September 14, 2013
Want to raise passion among combat sport fans? Advise the world the death of a sport.
This happened with ESPN Pardon The Interruption recently as Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, the Stadler and Waldorf of the network talking heads decried that boxing was dead. Certainly, a part of this proclamation was to ignite a fire. It certainly drew the ire of ESPN’s own boxing writer Dan Rafael. On Friday, the two pondered whether a Mayweather win or a Canelo win would be good for the sport.
The two questioned that if Canelo won it would provide an immediate rematch with Mayweather which would regain boxing’s momentum as more people would get to know Canelo (and get behind the 23 year old) for an inevitable Cinco de Mayo redux. A Mayweather win would mean that the 36 year old would continue the Money train and handpick another fighter for the third of six fights on his Showtime contract. Its a sign of dominance of a sport that is rarely seen.
Personally, I like Kornheiser and Wilbon despite not agreeing with everything they might opine. Certainly, they aren’t fans of MMA, but I respect their opinions with the exception of Wilbon’s rudderless following of NBA protocol during its season.
But the PTI guys suggest that the sport is dead because its their belief that “The One” is just that – the one. There are no longer multiple big fights in a year. There is just a singular event that gets the fight fans revved up for a night. Moreover, there aren’t too many household names in boxing. Perhaps the introduction of a new name like Canelo will get more fans to take notice.
But, Kornheiser and Wilbon may be wrong. According to a survey in May, boxing is still popular among 30-44 year olds as well as the Spanish/Hispanic demographic. This is due to the fact that the older generation grew up with boxing on free television. As for the Spanish/Hispanic demographic, boxing stars of that ethnicity are more prevalent. Juan Manuel Marquez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. are prime examples. One need only think of Chavez, Jr and the Argentine Sergio Martinez fight from last year to recognize the nationalistic pride for country within the sport.
This year, the undercard of “The One” will feature Danny Garcia versus another Argentine Lucas Matthysse in a matchup that may have fight fans in their seats a little earlier than normal.
But if you are thinking about reasons why the sport is dying you may look to issues such a pay. While many boxers are compensated better than many MMA fighters, the problem of pay is an issue not just limited to MMA. Thus, fixes within the sport must be addressed.
The issue of corruption has always been a theme simmering under the surface of the sport. The Muhammad Ali Act was put into place to protect fighters. However, few fighters have taken advantage of the protections of the act and no fighters have prevailed in a lawsuit under the Act. The expense of litigation is one of the main factors that fighters do not utilize the Act. A recent law article in the Sports Lawyers Journal proposed that the Act be modified to allow the fighters to arbitrate their issues with promoters which would be less expensive and potentially promote more fighters to speak up if they feel wronged.
Then, there are the issues of performance enhancing drugs, the alphabet soup of sanctioning bodies and the Golden Boy-Top Rank feud which will refuse to put together fights. There’s a lot to clean up. But, no sport is perfect. Of course, no one is suggesting other sports are dead.
Boxing is not dead. But, will most of us be able to see it should be the question. Last year, it returned to network television on both NBC and CBS and did well ratings-wise. NBC Sports Network’s quarterly showings of boxing events have had decent showings as well. On the other hand, FS1’s Golden Boy offerings have not done well in the ratings although it may be too soon to tell. The recent signing of boxers by Showtime has developed a rivalry with HBO. The issue for consumers is whether its worth spending money on the premium channels to watch the fights the networks provide. If you are not fans of “Homeland” or “Boardwalk Empire”, would you really want to spend an extra $30 on your cable bill just to see boxing?
Saturday’s PPV event will remind the sporting world that boxing is a spectacle and if more people were exposed to its fighters, it might regain the recognition it once had.
September 9, 2013
The Sports Business Journal (subscription only) reports on the record breaking night for boxing this Saturday night. Aside from Floyd Mayweather’s astronomical guaranteed purse and gate, the article details the money invested and anticipated from the event.
