Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

An Analysis of Spectator Motives and Media Consumption Behaviour in an Individual Combat Sport: Cross-National Differences between American and South Korean Mixed Martial Arts Fans

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

An Analysis of Spectator Motives and Media Consumption Behaviour in an Individual Combat Sport: Cross-National Differences between American and South Korean Mixed Martial Arts Fans

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study compared the motives and media consumption behaviours of American and South Korean spectators of Mixed Martial Arts. Significant cross-national differences were noted in sport interest, vicarious achievement, aesthetics, national pride and violence. Backward regression analyses indicated that sport interest, fighter interest and drama predicted media consumption at the American event, while sport interest, drama and adoration were significant predictors at the Korean event.

Keywords

Mixed Martial Arts spectator motives event marketing

Executive summary

The sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has shown signs of significant growth in the United States and Korea over the past few years. In the US, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) television events now draw better cable ratings among key demographic groups than National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) games; MMA also recently established the pay-per-view industry's new single-season record by generating more than $200 million in 2006 in the US (Hamilton, 2006; Scelfo, 2006; Trembow, 2007; Wertheim, 2007). In South Korea, one of the broadcasting corporations bought the television rights from K-1, an MMA provider, for a total of $30 million for three years (Kim, 2007). Considering that the broadcasting rights fees for MLB and the Korean Baseball Organisation (KBO) are $48 million for four years and $9.5 million per year respectively in Korea, the magnitude of this purchase for K-1 is quite impressive (Moon, 2007). Given the stated goals of global expansion by MMA providers (Official UFC 75 "Champion vs Champion" press release, 2007), for sports marketers of both American promoters and Asian promoters it is crucial to understand the cross-national differences in terms of fan motivation to attend and watch MMA events so that they can create effective marketing plans for a successful drive into a new market.

The primary goal of this study was to explore the cross-national differences among MMA fans by comparing the motives and the media consumption behaviours of 437 spectators who attended local MMA events that were held either in a mid-sized Midwestern US city (n = 208) or a major metropolitan city in South Korea (n = 229). Spectators at these events completed a questionnaire containing items assessing spectator motives and media consumption based upon previously published studies (Funk et al, 2002; Kim et al, 2007; Trail & James, 2001; Wann, 1995). ANOVA results indicated significant differences between American and Korean participants in the motives of sport interest (p < .01), vicarious achievement (p < .01), aesthetics (p < .01), national pride (p <.01) and violence (p < .05). In addition, two backward linear regression analyses indicated that sport interest ([beta] = .584), fighter interest )[beta] = 176) and drama ([beta] = 187) were significant predictors of media consumption for spectators at the American event, while sport interest ([beta] = .747), drama ([beta] = .157) and adoration ([beta] = .133) were significant predictors of media consumption for spectators at the Korean event. The findings suggest cross-national differences exists, necessitating a better understanding of the relevant market when promoting MMA events. Furthermore, significant predictors of media consumption in each setting were identified. This is an important consideration given the sport's reliance on the media (e.g. pay-per-view events) to generate exposure and revenue. From a practical standpoint, our findings suggest that marketers must seek to understand different cultures when attempting to globalise the sport. Slight differences in the way the sport is marketed may have a large impact on the acceptance and growth in different countries.

Introduction

MMA is a combat sport in which different martial arts styles or techniques, including striking and grappling, are permitted. …

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