- Annual schedule to include at least 12 PPVs and 30 fight nights
- UFC says its China fanbase has grown to more than 173.8m
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has struck a multi-year content deal with Migu, which sees the streaming subsidiary of China Mobile become the exclusive distributor in China for all live events from the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
The landmark agreement includes an annual schedule of at least 12 pay-per-views (PPV) and 30 fight nights. Migu will also exclusively distribute the Asia edition of Dana White’s Contender Series, which sees UFC president White showcase up-and-coming talent, including fighters who train at the UFC Academy at the promotion’s Performance Institute in Shanghai.
As the new home for UFC in China, Migu will offer all the promotion’s live events and content through the UFC Fan Club annual subscription package. The platform also includes a selection of historic events from the UFC archive, as well as access to exclusive marketing offers and fan activations. Additionally, Migu will offer each UFC PPV as a single-purchase event.
Fans can access the UFC Fan Club via the Migu Video app on any connected device in China including Apple, Android, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Meizu, Samsung, Tencent and other streaming platforms, or via the Migu Video website.
The value of the deal has not been disclosed. In September 2019, the New York Post reported the UFC was looking to double the amount it gets for media rights in China to US$100 million ahead of the new cycle starting in 2021.
As well as the comprehensive contract for live UFC action from the octagon, the two parties will create exclusive MMA-focused fitness content for the Migu Fitness app, which will be available on both a subscription and no-cost basis.
With UFC aiming to host more events in China, these will serve as platforms for Migu’s production technologies, including virtual reality (VR), 4G and higher standards, and the Migu ‘bullet time’ free view function.
UFC and Migu will also collaborate on original content, including UFC-related films and documentaries, reality shows, and in-depth profiles on top UFC athletes and prospects.
Furthermore, the promotion will work with Migu to host nationwide fan activations featuring international and local UFC stars. Viewing parties for major UFC events and masterclasses at the promotion’s Performance Institute in Shanghai are also being planned.
“There has never been more talent, more fans, and more energy and momentum for UFC in China than right now,” said White.
“This partnership with Migu is going to take UFC to the next level. I couldn’t be more excited to work with Migu to do amazing things to grow this sport and deliver incredible content to the best fans in all of sports.”
Liu Xin, Migu general manager, added: “Sports are an important way to improve people's health, a means to satisfy people's aspirations for a better life, promote people's all-round development, and a significant driving force for economic and social development.
“Together with UFC, we will make full use of China Mobile’s 5G market leadership and Migu’s experience in the industry to bring exciting content in sports and health, and promote the digital transformation and high quality development of the sports industry.”
The Migu agreement is the latest effort from the UFC to increase its profile in China. According to the UFC, its fanbase in the country has grown to more than 173.8 million and it has over ten million followers on social media platforms such as Douyin, Weibo, Wechat and Bilibili.
Speaking at the SportsPro Asia event last October, the UFC’s Asia-Pacific (APAC) lead Kevin Chang explained the importance of the promotion’s Shanghai Performance Institute, which opened in June 2019 at a reported cost of US$13 million.
“China is such a big piece in the UFC business, we definitely wanted to plant a flag and have this facility here in China,” said Chang.
“When we look at Shanghai, it is the centre of culture, the centre of commerce, and now really the centre of sports in China. Then you have the proximity to the neighbouring Asian countries – it just made sense for us to do that.”