The top televised boxing cards from April 2013-2014

May 2, 2014

The Sports Business Journal recently put out its “Fight Issue” which gave a rundown on the most-watched boxing matches from April 2013 to April 2014.

The top 6 according to the list compiled by SBJ:

  1. October 5, 2013 – Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez – HBO – 1.55M
  2. September 28, 2013 – Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. vs. Bryan Vera I – HBO – 1.42M
  3. November 2, 2013 – Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens – HBO – 1.41M
  4. March 1, 2014 – Adonis Stevenson vs. Tony Bellew – HBO – 1.4M
  5. June 22, 2014 – Adrien Broner vs. Paulie Malignaggi – SHO – 1.28M
  6. December 14, 2014 – Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana – SHO – 1.28M

Notably, the bulk of fights scoring high on the list were from HBO with only 3 Showtime events hitting the top 20.  NBC had one appearance with the Steve Cunningham-Tyson Fury fight on April 20, 2013 delivering 1.2M viewers for the duration of the broadcast.

Of the top 20, 19 of the events hit at least 1 million viewers for the main event of the card.

Payout Perspective:

Remember when we said Boxing was dead?  It is not.  In fact, the competition between Golden Boy/Showtime and HBO/Top Rank has helped fight fans see some competitive fights and more of them.   The one drawback for economic-conscious fans is that there are more PPVs in addition to the amount one would pay for the premium channels of HBO and Showtime.

Boxing beefing up on PPVs in 2014

April 13, 2014

Most MMA fans realize the strain that pay per views have on the wallet.  Boxing is starting to load up on them too as more of the bigger Golden Boy and Top Rank fights are heading to PPV instead of its respective premium networks.

Boxing PPVs are no longer limited to Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.  It was announced today that Canelo Alvarez will fight Erislandy Lara on July 12th on Showtime PPV.  This will be the second PPV of the year for Alvarez as Golden Boy will hope to get at least 3 PPV fights from the Mexican star.

In addition to Alvarez-Lara, the big event upcoming for Showtime/Golden Boy is May 3rd’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana.

Last night, HBO/Top Rank featured its biggest fight in some time with Manny Pacquiao avenging his June 2012 loss to Timothy Bradley.  Its next big PPV fight will be Sergio Martinez taking on Miguel Cotto on June 7th.  The broadcast also hinted that Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. will face Gennady Golovkin later this year in what should be a PPV affair.  Although not on PPV, Juan Manuel Marquez facing Mike Alvarado is PPV quality but will be on HBO (opposite the Bellator PPV) May 17th.

Payout Perspective:

Are boxing fans willing to spend $70-$75 on these fights?  If you count Saturday’s PPV, and you spend money on all of the boxing PPVs currently announced by the big fight promotions, you would be out $285 (assuming Mayweather’s PPV is $75) and it will only be July.  Certainly there are intriguing matchups.  However, one of the criticisms that came up during the Pacquiao PPV was the lack of worthwhile undercard fights.  Last night we saw 4 undercard fights go the distance which pushed the main event start after midnight for those on the east coast.  Golden Boy has done a better job of putting on interesting undercard matchups.  The UFC does provide better undercard fights as compared to boxing PPVs.  But with the addition of more boxing PPVs, are fans of both MMA and boxing willing to spend the extra money on boxing PPVs.

We assume boxing fans out there have HBO or Showtime or both to take advantage of its fight content as well as its fights.  Certainly boxing fans still get their money’s worth when it comes to fights on the premium networks (e.g., Maidana-Broner on Showtime last December and JMM-Alvarado coming up on HBO).  There have not been any announcements for the second half of the year but we can expect at least 4 or 5 more PPVs announced (Mayweather in September, Pacquiao sometime late 2014, JCC-GGG, Canelo late 2014 and perhaps a Broner fight).  Can boxing fans keep spending their money on these PPVs?

U.S. Supreme Court denies review of Mayweather copyright case

April 4, 2014

This past week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of a copyright infringement lawsuit from a musician that claimed that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. used a version of his song without his permission at Wrestlemania 24.

By denying musician Anthony Dash’s request for the Court to review his claims, it upholds a ruling that the musician was not able to prove he suffered monetary losses when Mayweather used a version of his song for his entrance music at Wrestlemania 24 in 2008.

