On Monday at Yoshihiro Akiyama’s Cloud Dojo in Japan, senior executives from the UFC, TV Bank and NTT Plala announced two agreements that will further increase the UFC’s development in the country. For you fans that have longed to see an Octagon in the Orient, it could be happening sooner rather than later.
UFC officials announced a deal with TV Bank Corp., which will provide an Official UFC Mobile site across all three major Japanese cellular networks – NTT Docomo, KDD AU and Softbank. The agreement with will ensure that UFC updates, ringtones, wallpapers, fights on demand and other exciting content are made available to fight 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, 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 February 1st.
“Today is a very important step in expanding our media platforms to bring the UFC to more Japanese fans than ever before,” UFC executive vice President and managing director of Asia Mark Fischer said. “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 exciting Japanese fighters to its roster. The highly-decorated Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto will make his debut at UFC 126 on February 5th in Las Vegas, while featherweight Michihiro Omigawa returns to the UFC on the same date.
Middleweight Riki Fukuda will also join the big leagues when UFC 127 comes rolling around on February 27th.
The trio joins current UFC middleweight contenders Yoshihiro Akiyama and Yushin Okami as proud Japanese fighters scheduled to grace the Octagon in 2011.
“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.”
(Pictured from left ot right: Riki Fukuda, Kid Yamamoto, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Michihiro Omigawa and Yushin Okami)