It is not the first partnership between TikTok and a sports entity, but the social media outlet said it is the first time it is working jointly with a sports entity “to create a position/resource dedicated to creating TikTok content.” Asked for clarification, a rep said the partnership will result in one employee being added to the staff.
The UFC, which draws a young fan base, ranks third among all sports leagues on TikTok, with 6.3 million followers. TikTok said last year it reached 100 million monthly active users in the U.S., up nearly tenfold since 2018.
The companies will launch the partnership this week leading up to Saturday’s UFC fight. Programming will take viewers behind the scenes of the mixed-martial arts circuit, with pre- and post-fight interviews and other coverage.
“We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with UFC and launch a robust slate of exclusive live content for the TikTok community,” said Harish Sarma, TikTok’s director of global strategic partnerships for Americas and Oceania. “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.”
David Shaw, SVP of international and content for the UFC, called the deal “a tremendous addition to UFC’s content distribution ecosystem. We want to be everywhere our fans are consuming content and TikTok continues to break new ground in reaching a diverse, global audience.”
The UFC was acquired in 2016 for $4 billion by an investment group led by Endeavor. In 2019, it began a multi-year broadcast deal with ESPN worth $1.5 billion.
TikTok is owned by privately held China-based conglomerate ByteDance. During his presidency, Donald Trump tried to force a sale of the social media firm’s U.S. operations over concerns about national security and data collection, but the Joe Biden administration has put a pin in the sale plan for now. It is conducting its own review of the situation.
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