MMA Payout Year in Review: No. 4 – ONE making moves, signs media deal with Turner

December 30, 2018

ONE Championship made its presence known in the latter half of 2018 after it signed Eddie Alvarez, “traded” Ben Askren for Demetrious Johnson, Sage Northcutt, hired Miesha Tate as an executive and signed a media rights deal with Turner.

The Alvarez was the first big signing for One in October.  The former UFC lightweight champion weighed his options after his UFC contract ended and decided to sign with One.  It was a surprising move with the potential for The Underground King to go back to Bellator and compete in a talented lightweight division.  He’d also be closer to home fighting presumably in North America.

The acquisition of Demetrious Johnson came in the form of a “trade” with Ben Askren going to the UFC.  There was also the hiring of Miesha Tate as an executive for the Singapore company and then Sage Northcutt was signed by One after the UFC decided not to re-sign him.

ONE has come into question for its valuation of its finances as it has received a considerable amount of capital for a young company.  ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong responded with a post about how it raised $250 million from blue-chip investors.

ONE also came through with a media deal for 2019 which will allow North American viewers to watch ONE via a deal with Turner Sports.  The deal will include ONE on Turner’s B/R Live streaming service and TNT.

The first ONE show on Turner airs on January 19, 2019, the same day as the UFC’s debut on ESPN.

Also, a sidenote, it’s the same day as Manny Pacquiao’s next fight as he faces Adrien Broner on Showtime PPV.

This could be a new era for ONE as it extends its reach with the Turner deal.  Will this foster competition with the UFC?  Or are they going to compete on a secondary level with Bellator?  With its recent round of financing it looks like ONE is in spending mode and we will see how much MMA fans want to adopt.

ONE signs television deal with Turner Sports

December 11, 2018

ESPN reports that ONE Championship has signed a three-year broadcast deal with Turner Sports.  According to the report by Ariel Helwani, the deal for the Singapore-based company begins on January 1, 2019.

The company will have 24 events to air live on TNT beginning next year and on its digital platforms including B/R Live.  Financial details were not announced.

The first televised event is schedule for January 19, 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The company had promised a North American deal earlier this year.  It has made some significant signings with former UFC fighters including Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson (technically via “trade”) and most recently Sage Northcutt.  It also signed Miesha Tate as a ONE exec.  With those moves, it seemed as though the company was ready for a big move.

Turner Sports had been in discussions for the UFC media rights and one point and it appears that the company sought to expand its live content.  B/R Live most recently aired the Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods one on one golf round the Friday after Thanksgiving.  However, the attempt to market it on PPV was a bust with technical glitches causing the match to be aired for free and refunding those that paid $19.99 to watch.

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting venture for Turner Sports as TNT has a much broader base than Fox Sports or Paramount.  As of this past September, TNT is received in approximately 89.573 million homes.  In comparison, Fox Sports 1, where the UFC currently resides is in 83,290 million homes.  Paramount Network, home of Bellator, is seen in 80,240 million homes.  NBC Sports Network, home of the PFL, is in 83,404 homes. Notably, ESPN, the future home of the UFC, came in at 85,988 million.


In my opinion, the signing of ONE Championship is more for the B/R Live digital content than it is for TNT.  The company is trying to expand its digital reach and signing a deal with ONE Championship gets it into the sport.  Aside from its anchor sports of NBA and golf, TNT airs esports on Friday night to steady, but not outstanding ratings.  Yet, it maintained a viewership base of younger viewers.  This will be an interesting signing and we will see if the casual viewer will acclimate to ONE.

ONE Championship announces launch of athliesure business

November 23, 2018

ONE Championship has announced that it is getting into the “Athliesure” business per a press release earlier this week.

The Singapore-based MMA company is extending its business reach by selling ONE Championship branded designed apparel online.  According to the release, in addition to athletic gear and apparel, the business will focus on offering a greater choice of urban lifestyle streetwear.

ONE Championship has extended its reach with investments in esports in addition to the signing of Eddie Alvarez, a “trade” for Demetrious Johnson and the signing on of Miesha Tate as a Vice President for the company.

Payout Perspective:

The extension of an apparel business comes right in time for the holiday season.  While ONE is bullish on the prospects of this vertical, we will see how consumers like the offerings.  The retail business seems like a hard, competitive business to enter and it would seem that design and price will be key to this success.

Miesha Tate joins ONE Championship as Vice President

November 8, 2018

Miesha Tate has been named a Vice President of ONE Championship according to the company on Thursday morning.

Tate, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, is moving to Singapore. In a press release, Tate stated the following:  “I am thrilled to join ONE Championship as a Vice President.   I truly believe in its mission of unleashing real-life superheroes who ignite the world with hope, strength, dreams, and inspiration. I’m honored to bring my experience as a World Champion and to help inspire the next generation of athletes. And of course, I am excited to relocate to my new home, Singapore, and travel throughout Asia!”

This is another big move by ONE Championship which signed former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and “traded” for former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that ONE Championship is making some big moves with an eye toward expanding its reach to North America.  Whether it is through an eventual television deal in North America, events in North America or just hiring former UFC stars to entice fans to watch its product, ONE is spending some money to do something big in 2019.


ONE announces investment in esports

November 7, 2018

ONE Championship announced that it is launching an eSports division.  The newly signed Demetrious Johnson, and avid gamer, will serve as Chief Brand Ambassador for the company.

According to a press release, ONE Championship plans on investing up to $50 million with “other key partners into ONE eSports to create Asia’s largest global eSports Championship Series.”

