The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Tuesday announced two new digital media distribution deals to increase its reach in Japan. The announcement was made in a joint press conference held Monday at Yoshihiro Akiyama’s Cloud Dojo by senior executives from the UFC, TV Bank, and NTT Plala.
First, UFC officials announced a deal with TV Bank Corp. that will provide an Official UFC Mobile site across all three major Japanese cellular networks – NTT Docomo, KDD AU, and Softbank. The agreement with TV Bank Corp. will ensure that UFC updates, ringtones, wallpapers, fights on demand, and other content are made available to UFC fans in Japan.
Most news and features will be accessible for free, while premium content will be available on a pay basis. The partnership establishes TV Bank, a subsidiary of major Japanese digital media company Softbank, as the UFC’s primary online content distributor in Japan.
In a second announcement for Japanese UFC fans, UFC officials confirmed an agreement with the Hikari TV, the Internet protocol television network (IPTV) operated by NTT Plala Corp. The digital network will air delayed live and archived UFC bouts, as well as classic fights from the famed Pride library. Hikari TV currently enjoys a rapidly growing subscriber base of more than 1.3 million subscribers in Japan.
Both the Official UFC Mobile site and UFC/PRIDE content on Hikari TV will be launched on Feb. 1, 2011.
“Today is a very important step in expanding our media platforms to bring the UFC to more Japanese fans than ever before,” said Mark Fischer, UFC Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Asia. “We want to make sure that any fan who wants to watch the UFC has the best access they can and, at the same time, reach new fans.”
UFC’s increased presence in Japan comes just weeks after the organization added three more Japanese fighters to its roster. The highly-decorated Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto will make his UFC debut at UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort on Feb. 5 in Las Vegas, while featherweight Michihiro Omigawa returns to the UFC on the same date. Middleweight Riki Fukuda will also join the UFC, making his debut at UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch in Sydney, Australia on Feb. 27.
The trio joins current UFC middleweight contenders Yoshihiro Akiyama and Yushin Okami in the Octagon.
“There has never been a better time to be a UFC fan in Japan,” Fischer said. “Along with our existing partnership with WOWOW, the two deals announced continue to expand our media partnerships and consumer reach. Furthermore, the UFC is clearly building momentum in Japan toward finally bringing a live UFC event here for the first time in over a decade.”