Promotion for UFC 193 will go into overdrive this week with Ronda Rousey just days away from facing Holly Holm in Melbourne, Australia, but the first real push to sell the fight started in early October with the release of a groundbreaking new commercial.
The 2-minute, 44-second spot debuted courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres but the work behind the video had been going on for months as the UFC teamed up with a company called Digital Domain, who along with their in-house production company called Mothership were the same people behind the amazing advertisement for Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor ahead of their proposed fight this past summer at UFC 189.
After working together on the Aldo vs. McGregor spot, that helped set a new standard for fight promos with the UFC, Digital Domain was called back in to work on something special for a card that was expected to be the biggest show of all time.
The proposal as it originally happened was for Jose Aldo to face Conor McGregor as the main event with Ronda Rousey taking on Miesha Tate in the co-main event with the show taking place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. So director Neil Huxley, who also handled the original UFC 189 promo, started brainstorming ideas with one of his collaborators at Digital Domain and before something unique began to surface.
“The original concept — it was going to be Aldo/McGregor and Ronda/Miesha Tate, that was the original card and that’s how it was going to be stacked,” Huxley said when speaking to FOX Sports. “It was not an official announcement with that card and like everything with the UFC, it changes. Fight cards change, people get injured, so this whole thing is influx for at least a couple of weeks and then it gets decided, what date, who’s fighting who, and they were looking at Dallas Stadium, and it was going to be the biggest UFC event of all time with those two fights on the card. It was going to be huge.”
So right away the production and promotion behind the card was going to be massive and the commercial to advertise it had to follow suit.
Following the Las Vegas showdown that Huxley envisioned for Aldo and McGregor at UFC 189 that included the two fighters strolling through an abandoned Sin City before meeting in the middle of the street with thousands of fans trailing behind them, he knew right away that this promo had to be different.
Considering the kind of upbringing that all four fighters had leading into the two main fights, it occurred to Huxley and his partner Aaron Shact that creating a commercial that followed Aldo, McGregor, Rousey and Tate from an early age until now was the perfect concept.
“We started writing concepts of something that could speak to this scale. I worked with the associate creative director Aaron Shact, I usually write with him and we throw ideas around together and we’re both big UFC fans. We had this idea — what if we track these four fighters from when they were kids?” Huxley said.
“Because they’ve got such interesting stories — Conor growing up in Ireland being a bit of a rapscallion when he was a kid and then you’ve got Aldo sleeping on the floor of his Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym and eating scraps of food and then growing up to be this amazing champion and Ronda had this amazing story and Miesha we were finding some interesting stuff about her as well.”
Just as Huxley and his team were beginning to put together the ideas for the commercial, everything changed with the fight card and the UFC came back to the company and revealed the new main event — Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, with more than 70,000 fans expected to attend.
While the idea for the entire promo started with four fighters and it was now being whittled down to two, Huxley was invigorated with the idea of just focusing on these two women and their arduous journey to make it in a sport that had been dominated by men from the day it was created.
So the work started to put the promo together while following Rousey as a young girl who first becomes interested in judo as a kid while learning from her mother and former world champion AnnMaria DeMars. The story continues with Rousey being admonished for fighting in school before eventually turning into a medal-winning judoka and then one day noticing a fight on a television that featured B.J. Penn submitting Matt Hughes at UFC 46.
The same video follows Holm from her earliest days in a boxing gym when she caught more than a few knowing stares from onlookers wondering what a girl was doing lacing up gloves and stepping into the ring. A few cuts and black eyes later and Holm was standing on top as one of the best women’s boxers in the world.
Reality was even better than fiction when it came to Rousey and Holm’s life stories and while neither knew it at the time growing up on the judo mats and boxing rings that their journeys would eventually lead to this point at UFC 193.
“I love stories where these two characters are growing up in different parts of the world but their lives are kind of leading to this moment where they are going to meet in the Octagon,” Huxley described.
“It’s that classic story set up where two people are on a trajectory that’s eventually going to intersect. It will change their lives forever, this fight. I love stories like this. That was kind of where it came from.”
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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.