The rapidly growing popularity of combat sport Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in Australia has been given a boost and a targeted media platform, with the launch of a new site covering the sport on Ninemsn’s Wide World of Sports property.
The sport, best known through competition UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), is a full-contact combat sport which incorporates styles from a variety of martial arts disciplines. It has a strong following in Australia – the last local bout sold out in 30 minutes – and is seen as a key way of connecting with the hard-to-reach young male audience. Interestingly, it also enjoys a significant female following, accounting for a third of the audience at the last Australian fight.
“Mixed Martial Arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world,” said director and driving force behind the site, Adam Ireland. “It’s gone mainstream – and there is a huge appetite amongst fans locally in this market.” Matches can be broadcast to more than a billion viewers worldwide.
Launched late last week, MMA Kanvas features original and UFC-produced content such as global news, exclusive video content, opinion, interviews and an “industry-first real-time social sharing hub”.
The hub will be powered by social media aggregator Stackla to connect Australian fans with MMA content and conversations from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instragram from across the world.
“We wanted to tap into this passion for the sport by creating a site where fans can create and share content and engage with the community, as the action happens,” Ireland explains the emphasis on social.
Ireland, an ex-ninemsn employee, turned his passion for the sport into a commercial reality by pitching his idea for MMA Kanvas to ninemsn, which was then supported by the company’s entrepreneurship program.
“Adam’s passion combined with a great opportunity to tap into the growing popularity of the sport provided a strong business case for us,” Hal Crawford, ninemsn editor in chief, says.
The addition of mixed martial arts content with MMA Kanvas further widens ninemsn’s expansion into online properties skewed towards a predominantly young male audience.
Matches in the its leading league, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), are broadcast to an audience of 1 billion in over 130 countries, and it also attracts a strong female audience with one-third of attendees at the last local UFC bout female.