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  • RichardAyers

2014 - An Incredible Year with the UFC

Just over 365 days ago, Seven League was chosen to lead the UFC’s digital delivery in EMEA. The plan? Amplify coverage of the 2014 live events calendar in the region through localisation, innovation, passion and humour… But nothing could prepare us for the roller-coaster ride of unbelievable live sporting action we witnessed over the next 12 months.

LONDON: behind the scenes and celebs

At the O2 Arena in March 2014 our first event collaboration with the UFC team saw us maximise event coverage through exclusive behind the scenes access. The event attracted some big names in the entertainment world, including Niall Horan of One Direction fame, and footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic who helped the event trend throughout Fight Night. The social awareness of the event from A-listers to the wider, emerging fan base highlighted how our first step in the digital development of UFC had worked, reaching an audience of over 5.8million during fight week.

ABU DHABI: fun in the sun

The pre-event weigh-ins took place on the beach; we even got the main men of the card to pose for a selfie in the blistering desert heat.

After convincing a few fans that much-loved Octagon Girl Carly Baker was to don her gloves and make her UFC debut as an April Fools’ Day joke, we headed to the desert city of Abu Dhabi for event number two. Building strong relationships with the athletes helped to extend our coverage furthermore using Vine, poolside Instagram takeovers and even an athlete camel-drawing competition.

BERLIN: Localisation

The third event of 2014 saw the UFC return to Germany after a four-year absence, and a first-time visit to the capital, Berlin.

Our efforts to produce localised, personal content helped change previously negative perceptions of the sport in Germany to educate the audience and raise event awareness creating great social-sharing content by the city’s iconic landmarks.

DUBLIN: the ultimate craic The summer showstopper of the UFC calendar was UFC Fight Night Dublin, as Irish superstar Conor McGregor headlined his hometown event in front of a sell-out crowd at the O2 Arena.

Returning to Ireland for the first time in four years, the event sold out in under an hour, switching our focus swiftly to ensuring the event was digitally accessible to a mass international audience.

We did this with our first live blog of the year, attracting over 25,000 unique visitors on the night and syndicating our content with several high-profile MMA-loving publications and national news outlets.

Main card fighter Norman Parke took a liking to our new technology and wore Google Glass as he stepped onto the scales during the weigh-in’s 3,000-strong crowd.

Tension was high ahead of the main event and as local hero McGregor weighed-in, this vine clip of the moment attracted over 130,000 loops. The weigh-ins were followed by a night down the pub for the appropriately named #UFCPintPass with Dana White, UFC hall of famers and top English fighters for a night of folk music, Irish dancing and Guinness as fight fans got in line to have a photo with their heroes.

Fight Night delivered fantastic results for the Irish fans with victories for all five Irish athletes on the card, and digitally the night didn’t disappoint.

Our interactive FanPic saw almost 20% of the attending audience tag themselves in the picture and traffic to our online subscription channel UFC Fight Pass leap to new levels, leading UFC boss Dana White hailing the event “the most successful event for Fight Pass ever," with our fight week content reached a combined digital audience of over 8.3 million. STOCKHOLM: real-time video

Trademark spinning back kick by Denis Siver against Charles Rosa. An example of live content captured via Grabyo for #UFCStockholm

Stockholm’s Globe Arena was the venue for the final event of the year in October, in which Icelandic wrestling specialist Gunnar Nelson faced Rick Story in the main bout.

Playing on the Icelander’s plain-face stoicism in the build-up with our #GunnarFacts campaign, we continued our efforts to engage with the Scandinavian MMA community with localised digital communication in eight different languages during the build-up.

We further enhanced the live event experience by using real-time video content to provide fans with 10-second snippets of fight content instantly after it happened, showcasing some of the night’s best moments both pre, post and during fights.

The year ahead: even more video, even more mobile

2015 has already got off to a storming start as we prepare to head back to the Swedish capital on January 24th to watch hometown hero Alex Gustafsson face Anthony Johnson to a crowd of over 25,000 in the Tele2 Arena to decide who will earn a place in the next light heavyweight title fight.

We’re focusing on mobile-first, athlete generated video content diarising this week's events to create the ultimate fan experience in video and bring our growing, diverse UFC audience even closer to the action with content in the palm of their hands.

You can follow what we’re up to on Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram and Snapchat.

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