Effects of violent media content: Evidence from the rise of the UFC. Academic Article uri icon


  • We document the effect of violent media on crime. Specifically, we evaluate the effects of The Ultimate Fighter, a hit TV show that features fighters competing in violent mixed martial arts and which brought Ultimate Fighting Championship into the mainstream. We estimate the effect of exposure to the show's earliest episodes using panel data from police agencies across the United States and a strategy that uses network ratings prior to the show's premier as an instrumental variable. We show that this exposure significantly reduced crime: these effects are particularly evident for assault, began in the month the show premiered, and persisted for many years. These estimates do not reflect systematic differences across geographic areas in their trends in crime rates prior to 2005. To complement our main results, we also investigate the effects of "UFC Main Events," which air in bars and on Pay-Per-View. This analysis additionally suggests reductions in violence caused by viewership.

published proceedings

  • J Health Econ

altmetric score

  • 55.442

author list (cited authors)

  • Lindo, J. M., Swensen, I. D., & Waddell, G. R.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Lindo, Jason M||Swensen, Isaac D||Waddell, Glen R

publication date

  • May 2022