Golden Boy says GGG-Canelo drew more than 1.3M buys

September 28, 2017

Golden Boy Promotions has issued a statement in response to the report that the GGG-Canelo PPV drew 1.3 million pay-per-view buys.  It refutes the report stating that it is “north” of the reported number.

Via Dan Rafael of ESPN:

“While everyone at Golden Boy Promotions and GGG Promotions appreciate the media’s recognition that the fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin was an enormous success, the figure that is being cited by some news outlets is simply inaccurate. Not only are satellite operators and cable companies still in the process of compiling data, that number does not include online PPV sales through RingTV.com, Sony Play Station and Sling TV, which far exceeded any previous fight featuring Canelo or Golovkin. The bottom line is that we expect the final numbers to be well north of current reports, and we will make a decision on reporting those numbers when we know they are accurate.”

Payout Perspective:

From the last sentence, it’s not clear if we will ever see the final PPV buys as Golden Boy states it will “make a decision” regarding reporting the final numbers.  Still, the 1.3 million PPV buys is an overwhelming success and I would think that if the number hits 2 million PPV buys we will hear that information.

GGG-Alvarez will be in theaters nationwide

September 5, 2017

ESPN reports that the September 16th fight between GGG and Canelo Alvarez will be shown in approximately 400 movie theatres in conjunction with Fathom Events.

The event is being priced at $21 per ticket which is about half the amount that The Money Fight retailed for in theatres last month.  The event will show the entire PPV card which starts at 5pm PT and will run approximately 4 hours.  The event will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Payout Perspective:

As seems to be the custom with big combat sports events, promotions attempt to capitalize on demand by having the event shown in theatres which may mitigate the casual fans not wanting to spend $60 on the PPV but wanting to watch the fights.  While this fight may not have the same demand as last month’s Mayweather-McGregor fight, it should prove to be much more entertaining.

UFC Fight Night 114 draws 859,000 viewers, Prelims score 633,000

August 8, 2017

UFC Fight Night 114 on FS1 Saturday night drew 859,000 viewers per Nielsen .  The prelims, which preceded the main card on FS1 drew 633,000.

Despite the fact the main and prelim card had mainly up and coming fighters, the ratings were strong up against live boxing on ESPN.  The FS1 main card featured Sergio Pettis taking on Brandon Moreno.  Pettis won a decision.

The prefight show on FS1 drew 208,000 and the postfight show drew 327,000 viewers for a 60 minute recap on FS1 which immediately followed the main card.

For those wondering, UFC Fight Night 111 was a Fight Pass Only event.

Payout Perspective: 

Notably, UFC Fight Night 114 did better than Top Rank Boxing on ESPN which drew 728,000 viewers.  With the opportunity for combat sports fans to watch one of the best boxers in the sport today, Vasyl Lomachenko, more wanted to watch Pettis-Moreno.  An interesting win considering ESPN is hoping to garner more fans to the network by partnering with Golden Boy and Top Rank.

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 to air on Showtime and HBO Saturday

April 17, 2017

Promoters for heavyweight boxers Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko have come to terms to air the IBF heavyweight title fight on both Showtime and HBO.  Showtime will air the live broadcast at 1:15pm PT and HBO will rebroadcast it in prime time at 7:45pm PT.  The event takes place at Wembley Stadium in London.

Per Yahoo! Sports, each network will provide its own announcing crew for the show.  Showtime has an exclusive deal with Joshua and Klitschko has a deal with HBO.

The negotiated deal between rival networks is a rarity.  The last time the networks worked in conjunction with one another for a boxing event was the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.  The business relationship broke down after the fight and resulted in a lawsuit.

Payout Perspective:

This is a rarity and its good news for boxing fans that have only HBO or Showtime.  It also reflects the fact that there can be a working relationship between rival promoters and networks.  This has been a bone of contention which was brought up in lawsuits by Top Rank and Golden Boy against Al Haymon’s PBC.  This is evidence that it can happen.  It will be interesting to see the ratings for each network.  While Showtime gets the live airing, it is in the mid-afternoon on Saturday for the west coast while HBO does get a prime time replay albeit many might know the result.

Haymon attorneys seek close to $35K in legal costs from Golden Boy

March 21, 2017

Al Haymon’s attorneys filed its Bill of Costs with the court in the antitrust lawsuit brought by Golden Boy Boxing.  As the prevailing party at the trial court level, its entitled to its costs which is slightly under $35,000 but they may not see this amount.

Golden Boy filed a Notice of Appeal to the Federal Circuit Court as the trial court dismissed its lawsuit against Al Haymon in February.  Under Federal Rule 54(d)(1), legal costs (not attorney legal fees) should be allowed to a prevailing party. The costs include almost $30,000 in deposition costs for the lawsuit which lasted a year and a half.

