Top Rank announces ESPN deal including OTT service

August 28, 2017

On Saturday, Top Rank Boxing announced a deal with ESPN that will bring the promotion to the network as well as obtaining the fight library which shall be a part of a streaming service that will launch in 2018.

Taking advantage of the assembled media in Las Vegas for the Mayweather-McGregor fight, the company announced a multi-year deal that will bring boxing to the cable network.

The Hollywood Report reports the deal will create a “direct-to-consumer boxing vertical with international reach.”  It will also get a minimum of 16 fights a year to run on ESPN or ABC primetime “with a minimum of two additional direct-to-consumer live boxing cards exclusive to ESPN’s upcoming multisport digital service that’s set to launch in early 2017.”  There will also be other boxing content including studio shows, documentaries and other boxing programming.  Perhaps one of the jewels of the deal is that ESPN is getting the rights, and archival fights will be available on the ESPN OTT service.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Payout Perspective:

Thus far, Top Rank on ESPN has done well in the ratings and with more talented fighters appearing on the network, ratings should continue to blossom.  It was a matter of time for boxing to take advantage of an OTT service and this deal looks like subscribers will be able to access Top Rank’s vast fight library on ESPN’s upcoming OTT service.  The new deal may mean a shift in the business model of Top Rank as one might imagine that it will pivot from PPV and focus on its deal with ESPN.  The deal will allow for a number of fights it could take to premium cable although ESPN has certain rights to those as well.

50 million predicted to watch The Money Fight

August 25, 2017

50 million.  That is the number that the AP reports may watch the Floyd Mayweather Connor McGregor fight.

Similar to the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight, the fight at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday is being hailed as a culture event.  Former HBO exec in charge of PPV, Mark Taffet noted that it “crosses all demographics and all social and economic factors.”  Despite being just the second time that a PPV will be sold for $99.95 (HD), there is momentum saying that this fight will surpass the 4.4 million buys that the May 2015 showdown between Mayweather and Pacquiao.

This time around technological advancements may help with the buy rate, or at least the final revenue drawn from this spectacle.

Taffet noted that this fight will draw more people to come together to watch.  The average people that watch a PPV is usually 5-6 people whereas Taffet predicts that to be bumped up to 10 person per household.

Payout Perspective:

So is this a realistic number.  The report relies much on the fact that a ton of casual viewers will want to watch this fight.  Despite the caution by many experts that this will be a no-contest in favor of Floyd Mayweather, the run-up to this fight has been tremendous and its being written, talked about and seen everywhere.

Corona will be the main sponsor for The Money Fight

August 23, 2017

The Sports Business Journal reports Mexican beer maker Corona will be the main sponsor for Saturday night’s fight between Conro McGregor and Floyd Mayweather.  Aside from Corona, Body Armor will have “prime placement” as it will be all over the ring on fight night.

Terms of the Corona deal were not announced although it was previously reported that the asking price for the sponsorship, along with a suite of branded areas would go for $10 million.  Corona will have its logo in the center of the mat and will be integrated into Showtime’s PPV telecast of the bout.  Of course, ring girls that have been at Mayweather-McGregor events this week will be

Body Armor will have its logo on “towels and stools in the fighters’ corners.”  Fighters will drink out of BodyArmor-provided bottles.

The fighters have secured their own sponsor deals as Mayweather has renewed a deal with Hublot to have its name across the waistband of his shorts for the fight. He also signed a deal with high-end tequila brand Avion.  Mayweather’s likeness will appear on a limited number of its Tequila bottles.   McGregor has signed deals with Monster Energy and online gambling site BetSafe.

Payout Perspective:

It was curious that the sponsors had not been announced until this week but it appears that there will be a major presence at the event.  Whether or not the fight was able to garner the $10 million price tag for the main sponsor is something that may be revealed at a later date.  Corona is a long-time fight sponsor and most events they seemingly interchange with Tecate as the beer (and usually) main sponsor.  The BodyArmor deal is a big one for the company.  It has had a presence in the sport but I would assume that this is likely its biggest sponsorship to date.  As for the fighters, I think both will earn a lot of money from in-ring sponsorships.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN featuring Crawford draws 965K

August 22, 2017

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew 965,000 viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The main event featured Terrence Crawford and Julius Indongo.

The Crawford-Indongo main event drew the second-highest boxing match on cable for 2017.

The third big event for Top Rank on ESPN was an improvement on Vasyl Lomachenko’s debut on the network earlier this month.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are promising and likely let casual boxing fans see Terrence Crawford for the first time.  The good news is that he was impressive in his body shot 3rd round KO of Indongo.  Thus far, it looks like the new partnership between Top Rank and ESPN is working out.

Bennett denies money had to do with Mayweather-McGregor

August 21, 2017

The Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission Bob Bennett noted that money does not matter with respect to the decisions of the NAC in approving fights.  The Commission has come into question with the Mayweather-McGregor fight which happens this Saturday, August 26th.

Bennett was interviewed by Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour on Monday.  When faced with the question of sanctioning the Mayweather-McGregor fight he admitted to deviating from the usual way he evaluates fights.  Bennett went on to say that he consulted with Virgil Hunter who said McGregor matched Nate Diaz’s boxing skills at UFC 202.

