Boasting more than 300 million fans worldwide, UFC is looking to social media to further increase its vast following.
After a year in which UFC’s digital footprint branched out to TikTok, the league is growing its social feed even further through a partnership with Snapchat. Launched ahead of UFC 245: Usman vs. Covington, which took place on December 14, the partnership focuses on bringing more content to Snapchat’s Discover page, which would include UFC Shows and Our Stories.
“This relationship with Snapchat isn’t about the distribution of live content,” said Dave Shaw, UFC’s senior vice president of international and content. “It’s about the promotional and support programming that can connect with an audience, ingratiate them to UFC, and create awareness leading to transactions. That is at the top of our list.”
“For us, we know that our audience is consuming sports content and UFC content in a variety of different ways. So we want to be everywhere to make sure we’re connecting with the right people,” he said.
Through Snapchat, UFC hopes to bring more young fans into the sport. Across professional sports, UFC boasts the youngest fan base with a median age of 40-years-old – with 40% of them being millennials, according to the league in a press release.
Since debuting in 2011, Snapchat was the first social media app to create the Story format, which has proven to work well with watching sports highlights. Snapchat has also been able to establish itself with a younger audience in the United States, reaching 90% of all 13 to 24-year-olds and 75% of all 13 to 34-year-olds, according to the company.
More than 200 pieces of content will be produced between UFC and Snapchat. One of the two shows that will feature on the app’s Discover page is UFC Pulse. It airs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, each with a different focus. The three episodes are split into a showcase a preview of the upcoming weekend’s fight card, a “Top 5” episode featuring best knockouts and submissions, and another episode covering the top moments from the official weigh-in.
Alongside UFC Pulse is the league’s Embedded franchise, which gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look into its fighters as they prepare for their fights in the Octagon.
Outside of their collaborative shows, Snapchat and UFC will also work on more than 20 Our Stories covering weekly bouts throughout the league and tentpole events like 12 pay-per-view events and eight UFC Fight Nights. These same tentpole events will see Snap and UFC partner on creative tools like Filters, so fans in attendance can use them to decorate their Snap content.
The Our Stories feature will consist of a curated photo and video Snaps from users who submit to the public channel and will be produced by a team of Snapchat editors. This became available to Snapchat users worldwide on the Discover page ahead of the Usvan-Covington bout.
“We want to make being a UFC fan more fun no matter where you are, and we’re thrilled to have UFC utilizing all of our offerings, from content to creative tools,” said Anmol Malhotra, Snap’s head of sports partnerships. “We’re excited for UFC to join a wide range of sports leagues around the world in delivering Snapchatters the ultimate fan experience.”
UFC’s interest in Snapchat is the league’s latest in connecting with different demographics, said Shaw. On TikTok, UFC has seen immense growth across both its general and Brasil accounts, respectively. UFC’s profile has amassed more than one million followers – fourth-most amongst professional sports leagues on TikTok – and 9.4 million likes.
While its Brasil presence has only 14,600 followers and fewer than 90,000 likes, Shaw is also targeting international growth for UFC. Beyond Snapchat and TikTok, he’s hoping for UFC to do more work with Twitch in 2020.
Of UFC’s total audience, Shaw estimates that 78% are located outside of the U.S. With UFC fans’ interests varying geographically – whether they’re in the U.S., China, Canada, etc. – he hopes for the league’s digital presence to increase distribution of its live and original programming. He’s also relying on UFC’s stars to work with the league on social media and to build its online communities across various platforms.
“If we can work more closely with [UFC athletes] to deliver high-quality, high produced content, it’s going to help them grow their followings and grow their brands and translate into awareness and transactions with UFC,” Shaw said. “So it’s a pretty clear approach that we know is going to be successful in 2020.”