Marine Corp$: Inside the UFC’s Marines Sponsorship Deal

The revenue streams for the UFC are often a murky thing, with little in the way to shed light on the subject. One of the areas that gets a scant amount of specifics is the area of corporate sponsorship.  Most contracts between the UFC and its’ sponsors are entered into with  non-disclosure agreements, so that no hard numbers really ever come to the surface.  There is one particular sponsor, though,  that we are able to peek behind the curtain at the sponsorship structure, the United States Marines Corps.  Any contracts entered into by the USMC  are publicly available and can be obtained through a FOIA request.  Pursuant to such a request, we were able to get our hands on the most recent USMC marketing budget, and able to pull some hard numbers on the value of the UFC-Marines deal, and what various items are included under the deal:

Ultimate Fighting Championship

Partnership Original TO 0019 Budget Revision 01 Increase New TO 0019 Budget
Ultimate Fighting Championship $1,016,713 $1,090,055 $2,106,768

The UFC is a professional mixed martial arts league that features some of the most skilled and famous MMA fighters around the world. The Marine Corps will partner with the UFC to integrate Marine Corps messaging in its pay-per-view events.

This partnership will include on-site media, digital, and media during the pay-per-view telecast. The original TO 0019 budget ($1,016,713) will fund ten pay-per-view events over the course of ten months, from February 2011 – November 2011. The additional funding ($1,090,055) will fund the continuation of the partnership through March 2012.

The partnership will include the following elements:

Ten Marines “Keys to Victory” – Segment presented by the Marines which will feature stats on the fighters and what they need to do in order to win that night’s fight

Eleven animation features – Short format element that will blend the connection of the Marines to the UFC and will drive viewers back to UFC.com/marines to see more of the highlights from, the training segments with the MCMAP instructors and the UFC fighter/s. Leverage the online features with on-air benefits and generate exposure for each through this integrated presence.  Short format feature to include :05-:10 graphic or animation on screen (UFC Fighter and or Marines instructor).

Three long-form integrated spots during UFC pay-per-view event (event date TBD).  Key goals are for long-format (:45-:60) video feature with integration of both brand’s ambassadors/key personalities

The USMC deal gives a window into what kind of value we can place on the high-end corporate sponsorship deals that the UFC enter into.  The Marines deal is an impressive figure at just over $2 million, but falls below the 3-year $10 million deal that it was reported supplement maker BSN signed with the UFC  back in 2008-2009. Current official supplement sponsor MusclePharm has since replaced BSN and would likely be paying in the same ballpark, if not more.   Blue chip sponsors like  Bud Light and Harley Davidson are similar high end deals that would seem to at least enter the picture north of the BSN figures.

That roughly $2.1 million is spread out over a 14- month period.   Of that over $2 million, approximately a quarter is funneled into the UFC’s website. Of that $2 million parntership number, $433, 328 is for UFC.com ad space and ad impressions. It is interesting to compare the bang for the buck the Marines get with the UFC versus a comparable organization they also partner with, the NBA. For the $433, 328 figure they pay the UFC, the Marines hope to generate 60 million ad impressions for am effective CPM of $7.22.  With the NBA, the Marines generate 98 million impressions for a effective CPM of $4.85.  While the UFC is an excellent means of reaching the Marines target audience, the partnership with the NBA provides a slightly more cost effective, higher “bang for you buck” when you compare the two.

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