Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What is up with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)?

I've been hearing all this stuff about the growing popularity of UFC. Therefore, I decided to see for myself. I will say that I found some interesting results in my quest to see what is driving all the buzz.

The UFC is gaining in popularity. It is receiving higher ratings than the NBA. An ESPN poll on their front page, UFC 71 was the most anticipated sporting event of last weekend (Memorial Day weekend 2007), beating out NBA, NHL, and Indy 500. Also, two of its wrestlers were recently featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. Interestingly, buzz about the sport surpassed both the NFL and NBA recently. The NBA playoffs are currently in session! This makes it even more compelling.

The trend graph below depicts buzz patterns. The NFL garners a lot of discussion online due to the NFL Draft. However, buzz about UFC eclipses both the NFL and NBA as a result of being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated toward the end of May 2007.

I would like to point out that the NFL is currently in off-season. As you can see, it still receives a substantial amount of discussion by bloggers talking about the NFL Draft. The interesting finding relates to it getting more discussion in the blogosphere than the NBA. The NBA playoffs are currently underway. Also, a key reason for an increase in discussion relates to UFC getting exposure from being featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. A little publicity can sure go a long way!

Personally, I feel UFC should find ways to get its name out in mainstream media more often. Also, some of its wrestlers may want to consider creating blogs and updating them periodically. Wrestlers who blog may help create additional buzz and fan interaction. For example, Curt Schilling of Major League Baseball (MLB) has a blog at http://38pitches.com. I swear that every post Curt makes receives at least 50 comments. It is unreal!

The trend graph below shows similar results to the one above. UFC receives more buzz by consumers posting on their blogs than MLB toward the end of May 2007.

The timeline graph below shows website traffic patterns for the UFC, NFL, NASCAR, NBA and MLB according to Alexa.com. The majority of consumers are visiting the NBA.com and MLB.com. However, it is important to note that there is a recent increase in consumers visiting UFC's website around the end of May 2007. UFC's website traffic still doesn't rival NBA or MLB, which are in season. Also, web traffic for the NFL will pick up considerably once its season is under way. However, it is promising to see the popularity of UFC growing.

The UFC seems very interesting to watch. I haven't been able to watch it yet; however, I will make a valid attempt to look at it over the next few weeks. I am interested to see what other people think about the UFC in the mean time. Feel free to leave a comment telling why you are drawn to the UFC.

Disclaimer: I want to state that these findings only show the amount of discussion in the blogosphere. Discussion about the NBA, MLB and NFL may infact be higher than UFC if all available sources are reviewed (i.e. chatroom discussion, video content, podcasts, discussion forums, Usenet groups, etc...). Also, I haven't compared UFC buzz to any other MMA league (IFL, KOTC, etc.). I will see if I can provide more in-depth analysis at a later date.

You can find out more about UFC by checking out Adam Morgan's blog over at Sprawl N' Brawl.


Gogoplata said...

Great stuff. I write a mixed martial arts blog over at Sprawl 'n Brawl and I definitely enjoyed these marketing graphs.

UFC is exciting, especially once you learn more about what goes into training for these fighters and what can happen in a fight, whether it be on the ground or on the feet.

MarketRMan said...

Thanks for the comment. I will check out your blog. Also, let me know if you need some interesting data. I can almost always come up with something. I'll make sure to add you to my blogroll.

Gogoplata said...

No problem, man, you should get a good bit of traffic over here today and tomorrow. I showed them to Zach Arnold, of Fight Opinion, and he linked up your post to his site as well. It gets visited by quite a few people.

Also, your link above where it says UFC is drawing higher ratings than the NBA playoffs is actually a reference to pro wrestling getting higher ratings.

Although on an ESPN poll on their front page, UFC 71 was the most anticipated sporting event of last weekend, beating out NBA, NHL, and Indy 500.

Gogoplata said...

Oh, the web address to the spot where he links you up is:



MarketRMan said...

Also, remember that the NFL is out of season now. It receives much higher volumes of discussion around its draft, regular season and Super Bowl. UFC can't compare with that yet in any way. But it is interesting that it receives more buzz by consumers online than the NBA which currently has its playoffs in session. That is the exciting thing at this point.

Matthew said...

great post. Both from a UFC fan and online marketing perspective. Since the UFC can be considered an 'underground' sport, its online popularity doesn't surprise me. With such a a rabid following, we love to see our sport show up in magazines and on ESPN. And since the internet is the go-to source for info that cannot be easily found in mainstream media, we make sure to blog about it so everyone else knows where to find the latest UFC info.
Again, great post. I also linked to it from my site (www.ufctakedown.com).
- Matt

MarketRMan said...

Thanks for the post Matt. I'll have some more stuff up by the end of this weekend, specifically looking at which MMA sport receiving the most buzz (i.e. UFC, IFL). Also, I'll be able to list some of the key drivers of buzz for the sport. Make sure to check back. Get yo popcorn ready!

MarketRMan said...

Also, I feel the growing popularity of UFC is due to enthusiasts writing about it, thus making it one of the most viral marketed sports.

doug_drex said...

I found your blog via fightopinion.com today. It was an interesting article chronicling the growing popularity of the sport of MMA. The sport holds a special place in my heart since I've been following it from the first event in the U.S. back in 1993. I've even covered a local promotion (Tampa, FL) for a website that covers the sport of MMA. Keep up the great work, and I'll be sure to check your site on a regular basis.

MarketRMan said...

Thanks for the great feedback! Do you have a blog? I'll make sure to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!