CBS, Showtime and other television distributors will spend between $80 to $100 million in promotional value for the fight which exceeds previous spending on Golden Boy fights by 40 percent. This likely includes the multi-city press tour for Mayweather-Canelo. It also intended to hold a mini-press tour for the undercard fight between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse.
Sponsorship revenue totals more than $2 million and “will shift $15 million to $20 million of their media spending to promote the PPV.”
Corona, Valvoline and AT&T are three of the seven major sponsors involved in promoting the fight. Corona will have its largest retail activation in sports with displays in 15,000 retail outlets across 32 states. Corona is devoting $6 million worth of on-air media during sports programming on multiple networks. Corona and AT&T have shot its own commercial spots promoting the fight.
Valvoline will offer $35 rebates to fans that purchase the PPV and 5 quarts of its motor oil. O’Reilly Auto Parts is the presenting sponsor for the showing of the fight in theaters and will conduct its own sweepstakes promotion. As a side note, has anyone noticed that O’Reilly is now sponsoring WWE programming. At what point does it venture into the UFC?
CBS Sports Network will also be utilized during fight week airing the press conference, weigh-ins and post-fight show.
In addition, CBS will devote $15-$20 million of spots during sporting events and in its prime time. It will also air spots during the much anticipated college football game between Alabama and Texas A&M this Saturday in hopes of grabbing last minute buys.
Its interesting that with all of the promotion, CBS didn’t decide to air the Mayweather-Canelo All Access series on the network. Instead, the series has been available online. With all of the investment into the promotion of this fight, it may break the all-time mark for PPV revenue. However, there is some question that it surpasses the mark for PPV buys. With a steep price tag of $75 HD and other ways to watch (closed circuit, theatres and bars), it may not reach the 2.4 million PPV buys set by Mayweather-De La Hoya.
September 4, 2013
Floyd “Money” Mayweather is guaranteed $41.5 million in his upcoming fight with Canelo Alvarez. Mayweather’s take and some other hefty financial terms were revealed regarding the September 14th event entitled, “The One”.
According to Forbes, the Mayweather guaranteed payday is even before any of the PPV cut which is to approximate a total of $140 million if the Golden Boy prediction of 2 million PPV buys is correct. Also, Mayweather will receive a portion of the closed circuit and movie theatre showings. 500 theatres will carry the Mayweather-Canelo fight which is 5 times as many as the previous high. In a teleconference held today, Mayweather rep Leonard Ellerbee stated that almost all tickets for the closed circuit showings in Vegas are sold out. There are approximately 25,000 seats at $100 per ticket.
The gate for Canelo-Mayweather will have the largest gate in combat sports history as it will come in at $19,905,000 according to the Sports Business Daily (subscription required). SBD also indicates that sponsors will be paying rights fees of $2 million. Seven sponsors have signed up including AT&T, Corona and Valvoline.
The guaranteed payday as well as the multiple revenue streams shows Mayweather’s business acumen. While Showtime and Golden Boy have spent a lot of money to promote the fight including a multi-city press tour, huge promotional and marketing campaigns and 360 shoulder programming, it appears that based on the gate and closed circuit sales, a lot of fans are excited about this fight. We will see if the PPV buys will break a record.
On a side note, ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted Dana White about whether a UFC fighter would ever make $41.5 million. Of course, White tweeted back.
Question for my man @danawhite: Could a UFC fighter ever earn the guaranteed $41.5 million that Floyd Mayweather will earn next week?
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) September 5, 2013
@danrafaelespn we have been here for 13 years started making $ in 2007 continue to grow in the US and globally so I would have to say yes.
— Dana White (@danawhite) September 5, 2013
@danrafaelespn I love to see boxing kill it like this. I hope they break the PPV record too. It shows how many people will Buy right fight
— Dana White (@danawhite) September 5, 2013
August 21, 2013
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at last Saturday’s Fox Sports 1 taking place at the TD Garden in Boston.
