Why Fighters Are About To Earn Way More Sponsorship Revenue

Over $1.6 billion is spent endorsing athletes each year, and a lot more of that will soon go to MMA athletes.

Professional athletes have long been one of the best marketing investments a brand can make, which is why nearly $1.6 billion is spent each year on athlete endorsements.

Traditionally, however, over 70% of that $1.6 billion is going to just 100 athletes. But that $1.6 billion will soon be much more evenly distributed across a larger number of athletes.

Why? Well, the reason the majority of those endorsement dollars have gone to only the biggest athletes in the world is because of ‘linear media’ - like television, for example.

Think about TV commercials. They’ve never been ‘digital’. This is why every single person watching a show sees the exact same ads. As a result, advertisers had to invest in only the most popular athletes because the audience seeing their commercial was extremely broad. They were trying to make sure that this non-targeted, general audience would be familiar with the athlete.

But they don’t have to do that anymore.

Now, TV commercials can be ‘digital’, thanks to the emergence of ‘OTT’ (over-the-top) television like Hulu, Roku, YouTube TV, etc. So now advertisers can run commercials that are targeted at specific audiences, just like they do on social media.

Brands can now invest in endorsing several athletes and featuring them each in their own commercial spots. Each commercial will be targeted at the audience segments most likely to resonate with the featured athlete.

This is great news for all pro athletes (except for those top 100), but MMA athletes are uniquely positioned to benefit from this shift.

In the USA, the world’s largest advertising market, fighters have distinct advantages over other athletes for brand advertising. Unlike football, baseball, and hockey players, fighters don’t wear a helmet, so its easier for consumers to identify and remember them — which is critical for awareness.

Additionally, brands are heavily focused on succeeding with Gen Z, and with the exception of the NBA, MMA is the only sport that Gen Z consumers like as much or more as their millennial counterparts. And of course, everyone inherently respects and admires fighters.

So how do fighters tap into this opportunity? Stay tuned for the next article…