Application for Costs by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

In addition to the legal costs it incurred during the lawsuit, Golden Boy might be hit with $35,000 it will need to pay Haymon.  Of course, even if there was not an appeal, Golden Boy probably would have disputed this amount.  Since it is going to be appealed, Haymon might have the right to recoup this fee plus attorney fees if it wins on appeal.  If the trial court decision is overturned, it will likely see none of this amount.

Court grants Haymon’s dismissal of Golden Boy’s antitrust lawsuit

January 26, 2017

Judge John Walter issued an order granting Al Haymon’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Golden Boy’s antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles on May 5, 2015.  The case was set to go to trial in March.

In his 25-page opinion filed on Thursday, Judge Walter determined that Golden Boy did not come forth with genuine issues of fact to support its claims that Haymon’s promotion, Premier Boxing Champions, foreclosed the market on boxers and other promotions among other antitrust violations.  Moreover, it determined that Golden Boy’s injury “was caused by conduct that was beneficial to competition in the promotion market.”

The judge noted that Haymon’s business strategy actually helped boxing with more televised matches and better pay for fighters.

The opinion noted that the tv strategy of securing deals with multiple networks implemented by PBC did not foreclose all networks.  It also pointed to the fact that Golden Boy expert’s did not provide an examination of recoupment of money of PBC’s purported strategy of “flipping” its business model from tv buys to securing license fees.

It also was not persuaded by Golden Boy’s claims of “sham” promoters that aided PBC nor the alleged “firewall” between promoters and managers. The court found no evidence that boxers were coerced into working with promoters. Moreover, the judge noted that PBC worked with other promoters.  In the latter claim, the Judge wrote that there was no antitrust injury because there was no standing.  Only boxers and governmental agencies may make the claim per the Ali Act.

In its conclusion, it noted that antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors.

Payout Perspective:

In reading the opinion, one might be concerned with the UFC antitrust lawsuit.  The court stressed the issue that antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors.  Despite the speculation that Haymon’s PBC attempted to foreclose the market on competitors, there was no evidence found by the court which conflicted with antitrust laws. The court determined that Golden Boy did not define the relevant markets and did not establish a “tie in” or “tie out” which may have been a violation of antitrust laws. Based on the opinion, it is unlikely that Golden Boy appeals this decision.

Golden Boy, et al. v. Haymon, et al. by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Golden Boy-ESPN announce TV deal

January 20, 2017

Golden Boy Promotions and ESPN have entered into an agreement to air the promotion’s fights on the sports network according to ESPN. The first of 42 fights will begin airing in March.

The events will take place on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights which will mark a return to boxing on ESPN.

Tecate will sponsor the series which will air on ESPN2 and be simulcast in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. The agreement has scheduled 18 fights in 2017 and 24 in 2018.  There is an option for a third year.

Notably, the ESPN article indicates that the exclusivity provision with ESPN and PBC was eliminated as part of the settlement with Top Rank Boxing’s antitrust lawsuit last year. Golden Boy’s lawsuit against Al Haymon continues with a pending motion for summary judgment yet to be decided.  The trial is set for March, the week prior to the debut of Golden Boy on ESPN.

Payout Perspective:

This is a good sign for boxing with increased exposure for Golden Boy’s stable of fighters.  It also brings into the question of the whether Premier Boxing Champions will return to ESPN this year.  The deal will rely on sponsors than a license fee and we can see Tecate as a presenting sponsor with others to help fund the series.

Haymon-Golden Boy await judge ruling on MSJ

January 12, 2017

The Al Haymon-Golden Boy antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles is set for trial on March 14, 2017 if the court does not grant the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

For a good refresher on what this case is about and the gist of the motion, you can read Paul Gift’s synopsis last month. We take a deeper dive in the legal issues of the motion below.

An oral argument for the motion was taken off calendar (i.e., cancelled) by the court this past November 28th.  As of this date, there has been no ruling issued by the trial court.  Realistically, there is no timeline for the court to render a ruling on the motion except for the fact that there would likely be an opinion prior to trial documents needing to be filed with the court.

Haymon’s Motion for Summary Judgment

Haymon’s attorneys, and the attorneys for his entities that were also sued in this litigation argue that Golden Boy failed to establish a triable issue of fact of its attempted monopolization.  It essentially argues that there is no evidence of specific intent for a monopoly, Golden Boy failed to identify any anticompetitive or predatory conduct and Golden Boy misconstrues the concept of antitrust injury.

One of the claims set forth by GBP is that Al Haymon should be held individually liable for violation of the antitrust laws.  Haymon attorneys assert that Haymon could not be liable of antitrust injury because individual liability requires “inherently wrongful” conduct, a per se violation.  Haymon argues that attempted monopolization is not properly evaluated as a per se antitrust violation.

In an antitrust case, there are two ways a court looks at whether there is a violation of the antitrust laws.  The first is a “per se” violation and the second is the “rule of reason.”  Per se relates to conduct that is manifestly anticompetitive with limited potential for procompetitive benefit.  The rule of reason is the presumptive or default standard and the general standard it examines whether the procompetitive benefits outweigh the anticompetitive effect.