Sonnen subs Shogun
Chalk another one up for the bad guy. Chael Sonnen looked good. Or, Shogun Rua looked bad. Sonnen scored a first round guillotine choke of the former UFC champ. After the fight, he proceeded with a pro wrestling promo in which he challenged “middle age comedian” Joe Rogan and then Wanderlei Silva.
Good win for Sonnen and calling out Silva means another entertaining promotion and fight down the road. Does that mean that Sonnen has given up on a title run? Calling out the “Axe Murderer” isn’t climbing the ladder. But, Sonnen was soundly defeated by Jon Jones this year and a run at Middleweight seems unlikely with Anderson Silva in the way. Even if Sonnen sticks to entertaining fights, he serves a purpose for the company.
Browne KOs Overeem
Deja Vu all over again. Alistair Overeem looked impressive in the first round and then proceeded to stand in front of his opponent which was his eventual demise. Despite Overeem’s gaffe, Browne showed great resilience to come back to win as it looked like the “Demolition Man” was going to stop him.
For Browne, its another step up the ladder in the Heavyweight division. Could he be in the waiting room for a title shot in 2014 or does he need several more fights to prove he’s championship caliber. Stipe Miocic, the winner of Barnett-Mir, Roy Nelson are all good possibilities for Browne.
For Overeem, who knows what happens next. Its likely he gets another shot in the UFC but is he past his prime? The loser of Barnett-Mir or Mark Hunt could be an interesting matchup for him.
Attendance and gate
MMA Junkie reports attendance for UFC Fight Night 26 was 12,539 for a gate of $1.53 million. On Tuesday of fight week, 10,600 tickets had been sold. The number of comps have yet to be released so we may have had a nice last minute purchase of tickets.
The UFC’s last visit to Boston drew 14,168 fans for a total gate of $2.8 million. You may recall that event featured BJ Penn’s rematch with Frankie Edgar and James Toney succumbing to Randy Couture.
Bonuses were the standard $50,000 but the UFC gave an extra KO and submission bonus:
Fight of the Night: Michael McDonald-Brad Pickett
Submission of the Night: Michael McDonald, Chael Sonnen
KO of the Night: Matt Brown, Travis Browne
The story of Saturday’s event had to do with the ratings it pulled for the main card on Fox Sports 1. New channel, new network and the UFC pulled a 1.78M viewer average from 8:00-10:45 p.m. according to The Wrestling Observer. John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal tweeted that the 8:00-11:00 p.m. pulled a 1.7M viewer average which accounts for the last quarter hour.
The ratings outdid all others for the prime time spot in the 18-49 demo. Only Gymnastics (another sport) on NBC had more overall viewers for the time period.
The ratings are surprising considering that there was concern that subscribers would not know where the channel was and/or whether it was on their current tier of programming.
It also did much better than the UFC’s stint on FX.
Via Television By Numbers:
FOX Sports 1’s first ever primetime event, UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SHOGUN VS. SONNEN, averaged a 1.38 and beat the average of the eight UFC on FX Fight Nights by +49% in rating (1.38 vs. 0.93) and +38% in viewership (1.78 million vs. 1.29 million). FOX Sports 1’s first UFC FIGHT NIGHT also beat seven of those eight FX Fight Nights individually. Among younger demographics, last night’s FOX Sports 1 card easily beat the average of FX’s primetime UFC cards by +50% in viewership among Men 18-49 (994K vs. 663K) and +44% higher among Men 18-34 (492K vs. 342K).
The usual sponsors were in the octagon for the event: TapouT Corn Nuts, Dodge, Toyo Tires, MetroPCS, UltimatePoker.com,
Modell’s Sporting Goods, EA Sports UFC game was also advertised in the Octagon.
One notable sponsorship from Saturday was that Travis Browne was sponsored by Salt Lake City Personal Injury Attorney 1Law.
Although its his hometown, Dana White encountered hurdles to putting on the event. First, there was a licensing issue which was rectified.
Then, the Culinary Union attempted to put a halt to the event in Boston by requesting that the Massachusetts Athletic Commission prohibit Chael Sonnen from fighting due to his prior real estate fraud conviction.
