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MMA: Sports Entertainment in the Internet Age


The way we consume entertainment media has changed drastically with the advent of the internet. Unlike any time before, people now have instant access to essentially unlimited content. MMA has developed as a worldwide sports phenomenon in the past 20+ years with the growth of the internet. MMA fights and events are comparatively much shorter than most sporting events, making it the perfect model for the fast-paced media consumption of the internet age.

Attention Span and Sports Entertainment
(Photo:Clive Gee/PA Wire)
(Photo:Clive Gee/PA Wire)

Can you imagine the average person today paying attention to something for 3 minutes? How about 3 days? First-class cricket matches can take anywhere from 3-5 days to complete. This is a very long duration model is designed for multi-day entertainment. It definitely had and has its place in sports entertainment, but it’s hard to imagine the creation of a sport like this in the modern day. This is not to say that a longer sporting event like this can’t be exciting or entertaining, it just comes from a very different time period.

The MMA Entertainment Model
(Photo: Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC)
(Photo: Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC)

At a maximum, an MMA championship fight lasts for 30 minutes including the minute breaks in between rounds (barring foul injury time). MMA is popular for a wide variety of reasons but as a combat sport, it perfectly fits the mold of the way that we digest entertainment today. An MMA bout has a maximum time limit, but can be concluded at any moment of the competition with the right punch. It is very much a short form of entertainment compared to multi-hour football games and baseball games. This isn’t to say that an MMA events or combat sporting event can’t go multiple hours, but they’re broken down into bouts that act as a sort of shorter collection of “games.”

Modern Sports Entertainment

The model of MMA fights and events coincide with the modern short attention span for entertainment. However, traditionally longer sporting events are still very much alive and well. Football and Baseball games take over 3 hours to complete on average, yet they remain extremely popular. First-class cricket is an internationally gigantic sport despite requiring multiple days to complete a game. Perhaps MMA wasn’t intentionally designed for the current pace we digest media, but it fits the mold perfectly.

Do you think other sports will eventually adopt a shorter model? What do you like about longer sporting events as opposed to MMA?