Showtime Boxing main event draws 481,000 viewers

May 25, 2017

The main event featuring Gary Russell, Jr. versus Oscar Escandon on Showtime Boxing on Saturday night drew 481,000 fans per ShowBuzz Daily.

The telecast ran opposite HBO’s boxing event featuring Terrence Crawford.  The event drew 961,000 viewers for Crawford’s event against Felix Diaz.

Russell was the featured event on the telecast which also featured the unfortunate post-fight incident where Andre Dirrell’s uncle took a cheap shot at Jose Uzcategui after he was disqualified for an after-the-bell foul on Dirrell.  The fight drew 354,000 viewers and 0.11 in the A18-49 demo.

Also, a fight between super lightweights Rances Barthelemy and Kiryl Relikh drew 267,000 viewers.

The first fight on the Showtime telecast drew 206,000 viewers.  It was a junior lightweight contest between Floyd Mayweather’s fighter Gervonta Davis and Liam Walsh.  Davis won via third-round TKO.

The Russell event drew 481,000 viewers and 0.13 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The event is on par with prior Showtime telecasts and likely had to compete with viewers that also watched HBO’s boxing telecasts.  Usually, HBO boxing events do better than Showtime although Showtime may have had better fights on Saturday.

McGregor applies for Nevada boxing license

May 20, 2017

Further moving the ball toward all of our disappointment, Conor McGregor has applied for a Nevada boxing license.  This past week, Dana White announced that a deal with Conor McGregor was done with the UFC and now Mayweather just has to agree.

MMA Junkie reported the UFC lightweight champion has applied for the boxing license.  Earlier this year, a settlement was brokered with the commission with respect to a fine and subsequent judicial review by McGregor stemming from his pre-fight press conference melee with Nate Diaz.  The settlement allowed McGregor to apply for the license.

It will be of no surprise to anyone that his license will be approved by the commission as soon as possible to start the motion to the possibility of a fight with Mayweather in Las Vegas.

Payout Perspective:

This is just my opinion but all of this week’s maneuvers by the UFC and McGregor is more optics than actual movement toward a fight.  Kevin Iole made the point that most of us already know.  This is far from happening.  Even with the news of White-McGregor coming to terms, they still have to have the “A” side, which includes Al Haymon, to agree to the UFC’s contract.  Do we think that happens?  If Mayweather got 60-40 from Pacquiao, you expect him getting a bigger cut from this fight.  Assuming 70-30, that 30 would be split between UFC and McGregor.  Also, look for Mayweather to look for leverage on each and every revenue point in the contract.  This would be from gate to PPV cut to international rights to distributors to what type of gloves, etc.

So, the news of a license for McGregor is just window dressing to give the appearance that the UFC is ready for the fight and will place the blame/pressure on Mayweather.

Canelo-Chavez replay draw 769,000 on HBO

May 17, 2017

The replay of the Canelo Alvarez- Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. fight drew 769,000 viewers this past Saturday night on HBO per ShowBuzz Daily.

Canelo’s May fight against Amir Khan drew 767,000 for the replay on HBO.  He drew 459,000 HBO subscribers for his September 2016 fight against Liam Smith.  His 2015 fight with Miguel Cotto drew 901,000 subscribers for its replay.

Payout Perspective:
The lower ratings probably did not impact the PPV buys as it is reported that it will be over 1 million buys for the Cinco De Mayo weekend fight.  The ratings might be lower than the Cotto fight for the simple fact that news got around that the fight was a walkover.  In addition, it was on a night with UFC 211 on that night.

UFC-McGregor could agree to bout with Mayweather by Sunday…but Mayweather has to accept

May 13, 2017

The New York Times reports that Conor McGregor could agree to a deal with the UFC to fight Floyd Mayweather by Sunday.  Of course, that just leaves out one big party to the fight to agree to the deal…Floyd Mayweather.

Dana White set an artificial deadline of Sunday to come to terms with McGregor to do a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.  Notably, Mayweather has not named his price for the fight.  Moreover, even if a deal is struck with McGregor, White must broker a deal with Mayweather.

