The fight game attracts people from all walks of life, from all over the world, which means there’s always going to be an audience for every fight. But just how many people are watching these mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts? How much money are they generating? If you’re curious, then this article is for you. Here we’ll dig into the numbers to reveal some interesting facts about MMA betting and the growth of the sport itself.
The Audience Is Growing
Although the fight game has been around for more than 100 years, and has been followed and bet on by a select group of enthusiasts, it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that mainstream culture began to truly take note of MMA, and the bets that were placed on it began to grow exponentially. Thanks to the advent of social media, and the widespread availability of combat sports online, fans from all over the world were able to follow the action through live streams and catch-up apps, such as Twitter and Facebook.
According to sportsbetting.com, ‘traditional’ sports betting, where individuals head to pubs and clubs to place bets, hasn’t quite been replaced by online betting, with 96% of Americans placing bets online in some form, as of 2018. But that could change in the coming years.
“I expect that over time, people will move more towards online betting, simply because it’s easier and more convenient,” said Tony Morris, managing director of the International Game Technology (IGT) group. “In the short term, though, live betting appeals to people because it’s more immersive. Seeing a fight live, as it happens, is more engaging than going through a series of videos or pictures, especially when there’s an element of skill involved. Vivid live events such as fight nights and boxing matches are popular, and that’s been sustained over the years, even though the technology has dramatically changed. I expect that as the world becomes more digital, video games and online betting, in general, will continue to grow.”
The Audience Is Diverse
The MMA audience isn’t just limited to men. According to the United States Census Bureau, as of March 2018, there were 4.9 million American women between the ages of 18 and 24. And that’s not all of them, either. The census bureau reports that there were 7.7 million ‘other’ gender groups who identified as having an interest in MMA as well. So, basically, the fight game is popular all around the world. But perhaps more interesting is the diverse range of fans that the game has acquired over the years. Even in the early days of MMA, before widespread availability of smart phones, the audience could be classified into a few distinct groups:
- men who liked other men
- men who liked women
- men who liked both men and women
- men who liked animals
- men who liked historical sports figures
- men who liked current pop stars and movie personalities
- men who liked action movies
- men who liked war movies
Although the audience for MMA has changed over the years, the general interest in combat sports has not. These days, whether you enjoy watching talented boxers put it on the mat or thrill-seeking fighters grapple for supremacy, there’s plenty to choose from when it comes to combat sports. Which, in turn, makes it easier for MMA to grow its audience, as it provides a diverse range of excitement, regardless of your interests.
The Average Bet Is Increasing
Just when you thought the days of oddsmaking in sports were over, along came MMA. In 1933, the first official fight between two college teams was held. Since then, the fight game has become so popular that even the most diehard of oddsmakers had to adjust their strategies. The totalisator, or horse race cards for sports such as horse racing and greyhound racing, gradually gave way to the layman’s sport of choice.
As the UFC grew in popularity and generated more earnings, the wagers placed on its bouts began to attract the attention of sportsbooks, which are the organizations that settle bets, or bookmakers as they’re more commonly known. Bookmakers assign a certain amount of value to each bet they receive. And for a long time, much like traditional bookmakers, they took a pretty dim view of MMA, regarding it as a low stakes, high volume activity, where the majority of wagers were placed by people who either didn’t know much about, or cared less about, the sport itself. That’s starting to change, though, as more and more people are looking to get involved in MMA betting, just as they are with every other sport.
According to Statista, published by the New York Times, in the coming months, the average bet on an MMA bout will be approximately $30, up from $10, in 2017. While that might not seem like a lot, given that there are so many more people wagering on MMA, and it’s such a competitive market, that’s actually a significant amount of money. After all, in the U.S. the average person spends $100 per day on food, so if you multiply that times 365 days, it comes to roughly $365 which is enough to cover the average cost of an MMA fight, including pay-per-view (PPV) fees and merchandise.
This is largely thanks to the fact that as more and more people learn about the sport, and how enjoyable and accessible it can be, especially for those who have a love for fighting, more and more will look toward getting involved in MMA betting, just as they do with any other sport.