The UFC announced a partnership with China’s popular social media platform Weibo Monday to begin promoting the top MMA series in Asia.
The deal gives Weibo and its users access to interviews, highlights, results and athlete metrics. Weibo will also have content from the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai, the world’s largest MMA facility, which is set to open later this year.
“We are honored to announce our landmark partnership with Weibo, the leading social media platform in China that has led the industry for the past 10 years and has amassed over 400 million active monthly users,” said UFC Senior Vice President Asia-Pacific, Kevin Chang. “We are the very first MMA promotion to enter into an official partnership with Weibo to leverage its massive reach and promotional support, which will propel the brand to new heights and solidify our place among mainstream sports in China.”
With rising Chinese fighters such as no. 7 ranked UFC women’s strawweight Zhang Weili, the UFC sees a golden opportunity to take advantage of a budding interest of the sport in China.
“We are very excited to build strategic partnership with UFC, the most influential MMA organization in the world,” said Weibo Senior Operation Director, Zhe Zhang. “It is very important for us to tap into the combat sports sector, and to help us achieve this goal, we are making combat sports a vertical field with its own independent Weibo team focused on growing the brand in China.”
China has hosted events in the past with UFC Fight Night 141 in Beijing and UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai. While future events in China have not been announced, between the Weibo partnership and Shanghai’s training center, the UFC has big plans for its fans in China
Ohio Accepting License Applications From Sportsbooks Next Month
“The first window opens on June 15 and closes and July 15. The second window opens immediately after and closes on August 15.”
After sports betting was approved in the state of Ohio last year, a countdown clock began. The law the state adopted indicates that sportsbooks have to be taking bets by January 1, 2023. That means lawmakers and regulators have had to speed up their timeline in selecting who to do business with.
Originally, the state’s Casino Control Commission expected to begin taking applications for licenses by early fall. A new timeline published last week shows that the first application window is now set to open next month.
The first window opens on June 15 and closes and July 15. The second window opens immediately after and closes on August 15.
Ohio is leaving the field wide open. Every casino, racino, pro sports team and pro sports organization that operates in the state will be eligible for a mobile license. If regulators believe a second skin could provide additional economic benefit to Ohio, the state will grant licenses for those as well. That means there is a potential for 42 mobile sportsbooks in the state.
Barstool Could Get Second Chance At Bills Stadium Naming Rights
“With sports betting legal in New York State, it could be argued that a naming rights deal for a stadium in the state makes more sense now for Barstool and parent company Penn National Gaming than it did in 2020.”
Two years ago, Barstool Sports made a bid to win the naming rights to the Buffalo Bills’ stadium. In the end, the digital sports brand lost out to Highmark Health Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, but the team announced in March that a new stadium is on the way. That could pave the way for Dave Portnoy and company to make another bid.
Highmark has a deal to keep naming rights on the stadium through 2025. The company also has first right of refusal on the next deal, but with the new stadium not set to open until at least 2026, that leaves the door wide open. A spokeswoman for Highmark told Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports that no deal regarding the current stadium’s naming rights will carry over to the new one.
Dave Portnoy said on Twitter that he was “very serious” about Barstool bidding for the naming rights to the stadium in August of 2020. He has not commented about any intentions Barstool would have for the new stadium. With sports betting legal in New York State, it could be argued that a naming rights deal for a stadium in the state makes more sense now for Barstool and parent company Penn National Gaming than it did in 2020.
Barstool, Highmark, or any other company that may be interested in putting their name on the new home of the Buffalo Bills are probably doing some PR math right now. The plan for the new stadium has been met with some resistance from the public as the $1.4 billion stadium plan is set to receive more than half of its funding from the public.
If the NFL bristles at Barstool, remember that in 2020, a bidet manufacturer called TUSHY also wanted to bid on the naming rights to the stadium. The company’s founder, Miki Agrawal, told McCarthy that she intends to bid again.
“We really think it would make a statement: ‘TUSHY Stadium’ with an annual ‘Toilet Bowl’ event. It would be so much fun,” Agrawal said. “Who wouldn’t want to go to an event called the Toilet Bowl? We’d get comedians there and do a fun comedy show and halftime.”
New Era pulled out of its naming rights deal with the stadium. That is what created the opening in 2020. At that time, Highmark won the naming rights over the next ten years at a cost of $5 million per year.
Barstool Sports Hopes To Revolutionize How Companies Cover Live Sports
“An alternate audio feed of the fight will be provided by Barstool through a dedicated link.”
Barstool Sports will look to add a new dimension to live sporting events on Saturday night, when the popular sports brand partners with DAZN for coverage of of the Canelo Alvarez-Dmitry Bivol fight live from Las Vegas.
An alternate audio feed of the fight will be provided by Barstool through a dedicated link. Fans purchasing the fight through that feed will hear Dave Portnoy, Dan ‘Big Cat’ Katz, Caleb Pressley, Robbie Fox, and Rone and Large deliver Barstool’s coverage.
On his show this week, Dave Portnoy explained how important the upcoming broadcast is for Barstool and future coverage of live sporting events.
“It’s almost a test, and I think it could revolutionize how companies cover sports with a third party” said Portnoy of the fight having multiple broadcast options. “If we can deliver numbers, and to me, 60,000 buys is numbers, I think we have a chance to call the rematch for Serrano and Taylor, and for Canelo-Triple G. So, there’s a lot riding on this telecast this coming weekend.”
On an earnings call this week, Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden shared his desire to have Barstool more involved in similar type of events.
“Looking forward, we believe there is upside for the media business as we begin to realize the benefits of cross promotion with Barstool Sports and additional monetization opportunities.”
60,000 buys may sound like a high number, but Barstool has proven before that they can sell fights to their fans. The company’s amateur boxing company, Rough N Rowdy, has been able to produce buys for lesser known fighters, including a celebrity fight with former major league baseball star Jose Canseco.
Those events are different though than a Canelo Alvarez fight. Will Barstool’s audience tune in for a more traditional fight? Will the Barstool crew be able to create the same entertainment around a traditional fight as it has around their own created content? It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
Coverage begins Saturday night at 8pm ET/5pm PT. The main event is scheduled to start around 11pm ET/8pm PT. Those interested in watching the event through Barstool’s feed can do so by visiting www.Dazn.com/barstool.