The background facts of this case are interesting as Mayweather signed on to do a match at the WWE’s biggest event of the year.  It’s fairly common for celebrity guests to make appearances at this event. The contract Mayweather signed with the WWE did not include specifics on what entrance music Mayweather would use.  The WWE had communicated to Mayweather that it had selected a 50 Cent song for his entrance. But, the night before the event Mayweather’s manager told the WWE he would enter using another song and represented to the WWE that they had rights to it and granted the WWE the right to use it during his appearance.  The entrance music played for 3 minutes as Mayweather came in for his match against The Big Show.

Mayweather used the entrance music at one more WWE event.

Dash claimed that the entrance music played by Mayweather contained his copyrighted instrumental music over lyrics.  While he claimed that in 2005 he created the instrumental of the song, he did not file a federal copyright for it until 2009.

The court held that Dash could not prove actual and profit damages claims stemming from the use of his work for entrance music.  Specifically, the court was not impressed with the report produced by Dash’s expert claiming that he was entitled to $1,019,226 in actual and profit damages for the infringement at Wrestlemania alone.

(H/t: Law360.c0m)

Payout Take:  The crux of the issue centered on whether the musician could prove damages as a result of the infringement.  The report provided by his side appears overblown by just looking at the amount claimed.  I am half-joking when I write that the U.S. Supreme Court timed the issuance of this denial of review during “Wrestlemania Week.”  The underlying facts of the case are amusing considering the change in entrance music and the subsequent request for over $1 million for 3 minutes of playing a song of a relative unknown musician. With the U.S. Supreme Court finding in his favor, The Money Team gets another win.

Canelo and Garcia produce for Showtime-Golden Boy

March 19, 2014

Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions should be happy with the past two weeks as its promotion has produced good numbers on PPV and on Showtime.

Canelo Alvarez’s first time headlining a boxing PPV has produced “well over 350,000 buys” according to Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions.  Alvarez stopped Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round of their fight March 8th.  The 350,000 buys is a good number if you consider the Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez fight last October produced 375,000 PPV buys.

This past Saturday night Showtime showed the replay of the Alvarez-Angulo fight as a lead-in to Danny Garcia versus Mauricio Herrera.  The show peaked at 1.1 million viewers and averaged 972,000 viewers of its Showtime subscribers.  The event was a 26% raise in viewership from Garcia’s last appearance on Showtime when he defeated Zab Judah in April 2013.

(H/t:  Bad Left Hook and ESPN)

Payout Perspective:

According to ESPN, the PPV generated at least $20 million.  This would be roughly based on the number of buys (350K) multiplied by $54.95, the HD price point for the fight.  The PPV buys are a good indicator that Alvarez has bounced back from his loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in September and it did nothing to diminish his image as the most popular active boxer in Mexico.  At only 23 years old, he has a bright future ahead of him.

As for the Garcia fight, a part of the rating might be attributed to those wanting to see the Alvarez fight.  But, Garcia, who was also on the Mayweather undercard, is beginning to garner a following which may equate to a bump in viewership since his last time on the network.  The Showtime fight also competed with UFC 171 Saturday night.  So, despite the average viewership being below 1 million, it still did well for a card with Garcia as the feature.

Mayweather chooses Maidana over Khan for May 3rd

February 25, 2014

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will fight Marcos Maidana on May 3rd in Las Vegas per a tweet sent out by Mayweather on his birthday.  It will be Mayweather’s third fight for Showtime Boxing.

Mayweather engaged with his twitter followers by asking them to go to his web site to vote for who he should fight.

 

According to this Kevin Iole story (via Lockerdome), Khan won the unofficial fan vote.

Payout Perspective:

The “Cinco de Mayo weekend” fight has become tradition for Mayweather.  Maidana as his opponent is somewhat surprising as most had Amir Khan as the frontrunner for the shot.  Khan would have drawn a lot of British fans as he is from the United Kingdom. He also has argued that he would have brought in a lot of interest from the Middle East as Khan is of Pakistani descent.  Yet, Mayweather chose Maidana which is likely due in part to his upset victory over Adrien Broner.  Maidana, who is from Argentina, made a strong case for himself as he knocked Broner down twice and his style could bring a much more fan friendly, exciting fight than Khan.

