The rise of ONE Championship explained

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2024

ONE’s broadcast reach now is ranked fourth in the world, driven by founder and Muay Thai guru Chatri Sityodtong

The current praise and admiration for boxing’s ONE Championship is not an exaggeration, as its broadcast reach is ranked fourth in the world, trailing only the Olympics, the UEFA European Football Championship, and the UEFA Champions League.

In terms of viewership, it has risen to second place globally, second only to the National Basketball Association.

The person behind this massive combat-sports industry is Chatri Sityodtong, the founder and chief executive of ONE Championship. 

The rise of ONE Championship explained

ONE has revitalised and rapidly developed the sport, creating Muay Thai tournaments that are captivating and enjoyable to watch every second. This has promoted the art of Muay Thai worldwide, building a strong reputation and bringing significant revenue to Thailand.

Currently, ONE Championship has a brand market value of 50 billion baht. It has elevated Thai fighters such as Tawanchai PK Saenchai, Rodtang Jitmuangnon, Stamp Fairtex, and Jo Nattawut to command fees in the tens of millions of baht. 

This branding effort has helped these fighters gain significant social-media followings and market their rights in the United States.

The rise of ONE Championship explained

Historically, only Buakaw Banchamek had commanded a fee reaching 10 million baht in Thai boxing.

Chatri said, “We have a long-standing history with Muay Thai. ONE Championship aims to be the leader in Muay Thai and martial-arts content, dominating the global combat-sports market. It’s an industry that creates heroes and inspires youth and everyone, enhancing Thailand's reputation and generating income for the country. 

“At the initial stage of founding and finding partner sponsors, I was discouraged to the point of almost giving up. But I remained committed to my mission. I was born from Muay Thai and must repay Muay Thai by creating jobs and careers through the sport. If I had given up back then, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Regarding live viewership in Thailand in 2023, based on the top 10 ratings, ONE Championship ranked first, while the Premier League, popular among Thais, ranked only ninth.

Live sports viewership statistics in Thailand for 2023:

ONE Lumpinee: 33.6 million viewers
Asian Games: 29.4 million viewers
Volleyball Nations League: 29.3 million viewers
SEA Games: 21.9 million viewers
Women’s Olympic Volleyball Qualifiers: 19.9 million viewers
Thai League Football: 19.3 million viewers
Bundesliga: 18.4 million viewers
MotoGP: 15.1 million viewers
Premier League: 7.5 million viewers
Thailand Open Badminton: 3.0 million viewers

The reason ONE Championship is so popular among boxing fans worldwide is the reduction of bouts to just three rounds, making every match exciting from the first round.

This popularity has generated jobs and income for fighters, staff, and related boxing camps, creating a form of "soft power" for Muay Thai even before any government support.

The marketing strategy focuses on social-media engagement and substantial financial incentives, propelling it ahead of many other sports.

The rise of ONE Championship explained