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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The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket
The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.
DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?
Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.
Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.
According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.
An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.
F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights
ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.
The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.
Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.
Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.
Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement
“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”
Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.
The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.
Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.
“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”
Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.
“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”
Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.
“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”