The UFC appears to be one brand that will come out on the other side of a global pandemic with a bigger and better business than before.
As one of the only major sports back in operation already, the UFC has seen increases in television ratings, pay-per-view buys and merchandise sales that will help make 2020 a successful year in spite of the COVID-19 outbreak.
There was further proof of that when UFC 251 reportedly sold approximately 1.3 million pay-per-views. Despite a lot of obstacles to overcome, UFC president Dana White is ultimately quite happy with the success the promotion has found during a challenging time, especially for sports leagues across the globe.
“The brand has never been bigger or stronger than it is right now,” White said on Tuesday ahead of UFC on ESPN 13. “I mean if you look at the ratings and the amount of promotion. I don’t know if you guys felt it like we felt it, but you had to feel in your business. My personal social media was off the charts, the biggest numbers that I’ve ever pulled, ever. UFC’s social media numbers are off the charts. The traffic.
“I told you guys the other day — the merchandise, we’ve already sold more merchandise this year than we did all of 2019. We already crushed that number from 2019. The list goes on and on.”
While there are a lot of positives to take away from the UFC’s ability to promote cards when other sports like basketball and baseball are just now plotting a comeback, the promotion will still take a hit in some areas of the business. At the top of the list is the loss of a live gate, which can produce a huge amount of revenue depending on the card in question.
“Obviously, in a lot of ways this has affected our business,” White conceded. “There’s no gate. That’s $110 million dollars – in that ball park – and some other things. But we’re still rolling.
“You have to look at the value that’s being built in the brand. The amount of people that you’re probably converting to be fans that probably never watched before and the list goes on and on. We’re going to do a full analysis of the brand and what’s going on right now with the sport.”
With just under six months left remaining in 2020, the UFC still has a lot of road to travel, but White believes this year will end up as a massive success for the company as a whole.
“It’s impossible for it not to be good,” White said. “It’s all a good thing. There’s more people that are aware of this sport than ever before, and not just in the United States, but globally.”