Marketers, Take A Cue From UFC To Pack a Punch For Sports Content

People either love or hate the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Those who love it, really love it. While many attribute UFC fan loyalty and enthusiasm to archaic bloodlust, we think the UFC is ahead of its time, reflecting shifts in consumer sports viewership. It isn’t just what happens within the octagon that makes the UFC experience undeniably powerful. Marketers ought to consider the UFC a killer case study by which to bolster their own brands’ sports content.


Bite-size content packs a, well, punch. Millennial and Gen Z sports fans are less likely than their older counterparts to watch an entire game or match up, according to a recent study from analytical firm The Maru Group. They aren’t splurging on streaming packages or on that ancient medium colloquially called “cable.” Instead, they check highlight videos and are quick to make and share memes of these “TikTokable moments.”

Even when tuned in, most young fans are dual screening, checking for other takes and jokes about whatever’s just happened. The UFC octagon’s action-packed moments are the quintessential example of highlight-worthy, shareable content (“His leg did what?”). INSIGHT: Don’t underestimate the power of the smaller screen in dual screening. Generate bite-sized, shareable content around the main event.



Exclusive experiences excite fans. Close to 70% of young sports fans consider sports a huge part of who they are, per insight platform yPulse, and paying homage to these fans fuels their fire. Modelo’s “UFC Trivia Challenge” activation, for example, offered fans the chance to step into the UFC universe and inside the actual octagon, alongside UFC president Dana White, to belt the next champ. The UFC also partnered with cryptocurrency brand Chiliz to drop an exclusive $UFC Fan Token. With the token, fans could unlock promotions, AR-enabled content, VIP rewards, and even participate in fan voting, giving them a voice in league decisions. Insight: Rewarding fans by offering exclusive access to content and experiences is a sure way to get them interested in your brand.

Context generates enthusiasm. More fans than ever before report that they’re watching hours of non-game sports content per week, according to research from Imagen, the video management platform for organizations such as the MLB.

Fans crave context around match-ups. Its actual reality show notwithstanding, the UFC’s “Embedded”YouTube vlog series also stokes excitement by offering exclusive content leading up to specific fights. A fascinating juxtaposition to the matches themselves, “Embedded” offers intimate access to the athletes’ quieter moments (and the occasional bout of trash talk, naturally). The anticipation builds through this contextualization, revealing a fuller picture of what’s at stake, that culminates in the main event’s violent crescendo, now imbued with meaning.  INSIGHT: Build anticipation for events and products via context.

Storytelling deepens connections. Younger sports fans are also more likely to pledge their allegiance to individual athletes rather than a team or organization. Athletes can now easily establish their own brand identity via social media, differentiating themselves from their affiliated team and charming their followers into a more personal fandom.

Of course, UFC fights feature single opponents, but interwoven throughout the fabric of “Embedded”’s storytelling are individual accounts of real humans, not just franchises. Offering up narratives within through fans can see their own struggles reflected deepens fans’ connections and keeps them coming back.

Modelo selected sponsored UFC athletes who embodied their “fighting spirit,” and released videos and other narrative content elucidating their hardships and wins, in and out of the ring. With this cunning storytelling, Modelo further solidifies their fans’ attachments. INSIGHT: Create meaningful fan connection through storytelling to humanize athletes.

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