Entain-owned Ladbrokes signs regional sponsorship deal with UFC for Australia and New Zealand

Entain-owned betting brand Ladbrokes has entered into a regional sponsorship deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Australia and New Zealand. The two-year agreement will see Ladbrokes displayed prominently in the Octagon and UFC broadcasts in the two countries. Additionally, Ladbrokes will collaborate with UFC athletes on separate ambassadorial deals to create exclusive content and promotions.

The deal is an extension of Entain’s existing presence in Australia, as the company had previously announced a deal in 2021 for its Neds betting brand to also sponsor the mixed martial arts promotion in Australia. 

The decision to extend the sponsorship to Ladbrokes comes despite a shift in Entain’s sponsorship strategy in response to community sentiment regarding gambling advertising in sports. In 2023, Entain announced that it would scale back its sponsorship activities in Australia amid a backlash against gambling advertising in sports, expressing a desire to align with evolving community values.

The company has also seen several leadership changes over the past year. Last October, Entain announced that it had promoted former global head of brand Lorna Jane to the role of Chief Marketing Officer after the departure of James Burnett in September.

The betting giant, which also owns the Coral, BetMGM, and Bwin brands, announced several redundancies across many regions and blamed a decline in online gaming revenues in the UK on unfavorable sports outcomes and UK government changes to make the industry safer for customers. 

Moreover, in December last year, former Chief Executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen decided to step down just weeks after the company agreed to a £585 million ($734 million) payout to settle a bribery probe at the firm’s former Turkish unit.

As part of the Ladbrokes-UFC sponsorship deal, the betting brand will leverage virtual advertising to activate its regional branding rights, utilizing technology to enhance brand visibility during UFC broadcasts. This approach aligns with the UFC’s previous initiatives to incorporate digital sponsorships into its events.

Last year the promotion agreed on a multi-year deal with 4D Sight to use its virtual advertising technology to place digital sponsorships on the Octagon canvas. The two organizations have also run a pilot program that saw branding digitally inserted into its broadcasts in Latin America.

Nick Smith, Vice-President of Global Partnerships at UFC and WWE–TKO, said: “We’re delighted to continue our partnership with Entain for a further two years.

“Since 2021, Entain has raised the bar for our international partnerships with their commitment to high-quality content and offerings for UFC fans in Australia. To now have the strength of the Ladbrokes brand on board, we’re excited to produce even more great activity for fans right across Australia and New Zealand.”

Entain CMO Mel Kennedy added: “The partnership between the UFC and Entain has been a highly successful one over the past three years with neds and we are thrilled to keep the UFC partnership in the Entain family.

Ladbrokes, with our outstanding content capabilities, is committed to enhancing the overall experience for UFC fans in Australia. Our innovative approach to wagering, coupled with the world-class entertainment that the UFC delivers, ensures an unmatched level of engagement for our customers. 2024 is set to be the biggest ever for the UFC, and Ladbrokes is thrilled to be a key player in this.”