Survey shows popularity of Boxing and UFC
May 11, 2013
The Sports Business Journal reported on an annual survey which tracked the habits of avid fans of boxing, MMA and professional wrestling. The Scarborough survey polled more than 200,000 residents over the age of 18 in 77 of the country’s biggest markets to find out how avid fans are to their particular sport.
The survey determined that of the 48.4% of the U.S. male population, the UFC (74.6% of males polled) is most popular of the three sports among males with boxing a close second (72.4%) and then WWE (62.8%). However, women (52.6% of the female population) preferred boxing over the UFC with the WWE third.
As one might expect, the UFC did well with ages 18-44 while boxing was more popular among 30-44 year olds. WWE did the best with baby boomers 30-44 years old. But, this does not jive with the polling numbers which state that 51.7% of those WWE fans polled have no children.
Most educated fans of the three sports? Its the UFC with 48.5% (of the 55% of the average U.S. population) stated they attended college. However, more boxing fans attended post-graduate school and/or received a post-graduate degree than both the UFC or WWE fans.
Spanish/Hispanics favor boxing over the WWE and the UFC. African Americans favor the UFC the least over the three combat sports.
Boxing is big among Spanish and Hispanics due to the many boxing stars in the numerous divisions. One need only see that the big PPVs each year occur Cinco de Mayo (May) weekend and Mexican Independence Day (September).
18% (of the 20% of the average U.S. population) of UFC fans have household incomes between $100,000 and $249,000. The bulk of its fans, 81% (of the average U.S. population), make between $25,000 and $34,999.
According to the Scarborough survey, 5.3% of the U.S. population indicated that they are avid fans of boxing. 5.1% are avid UFC fans while 3.7% are WWE fans.
Top 3 Markets for the UFC
1) Honolulu, Hawaii
2) Bakersfield, California,
3) El Paso, Texas
Las Vegas ranked 9th for the UFC and 8th in Boxing. El Paso also ranked second in Boxing markets.
Harlingen-McAllen, Texas ranked first as the top Boxing market and second in WWE’s top market. Little Rock, Arkansas ranked first as the WWE’s top market.
The survey does not really have anything too surprising. The UFC fan base is mainly comprised of the younger demographic while boxing skews to the older generation. This can be attributed to the fact that many grew up with boxing on television. One also may look to the fact that ethnicity plays a big role with boxing fans. Boxing fans are fans of certain fighters because of their ethnicity. One can look to Manny Pacquiao as a recent example of nation pride from many Filipinos. Juan Manuel Marquez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. are examples of Mexican fighters that have drawn interest due in part to their heritage.
As for markets, its interesting that Honolulu, Hawaii is the top UFC market among markets polled. This has to be attributed to the big following of BJ Penn. Also,Texas appears to be a focal point for Fight Sports as El Paso and Harlingen-McAllen are at the top of the list when it comes to avid fans of the sports.
One of the more interesting takeaways is that Boxing and the UFC are still neck and neck in fan popularity. Yes, its not a competition between the two but its interesting to note that boxing and the UFC both had 19 telecasts over 1 million viewers in 2012. Boxing had 2 network telecasts over the 1 million mark while all 4 of the UFC on Fox network events went over 1 million viewers.