Mayweather is master of social media strategy.  He implemented the use of his followers to engage with him on twitter as to his next fight and created traffic for his own web site.  Regardless of the opponents he listed on the poll, the goal of creating traffic appears to have worked.

Canelo Alvarez PPV also in movie theaters

February 9, 2014

Showtime and Golden Boy’s first PPV event on March 8th with Canelo Alvarez as its featured fighter can also be seen in select movie theaters.

It was announced that Golden Boy would be teaming up with Fathom Events to show Alvarez as he has his first fight since his loss to Floyd Mayweather as he will face Alfredo Angulo.

Fathom Events has taken part in collaborating on bringing PPV events to movie theaters including several boxing and UFC events.

canelo poster

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting move and one might see this as Golden Boy pushing Alvarez as the next big PPV star.  Presumably, the reason for watching this fight in theaters is the reluctance to pay $64.95 on Canelo.  While he was made vastly popular during the Mayweather promotion, he lost.  So, there still might be some apprehension by some fans.  We will see if having the fight in movie theaters will have an effect on overall PPV buys.

Boxing and MMA organizations support head trauma study

February 5, 2014

Competing combat sports organizations officially announced Tuesday its collaboration to contribute to an ongoing medical study to address and identify early stage signs of brain injury for those exposed to head trauma.

The UFC, Bellator, Glory, Golden Boy and Top Rank all expressed its support for the study at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.  Senators Harry Reid and John McCain showed their support for the study at the announcement held in Washington D.C.

Via Cleveland Clinic press release:

The study, which launched in April 2011, is focused on developing methods to detect the earliest and most subtle signs of brain injury in those exposed to head trauma, as well as determining which individuals may be more likely to develop chronic neurological disorders. While it is still in the early stages, researchers are confident the findings will benefit the safety and health of professional fighters. This information could also be applied to other athletes, members of the military and civilians who may experience head trauma.

According to MMA Fighting, most of the 450 fighters in the study are MMA fighters.  The study stands out as it monitors active fighters.  The study is partly funded by the Defense Department in hopes of using the findings for other brain injuries related to military duty.

Payout Perspective:

You may recall it was Senator McCain that had described MMA as human cockfighting.  Obviously, he’s now in the corner of the MMA here and supports this study.  The collaboration of all of these organizations reflects the importance of the issue and from public relations it shows that each of the organizations is concerned with its fighters.

The other way to see this is as a preventative measure from litigation.  I recently watched the Frontline documentary, “League of Denial” and the information was enlightening and shocking. One might be able to draw a comparison between the types of head trauma a football player receives versus that of a fighter without any headgear.

One thing going for this study is that it says it is tracking active fighters in hopes of spotting early signs of head trauma.  What the researchers to with this information and how it is utilized by each organization will be interesting to see.  Without being cynical, any study to understand head trauma in sports is a good thing and hopefully the research is put to good use.

HBO wins head to head versus Showtime

January 29, 2014

HBO Boxing almost doubled the television ratings of Showtime Boxing in a head to head face off on Saturday night.  Both boxing events ran up against each other and a portion of UFC on Fox 10.

HBO’s Boxing After Dark series featured Mikey Garcia taking on Juan Carlos Burgos taken by Garcia.  The broadcast scored an average of 777,000 viewers from its HBO subscriber base.  Showtime Boxing featured Lamont Peterson vs. Dierry Jean which averaged just 390,000 viewers from its Showtime subscribers.  Peterson took the fight in the Showtime main event.

(H/t:  Boxing Scene via Neilsen Media Research)

Payout Perspective:

HBO has more subscribers than Showtime so we might just dismiss the comparison.  Yet, it’s an interesting look at a rare head-to-head between boxing programming on the two premium channels.  Admittedly, these two shows are for boxing fans as the main events are not mainstream names that would move the dial for the casual viewer.  It does show that boxing is becoming more prevalent on television which should be good for fight fans.

Boxing set for big PPV year

January 20, 2014

Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reports that boxing is set for one of its biggest years on PPV in 2014.  The question is whether fight fans will be willing to pay for all of the fights that will occur on PPV this year.

