ONE Championship is already one of the fastest-growing sports properties the world has seen over the past 10 years. It has grown exponentially from a startup mixed martial arts organization to a full-fledged, multi-layered organization that is bigger than one sport or brand of entertainment.
There are several key points to monitor as we watch ONE continue to grow through 2019 and into 2020.
ONE has already established itself throughout most regions of Asia. Still, its visionary CEO, Chatri Sityodtong, isn’t satisfied with its current list of frequently visited countries. For the first time in the promotion’s history, last March it traveled to Japan. We also saw cards in Beijing as well as Vietnam. Don’t overlook India, Russia, and other countries in Asia as possibilities in 2020.
North American Expansion
Sityodtong also isn’t settling for Asia as the only continent to host ONE shows. As ONE has added more American talent to its roster, talk has also increased around an event in the United States. It will likely happen in 2020 with one of the country’s biggest arenas set to host a massive event that announces ONE’s presence in the States.
North American Television
With North American expansion comes American television. ONE already has a TV distribution deal with Turner, and it appears the level of access is growing. ONE: CENTURY was broadcast in prime time in the United States. Assuming the viewership is high for the event, which it should be, expect to see even more ONE programs on the network. We may also see ONE covered by other major U.S-based sports outlets in 2020.
One of the industries in the world that are growing most rapidly is Esports. Competitive gaming is enormous all over the world, and ONE made a strong move to be a part of the industry in 2019. It established ONE Esports, set up a pair of tournaments for elite Street Fighter and Tekken players, and there is groundwork being laid for other sports and events.
At some point, ONE may even have their own game developed that features its own roster as playable characters.
The ONE Super App was established in 2018, and it made it much easier to watch the promotion’s events anywhere. The continued growth and distribution of the app only augmented the accessibility of ONE’s content. Because ONE also consistently churns the content machine with features and stories on its athletes, the app, social media, and other tools steadily grow the organization’s brand.
Building stars is essential to any brand that depends on stars to drive its product. ONE understands that, and it has put several things in place to compound the marketing of martial artists. ONE Studios was established in 2018 to allow ONE the opportunity to produce its own television shows and movies.
Some members of the roster, such as Yoshihiro Akiyama and Brandon Vera, have already had extensive acting experience. Others like Angela Lee, Bi Nguyen, Martin Nguyen, Zebaztian Kadestam, and Joshua Pacio may have some untapped potential for show business. ONE Studios should help to provide even more opportunities for athletes interested in broadening their horizons.
Recently, ONE established its own fantasy sports vehicle. Similar to what you see in the United States with DraftKings and FanDuel, ONE created a point system for their upcoming shows.
Each martial artist’s performance will be scored based on these criteria, and fans can choose a lineup of athletes to have on their teams. The fan with the list of athletes that produces the most points wins a portion of the contest.
Fantasy sports have been a huge revenue driver for the NFL in the United States. The concept could also work for ONE in Asia and America.
ONE made a splash late in 2018 and early 2019 when it acquired Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson, Sage Northcutt, Vitor Belfort, and Yushin Okami. It also brought in the likes of Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Giorgio Petrosyan, Nieky Holzken, and others in three different combat sports. Throughout the year, others like Akiyama, Arjan Bhullar, and John Lineker have been added as well.
There is no sign of ONE stopping when it comes to signing big names. Expect these splash acquisitions to continue throughout 2020. ONE’s fighter-friendly environment has made the organization a viable presence on the suddenly blossoming free-agent MMA market.
With women such as Miesha Tate in place as a vice president and men and women of all races and ages serving in other positions of power, there is no question ONE is represented by a purposely eclectic group of thought leaders. Also, its roster is diverse, with athletes who come from just about every region on the globe. Many fans have been introduced to ONE in 2019, but in 2020, the organization will be a household name in every country.