One of the bigger hurdles that White and the UFC must come to terms with is that the PPV will most likely go through Showtime.  You might recall that White has had his issues with Showtime in the past.  But, this is a big money fight so you can see White, and the new owners, overlooking this past beef.

Yet, Mayweather will undoubtedly look for “A” side money leaving less of a pie for McGregor and the UFC to split.

Payout Perspective:

Even if a deal is struck with McGregor, is this really news until Mayweather agrees to the terms?  White coming out last week to say that GGG-Canelo took their date of September 16th seems puffery than truth.  Why?  There’s no deal in place.  So, by stating that a date was taken (and by the way, fighting Mexican Independence Weekend is not unique) is mere ploy to negotiate through the media.  White is pressing McGregor and Mayweather to a fight despite the fact no one has anything on the table yet.  So, while the UFC may announce McGregor accepting terms to a deal with Mayweather post-fight UFC 211, we should not celebrate until we hear Mayweather say it’s a final deal.

Report: initial estimate for Canelo-GGG is at least 1M PPV buys

May 9, 2017

ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted that this past Saturday’s fight between Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. did “at least 1 million buys.”

The report, if verified, is better than most expectations and is the best boxing PPV since the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fight back in May 2015.

Payout Perspective:

1 million PPV buys might be in the ballpark as all indications had this as a big event.  All closed-circuit venues at Las Vegas hotels carrying the fight were sold out.  The over 20,000 in attendance was the biggest in Vegas boxing history.  Canelo and the Chavez name carried the PPV buys for the fight as the actual main event was easy to predict.  The good news is that this September’s fight between Canelo and GGG should grab bigger PPV buys.

GGG-Canelo set for September 16th

May 8, 2017

Immediately after the Canelo-Chavez fight Saturday night, it was announced that Alvarez would face Gennady Golovkin in September.  Obviously, what looked like an impromptu faceoff was planned well-ahead of time with the belief Canelo would win.

For those that watched the event, Canelo easily handled Chavez and won by unanimous decision.  GGG was in attendance and in the post-fight interview included the “call out” for GGG.  Golovkin even had an entrance to announce the fight.

The fight is scheduled for Mexican Independence Day, September 16, 2017.  The venue has not been announced.

Notably, Dana White claims that September 16th was the targeted date for the anticipated Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match.

Payout Perspective:

The post-fight announcement helped build on the momentum of Canelo and had people looking forward to September.  It was a very good strategy to build on the star power.  Oftentimes, fans are left wondering what’s next for the fight and whether, or if, a fight can be brokered between promoters and fighters (e.g. Mayweather-McGregor).  Here, the sides were able to come together to an agreement prior to the Canelo-Chavez fight.  Obviously, a gamble if Chavez would have put together some sort of interesting fight, or even won.  GGG and Canelo’s sides had been eyeing a fight for some time so this likely took some time to put together.

We discussed whether there was another big boxing PPV star last week, and this fall’s fight could elevate both GGG and Canelo.  This fight is likely to draw the benchmark 1 million PPV buys based on the star power and amount of fans that have longed for this bout.

Where is boxing’s next PPV star?

May 6, 2017

As Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. get set to fight on the traditional Cinco de Mayo weekend boxing card, we wonder about boxing’s next big pay-per-view draw.

The two fighters in the main event were thought to be the future of boxing.  You can argue that only one of them has lived up to the billing of being the next big star while the other has been a disappointment thus far in his career.  For those that don’t follow boxing, Canelo is the fighter that is still on a career arc while JCC has the name and pedigree but perhaps not the desire needed to be a top star.

Last week, Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 in Wembley Stadium in a showdown between heavyweights.  While Joshua is massively popular in the UK, it’s still unknown whether that fandom would translate to US audiences.

The overarching question is whether any of these fighters could translate into a PPV star for boxing.

Canelo seems to be the best active fighter to be considered a boxing star on PPV.  He produced 2 million PPV buys when he fought Floyd Mayweather in September 2013 and 900,000 PPV buys against Miguel Cotto in November 2015.

