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SBD Global/October 14, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta Seeking Ways To Expand, Grow Sport Internationally

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta wants to expand UFC's international footprint.
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta "is the modern-day Don King," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Fertitta "rules not over boxing but over UFC, a combat sport in a caged ring, ostensibly built around martial arts." U.S. Senator John McCain once dubbed it “human cockfighting.” Fertitta "prefers to see it as a combination of four Olympic sports -- boxing, wrestling, judo and taekwondo." Pay-per-view TV "brings in the revenues in profit-sharing deals with Fox Sports and other broadcasters." In Canada and the U.S., UFC "will this year generate about 6m pay-per-view transactions at $50 each.'' Globo in Brazil pays UFC a guaranteed fee in return for the revenues from 400,000 subscribers, who pay $40 a month, though the deal "reverts to revenue-sharing" in '15. BT Sport "has signed a deal for the UK." Fertitta said that "his sports model is unique." Fertitta: “We produce, own and control all of our content.” The next step, he added, is "owning the distribution channel." He says UFC will be “the first digital sport,” allowing it to "deal directly with the consumer." That kind of talk is "enough to send traditional sports broadcasters into a cold sweat." Fertitta and brother Frank got UFC "on the cheap when the sport was on the canvas and being counted out." They "legitimised it by tightening the rules." They "enlisted medical research to vouchsafe for its relative safety and drew audiences through a combination of free-to-air broadcasts and Ultimate Fighter, a reality TV show." Fertitta: "We’ve just taken a sport, organized it and branded it." Expanding UFC into other regions "will be launched on the back of reality TV shows for each market." The show airs in Brazil and Australia, and "it will go to Canada and China." UFC "should be able to break into some new markets relatively easily," underpinned by a UFC virtual game being developed by EA Sports. Fertitta "points out that martial arts originated in Asia" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 10/13).
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