fight and we’ll see the Velasquez/Dos Santos Heavyweight Championship for the debut on FOX which should generate lot’s of buzz and publicity. The year should finish off strong and all the numbers rebound, which isn’t only good for the UFC, but the fans as well.

20 Responses to “UFC.com traffic on the Decline?”

  1. Jason on October 6th, 2011 10:29 AM

    I’d like to know the correlation between the drop in page visits after the UFC rolled out the new webpage.

  2. Katasai on October 6th, 2011 10:39 AM

    Have you taken into account that UFC recently have split their website into several location related sites like specific domains/subdomains for Australia, Brazil, canada, UK, Japan, Germany, Italy, Latin America and New Zealand?

  3. EK Poll on October 6th, 2011 10:45 AM

    So true, I wonder if the website developers are being scolded for what’s more likely industry related turbulence… 🙂

  4. Machiel Van on October 6th, 2011 11:05 AM

    A comparison to the traffic trends of other popular MMA websites would be fitting. I was always surprised by the amount of traffic UFC.com got; sites like MMA Weekly are more user friendly when it comes to accessing information about schedules, news, media, etc. People like to see rankings: UFC.com has none. Apart from Michael DiSanto, I’ve never been a fan of their writers or their articles. It just seems like you can get better UFC coverage from a variety of other places. Their website is cumbersome to navigate, their video player does not allow you to adjust the volume of the advertisements (always set to MAX volume for some reason) and is also just lousy to begin with, their image database is time consuming to scroll through, they don’t enable sorting for their carious lists, etc., etc. etc. I’m all over the net looking at UFC content, and I NEVER bother to check UFC.com anymore because it is the LAST place anything is announced. I’m almost glad their traffic is declining: the website has ALWAYS been sub-par, maybe this will get them to improve it. It SHOULD be MMA’s premiere website. Geez, what a rant!

  5. Diego on October 6th, 2011 11:16 AM

    I agree with Machiel. Now that I can get MMA news from so many sources (ESPN, SI, Sherdog, MMAJunkie, MMAWeekly, and a couple of TV shows) I don’t check UFC.com. Likewise, I don’t ever check NFL.com – I use ESPN and other sites to follow the sport.

    Could the reduction in hits on UFC.com be an indication of the strength of MMA coverage elsewhere?

  6. Jose Mendoza on October 6th, 2011 11:53 AM

    Machiel Van, Diego:

    Interesting theory, but that assumes that at one point UFC.com had better MMA coverage than other MMA websites, but that has never been the case. MMAjunkie, Sherdog, MMAWeekly, etc have always had better coverage. I think it has to do with either mainstream discovery of the sport or mainstream discovery of MMA websites. The other theory is that international fans are being re-directed to other UFC sites specialized for that country or language.

    Hard to pin point but great to discuss possible reasons why the recent change.

    P.S: The recent emphasis on UFC’s Facebook page, Twitter, and UFC.TV are other areas we can definitely research.

  7. jasvll on October 6th, 2011 12:06 PM

    With all the effort they put into their Facebook and Twitter pages, a decline in traffic to the primary site isn’t all that surprising. People are getting all of UFC’s content pushed to them as it’s announced. Their recent emphasis on making ufc.TV the home for most video/media is another likely factor.

    I don’t think enough research has been done on this one.

  8. EK Poll on October 6th, 2011 12:08 PM

    Katasai: I just looked at the UFC.com domain, not any of the subdomains, although it would be interesting to see the traffic breakdown between counties.

  9. EK Poll on October 6th, 2011 12:09 PM

    … and countries too…

  10. Kelsey Philpott on October 6th, 2011 12:33 PM

    Wow…long time since I’ve dropped by the comments section! Good to see some of the same crew still kicking around.

