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TikTok deepens sport offering with multiyear UFC content deal

The partnership will kick off with content created around UFC Fight Night: Blaydes v Lewis on Saturday

TikTok has jumped into the ring with the UFC in a multi-year partnership to carry live, weekly short-form programming.

This is the first time that TikTok has collaborated with a sports body 'to create a position/resource dedicated to creating TikTok content,' suggesting that sport could play a major role in TikTok's future.

What will the deal look like?

  • The UFC fanbase, which skews towards a younger demographic, has the third-largest following of any sports league on TikTok with 6.3m fans.

  • TikTok claims 100m monthly active users in the US, a ten-fold increase from the state of play in 2018.

  • The partnership kicks off this week ahead of a scheduled fight on Saturday. Preview programming will build hype ahead of the event with behind the scenes footage and interviews shared via the UFC’s official TikTok channels.

  • The UFC will deploy dedicated resources at its Las Vegas headquarters in tandem with TikTok to make a success of the venture.

  • The first big test of the tie-up will be the UFC Fight Night: Blaydes v Lewis tomorrow broadcast live from Las Vegas.

  • TikTok director, global strategic partnerships, Americas and Oceania Harish Sarma said: “We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with UFC and launch a robust slate of exclusive live content for the TikTok community.

  • “Now more than ever, sports fans are craving the up-close-and-personal moments they are missing by not attending live events. Through this partnership, we are excited to bring to TikTok the action and excitement of UFC, both inside and outside the Octagon.”

Why it matters

  • The tag team illustrates the potential for TikTok to harness sports and live events partnerships to steal a march on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

  • For its part, the UFC is hungry for growth after being acquired by a group of investors led by Endeavor for $4bn back in 2016.

  • In a sign of the sports growing clout, the UFC entered into a multi-year broadcast deal with ESPN valued at $1.5bn to help expose the sort to new audiences.

  • TikTok first signalled its sporting ambitions with a deal to become the global sponsor of the postponed UEFA Euro 2020 football tournament.

  • The mutual benefits of such associations are clear with TikTok’s football hashtag currently hovering around 70bn views. The platform now intends to leverage the partnership with UEFA to further establish its reputation as a locus for official and fan-made football content.

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