3 Ways ONE Championship Went from Start-up to Martial Arts Powerhouse
Why focusing on developing a good product first will help you win the market
PHOTO CREDIT: Company Courtesy
Like many great things in this world, it all started with an idea. ONE Championship now considers itself “Asia’s largest global sports media property in history and the largest martial arts organization in the world,” and now encompasses multiple disciplines such as Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Karate, Kung Fu, Silat, Sanda, Lethwei, Mixed Martial Arts, Tae Kwon Do, Submission Grappling, and more.
Since its beginnings in 2011, the promotion has undergone a myriad of changes. From changing its name to developing a martial arts weight-management system, the promotion’s iterations have brought it from promising young start-up to global martial arts powerhouse in a matter of years, with chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong at the helm.
How did a niche organization explode into a cultural phenomenon? It focused on creating an excellent product.
Martial arts, according to Sityodtong, is Asia’s greatest cultural treasure. Every country in Asia has their own unique martial art. There is Muay Thai in Thailand, Silat in Indonesia, Arnis in the Philippines, and Lethwei in Myanmar, among others.
By bringing all of these disciplines together under a single global sports media property, Sityodtong’s goal is to unite over 4 billion people in Asia in celebration of this heritage.
1. Building Local Superheroes
Sports superstars have a unique impact on society. They ignite hope, inspiring fans to be all that they can be through hard work and dedication. Much like the effect Michael Jordan has had on basketball, or Tom Brady in football, martial arts has its own superheroes.
ONE Championship focuses particularly on building local martial arts stars -- individuals who came from the same backyard, who experienced the same hardships and trials in everyday life as the very fans who idolize them. By concentrating on building these superheroes, ONE Championship has positioned a product that resonates with the Asian people.
This includes how it develops and selects its stars. ONE Championship’s biggest and most popular athletes also have the most inspirational stories.
Eduard Folayang from the Philippines grew up in extreme poverty where his family lacked access to basic healthcare and nutrition. Aung La N Sang, Myanmar sports icon and reigning ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion, escaped the political turmoil of his country only to return with the goal of inspiring and uniting his people.
2. A Digital-First Strategy
As the landscape of sports media is experiencing a rapid shift towards online and streaming services, ONE Championship has adopted a digital-first strategy to keep with the trend.
Consumers continue to gravitate towards online media for entertainment, and ONE Championship is following suit, exploring a multitude of digital channels on which to offer its content.
On Twitter, ONE Championship broadcasts the preliminary segment of its live events for free to a worldwide audience. Fans from all across the globe need only to tune in to ONE Championship’s Twitter feed during event night, as well as on Twitter video streaming service Periscope, in order to catch all the action free of charge.
After the preliminary bouts, the content switches to online pay-per-view where users can catch the main card for a small fee.
Through social media integration, ONE Championship has been able to engage its worldwide audience on multiple levels, which has contributed to the growth of the company.
3. Different Martial Arts Under One Roof
While other organizations choose to focus primarily on offering a ‘single flavor’ of martial arts, Sityodtong has taken ONE Championship in the direction of encompassing all of the world’s martial arts.
With its recently announced ONE Super Series, set to make its debut in Manila, Philippines on April 20 with a host of striking-only bouts, ONE Championship now features a plethora of different martial arts offerings to fans, including arts such as Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Karate, Kung Fu, Silat, Sanda, Lethwei, Mixed Martial Arts, Tae Kwon Do, Submission Grappling, and more.
According to Sityodtong, things are only just beginning and that there will be lots more to see in the coming years. ONE Championship’s ultimate goal is to make martial arts a part of the daily fabric of society, and as such sees itself ramping up production significantly in the next few years.
In 2018, ONE Championship has a scheduled 24 events, but that number could double in 2019. The end goal, according to Sityodtong, is for ONE Championship to have a live event every week in a different Asian city.