Will the UFC be more popular than Football in Canada?

July 21, 2012

The USA Today reports a recent poll conducted by a Canadian polling firm determined that the UFC was 4th in sports popularity in Canada.  The NHL, NFL and the CFL were ahead of the UFC in terms of popularity.

The article ran earlier this week in lead-up to Saturday’s UFC 149.  Despite the rash of injuries and card shuffling, UFC 149 appears to have the second highest gate of  2012.  This is due in part to the fans of Canada.

Payout Perspective:

Can the UFC be on the same level as football?  As identified in the article, it would be a hard sell considering the longevity that both the NFL and CFL have with its fans.  But, with homegrown fighters and the UFC’s willingness to hold events in Canada, it can gain steam.  The answer really will depend on the UFC’s longevity in popularity.

7 Responses to “Will the UFC be more popular than Football in Canada?”

  1. Mr. Snrub on July 22nd, 2012 6:13 PM

    If the sportsnet ufc shows get anywhere near to the ‘slumping’ 700k viewers that the CFL averages on TSN we would have heard about it.

    Lazy reporting.

  2. jose on July 22nd, 2012 8:22 PM

    Short answer: No, UFC won’t ever surpass football in Canada.
    Individual sports can’t approach the societal role that team sports play.

    UFC is still relatively new. Also Canada has a long time champion and one of the best in GSP to root for.

    Individual sports rise and fall drastically depending on the personalities of the stars at the top (ie Tiger Woods).

    GSP only has a few years left, and odds are there won’t be a similarly dominant Canadian ready to replace him.

    In the next 5-10 years UFC will long since stopped being the new, exciting sport. It stopped being the “fastest growing” a few years back, too.

    And, long term, the NFL will put a team in Toronto. That’s the trump card football has to play.

  3. jose on July 22nd, 2012 8:42 PM

    Also, I’d be curious to see how much revenue the UFC generates in Canada compared to the NBA’s Raptors and MLB’s Blue Jays.

    Money spent is a better measure of popularity than opinion polls. People can say they like a sport, but how much money they will spend is the true measure of their interest.

    UFC had a record $4.1M gate last night in Calgary.
    Estimates of UFC’s annual revenue globally are generally $350-$500M.

    For comparison, from Forbes:
    Toronto Blue Jaws revenue in 2011 was estimated as $168M, with $34M gate.
    Toronto Raptors revenue in 2010 was estimated at $138M, with $44M gate.

    Given those #s. it’s probable that both the NBA and MLB generate greater revenues from Canada than UFC does.

    Also found stories from 2007 that the NFL was getting $10-$15M for its TV rights in Canada.. That has likely gone up in recent years. Also doesn’t include any NFL Network revenue or merchandise sales in Canada.

    UFC has done great for itself. But team sports are where the money is at.

  4. BrainSmasher on July 23rd, 2012 3:11 PM

    So you are going to compare a single night gate to an entire season of 40 home games for Raptors and 80 Home games for Blue Jays? Not really fair dont you think? The UFC has had 8 events in Canada in the last 4 years for a gate of 41 million.

  5. James25 on July 24th, 2012 4:35 AM

    I would respectfully say no due to the fact that team sports always a have a great effect on casual viewers than individual sports does. UFC is also still new and still needs to get a decade or two under its belt to be consider the top individual sport in any country even though it has a huge following in most parts of the world.

    Football will be popular in any country as its the ultimate team sport. Once Canada gets its first team in the NFL which is going to happen in the next 3-5 years and it will be a team playing in Toronto probably under the ownership of Rogers since he’s already tried to get the nearby Buffalo Bills up here. There’s a thirst for the NFL up here and it will be greater once the locals finally get a team that they can support and get behind that’s home. The thirst is much greater than it is for the CFL which is looked as a minor league product b/c it is one but CFL is big in every city where a team plays. The Grey Cup is still one of the world’s most prestigious championships and as long as the CFL has that UFC will never pass them.

    We all know the NHL is king up here but I still think once NFL Football comes to Canada with a home team the NFL will pass up the NHL.

    Toronto has proved to be a great sports city as they support the Raptors pretty great during losing seasons and the Blue Jays are on their way to getting back to the playoffs and the fan support this season with increased attendance numbers proves that baseball can be popular too.

    Canada is in great shape for supporting sports teams as it hasn’t been a real issue once the Expos moved from Montreal. Canada loves UFC and it can grow to a huge level but there’s no need to compare it against team sports at this point.

  6. jose on July 24th, 2012 9:54 AM

    @BrainSmasher

    Huh? Think more clearly about it.

    $41M in 4 years vs $100M+ in a single year.

    UFC just isn’t as popular as it likes to claim.

    Dana White is a promoter, a hype man. Taking what he says on face value is as silly as taking something Don King says on face value. His job is to lie and stretch the truth to create excitement. He does a great job of that.

  7. BrainSmasher on July 24th, 2012 4:41 PM

    Whats your point? You said popularity was based on how much the fans spend. Per visit the UFC blows away the raptors and the Blue Jays. You used season stats to construe the information. You can use that same misinformation to claim Baseball is 5 times more popular than the NFL because they have 75 million fans attend the games each season compared to 17 million of the NFL. But they play 10 times more games. The UFC is averaging over $5 million per event in Canada which is by far more than a single basketball or baseball game bring in in ticket sales. Im not trying to claim UFC is more popular. It would be impossible to prove with the limited sample size the UFC has which is 2 events a year. But im mearly stating your information is misleading and your conclusion is without foundation.

    We do know there are cities in Canada that are always the highers cities in North American when it comes to UFC buy rates of PPVs. The UFC makes a ton of money from Canada.

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