But since the Cotto fight, Canelo has had lackluster PPV performances in a KO win over Amir Khan and Liam Smith.  In the Khan fight, it was estimated it had between 460,000 to 600,000 PPV buys.  It was later recalibrated down to 450,000 – 500,000 buys depending on who you asked.  This is respectable but down considering Khan had some notoriety prior to fighting Alvarez.  The Smith fight in September 2016 drew less than 300,000 PPV buys.  This may be due to the unknown opponent and the prior rumors that Alvarez was going to meet GGG.

In 2016, the biggest fight of the year, Andre Ward versus Sergey Kovalev, drew just 165,000 PPV buys.  GGG’s fight against Daniel Jacobs this past March did 170,000 PPV buys which was an improvement from GGG last showing on PPV.  Yet, fair or unfair to compare, 170,000 buys is less than a mediocre monthly PPV.  GGG is considered one of boxing’s best and can only muster 170,000 to pay for his fight, while a PPV with CM Punk drew 450,000 PPV buys.

In a November 2015 Sports Business Journal article former HBO PPV chief Mark Taffet identified seven factors that set apart PPV “megastars”:

  1. In-ring style – this goes to being an action fighter with the intent to KO an opponent in every fight
  2. Out-of-ring persona – Likable but also someone that sets themselves apart from the rest.
  3. Natural rivalries – this refers to fighters in the same weight class, or in a division close to their own.
  4. Demographics – this refers to the fighter being able to be identified with a particular group or audience.
  5. Media/technology – the ability to use social media to build followers and then monetize the opportunity.
  6. Intent – the desire to build a fan base as their career grows
  7. “It” factor – An undefined intangible, that Taffet states usually takes the form a storyline that is “unique and memorable.”

The likes of Vasyl Lomachenko, Errol Spence, Deontay Wilder and Keith Thurman may be on the next tier of boxing’s stars that have all of the above except the fact that they have yet to translate their in-ring success to monetary gain on PPV.  None of these fighters have headlined a PPV.  This is likely due to the fact that they see GGG and Canelo having trouble to gain traction in garnering PPV buys and are weary of pushing an event that might flop.  Recall Terrence Crawford fought Viktor Postol on PPV and drew 50-60K PPV buys.

While Canelo’s last PPV outing was disappointing, Golden Boy will continue to promote its premier star.  He has all of the seven factors above and if set with the right opponent, the fight could draw big PPV buys.  GGG lacks the natural rivalry that would help him equate his talent and persona.  The long-awaited showdown with GGG is in the offing and could give him a spark.

Anthony Joshua might be the next PPV boxing star.  It is still unclear whether his UK marketability will equate in the U.S., but last week’s event which aired on Showtime and HBO drew great ratings.  More importantly, once people tuned in, they saw a great fight in which he was knocked down but eventually came back to stop Klitschko.  With 13 sponsors already in his portfolio including big brands Jaguar, Under Armour and Beats By Dre, the former Olympic Gold Medalist has the pedigree, the look and the “It” Factor to succeed.

Clearly, Joshua’s marketability can translate to U.S. dollars as it did for Manny Pacquiao.  Notwithstanding the last year or so of his career, Pacquiao’s fighting style and large Filipino following allowed him to be one of the biggest boxing stars of the last 20 years.  He was able to accomplish this despite not being from the United States.  With his Mexican roots, Canelo is doing almost the same.  Joshua may have an advantage over Pacquiao and Canelo as he speaks fluent English.  Not to discount Manny or Canelo, but each has difficulty with carrying on interviews in English.

This year could be a big year for boxing starting with Saturday’s Canelo-Chavez fight.  If Canelo wins, it should ready us for a showdown with GGG in September.  If Chavez scores an upset, we can see a rematch later this year.  In June, we will see the rematch between Ward-Kovalev and see if that spurs more buys this time around.

Despite the wealth of networks that will show boxing, pay-per-view is the gold standard for boxing as it generates the most revenue for all in this sport.  For one reason or another, boxing fans have decided to hold off on buying their fights and instead wait for the next one on television.  In a post Manny-Floyd era, the lack of star power to drive boxing PPVs must be a concern for promoters.  But, there are several boxers that could fill the void.  The question is how to build these stars.