“Inherent conduct” is equated to a “per se” violation by Haymon.  In its moving papers, they state that courts have regularly dismissed claims against corporate officers in cases dealing with conduct that is permitted or even encouraged by the antitrust laws.  Here, the argument is that Haymon and his entities did not do anything wrong.

It also argues an “even if” scenario providing the hypothetical that if a court were to analyze the tying claim as a “per se” claim it would fail on the merits.  It first argues that there is no tie in the first place.  Haymon points out the similar Top Rank lawsuit in citing that Top Rank failed to prove as a matter of law that the two distinct services of promotion and managing were tied together.  The clause in the contract that is questioned is the provision that requires consent to enter into contracts.  However, Haymon’s attorneys point to the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan fight in May 2016 as an example of interpromotional fight making.  Also, the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao case is another example which reflected the opportunity for a contracted Haymon fighter to work with another promoter.  Thus, the examples show that the contracts do not foreclose other promoters.

Haymon argues that the market described by GBP are artificial and are “illogical, divorced from the reality of the boxing industry, and fail to satisfy GBP’s burden to establish coherent markets in which the Defendants could possibly have market power.”  It states that “Championship-Caliber Boxers,” the market described by GBP in its lawsuit is not a recognized industry term.  Haymon attorneys identify the fact that the term was interpreted differently by multiple people within the boxing industry.  They also argue that GBP has not shown that there are barriers to entry in the markets for which they define.

Golden Boy Theory of Antitrust Injury

As you might recall Golden Boy brought a lawsuit against Al Haymon and his entities illegal tying of its managerial and promotional services.

As we wrote:

The lawsuit claims that Haymon, et. al have created a “tying” relationship in violation of antitrust laws.  This is done through agreements affecting to separate relevant markets.  The first market is for management of Championship-Caliber Boxers and the market for promoters.  As described in the Complaint, the management market is the “tying” market whereas the promotion market is the “tied” market.  Essentially, the fact that Haymon manages so many fighters it affects the promotions market since he has exercised control over the direction of each fighters’ career.

Tying under Section 1 of the Sherman Act must show:

  • There is evidence of a tie;
  • There is evidence “of coercion” of purchasers to buy products or services;
  • There is evidence of market power in a properly defined market.

Golden Boy opposes the motion on the grounds that Al Haymon is personally liable for antitrust injury.  It suggests that the standard for individual antitrust liability is met when an officer knowingly approves to each element of a claim whether or not the claim involves “inherently wrong” conduct.  It also states that it has ample evidence to support their tying claim as Haymon tied their management services to the rejection of competitors’ promotion services in favor of their own.  Also, it rebuts the assertion by Haymon that it has fabricated the relevant market definition.  It also contends that there are “significant barriers to entry” in the relevant markets.  Finally, it states that the Haymon acted as promotes as well as managers.

GBP claims that issues of fact exist as it relates to the evidence of exclusionary contracts which “tie out” others.  It also claims that its expert’s testimony provides ample evidence of the markets in the industry and that they are controlled by Haymon.

In its opposition to the motion for summary judgment, GBP argues that Haymon’s model of paying supracompetitive sums is not a “rational business model, unless there is to be a payoff.”  The “payoff” as concluded by GBP is the monopoly of the boxing promotion business, controlling the television market for boxing and “invoking supracompetitive pricing once dominance is obtained.”

The opposition points to “draconian exclusionary terms” in contracts which give Haymon Sports control over all aspects of the boxer’s career and a veto right over all boxing related contracts.  In its pleadings, Haymon does admit that a “standard management agreement gives it the right to approve the boxer’s selection of promoter, it has never exercised this right to require or coerce its boxers to use or not use a particular promoter.”  This seems to negate, but confirm terms within the Haymon boxing management contract that reflects control over the boxer’s selection of promoter.

GBP also argues that Haymon has a tying arrangement in which one must refrain from accepting another product.  Here, GBP contend that Haymon tied his management services to the rejection of competitors’ promotion services.  They suggest that fighters under contract with Haymon know that they cannot work with other promoters outside of Haymon.  GBP indicates that this is a triable issue of fact that would

Payout Perspective:

The standard on a motion for summary judgment is to weigh all of the pleadings and facts within and weigh them in the “light most favorable to the non-moving party (in this case GBP).”  If the court determines that there are no genuine issues of material fact, it will grant a dismissal as a matter of law.  However, a court will deny a motion for summary judgment if there are pending issues of fact.

Whether or not Haymon could be individually liable will be an issue the court will need to determine based on the facts provided and the legal arguments made by the parties.  While Haymon’s attorneys argue that personal liability cannot be assessed in these matters, Golden Boy argues that case law supports the contention that Haymon is personally liable.  As for the business model, the fighter contracts will be an issue for the court to consider as well as GBP’s expert testimony which addresses the relevant markets.

Once a decision is rendered, MMA Payout will let you know

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