MMA Junkie has an interesting item up on their site from UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta where the owner/executive discusses the organization’s expansion into India. If you’re anything like this writer, your initial reaction to the news that the UFC was looking to break into the sub-continent nation with The Ultimate Fighter: India was, “Yeah, that’s a huge market! What with all their people, and such. Wait, do they like MMA in India? Are there Indian MMA fighters?”
Perhaps you’re much more worldly and cultured than I (more than likely) and didn’t think that. But in the Junkie article, Fertitta admits that the UFC is starting from scratch in India. He just believes that there are cultural forces and trends that might make Indians of a certain age very receptive to MMA and the UFC.
“It’s a market we think has a lot of potential, but we are literally starting from ground zero,” Fertitta said. “People (there) really don’t know anything about this sport or the UFC.”
The challenge there is obvious, but the flip side of folks not knowing about you might be that UFC may not face as many of the negative preconceived notions of MMA that they’ve have had to overcome in the states. TUF: India will be broadcast on the SONY SIX network in India, and Junkie says that the reality series will be cross-promoted on popular mainstays, including the Indian version of Who wants to be a millionaire? Fertitta said that filming of TUF: India is planned for the summer of 2013 with the show airing the following fall.
Anyone who has followed the UFC for some time knows that, despite the guts and hunches feel that their President, Dana White, often gives, they rely heavily on research data to make business decisions. Fertitta said he likes what he sees in the data on India for the UFC.
“What we’re finding through our research is they want alternative sports,” Fertitta said. “High-paced, fast action – all of those things. Well, the UFC is pretty much fits that bill. There’s nothing else out there that we think really does.
“They’re consuming a more Western/Hollywood-type product, whether it be the ‘Avatars’ of the world or different tech movies, stuff like that,” he continued.
“When you look at the trends of what’s going on in what I’ll kind of call a youth culture and the way they’re consuming entertainment, that younger generation is kind of moving away from traditional Bollywood.”
Any of you ‘taters have special insight into the Indian market for the UFC? Do you feel that MMA and the UFC will be a success there and, more importantly, how pissed will you be to have to deal with more time-delayed events?