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‘My aim is to make One the world’s largest single sports property’ – says CEO Chatri Sityodtong

The founder of One Championship Chatri Sityodtong has said that he aims to make the martial arts company the biggest sports property in the world, claiming to have already matched Formula One in terms of fanbase size and with America’s NFL in his sights as the next landmark.

Now a unicorn company funded by Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek and United States venture capitalist firm Sequoia Capital, One is said to have achieved 3.5bn video views in the first quarter of this year alone. This was thanks partly to its eight million Facebook fans and the matches being broadcast in more than 130 countries.

Sityodtong had spoken to Mumbrella previously about brands and agencies not yet fully comprehending the possibilities of a potential Asian audience of 4.4bn people. But speaking at the Tech in Asia conference in Singapore today, he told delegates that before One’s rise Asia had zero billion-dollar sporting properties whereas the likes of America and Europe had many.

“Every Asian country has a martial art and my aim is to make One the world’s largest single sports property,” he said in a clear statement of intent, adding: “F1 started in 1950 and we are already the same size thanks to technology and social media in a connected world.”

Recounting his own personal story, after founding the company in 2011 and not achieving success until 2014, the CEO told an audience at the Suntec Convention Centre: “I failed thousands of times. Everyone rejected me. I got my ass kicked every day for the first four years.

“Brands would say ‘why would I sponsor you when you’re not on TV’. We had no revenue, no distribution and poor ratings. It was brutal. I was in a hole of despair for four years, but I climbed out and the business exploded.”

Explaining that there was nothing to fear for marketers in terms of being associated with such a physical sport that could be perceived as violent, Sityodtong said: “This is not about fighting, it’s about humanity and inspirational life stories.”

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