SBD/June 19, 2017/Media

UFC, WME-IMG To Add Real-Time Stats For Fighters; Focusing On New Media Rights Deal

Fox Sports' rights expire in '18, but there is an exclusive negotiating window this year
MMA fans are "soon going to get MLB-style stats illustrating just how tough the fighters are," as UFC and owner WME-IMG have outlined a new plan to "grow a data business -- and possibly gaming" -- alongside the sport, according to Claire Atkinson of the N.Y. POST. WME-IMG co-CEO Ari Emanuel explained how the "pop culture juggernaut is aiming to build a data business in part by placing sensors on gloves, on shorts and in the arena." UFC President Dana White said, "We're working on a lot of stats." Emanuel: "We're going to start creating videos from it that will be shareable with emojis. We're about six months away from that." Meanwhile, Atkinson notes Fox Sports' TV rights for UFC expire in '18. Emanuel said, "We have an exclusive (negotiating) window from July to September. Fox has been incredible partners for us. ... We'll see what happens, hopefully everything goes well" (N.Y. POST, 6/19). Emanuel said that his focus now is "going direct-to-consumer and getting into the data business." Emanuel: "Data is like oil. ... The next couple of years, we're going to start laying it out, how to go to the consumer with what you have and once you have the data on the consumer, we're a very good position" (N.Y. POST, 6/19). 

JUMPING ON BOARD? SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote it is going to be "interesting to see how much" Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor talk "extends beyond this fight and onto UFC as a whole because it's a larger tell on longterm UFC interest." Deitsch: "From talking to some ESPN-ers in-house, I'd put the company's interest in a UFC media rights deal at around 30% but that could fluctuate given whatever packaging, pricing and the scope of rights UFC brings to market." It is a "much more important property for Fox Sports to retain." Deitsch writes he would be "stunned if they don't ride Mayweather-McGregor on its platforms nearly every day until Aug. 26" (SI.com, 6/19).
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