    I’d be very interested in reading a more comprehensive follow-up where EK compares changes in UFC.com traffic volume with the following:

    – UFC regional websites
    – UFC pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
    – Other MMA-related websites (Junkie, Weekly, Sherdog, BE)
    – Other sports industry websites (NFL.com, MLB.com, NBA.com)

    Individual data sets only tell part of the story. Yes, I think we’d all agree that general interest in the UFC has plateau’d, if not declined, this year. However, the drop in UFC.com traffic could just as easily reflect changing consumer behaviour patterns (shifts towards social media, etc.). To counter Jose’s point: perhaps UFC.com content was never better than MMA media content, but the casual fan may start at UFC.com (not knowing any other place to go) and then slowly migrate to other websites as he/she becomes more informed. The decline in UFC.com traffic could also be part of a much larger industry-wide shift. Who the hell knows! That’s why comparisons are important. 🙂

    Food for thought. Keep up the good work here guys!


  11. EK Poll on October 6th, 2011 1:00 PM

    Kelsey: Great idea, if I can find more comprehensive source data then I’ll definitely post a follow-up… I agree with you, I think the casual fan (or new fan) is more apt to use UFC.com. It’ll be interesting to see if the big push on FOX has an effect on the UFC.com traffic, which may give us a little insight into that whole process.

  12. Chris on October 6th, 2011 1:10 PM

    Dont see how this matters.

    I’m what you would call a hardcore mma fan, I’m obsessed with mma, i have bought every PPV since Anderson vs Franklin 1 except for 2 PPV, Jardine/page and Randy/Gonzaga.

    So sine the UFC 60’s I’ve only not paid for 2 events. I watch every Bellator, TUF episode, Dream, SF, MFC etc.

    The point is I cant remember the last time I even went to teh UFC site.

    For what? I get my news from mmajunkie, weekly, I’m on Sherdog forums, bloodyelbow.

  13. Machiel Van on October 6th, 2011 2:00 PM

    Would declining traffic to UFC.com also indicate the decline of customers using the UFC Store, or are more people accessing the UFC Store page directly? I never see links to their store anywhere, and it’s always been another portion of their online business I’ve thought isn’t very well put together.

  14. EK Poll on October 6th, 2011 2:47 PM

    Machiel: Good question, and I think that’s hard to say. My guess is that if general dot com traffic is in decline it would indicate some negative impact on other online properties…

    It seems like a lot of larger companies try and aggregate Internet traffic through their main dot com’s. The UFC does have ufcstore.com but funny enough, it barely even registers with Google Trends : http://trends.google.com/websites?q=www.ufcstore.com&geo=all&date=ytd&sort=0

    Quantcast reports a decline for stores domain : http://www.quantcast.com/www.ufcstore.com

  15. John S. on October 6th, 2011 3:18 PM

    Interesting how it pretty much coincides with the downward trend in ppvs and how both seem to have started their slide right around the time Brock lost the belt.

  16. BrainSmasher on October 6th, 2011 5:11 PM

    With the increased presence on twitter and facebook. I would expect less people to have to visit the UFC website for information. I have not been to the UFC website in well over 2 years. With UFC emails, UFC on facebook, better interviews on other websites, fight videos on youtube, and fight finder on sherdog. The UFC site is really only useful for the newest of fans.

    Also there have been a lot of small live shows and non US PPVs. Lots of people use the UFC site to buy tickets with the fan club. Without US event those no longer have to visit the site.

  17. juan on October 6th, 2011 7:37 PM

    The rise of Facebook and Twitter have siphoned traffic away from a lot of websites. I just threw a lot of mainstream sites like espn.com, drudge, etc at google trends and nearly all show a decline.

  18. Brutal MMA on October 11th, 2011 9:31 AM

    This also has to do with the fact that in summer people are on vacation, outside ect. They are just doing other things besides search the web.

  19. hi on April 21st, 2012 11:51 AM

    I’d like to know the corelation between the popularity of mma and the % of black champions. Id bet it goes down.

  20. Jro on May 11th, 2012 7:56 AM

    My personal feeling (as someone who spends a lot of time overseas) is that the UFC.com website is too much of a hassle to use. I’m in Asia so most of the time get directed automatically to the Japan site, and it’s a pain to get out of when I can just go onto Sherdog and get the same news in English right away.

    It’s too hard to navigate since the re-did the site as well. Can you see anywhere on the site today for UFC 147 for example? I can’t. It’s just easier to get the news from other sites, and the videos from YouTube (because the video player isn’t good either).

    I know that they spent a butt-load of money to get the site like this, but in my opinion it’s crap. The old site was better than this one.

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