ONE Championship has lit up 2023 with outstanding events and star-making performances – and it’s all been part of the promotion’s global expansion plan.
CNBC Street Signs recently caught up with ONE Championship Group President Hua Fung Teh to discuss everything that has been going on with the company, including its impressive U.S. debut in May.
“So we had our first U.S. event in Denver, Colorado, a month before the Nuggets won the NBA Championship, so it was great timing. But, yeah, that was a sold-out event. It broke all records in the U.S. on our streaming platform, Amazon Prime Video, and I think that event really showed us that we not only have a right to play, but we have a clear right to win in the U.S.,” Teh said.
“So we are going to be having more events in the U.S. next year, and we’re also looking to expand the partnership with Amazon. But, to be honest, it’s not that surprising.”
“Martial arts has been practiced by many people around the world. It is from Asia, but you walk around the streets of New York, London, Doha, you know where I was at last week, you will see a martial arts gym. You will see a kickboxing school. You will see a karate or judo dojo, right? So martial arts is enjoyed by many, many people around the world. It is practiced by many, many around the world. So, while we’re based in Asia, it’s no surprise that we are expanding in the U.S., in the Middle East, in Europe, in Africa, in many parts of the world.”
The Middle East expansion has been a point of emphasis along with the North American development.
Just last week, ONE and Media City Qatar signed an MOU to further their partnership to expand the footprint in the region (h/t Eric Jackson of Sportico) – something the ONE co-founder went into further during his recent interview.
“We signed an MOU with Qatar Media City that actually is an existing partner. So this is an extension of another MOU that we signed last year to bring our live events to Qatar. We have a 2-3 year relationship now with Qatar. QIA [Qatar Investment Authority], the sovereign wealth fund, invested in ONE. They actually led our last funding round about 18 months ago, and since then we have gotten more and more, I guess, deeply networked in the Qatari ecosystem,” Teh explained.
“We have signed with BeIn Sport, a Middle East broadcast deal – one of the big sports broadcasters in the world. They are Qatar owned. We’ve also signed, as I’ve mentioned, with Qatar Media City to do our reality programming in Doha.”
“And now we are going to be bringing our crown jewel, our live events, to Doha. And it should happen as soon as this year.”
ONE has invested heavily in its global expansion plans, and the increased metrics, as a result, speak for themselves.
Teh credits that with how much the brand has grown and believes it signals a bright future for the organization.
“Because we’re expanding globally, and because the opportunity is so large, we will, obviously, have to keep investing in the business. The U.S., for instance, is a clear investment market,” he said.
“If you look at our revenue, if you look at everything, our metrics, everything is up and to the right. Even during the pandemic, you know, viewership and revenue were up.”
“Assuming that march continues, and look, the sports business is one of operating leverage — once you have the asset, you have incumbency, you have the fans, it takes on a life of its own, right? There’s not much incremental cost in trying to win that incremental dollar because the asset, the brand, the popularity, and the fandom, is already there, and all sports properties go through this journey.”
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