The Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight championship match between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos will be a historic moment for mixed-martial arts. These sorts of fights happen all the time, but what’s notable is that it’s taking place in prime time network television.
When it comes to legal sports, few are as viscerally gory as the UFC. Just this past June, Dos Santos rendered Shane Carwin’s face a crimson mess, but Fox is not concerned.
“We sold out all 15 units in a week,” says Todd Siegel, executive vp, Fox Sports Cable Sales. “In fact, we could have sold more units, but people came to us a little late. We had to turn down a couple movie studios as well as an automotive client.”
Media buyers report that a 30-second spot in The UFC on Fox cost just over of $100,000, with the Among the advertisers including Anheuser-Busch, the Casio G’zOne Commando smartphone, the U.S. Marine Corps and buys from the studios 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. This comes a few months after Fox Sports signed a seven-year, $700 million rights deal with the UFC.
Fox has gone all out to promote the UFC, with interviews and advertisements during their football and World Series coverage. This program on Fox offers an unprecedented promotional platform for the UFC, even if there’s a near-term dip in PPV revenue.
“You don’t go on free television and make your money, that’s just not the way it works,” says UFC president Dana White. “We’re going to get smashed on this fight, but it’s an investment in the future of the business.”