Singaporean combined martial arts promoter One Championship expects to achieve profitability inside just a few years, its group chairman advised Nikkei Asia, though he famous the corporate nonetheless prioritizes investments to consolidate its world place exterior of Asia.
From eye-catching temporary highlights on Fb to dwell streams on streaming companies like Amazon’s Prime Video, the fight sports activities model’s fights have develop into ubiquitous throughout many tech platforms, gaining world attain by way of the biggest variety of viewers staying at house throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whilst one of many quickest rising digital sports activities corporations – with as many as 14 billion views globally final 12 months throughout social media platforms – One Championship continues to be centered on investing in abroad expansions in North America, significantly in america, the place American promoter Final Preventing Championship (UFC) has a stronghold.
“We’re not there but. [to break even]. It might take just a few years. What is obvious is that we’re heading in the right direction,” One Championship Group President Teh Hua Fung mentioned in an interview.
This text is from Nikkei Asia, a world publication with a singular Asian perspective on politics, economics, enterprise and worldwide affairs. Our personal correspondents and out of doors commentators from all over the world share their views on Asia, whereas our Asia300 part supplies in-depth protection of 300 of the biggest and quickest rising listed corporations in 11 economies exterior of Japan. .
At a time of market uncertainty, as an increasing number of traders pay higher consideration to profitability, the One Championship problem reveals whether or not high-growth corporations requiring heavy funding can show their progress from the early stage. preliminary loss.
Teh mentioned he was assured the group’s enterprise mannequin was “inherently worthwhile”, including that “revenues will develop in a short time” as soon as the corporate has robust model recognition and the content material to draw viewers to markets. strangers.
“It is like a theme park or a murals – when it isn’t carried out, it isn’t price a lot,” Teh mentioned, “however when it is carried out, it is price so much.”
“In case you attempt to monetize too quickly, you are truly limiting your progress,” he added.
Based in 2011 by Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, a martial arts teacher turned entrepreneur with a Thai father and Japanese mom, One Championship began out primarily as a dwell occasion promoter. Buyers embody Temasek Holdings from Singapore and Sequoia Capital from America.
Because the late Nineties, fight sports activities have seen a dramatic rise and fall. In Asia, Japan’s skilled Okay-1 kickboxing peaked, adopted by combined martial arts model Pleasure, which at one time was one of many UFC’s largest contenders.
However One Championship noticed potential in Southeast Asia, with its historically wealthy martial arts tradition, together with muay thai, silat melayu in Malaysia, the Philippines eskrima or Myanmar lethwei.
Together with combined martial arts, the corporate featured muay Thai, submission grappling, and Burmese boxing, making it an even bigger platform than the UFC when it comes to the variety of disciplines.
Whereas former Asian promoters needed to depend on TV broadcasts, One Championship took benefit of the fast penetration of smartphones within the area.
“Earlier than, it was all about TV networks and TV stations,” Teh mentioned. “Digital players have gotten key gamers within the recreation.”
The corporate has expanded its media and digital income streams, akin to media rights and sponsorships, which now account for greater than half of its whole income, in keeping with Teh. In 2018, it grew to become a unicorn, an unlisted firm price over $1 billion, distributing content material in over 150 international locations.
“It is an IP enterprise the place you must develop the IP to an acceptable scale earlier than the income occurs,” Teh mentioned. “The problem is to construct the mental property and get it to a degree the place you could have product and model management and nice distribution.”
The years of the Covid-19 pandemic have introduced a mixture of “good and unhealthy”, Teh added. The dearth of dwell occasions has affected ticket gross sales and lodging prices, that are a few of its primary sources of earnings.
Nonetheless, Teh mentioned, 2021 turned out to be a “document 12 months” for income as the corporate was in a position to safe a wider viewers and licensing rights.
In keeping with a Nielsen report launched in April, One Championship ranked second total in digital viewership for world sports activities properties, simply behind the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation of North America.
The fight sports activities firm has traveled throughout platforms and is now venturing abroad with extra partnerships to realize an viewers past its core Asian markets.
In April, it introduced a five-year distribution take care of Amazon’s Prime Video to stream dwell occasions within the US and Canadian markets.
“The extra individuals watch us, the extra they are going to know concerning the model and we will purchase new followers within the largest sports activities market on the earth, and we purpose to arrange dwell bodily occasions in america subsequent 12 months,” mentioned mentioned Teh.
The abroad growth follows its final $150 million funding spherical final December, led by Guggenheim Investments and the Qatar Funding Authority. The spherical reportedly gave the group a valuation of $1.35 billion.
Nonetheless, the corporate’s capability to realize traction in america shall be essential in proving its progress forward of its extremely anticipated IPO. Mum or dad firm Group One Holdings is alleged to have chosen america for an IPO.
“A possible IPO is considered one of many choices we’re contemplating to boost long-term capital. We would like the enterprise to be prepared since you by no means know when the markets will flip. instantly [plan]”Teh mentioned.
“What we’re centered on now’s being good stewards of the cash we have raised.”
A model of this text was first revealed by Nikkei Asia on September 26, 2022. ©2022 Nikkei Inc. All rights reserved.