ONE Championship CCO on Microsoft partnership, eSports and social media engagement

Singapore-based martial arts organization ONE Championship, with it’s core focus on revolutionizing the Mixed Martial Arts industry in Asia has been aggressively expanding its brand. It recently broke into the Top 10 Most Engaging Sport Profiles on Facebook Worldwide, according to figures released by Socialbakers. The Playknox spoke with Hari Vijayarajan, Chief Commercial Officer of ONE Championship to know more:


How difficult has the pandemic been for the organisation? How do you aim to overcome these challenges?

ONE Championship continues to thrive through creativity. We have adapted well to the temporary pause in our live martial arts events since the end of February and which came back starting July 31 as an audience-free show, to be broadcast every 2 weeks with amazing new matches! ONE Esports has adapted to run 100% online tournaments: ONE Esports DOTA2 SEA League from early Jun- mid Jul generated 36M+ views, massively surpassing our expectations, as gaming and esports skyrocket during the pandemic. Our shoulder programming and Stay at Home videos featuring athletes and world champions are breaking new viewership records as hundreds of millions of fans stay at home and want to watch inspirational content, to escape the negative news they are bombarded with everyday around COVID-19, unemployment, etc.

We are also super excited to launch “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition”, our first business-reality, lifestyle show, with Chatri as host, featuring 16 contestants vying to be Chatri’s protégé. Even during the pandemic, this has had a strong reception from broadcasters (AXN who will be our regional Cable-TV partner, while several Free-to-Air broadcasters around Asia will also air it), brands (Andaz Hotels, TUMI, Everise, and many more) and CEOs like Anthony Tan from Grab, Patrick Grove from Catcha Group, Ankiti Bose from Zilingo, etc. who are participating as guest judges and mentors to contestants on how to lead during a crisis or build and scale a unicorn.


How is ONE leveraging digital to expand its brands/media proposition?

Being one of the youngest global sports media properties at only 9 years old, it gives us immense pride to be ranked the #4 global sports media property (out of >5000) in 2019 in terms of online viewership by Tubular Labs and #8 global sports media property (out of >5000) from Jan-Jun 2020 in terms of engagement on Facebook. As >80% of our fans are millennials and Gen-Z, its very important for ONE to drive authentic engagement at scale on social and digital media, where a majority of our fans live.

Our brands capitalize on this massive social media engagement in an always-on manner, as every day, there are opportunities for brands to amplify magical memories we create for fans either on live or shoulder content on social and digital media. Even during the 5 months that closed-door matches were not being held, brands like Foodpanda, Lu Global, JBL and others capitalized on our massive social and digital reach (371Million+ Monthly Unique Reach on Facebook as of 2019) to engage their customers and our fans at scale.

While we’re very proud about standing shoulder to shoulder with NBA, NFL, etc, we know we have a lot of work still to be done to someday become #1.



Tell us about your recent initiatives and partnerships.

We recently announced our latest round of partnerships, the most prominent one being working with Microsoft to harness their cloud capabilities – including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 – to accelerate ONE’s digital fan experiences and enhance productivity for its employees.

Microsoft and ONE, through this alliance, are co-investing in digital fan experience transformation. Fans will have a more immersive experience in live events, through interactive and data driven match insights such as striking statistics and, for example, the strength of punches and kicks. The partnership is set to further enhance ONE’s position as a leading global sports media property and further execute its vision to engage fans through its unique brand of Asian values, world-class athletes, and global appeal.

Through this partnership also we get personalized content guided by Azure AI-powered recommendation engines as well as analytics on fan behavior and viewing habits which will help us provide better content for combat sports enthusiasts and brand partners.

Apart from this, we also struck deals with leading global brands such Toyota, Unilever, JBL, TUMI, foodpanda, DBS Bank, Hugo Boss, Xiaomi, Intel, HP and Logitech. ONE Championship also partnered Telecommunications company Cellcard will grow the distribution of ONE Championship’s localized content created around Cambodian athletes, and promote exclusive products and offerings to Cellcard subscribers and martial arts fans across Cambodia!

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