There was also an attempt to ban fans under 18 years of age from attending the event. In fact, an ordinance was passed after today banning minors from attending an MMA event without an adult.
Then, there is what is becoming the usual Deadspin piece taking a shot at the company.
Odds and ends
The new camera angles and slow mo replays were interesting although gratuitous at times.
Stephen Siler looked impressive in his quick work on the prelims.
Conor McGregor-Max Holloway prelim received main card treatment as Dana White indicated via twitter that he would show the walkouts for both. This was mainly to show the response Boston gave McGregor.
Oscar de la Hoya made an appearance during the broadcast to promote Golden Boy’s Monday night boxing event. The working relationship between Golden Boy and the UFC can only help with crossover viewership.
More disappointing night: Uriah Hall, Joe Lauzon or Alistair Overeem.
Overall, a great start for the network and a nice debut for the UFC. As ratings start to trickle in for FS1, we are learning that the UFC may be an important part of the new network. Certainly, Fox is happy with the early returns and if the UFC maintains a healthy rating for its live events, it will be the anchor programming for the channel.
July 18, 2013
Golden Boy Promotions’ Richard Schaefer announced during a conference call that the Canelo Alvarez-Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fight will set a new gate record as it will garner a reported $19,500,000 on September 14th. It was also announced Wednesday that Danny Garcia versus Lucas Matthyse will be on the undercard of the Alvarez-Mayweather fight.
The reported gate for Alvarez-Mayweather will surpass the old record of $18,419,200 from the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather fight in 2007. Recorded attendance for that Cinco de Mayo bout was 15,432.
The Garcia-Matthyse undercard could have been set as its own main event with the quality of the two boxers. In fact, the fight will have its own press tour hitting New York, Puerto Rico and Los Angeles.
The announcements today ensure that September 14th will be one of the highest grossing boxing events ever. The gate is of no surprise considering the price points for tickets. But, the addition of such a quality undercard fight as Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthyse (a potential future opponent for Mayweather) stacks the deck that people will pay the $75 (HD) PPV price to watch. Usually, fans buy a boxing PPV for just the main event. Here, fans will get two fights that should be competitive. Will it surpass the 2.4 million PPVs buys of De La Hoya-Mayweather?
July 3, 2013
BoxingScene.com reports that the PPV price point for the Floyd Maywether Jr. v. Canelo Alvarez fight set for September 14, 2013 will be set at $75 for HD and $60 for SD. This is a $5 price increase from Maywether’s May fight against Roberto Guerrero.
Its being billed as the biggest fight in years and the promotional tour has been massive in the type of spectator draws its receiving and the amount spent on the tour; an estimated $1 million for the hype alone. It should not be a surprise that the PPV price point would be raised as well.
Richard Schaefer told BoxingScene.com that he had heard that the fact its such a big fight a $100 PPV price tag was not out of the question.
We saw disappointing PPV buys (at least rumored but never confirmed by Showtime) from the Mayweather-Guerrero fight and this year’s Wrestlemania. The common thread was that both were priced at $70 (for HD). Will May-Canelo suffer the same concern? Unlikely. As many have pointed out, Showtime/Golden Boy will still do well even though it may lose a portion of the audience wanting to buy the event. One would think that the higher PPV price may see an increase in closed circuit sales and bars/clubs showing the fight. But this rationale is predicated on the monumental build, marketing and promotions going into this event.
July 1, 2013
Fox Latino News reports that Showtime Networks may still be looking for an MMA organization to put on its network. Showtime Sports’ lead Stephen Espinoza indicated that they may still be interested in MMA at a press tour stop for the Maywether-Alvarez fight.
Espinoza indicated that there might be too much MMA on telelvision at the point but Showtime was still investigating whether there is a market for more..
Espinoza hinted at the idea that the all-women’s MMA organization, Invicta FC was a possibility to air on its network. But its pure conjecture at this point.
