Mixed martial arts has gone from being banned from pay-per-view to a contract with network television in just over a decade. However, there are few groups of people more skittish than advertising executives, Don Draper notwithstanding. Will the sight of blood, a nasty KO or a broken bone keep them buying advertising for the UFC's first foray onto FOX?
According to Ad Week, not at all. Though fighters for the event have not yet been announced, they expect for ad space for the Nov. 12, two-fight card to sell quickly.
One national TV buyer who represents a client that has bought time on Spike TV's UFC programming said he wouldn't be at all surprised to see more mainstream brands begin to line up for MMA events. "Content is definitely an issue, but no one's going into this with their eyes closed," said Kevin Collins, director of national broadcast buying for Initiative. "You're not going to get your traditional Sunday NFL audience, but I expect you'll find a lot of theatrical dollars, as well as QSR [quick service restaurants] and beer."
Those are all areas that the UFC has had success with in the past. Burger King has sponsored the UFC and their Brazilian branch works with middleweight champ Anderson Silva. Budweiser has had a relationship with the UFC for years, which had a famous dust-up at UFC 100 when then-champ Brock Lesnar proclaimed that he wanted a Coors after beating Frank Mir. Several movie promotions have made their way to the Octagon.
Still, the UFC and FOX are taking no chances and are making sure that the UFC on FOX will get plenty of build-up. "Primetime," the mini-series that has followed main event fighters in the weeks heading into their fights, will be turned into a one-hour show that will air on Oct. 30.
The show will air either before or after the NFL game assigned to your market on that Sunday. Pairing it with football will give the UFC the biggest exposure, as only "American Idol" pulls higher ratings on a regular basis, and that shows targets a completely different demographic.
Longtime MMA fans will undoubtedly tune in to see fights for free, but do you expect the UFC to win new fans with this venture onto network television? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook.