After yesterday's press conference where the UFC and Fox announced their landmark partnership, I caught up for a few moments with John Ourand. Ourand is a staff writer for the Sports Business Daily and was the reporter who originally broke the news about the UFC's deal with Fox.
This interview was recorded just hours after the deal was announced, but Ourand already had some sense about what the deal meant for MMA or UFC and what was going to define success for the partnership.
The biggest takeaway for Ourand?
"This is probably going to bore a MMA audience, but the biggest takeaway I have from this is just the push for MMA and UFC to go mainstream," Ourand said. "They've always wanted to go mainstream and I'm not even sure I know what mainstream is, but I know that Dana White - when he sees a deal with a broadcast TV network that will show his events in primetime - he feels like that's mainstream."
"I think that this is probably - and Dana White said this and I take him at face value with this - there was a ton of hype at the press call today, but I do believe this: this is the biggest moment in UFC's history potentially. Forget about broadcast TV because people that like MMA generally have cable, I would think, and were able to see the fights. But it aligns UFC with one of the country's biggest media companies. And that media company and the marketing power behind that media company, they didn't pay all the money that they paid to lose money or ignore UFC. They're [UFC] going to be marketed. They're going to be seen by more people on broadcast and on FX. I just think that this deal was as big as I thought it was when the story first broke back on Tuesday."
Ourand and I talk about a number of ways to look at the deal, including:
- How the advertisers the UFC cuts deals with is perhaps a better indicator of success than television ratings
- Why UFC was such an attractive property for Fox
- Why men 18-34 are hard to reach for advertisers and why the UFC is so good at delivering them
- If this deal is part of a larger trend in sports properties obtaining higher rights fees to air
- What role Spike TV will play in continuing to show mixed martial arts content
- Whether Fox's partnership will help 'clean up' UFC's imaging or branding
And much more. You can follow John Ourand on Twitter: @Ourand_SBJ. Full interview audio below: