There is a strong correlation between legal US sportsbooks and professional US sports leagues. This relationship first started in 2018 with the expansion of legal sports betting. By the end of this year, more than half the states in the US will offer legal sports betting in some form.
One of the original strategic partnerships between a US sportsbook and a US pro league was DraftKings and the UFC.
The first Saturday in March, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) staged a major sporting event that featured a trio of championship bouts.
Ahead of that event, DraftKings announced an extension and expansion of the current sponsorship deal in place with the UFC. The new deal is for five years at an estimated price tag of $350 million. As much as $100 million would be paid in cash.
Under the new deal, DraftKings becomes the UFC’s official sportsbook and daily fantasy partner in the US and Canada.
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One of the new deal’s perks is DraftKings being named the presenting partner of the UFC’s new timekeeping system. This system made its debut in UFC 259 on March 6 in that highly touted pay-per-view fight card.
Lawrence Epstein is the UFC’s chief operating officer. He released the following comments in light of the new agreement:
“When you look at these kind of deals, obviously, one of the things we look at is money. Secondly, and more importantly, we look to affiliate ourselves with brands that are best in class, and certainly DraftKings is one of those brands.”
He went on to add:
“The third part of the puzzle is fan activation: How do you use partnership relationships like this to activate the existing fan base and attract new fans? And so as part of that process, we were looking for something that would be sort of game-changing with respect to the events themselves.”
As part of the new timekeeping system, three large clocks were added around the fighting Octagon. This becomes a benefit for both the fight’s participants and its spectator base. It also ties together the action in the Octagon with the official timing for the bout.
Mr. Epstein also commented on this new innovation as follows:
“This has been a bit of an issue in combat sports for a long time. In every other sport, you have a clock and that’s it. But in combat sports, there has been this disconnect. There was the TV clock and the official clock and there was no integration.“
“That’s going to go away now. Everything is integrated and so what people are seeing on TV and what they’re seeing inside the arena is going to be exactly the official commission time, so to speak.”
UFC events continue to attract increased interest from sports bettors. This has become the backbone of the partnership with DraftKings. Each party remains committed to fully promoting the other party in any way possible.
Moving forward, both parties are also extremely excited as to what the future may hold. As DraftKings continues to expand its market presence across the US and into Canada, UFC’s image as a top professional betting league will continue to expand as well.