Promoters look to curb Facebook and Periscope piracy for Canelo-Chavez fight

May 4, 2017

The Los Angeles Times reports that promoters are seeking to enforce anti-piracy efforts from this Saturday’s pay-per-view between Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.

Believing that PPV numbers have decreased due to piracy, Golden Boy Promotions and HBO are combating pirates.  HBO has hired an anti-piracy company and are looking at live streaming products such as Facebook and Periscope which are burgeoning tools for piracy.

Notably, the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight was subject to issues involving piracy.  This included people taking out their cell phones and live streaming the event from the fight.  Or, purchasing the pay-per-view or finding a pirated site and then streaming the television PPV from their phone.

Anti-Piracy companies have notified Facebook and Periscope about the issue and promoters are confident that they can curb the efforts to watch the $59.99 PPV for free.  There are also calls for distributors to take more of an active role in stopping pirated PPVs.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps piracy is not a reason for depressed boxing PPV numbers.  There has not been a boxing PPV to reach over 1 million buys since Manny-Floyd.  Most of the boxing PPVs have yielded well below 300,000 buys since Manny-Floyd.  In fact, Canelo-Miguel Cotto was the last big PPV when it drew 900,000 buys in November 2015.  Promoters hope to curb piracy but it is harder with new live streaming tools like Facebook Live and Periscope.

It would not be out of the realm of possibility that down the road promoters, rights fees holders and those with intellectual property interests might look to legal action for contributory infringement and/or vicarious liability.  But, that might be hard to prove yet the threat of action may cause others to be more active.

Could this possibly a First Amendment issue?  Maybe.  A free plug for myself as next month a law review article I authored about the live streaming of sports will be in the Marquette Sports Law Review.

Joshua-Klitschko produce ratings for Showtime and HBO

May 2, 2017

The Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight on Saturday produced big ratings for both Showtime and HBO.

The live event on Showtime drew 659,000 subscribers and 0.24 in the A18-49 demo per ShowBuzz Daily.  The pre-event on Showtime drew 308,000 subscribers.  The post-fight on Showtime drew 401,000 viewers.

The replay main event on HBO drew 738,000 subscribers and 0.22 in the A18-49 demo.  The Canelo/Chavez shoulder programming which followed the HBO showing of the fight drew 315,000 viewers and 0.11 in the A18-49 demo.

On a separate note, PBC on FS1 drew 300,000 viewers Saturday night.  The 101-minute event starting at 10:19pm ET drew 0.08 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Excellent ratings for both showings and you can see that more people watched the HBO replay.  There are more subscribers to HBO and with the afternoon showing on Showtime, some probably could not watch it live.  Of course, maybe some like Lampley, Kellerman and Jones more.  Still, Showtime produced a great event and embraced the big event feel at Wembley Stadium.  The ratings on Showtime do not surpass the Broner-Granados fight earlier this year but again, this was a mid-afternoon fight on the west coast so that may have impacted viewership.

Is Joshua the next big thing in boxing?

April 29, 2017

Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko to unify several Heavyweight belt before 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in London, England.  Joshua’s ascent to boxing superstar should help a sport in continued search of the next big star.

Saturday’s fight aired in the United States on Showtime (live) and HBO (same-day tape).  It was just the third time that both networks aired the same fight.

The Sports Business Journal recently pegged Joshua as one of the rising stars for the sport.  Certainly, sponsors have recognized Joshua.  The former 2012 gold medalist had 13 sponsors going into his fight with Klitschko.  This included Jaguar, Under Armour and Beats By Dre.

One of the big questions is whether Joshua’s popularity in the UK translates to US popularity.  Thus far, Deontay Wilder’s popularity is gaining but with fights in his home state of Alabama, there must be concern that he could not carry an event in Las Vegas let alone a PPV anywhere.

It is expected that Joshua’s popularity becomes PPV success.  Undoubtedly, 90,000 at Wembley is amazing, but his promotion and his broadcast partners will be looking toward potential PPV success in the U.S.

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