Per press release:

ONE eSports will also work with Razer, the world’s leading lifestyle brand for gamers, to leverage its ecosystem of hardware, software, and services in the following manner:

  • Razer will provide its expertise and leadership as a pioneer in the eSports industry to develop, manage, and organize an eSports tournament or series in partnership with ONE eSports.
  • eSports Mogul, a Razer portfolio company, will provide the technical know-how and innovation for the development of an online platform to organize, manage, and stage online eSportsevents and tournaments.
  • Razer Pay will serve as the payment platform for the ticketing of ONE eSports tournaments, as well as for the online sale of related merchandise and content.
  • ONE eSports and Razer will explore joint marketing opportunities using Team Razer eSportsathletes as well as ONE Championship athletes to drive communication and engagement to all martial arts fans and gamers across Asia.

Payout Perspective:

Everyone is getting into eSports as it’s the hottest sports property and its growth is undeniable.  Having Johnson as Brand Ambassador makes sense.  He is a video game guy with his own channel on twitch.  You might also recall he was the first UFC fighter with Xbox as a sponsor.

With this announcement, it will be interesting to see what game titles it secures to use for its plans.  Also, we will keep track of its partners with this ambitious investment of $50 million for this endeavor.

MMA Trade? UFC and ONE looking into swapping Johnson for Askren

October 24, 2018

ESPN reports a potential trade between MMA promotions UFC and ONE.  The deal would have Demetrious Johnson moving to ONE while Ben Askren would head to the UFC.

The trade would have Johnson and Askren released from their respective promotional contracts in order to sign with the other promotion.  Both have fights left on their contract which is the obstacle for Johnson and Askren.

Also, they are independent contractors which means that neither would have to comply with the “trade” since there would be nothing binding each to the deal.  But, it seems as though both fighters are willing to comply.

For the UFC, this could mean that the company is doing away with the 125-pound division.  Before losing the title to Henry Cejudo, Johnson had been dominant as he broke the record for most consecutive title defenses.  Cejudo has been discussing a superfight with bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw.  But, the flyweight division has produced little, if any spark to the promotion since its inception.

Askren has been dominant in ONE’s welterweight division since joining the company in 2014.  He won the ONE Welterweight Championship in just his second fight in the promotion.  He’s had 4 straight title defenses of his championship.

ONE appears to be making moves to become more visible in North America.  Former Bellator and UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez signed with ONE to a lucrative deal.

Two recent articles by John Nash and Paul Gift on the promotion cast doubt on the company’s finances so the Singapore-based promotion will be something to keep eyes on.

Payout Perspective:

The “trade” seems good for both sides.  Johnson, who believes that the UFC has not promoted him correctly, will get a change of scenery and perhaps the marketing push and new opponents that he desires.  Askren will get a chance to test himself against a tough welterweight division.  It’s been clear that Askren has outclassed his opponents and with a UFC roster full of worthy opponents, he should be given some interesting matchups.

Eddie Alvarez signs with ONE Championship

October 15, 2018

ONE Championship has signed Eddie Alvarez to a contract making the former UFC and Bellator lightweight to the Asia-based company.  According to the promotion’s press release, it’s a multiple bout contract.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Payout Perspective:

The signing is a coup for ONE Championship who may seek to extend its reach to North America.  Thus far, the company has grown exponentially since its start in the early 2010s.  It has Ben Askren and former UFC star Brandon Vera on its roster as well as several top fighters in Asia.  Alvarez joining the promotion should bolster fans of Alvarez in the U.S. which may, in turn, mean a foray into North America.

At 34, its probably the best possible deal for Alvarez.  He’s nearing the end of his peak earning as an MMA fighter and ONE is likely paying him much more than the UFC or Bellator would offer.  This may serve as an option for other fighters that may be nearing the end of their deal in the UFC or Bellator that there are other options in the industry.

ONE FC App to help with presence in North America

May 4, 2018

ONE FC announced on Friday that a new mobile app will allow users to watch live events for free.  “ONE Super App” is now available on Android and iOS for users to access the promotion’s fights.

The promotion has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singtel Group and its mobile associates Globe and Telkomsel.

Previously, fans in North America only way to access ONE FC was through iPPVs.  The app will help broaden the promotion’s reach.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a great move by the promotion to extend its reach to North American fans.  Only the most dedicated MMA fans would access ONE FC, which holds its events in Asia.  The new app should benefit the company and will be attractive to potential advertisers.  The company already has solid deals with blue chip sponsors in Asia and its extension with this app should bring more of a presence in North America.

OneFC receives investment to expand promotion

July 22, 2017

MMA Promotion OneFC has received an injection of cash from venture capital firm Sequoia India and investment firm Mission Holdings according to a report from the New York Times.  According to the promotion, it has raised over $100 million in total cash in its 6 years in existence.

The investment will aid the company make a further push into Asia including Korea, Japan and eventually India.

Payout Perspective:

The investment will help the promotion enlarge its footprint in Asia.  The influx of money reflects the positive momentum of the company and the belief from the investors that the company is on the uptick.  The article indicates that the UFC is attempting to make inroads into Asia despite the fact that OneFC maintains a steady base of events on the continent.

ONE Championships eyes U.S. streaming deal

March 16, 2017

The Singapore-based ONE Championships is near a streaming deal which will make it easier for U.S. fans to watch its fights.

Currently, it costs $9.99 per event on the promotion’s web site to watch ONE Championship events.

ONE spokesperson, Loren Mack, indicated that the company will still have events onllne but the new deal will make it easier for fans in the U.S. to watch.

The promotion is based primarily in Asia and has a vast following there than in North American where big MMA diehards follow the sport.  For more on the promotion, we interviewed CEO Victor Cui a while back about the company.

Payout Perspective:

The new deal will likely make it more accessible for fans here in the U.S. which leads me to believe that it will partner with someone with an existing over the top platform.  The plan is a sign of growth for the company and a hope to open up more fans to the sport via a streaming deal.

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