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The cliché’ of the “big four sports” in the United States certainly has come more into question in recent years, observing the popularity involving the country’s changing culture. The UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts sport has become part of that discussion and looks to draw closer with its latest announcement.
DraftKings Sportsbook will become UFC’s first-ever “Official Sportsbook and Daily Fantasy Partner” in the United States and Canada. The sports technology and entertainment company will now be able to offer in-game promotions, activations, in-broadcast odds integrations, and UFC branding across its daily fantasy and betting products and will possess rights to use official UFC marks and logos. The groundbreaking move certainly looks to not only embrace UFC’s current fans but introduce new ones through this bold publicity effort.
On a weekly basis, DraftKings Sportsbook will also provide fans with free-to-play UFC games as well as enhanced prop bets and other innovative sportsbook opportunities. Along with UFC 259 on March 6, DraftKings has launched a free-to-play UFC pool with $10K in prizes, available for fans to enter and compete nationwide.
According to ESPN sources, the UFC named DraftKings as its first official sportsbook last Thursday in a deal valued at $350 million, including marketing and cash.
The amount of cash DraftKings will pay the UFC as part of the deal was characterized as “low nine figures,” the source said, making it one of the largest sports league-sportsbook partnerships formed in recent years.
UFC President Dana White described the new MMA partnership as “massive” and “the most important deal we’ve ever done to increase engagement with our fans and to reach new ones.”
Mixed martial arts have enjoyed a steady increase in wagering support over the past two years. Outside of the big four US sports of baseball, football, basketball and hockey, other burgeoning sports including MMA have raised their popularity through betting channels and the deal with DraftKings will only elevate that much further.
DraftKings executives were equally excited. CEO and co-founder Jason Robins said in a release:
Combat sports, and UFC in particular, have scaled significantly across both our sportsbook and daily fantasy verticals, evolving from a niche offering to a high-demand category that we believe will only grow further as we innovate.
As part of the deal, DraftKings will also become the presenting partner of the UFC Fight Clock, UFC’s new, proprietary, and innovative time-keeping system. The UFC Fight Clock utilizes state-of-the-art technology, including the most flexible high-definition screens in the world, to provide fighters and fans with the most accurate time-keeping system in combat sports.
The UFC Fight Clock is integrated directly into UFC’s production technology, allowing athletes, fans, and officials in the arena to see the same countdown clock per round as viewers watching the broadcast. It will also be a welcome tool to aid in the wagering process as well.
There are plans to be up to four UFC Fight Clocks displayed on UFC’s world-famous Octagon®, giving UFC fighters a view of at least one clock from any vantage point. The UFC Fight Clock presented by DraftKings debuted last Saturday, March 6, in Las Vegas during UFC 259: BLACHOWICZ vs. ADESANYA.
The announcement of the major deal was warmly received by the financial market.
Shares of DraftKings Inc. rallied 4.0% in premarket trading last Thursday after the digital sports gaming company announced their deal in which it will be the UFC’s official sportsbook and daily fantasy partner. The stock has soared 33.5% over the past three months through last Wednesday, while the S&P 500 SPX, +1.95% has edged up 3.3%.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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