Would an MMA organization on Showtime benefit the network? Most organizations (excluding the UFC and Bellator) would certainly benefit from exposure on Showtime. Espinoza’s concern that there may be too much MMA programming on television is valid. But, if he could do for MMA what he’s been able to do for its boxing programming, Showtime may be able to bolster another sports property on the Showtime network. One issue may be whether Showtime would want to invest its resources into MMA programming. Next, how much control would Showtime have in producing the product. Showtime ran into this issue when Dana White took over Strikeforce events.
June 28, 2013
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Canelo Alvarez fight set for September 14th has sold out. All seats for the fight sold out in less than 24 hours and has broken the record for all-time live gate for boxing.
The gate, which may draw close to $19 million depending on the number of comps will surpass the old record held by Mayweather and Oscar de la Hoya. Tickets ranged from $350 to $2,000 per seat for the fight which will be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The hype tour has started and Golden Boy and Showtime is going all out for this event. The 11 city promotional tour will cost over $1 million. Despite the lofty costs, Golden Boy/Showtime it will pay off. One need only look to the quick sellout for evidence of this. There’s no indication how many tickets hotels/casinos bought but the bottom line is that the event sold out in less than a day which was the likely hope/strategy in promoting the fight.
June 25, 2013
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that Saturday night’s Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner fight scored 1.3 million viewers on Showtime. The ratings reflect an uptick in ratings for Showtime and a budding star in Broner.
It was a free preview weekend for Showtime although the 1.3 million ratings is premised upon the number of Showtime subscribers. Currently, Showtime has somewhere north of 18 million subscribers.
Paulie-Broner was the second highest ranked fight on Showtime with only the Miguel Cotto-Austin Trout fight from December scoring higher. In fact four of the highest rated boxing events have occurred in the past 10 months.
UPDATE: As pointed out below, the average for the fight was 890K viewers with the peak at 1.3M.
Broner’s HBO fight with Gavin Rees in February earned 1.4 million viewers making “The Problem Child” a cable ratings success as his two fights have been the highest rated this year. The ratings reflect Showtime’s surge in its boxing portfolio. With Canelo-Mayweather picking up steam for September which will undoubtedly include a 360 series and other sorts of promotion hype, boxing is doing well for the network. With Broner, Showtime may have found the successor to Mayweather.
June 24, 2013
The Sports Business Journal reports that Corona is affixing faces of familiar fighters on lines of bottles starting in mid-August. The boxers are Miguel Cotto, Bernard Hopkins, Peter Quillin, Erik Morales, Abner Mares and Danny Garcia.
The fighters will be included in 18-packs in 32 states distributed primarily to Hispanic accounts. The promotion starting in August will run through October. Three commemorative bottles will be included in the 18 packs.
According to the SBJ (subscription required), this will be the first time that Corona will build a retail promotion around boxing. In a way, Corona’s promotion concedes the fact that Tecate has been successful with its in-store retail promotions (i.e., $25 rebate coupon for certain Pacquiao fights if fans bought Tecate can products).
Corona distributor Crown Imports signed on as a Golden Boy Promotions sponsor and its the company’s first major in-store promotion. Golden Boy sees the opportunity to activate in 50 states which gives it a bigger reach than Tecate’s previous in-store promotions which were narrowly targeted.
While the promotion seeks to target the Hispanic market with a direct emphasis on Mexican Independence Day in September, the bottles feature two Mexicans (Morales, Mares), two Puerto Ricans (Cotto, Carcia) and two African Americans (BHop, Quillin).
The promotion not only features the fighters but taps into the cultural pride. Notably, it hopes to capitalize on a fight featuring Miguel Cotto in mid-September. What about that other fight happening on September 14th between Canelo Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather? While it would have made the most sense, there were obstacles from having the two featured on bottles. First, at 22 years of age, Canelo Alvarez is too young to appear in beer ads per U.S. beer industry rules. Mayweather declined to appear on the bottles.
While a survey reveals Corona is the preferred imported beer among Hispanics in the U.S., we will see if this promotion aids Golden Boy’s upcoming fights. Moreover, will the promotion see a return on the costs expended for it.