Canelo Alvarez will be prominently featured this year as Showtime and Golden Boy anticipate Alvarez to headline 3 major PPVs starting in March.  Showtime and Golden Boy will also have Floyd Mayweather for his customary Cinco de Mayo/Mexican Independence Day PPVs.

On the Top Rank side, it is expected that Manny Pacquiao will be back with two PPVs this year and it’s anticipated Miguel Cotto will fight Sergio Martinez on PPV in June.

The article outlines the boxing PPV market over the past couple years in which it concludes that the PPV market should be reserved for “top shelf” fighters.  A prime example of how conservative boxing is with its PPVs occurred last month when Golden Boy decided to scrap an anticipated PPV with Marcos Maidana and Adrien Broner.  While the fight was PPV quality, it was likely the smart move for Golden Boy to hold off on putting it on PPV (note:  if you didn’t have Showtime, you could have purchased the fight, but obviously we mean the whole card being on PPV).

According to SBJ research, last year, the overall buys for 4 events received 3,975,000 for a total revenue of $252.2 million.  The previous year (2012), 4 PPV events received 4,015,000 buys for $238 million.  As you can see the $75 Mayweather PPV seemed to help the total for last year.  For those wondering, 2011 sported 7 boxing PPVs for a total of 4,540,000 buys and revenue of $262 million.

The article also went into an extensive calculation of what may be considered a “successful” PPV for someone like Canelo which Showtime/Golden Boy would like to have as its top star after Mayweather leaves.  According to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer he concluded with 200,000 buys and deducting the “50 percent cut taken by cable and satellite operators and the 7.5 percent paid to providers HBO or Showtime, the promotion would be left with about $5 million.”  Schaefer goes on to extrapolate $1million for the undercard payroll, rights fees and foreign and closed-circuit sales which cover the marketing costs for the PPV.  In the end, Schaefer predicts a $4 million upside for the fighters which is a little better than if it were to be aired on HBO or Showtime.

Schaefer also noted that for a boxing PPV, its anticipated that 5 people are watching per buy whereas UFC PPVs are close to 9.

Payout Perspective:

The article is an interesting look at the boxing PPV market which is different than the UFC PPV market. There are at least 8 PPV fights anticipated this year.  The question will be how fight fans will decide how to spend their entertainment dollar.  2013 saw great strides in quality fights on HBO and Showtime and now see that some of the upper tier fighters will be on PPV.  But should there be some concern for the state of boxing PPVs?  Manny Pacquiao’s last PPV fight in November was decidedly disappointing buy-wise.  Floyd Mayweather’s first fight against Roberto Guerrero for Showtime/Golden Boy in May 2013 was lower than expected.  So, with more fights scheduled for PPV, and the new price point of $64.99 (which is likely), how receptive will fight fans be to more boxing PPVs.

Broner-Maidana on Showtime: 1.3 million

December 21, 2013

Showtime’s Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza reported that last week’s Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana on the network did 1.3 million viewers.  ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported the ratings via twitter.

The fight which featured the undefeated, brash Broner versus the brawler Maidana was a slugfest.  Maidana put Broner down on the canvas twice although Broner held up through most of the middle rounds.  Maidana upset Broner via decision.

Its not clear if the 1.3 million is at its peak or its average.  The number is limited to the number of Showtime subscribers tuning in for the fight.  According to Bad Left Hook, the ratings made it the third highest rating on Showtime.

Initially, the fight was going to be only on PPV until Showtime decided to put it on the network instead.  The event was offered in PPV for those non-Showtime subscribers.

Payout Perspective:

If the 1.3 is the average viewership, according to a list compiled by Yahoo! Sports, Broner-Maidana tied for 5th highest this year in the HBO-Showtime ratings.  Broner scored the fourth highest rating (1.4 million) for 2013 when he fought Gavin Rees on HBO in February.  Broner also did 1.3 million in his fight against Paulie Malignaggi Despite being pulled off of PPV, it was promoted well through its two-part All Access shows (Showtime’s version of 24/7).  The fight probably helped both fighters as it was hotly contested, went back and forth and many more people were able to see the fight since it was on Showtime. We will see if there is a rematch in 2014.

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