PokerStars Inks Sponsorship Deal with UFC
Valerie CrossMartin Harris
Table Of Contents
- Details of the Sponsorship
- A Winning Combo
- Paving the Way for Sports-Casino Partnerships
UFC® is the latest sports entity to partner up with a casino brand as legal sports betting becomes more of a norm across the U.S. On Friday, PokerStars announced in a press release that they will be the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first-ever “Official Poker Partner,” meaning the signature red spade and white star logo will be adorning the UFC cage for fight fans to view.
Details of the Sponsorship
The first clues of the new marketing partnership will appear in the world-famous octagon® during the UFC® 232: JONES vs. GUSTAFSSON 2 fight card taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, Dec. 29. Advertising for the online poker giant will also be integrated in UFC telecasts and through other digital and social media channels.
"I see vast opportunity here in content, promotions, crossovers, etc." -Jason Somerville
“We’re excited that PokerStars has joined our roster of global partners and has helped us create a new sponsorship category for our final event of 2018,” said Paul Asencio, UFC senior vice president, global partnerships. “This agreement lays the foundation to work together with PokerStars in the future to grow our respective customer bases in key markets.”
The partnership, one would imagine, will capitalize on the overlap between MMA fandom and affinity for sports betting, poker and other forms of gambling, especially as sport betting is gradually legalized in more and more states.
The worldwide programming distribution of the largest MMA promotion company in the world will potentially extend the PokerStars brand to 1.1 billion households across more than 160 countries and territories, with broadcasts in 40 different languages, according to the press release.
A Winning Combo
“UFC and PokerStars have a lot in common,” said Christopher Coyne, chief marketing officer of Stars Interactive, a division of The Stars Group. “We want to thrill and entertain, both in our products and customer experience. UFC is the world’s leading MMA promoter with millions of fans and followers around the globe, while PokerStars is the heavyweight of online poker. It’s a classic combination.”
There’s a huge UFC fan base in poker and a lot of poker fans in the UFC audience." -Jason Somerville
It’s also a combination that has met before, as MMA fan and member of Team PokerStars Jason Somerville well knows. When the news dropped, he shared his excitement on Twitter and told PokerNews:
"I used to work with the UFC through Ultimate Poker and loved it as a huge MMA fan — great to be back in the family!"
We asked Somerville about his reaction to the deal and what the fans can expect from the partnership.
"I’m very excited for the UFC-PS partnership," Somerville said. "For now, we’re focused on kickstarting our relationship with UFC 232 next week; details beyond that coming soon. I see vast opportunity here in content, promotions, crossovers, etc. There’s a huge UFC fan base in poker and a lot of poker fans in the UFC audience."
Christmas has come early!! feels amazing to be back in the @ufc family with @PokerStars!
— jcarver (@JasonSomerville)
Paving the Way for Sports-Casino Partnerships
The timing of the UFC-PokerStars partnership announcement seems appropriate. Over recent months in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May lifting the federal prohibition on states offering sports betting, multiple partnerships have begun to arise between casino operators and major league sports in the United States.
In September, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced a deal making MGM Resorts International the league’s official gaming partner. MGM made similar deals with the National Hockey League in October and Major League Baseball in November.
Meanwhile, back at the start of the NFL season the Dallas Cowboys became the league’s first team to partner with a casino, the Oklahoma-based WinStar World Casino and Resort (even though sports betting has not yet been legalized in the state).
That was followed by more partnerships, with the Baltimore Ravens striking a deal with the Caesars-owned Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, and the New York Jets and MGM Resorts International partnering. Caesars Entertainment similarly inked a 15-year deal with the Oakland Raiders in anticipation of the team’s move to Las Vegas in 2020. And just this week, the New Orleans Saints along with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans partnered with Harrah’s New Orleans.
Now, the trend continues with poker potentially reaping some benefits.
The Stars Group owns a majority shareholding in iBus Media.
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