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Monday, 07/15/2013, 12:11 pm

UFC Spends Second Most of Any Major Sporting Company in Lobbying Efforts in 2012

By JAKE CHASTAIN

| When you’re fighting for the right things it  never seems like spending too much is a concern of high regard. Take it from the UFC’s recent spending this past year on Capitol Hill. The world’s number one MMA promotion spent a hefty $620,000 dollars in lobbying efforts in 2012 while they tried to fight against piracy and illegal streaming.

MMAJunkie.com had all the details on this report and they claimed that only the National Football League (NFL) spent more on lobbyists than the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2012. 

The UFC apparently spent double the amount of Major League Baseball and nearly five times the National Basketball Association’s payout, according to the Center for Responsible Politics

No other sport even came close to the dollars that the NFL shelled out as they spent an overwhelming $1.14 million in lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill in 2012. 

Although the UFC still didn’t spend as much as the NFL they have consistently increased their spending over the past few years as these 2012 figures show a 51 percent increase from 2011, in which Zuffa spent $410,000 in Washington, and a 158 percent increase from $240,000 in 2008, when CRP first tracked lobbying records. 

This year, Zuffa has already spent $110,000. For what, you might be asking?

Lawrence Epstein, who is the UFC’s co-chief operating officer, stated that the firms hired by the UFC to represent them in Washington are used to educate legislators on MMA and to push for tougher anti-piracy laws that will ultimately help stop illegal-streaming and viewing of UFC PPVs. This may not seem like a big deal but it’s what makes the UFC so successful come PPV time. Without control or punishment over illegal-streams the UFC watches much of its profits wash down the drain. Obviously the fight is not a cheap one, but just because the company is spending a lot of cash doesn’t mean the fight is going to get any easier.

Because legislative turnover has been so common as of late the UFC is having a tough time getting their message across and their efforts are not leaving as big of an impact as they would like them to.

Epstein recently spoke with MMA Junkie and broke the news down a little more.

“I think we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Epstein said. “There is a general sort of bias that has anything to do with intellectual property because of the fallout from [the Stop Online Piracy Act] and [Protect IP Act].”

Zuffa faced some serious adversity last year when the controversial anti-piracy bills were shot down amid public outcry. Epstein said the company worked with legislators to modify the current law so that stealing copyrighted material would be a felony instead of a misdemeanor. However, as it moved through the process of lawmaking it didn’t make it through and was shot down all together.

“We saw this train coming down the tracks, but in Washington, those in power make the decisions,” he said.

Epstein said Zuffa’s primary goal is to deter piracy by increasing the punishment for offenders. He said he plans to be in Washington this week to speak with lawmakers.

“The only way this is really going to slow down is if, frankly, there is criminal prosecution,” he said. “These pirates are doing incredible damage to businesses like ours. This needs to be a felony, and you need to prosecute these people.”

Since 2010, Zuffa has done so several times in court, filing lawsuits against website operators, individuals and business owners alleged to have profited from stolen UFC content. Zuffa co-owner and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta once told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that the company had uncovered 271 illegal streams of a UFC pay-per-view that allowed more than 140,000 viewers to watch the event for free.

So even though it seems like a lot of money to spend on politics and law-making, in the long run it could spell greater profits for the UFC.

The top 2012 spending by major sports organizations:

1. National Football League – $1,140,000
2. Ultimate Fighting Championship – $620,000
3. Professional Golfer’s Association – $380,000
4. Major League Baseball – $310,000
5. Bowl Championship Series – $270,000
6. U.S. Olympic Committee – $240,000
T-7. National Collegiate Athletic Association – $150,000
T-7. NASCAR – $150,000
9. National Basketball Association – $125,000
10. National Football League Player’s Association – $120,000

-Jake Chastain

@jchastain45

 

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