“When it comes to working with brands and advertisers, we’re really the youngest skew of professional sports in Australia and New Zealand and focusing on the 18 to 39s demo,” UFC VP of Australia & New Zealand, Peter Kloczko told Mumbrella at Ministry of Sport’s Women in Sport Summit on Thursday.
“We really have that mass reach from coast to coast and a nice spread from where our fans are at. Also, our research that we did recently showed that our fans have a high household income, the fans with the disposal income,” said Kloczko. “They really see the UFC as a genuine product and I think it’s a compelling avenue for brands to get involved in.”
Carat Australia group investment director, Aidan Ryan seems to agree, telling Mumbrella: “UFC has undoubtedly grown in popularity and reach in Australia over recent years with a particularly strong footprint in social and engaged fan base.
“Whilst the visceral and often gory nature of UFC isn’t going to be suitable for all brands, the sport represents a growing opportunity to reach males, 18-39 in particular, one of the most difficult to engage via traditional media today.”
UM senior planning director, Danni Dimataga, commented: “With such a cult following, UFC has an ability to garner strong affinity with an audience who are so immersed with the sport and athletes. Their social engagement speaks volumes with their genuine fandom, particularly with a typically hard-to-reach younger audience. Brands can look for ways to borrow the credentials and affinities the UFC have built to connect with this audience. There’s an opportunity to leverage the meaningful connection or brand love halo on to the right brands.”
UM senior trading manager, Tom Carlon, added: “The UFC represents a relatively untapped format for Australian advertisers, however given the substantial audiences for main event cards at an average of 1million per event, with a large proportion of those being the harder to reach 18-39 demographic, advertisers need to take note.
“With Australia having an extremely competitive suite of fighters across all weight classes, we anticipate the fanbase of the sport to continue to grow. Any trepidation on brand safety regarding advertising in the emerging sport must be seriously considered as we start to witness the new sporting phenomenon take pace.”
Awaken CEO, Chris Parker noted: “UFC is like the TikTok of sport; it has a younger skew audience, who are highly engaged and highly passionate. While the sport may be polarising to some there is no doubt that it is followed by a loyal group who are definitely worth targeting during and surrounding events.”
“As media is about capturing attention to drive consideration or awareness, we think the UFC is a natural fit for many categories, including auto, alcohol, and gambling who can capitalise on the highly engaged social/digital audiences and on one million plus eyeballs per event.
“We already use other tech platforms to target UFC/MMA fans, as we know this audience works for some of our clients, and now hopefully we will be able to leverage greater opportunities with the UFC as an organisation, to allow us to better integrate,” he said.
According to recent research via YouTube, Google and YouGov Global Fan Profiles, Australia and New Zealand have seen some significant growth in the business, and it’s a key market for the sport.
The UFC fanbase now reaches over four million Australians, 5.7 million households, 66 million YouTube views in 2021, 4.1 million social media footprints, 1.8 unique UFC.com visitors in 2021, and one million average viewers per UFC PPV event in 2021.
UFC also has the highest engagement on social media than any other sport in Australia. As mentioned, approximately 48% of its fans are between the ages of 18 to 39, which is the youngest of all major sports in this country.
“While we are heavily male-skewed, our demographic and that gender gap is starting to close. We’re looking at a 60% male and 40% female viewership, whereas ten years ago it was 70% male and 30% female.
“It has a meaningful fan base, a roster of successful athletes, and commercial partners, explained Kloczko. “In the local market, we have a fan base of close to 4 million. Demographically our fans are spread from coast to coast, from Darwin to Dunedin, and from Perth all the way over to Sydney. Approximately 48% of our fans are between the ages of 18 to 39, which is the youngest of all major sports in this country.”
In Australia and New Zealand, Kloczko said UFC’s social media platforms are geo-targeted to this region, and consistently outperform video views with traditional sporting codes.
UFC has 42 events per year, 12 of which are sold via pay-per-view, and in Australia, that’s via Foxtel’s Main Event, Kayo, a direct-to-consumer product called UFC Fight Pass, and also via Fetch.
Kloczko noted, however, “The biggest driver for us is digital pay-per-view product, and our average buy rate has gone up 3x over the last three years.”
With the UFC rights cycle expiring at the end of 2023, Kloczko admitted he’s very much in discussions about what the iteration of rights looks like here in Australia, and would consider adding a new player, Stan Event to its list.