How will Kovalev-Ward do on PPV?
November 18, 2016
On Saturday night, Sergey Kovalev will take on Andre Ward in a much-anticipated fight for a variety of titles at light heavyweight and will answer the question as to who is the best pound-for-pound boxer. How will the HBO PPV do?
For combat sports fans, November is/will be an expensive month as Kovalev-Ward will be the third straight week for a PPV. Pacquiao-Vargas started the month, with UFC 205 next and now comes Kovalev-Ward. It may be argued that Saturday’s boxing event in Vegas will be the best PPV of the three. But, for the casual combat sports fan, will Saturday’s event be worth the money in a month where you could feasibly spend over $200 on PPV.
Another issue is that Kovalev-Ward comes on one of the biggest days for combat sports in some time. There are two UFC events and a huge Bellator card competing for eyes.
The allure of Ward, 30-0, facing Kovalev, 30-0-1, is tantalizing for boxing fans. Ward, the former Olympian, has been criticized for not taking on challenging opponents. He’ll get one in Kovalev. The Krusher looked invincible as he prepared for this fight but looked human against Isaac Chilemba as he was unable to knock Chilemba out.
It’s been an underwhelming year for boxing on PPV.
April 9, 2016 – Pacquiao-Bradley III: ~400K PPV buys
May 7, 2016 – Alvarez-Khan: ~450K-600K PPV buys
July 23, 2016 – Crawford-Postol: 50K-60K PPV buys
September 17, 2016 – Alvarez-Smith: >~300K PPV buys
November 5, 2016 – Pacquiao-Vargas: ~300K PPV buys
On another note, according to Lance Pugmire, Ward will make $5 million while Kovalev will earn $2 million for Saturday night.
The Alvarez-Khan number has been rumored to be anywhere from 300K to slightly under 600K and anywhere in between. But, the main point is that there has not been a blockbuster fight this year which has drawn truly big “Conor McGregor” numbers. Boxing is centered on the one fight whereas the UFC packages 2 or 3 big fights together. Still, it’s the one star (i.e. McGregor, Rousey) that does the huge numbers for the UFC. Even Canelo Alvarez, the next big hope for boxing on PPV, had an uneven year. While he may have done well in May against Amir Khan, he did not follow-up in September with a strong buy rate. We already knew that Pacquiao is trending down domestically while the hope is that he does better in Asia. As for Saturday, I do not expect Kovalev-Ward to do better than 300K PPV buys due to the aforementioned combat sports competition. In addition, there has been little lead-up for this fight by HBO. The shoulder programming has been less than previous HBO Boxing PPVs and the stars are less familiar to the casual viewer.