S-49 - Measuring the Influence of Social Media on...

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Measuring the Influence of Social Media on Television Viewership Abstract In this research, we examine the impact of consumer social media website usage on television viewership of mixed martial arts (MMA) events. In doing so, we utilize a regression analysis approach to examine what types of social media platforms directly affect MMA television viewership. Our findings indicate that several variables related to social media website usage influence consumer viewership of MMA television programming. Provided this information, promoters of MMA events might be better able to anticipate the likelihood that consumers will watch televised MMA events and purchase MMA pay-per-view events. This information also provides promoters with the ability to adjust their social media marketing efforts accordingly. This research builds on extant literature in the area of sport marketing by providing a practical understanding of sport consumer behavior as it pertains to social media usage and television viewership. As we examine the motives and preferences of consumers, we need to identify the effect social media has on consumers, television viewership, and the essence of the relatively unstudied sport of MMA in general. Introduction The sport of MMA has generated a great deal of interest from television production companies over the past decade (Van Bottenburg & Heilbron, 2006; Kim, Greenwell, Andrew, Lee & Mahony, 2008; Kim, Andrew, & Greenwell, 2009). Since its inception, MMA seen marked increases in popularity and viewership among audiences around the world, but has struggled over the years to gain a foothold among sport consumers in the United States. More recently, however, the sport has begun to captivate American consumers due primarily to the formation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) promotion company. Considered by UFC president Dana White as “the sport for a new generation”, the art of cage fighting is quickly growing into a major sports spectacle, drawing profits and audiences comparable to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB). Stunning Rise of MMA Viewership In recent years, the sport of MMA has achieved tremendous growth primarily due to the popularity the sport has gained among the demographic of male viewers 18-34 years of age (Kim et al., 2008). With regard to television in the United States, the monthly broadcast hours for UFC events grew by nearly four times in 2009 alone (Wood, 2010). In addition, viewership for UFC pay-per-view events has increased from a total of 145,000 purchases in 2001 to more than 5 million purchases in 2007 (Miller, 2008). Since its televised debut on Spike TV, the UFC’s cable home since 2005, the MMA reality show “The Ultimate Fighter” has drawn consistent ratings higher than those of many televised events of the major sports leagues (Kim et al., 2008). In fact, the series finale of the reality show drew 1.6 million viewers in 2006, exactly half a million viewers more than that of the MLB playoff game between the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit
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S-49 - Measuring the Influence of Social Media on...

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