Over the years, Asia-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion ONE Championship has taken the sporting world by storm. Their recently concluded 100th live event, aptly titled ONE: CENTURY, drew a record-breaking 85 million viewers across 145 countries, across all platforms. The event, which featured former world champions Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Eddie Alvarez, also marked the promotion’s first foray into the United States’ primetime TV slot.
Another fascinating tidbit on the ONE Championship’s historic card were the number of viewers watching through the company’s live terrestrial TV and other online partners. Joe Streeter of Insider Sport shared that in China alone, more than 10 million fans watched the highly anticipated occasion live on various streaming devices. Current Chairman and CEO, Chatri Sityodtong, even claimed how these numbers have just barely scratched the surface of its full viewership potential in the region.
This, in more ways, is a testament to how ONE Championship engages and gains more fans through their digital platforms.
Without a shadow of a doubt, social media — the whole concept of digital marketing — is a game changer. Be it while establishing fan clubs, or promoting viewing parties, or even setting up one of the biggest fights in combat sports history, the Internet and its citizens sure know how to flex their muscles. A couple of years back, Jennifer Lott underlined how the Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor rivalry all began on social media. Months later, many consider it to have been one of the most — if not the most — highly anticipated bouts in recent years.
As for ONE Championship, its social media pages are more than just avenues for fan engagement and call outs, as reflected by their impressive growth over the years. Forbes’s article on the company’s rise to global significance zeroed in on the key metrics of the company’s five-year digital development. From 352 million social media impressions and 312,000 video views in 2014, ONE Championship saw an unprecedented spike in numbers to 14 billion and 2.6 billion, respectively, in 2018.
Aside from producing robust social media content and catering to fan clubs on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, ONE Championship launched the ONE Fantasy mobile game last September 2019. The app caters to gamers who are looking to get in on the action in the Circle using knowledge and critical thinking skills. Basically, it’s the organization’s version of a fantasy sports team.
In terms of live terrestrial TV, ONE Championship continues to foster television deals with various Asian countries where they see undeniable growth potential. A feature by James Gonzales on the Philippine MMA scene shined a spotlight on an upcoming reality show competition that will showcase some of the most promising Filipino fighters. The free TV tournament in 2020 will look to crown an overall winner at the finale, taking home $100,000 in the process.
In addition, ONE Championship ventured into the ever-growing online gaming industry as well. ONE eSports, which is a joint venture with Japan’s biggest global advertising agency Dentsu, Inc. and other top industry partners, aims to invest up to $50 million to create the largest eSports championship series in Asia. The idea is to cater to a wider range of audiences and to promote online gaming alongside its MMA events.
ONE Championship definitely has gone a long way from relative sports obscurity to a legitimate global MMA promotion. With Chatri Sityodtong at the helm, the company elevated the term ‘fan engagement’ in a more innovative, generation-defining way. In more ways, ONE Championship managed to successfully progress and utilize different digital platforms in order to grow their fan base, as well as slip into a somewhat impenetrable North American market.
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