“Year In Review – Sport Consumption Evolution,” a report by The Neilsen Group, has shown that ONE Championship and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continue to be among the world’s best sports organizations in the world.
Following the initial year of the global pandemic that altered daily life and how fans watched sports, 2021 was a small return to normalcy. But the pandemic also brought along change, and the report by The Neilsen Group looked into both social media and television engagement.
“We see that TV remains a dominant player for many of the world’s major sports properties, producing large cumulative audiences and significant broadcast time. However, the TV landscape is changing with the growth of OTT, whether that’s from traditional major broadcaster-owned platforms or disruptors to the market. The use of social media for sports content continues to skyrocket and the emergence of TikTok shows the endless capacity for sports to innovatively engage with fans,” said the report.
While the National Basketball Association (NBA) led the way with 14.55 billion total video views through social media, ONE was not far behind in the #2 spot. Asia’s largest sports media organization checked in with 13.84 billion views across its channels.
The UFC also stayed within the top five, just behind the NFL with 6.65 billion views.
Both promotions also saw an increase in their follower count through YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. The UFC posted a 19% increase, while ONE jumped 24% in 2021.
But television is still king for now.
“Whilst social media followers and video views continue to grow, the strength of TV as a primary source of content consumption still endures,” the report read.
The UFC came in #9 with 259 million for global cumulative television reach, but ONE stepped inside of the top five at #4 with an incredible 406 million.
The report noted the changing landscape between linear viewership and the rise of OTT & streaming platforms. How organizations leverage this will be important for the future as viewing habits change.
Still, the two dominant forces in the industry continue to showcase the global footprint of martial arts. They are not bound by borders and embrace a truly global sport.