The Tsunami Effect
By Paul Swaim, AMAM
With professional Boxing taking a noticeable back seat in most major marketplaces in recent years, being far outweighed by the huge increase in the amount of professional Mixed-Martial Arts (MMA) events taking place all over the sporting world, there now seems to be yet another Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) or similar high profile MMA competition airing nearly every weekend on Pay-Per-View (PPV) or on various Cable T.V. Channels.
How many of these constantly programmed events can the average MMA fan really afford to purchase on PPV each month?
Currently, either the popular "The Ultimate Fighter" television series seen on Spike or Fuel T.V., the overly raucous "Bully Beatdown" hosted by professional MMA fighter Jason 'Mayhem' Miller, regularly scheduled Bellator Fighting Championships and Strikeforce events, and now even MTV's "Caged" episodes can be viewed by rabid fans on a weekly basis.
Nowadays, in the USA, the successive state-to-state legalization of MMA fighting events have prompted emerging promotional companies to begin banking in on the fact that, wherever possible, if they can book it...the fans will buy tickets to it.
However, soaring prices may also make it difficult for most consumers to buy tickets to attend the bigger live events as UFC seating prices can range from $300.00 USD and up!
Will the seemingly unquenchable thirst of its fans for more MMA begin a tsunami effect of sorts?
More clearly, will the now numerous promoters and infinite MMA media entities eventually create an over-saturation in the marketplace that might lay waste to the unique appeal of MMA events like an unstoppable tidal wave?
Some sports observers and critics say this is now becoming true...
Many "start-up" MMA promotional companies seem to have sprung up almost overnight in recent years, especially in and around most of the larger cities where the highly combative sport may have finally become legalized. Hundreds of newly established fighting event promoters now openly compete to become recognized.
Most of them are dreaming to reach anywhere near the supreme level of proven success that the UFC has displayed all over the globe. The majority of them will quickly fail to reach such lofty dreams within their first year of existance or soon go bankrupt trying to stay afloat.
Fact: It can cost an average regional promoter between $10,000 to $150,000 or more to conduct even a small-scale MMA event. This size show may run the risk of low ticket sales, being under promoted with no lasting appeal, having no big names on the fight-card to draw in larger crowds. A smart event coordinator may make back his initial investment by smartly soliciting vital outside paying sponsors to produce or recoup his initial seed money.
But, there is still no guarantee of huge profits.
You may ask, "With this large influx of newly formed MMA entities will the quality of the fighters become more generic?" A good question.
Some experienced trainers say they've witnessed gyms now clamoring to produce the next championship MMA fighter. A host of training centers now race to produce fighters that they may quickly enter into any amatuer and/or professional level matches whom may or may not actually be fully conditioned enough and ready to fight at a reasonable level. The quality of some of today's young fighters may indeed be debatable.
Will the continual overflow of MMA competitions cause some fans to tire of the almost constant bombardment of the sport?" If you're asking, "If left unchecked, will this so-called tsunami effect eventually drown fan admiration for viewing the sport?" Not likely.
While many fans may be unable to actually pay for high-priced tickets to personally attend a large amount of live MMA events, industry reports claim the majority will still be watching them on PPV for $40.00 to $50.00 USD, or simply visit a local sports bar for free viewing with friends and other fight-fans. The latter option is making local bar owners very happy by increasing overnight sales!
So, now let's talk about the money.
Although, unconfirmed average national fiscal reports MMA annual Pay-Per-View income to be an amazing $500 million USD, combined with its many other streams of revenue it may far exceed that estimate.
Once again, it is the immensely successful UFC that captures the lion's share with an estimated average of more than $250 million USD on a yearly basis. Top UFC fighters also receive the highest purses on the MMA payscale. Its many sponsors vie for the best advertisements spots and pay out-the-nose for priority ad placements for every UFC event, knowing the promise of widespread exposure it may represent.
The UFC surely is "the ultimate cash machine" in MMA!
Strikeforce boasts a substantial $30 million USD in revenues for their 2010-2011 fiscal reports while also being shopped by Zuffa (UFC). And while, Viacom may have now bought major shares in anticipating the 2011 launching of Bellator Fighting Championships, their profit / loss margins are under wraps and known only to insiders. Still, other noteworthy MMA companies have reported similar high profit margins over the past few quarters.
There's big money for MMA in the sporting world and its myriad of fans are contributing big bucks, making its key players (Pro-celebrity status fighters, major promoters, favorite ring girls, popular clothing companies, etc.) stand out like a hurricane of popularity...that still continues to rage on!
So, let's face it, MMA is now completely mainstream...and we have openly welcomed it into our lives.
For now, it appears that the mass universal appeal of Mixed-Martial Arts events and all its forms of televised programming, internet downloading, gaming, individual fight-training and MMA gyms, with the wide-spread effect it has on its legions of fans, will surely survive the aftermath of any potential tsunami effects.