Payout Perspective:

I am not persuaded by Bennett’s interview or explanation.  Mayweather has a 49-0 record and McGregor is 0-0 in boxing.  The move to change the gloves came with circumstantial evidence that it was justified.  In scenarios where health and safety is an issue, there should have been more time to study the affects with the smaller gloves.  Yet, it was pushed through without much debate.  It makes the commission look weak and willing to shape rules based on business.  The fact that he is using evidence from a boxing coach to seek a favorable opinion is all you need to know.  Bennett strains to come up with compelling evidence to justify McGregor receiving a boxing licensing and that a fight with Mayweather would be competitive.  The words “health” and “safety” seem to be used more as just lip service rather than real words to protect fighters.

Terrence Crawford fight draws second-highest cable TV ratings for boxing in 2017

August 21, 2017

ESPN reports that Saturday night’s Top Rank Boxing telecast of Terence Crawford-Julius Indongo drew the second-highest boxing match on cable television in 2017.

Crawford disposed of Indongo with a body shot in the third round to unify 4 titles in the junior welterweight division.

The event drew a 1.0 metered market rating during the main event per Nielsen.  According to an ESPN press release, New Orleans was the top local market where the telecast averaged a 1.6 metered market rating including a 2.0 rating during the main event.

Payout Perspective:

We should have ratings for the fight later today but promising ratings for Crawford.  Although not stated in the press release, we can assume that the highest-rated fight on cable this year was July’s Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight.  Horn’s upset win over Pacquiao drew an overnight 1.8 metered market rating for the event and 2.4 rating for the fight.  The telecast peaked at 4.4 million viewers and averaged 3.1 million viewers across three ESPN channels.  Arguably, Crawford could be the best boxer around today and the promising ratings means that viewers are being introduced to him.  Despite a dip with Vasyl Lomachenko’s debut on ESPN earlier this month, the ESPN-Top Rank partnership appears to be going well.

Commission grants “one-time” exception to allow 8oz gloves for Mayweather-McGregor

August 16, 2017

At its monthly commission meeting, Nevada has approved 8-ounce gloves for Mayweather-McGregor for Saturday, August 26th.  The vote among commission members was unanimous.

The change departs from its longstanding rule of 10-ounce gloves for fights at 154 pounds and above.  There were three stipulations that went along with this waiver of the rule.  First, the gloves will be inspected by NSAC Chairman Anthony Marnell and executive director Bob Bennett, the gloves must be submitted to the NSAC after the fight and those gloves being used for a study on glove size conducted by the NSAC.

It was noted in the commission discussion that this would be a “one-time exception.”

MMA Junkie has the video below:

Payout Perspective:

The debate on the glove issue deals with the potential for bigger fighters to cause more damage with smaller gloves. With the passage, it would seem that McGregor would have an advantage. It could mean that a knockout could happen more so than with 10 ounce gloves. For the cynic, it also draws more appeal with the potential that McGregor could score a huge upset. Honestly, I did not think there would be a problem with passage. Unfortunately, fighter safety sometimes takes a backseat to entertainment value and money. This is going to be a huge money fight and the fighters and promoters are seeking as many people to open their wallets for it, regardless of the potential safety issues.

UFC applies for Co-Promotion for Mayweather-McGregor

August 11, 2017

The UFC has applied to become a co-promoter for the Mayweather-McGregor fight on August 26th in Las Vegas.  Originally, the UFC indicated that it would only be in a supportive role, but now this does not seem to be the case.  The Nevada State Athletic Commission will hear the issue at next week’s monthly meeting.

Mayweather Promotions was the only promoter listed for the fight with Showtime as the broadcast distributor in the United States.

MMA Fighting talked to the state commission’s Executive Director Bob Bennett on the matter.  He indicated that the UFC would not need a separate license to promote boxing in Nevada and that it would need to become an official co-promoter for the event in order to pay McGregor for the fight.

A decision will happen on Wednesday when the commission meets.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps we now know the reason for the “Zuffa Boxing” shirt White wore at the Toronto stop of the Mayweather-McGregor press tour.  Yet, the application at such a late date is odd considering that something like this would have been squared away when they signed the fight.  Further, Bennett’s

Mayweather-McGregor may use 8 ounce gloves

August 10, 2017

The Nevada State Athletic Commission will be looking into changing the glove size for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight at its next meeting on August 16th.  Mayweather has requested that the glove size be changed from the typical 10-ounce gloves for the 147-pound weight division to 8 ounce gloves.

In MMA, the glove weight is four ounces.

In a report on BoxingScene.com, Association of Boxing Commission rules dictate that boxers must wear 8 ounce gloves contested at the 147 pound weight limited and lower.  Above the 147 pound require boxers to wear the 8 ounce gloves.

Mayweather went on social media to make it known that he is making the request for the change.

Don’t believe what you hear in the media. Don’t believe what you hear on blog sites. If it’s not coming directly from me, then it’s not true. I’m telling McGregor, “Let’s fight in 8 oz gloves”. McGregor can fight in any brand he prefers or chooses. I’ll be wearing 8 oz Grant gloves. Whatever advantage McGregor needs to feel more comfortable in the ring, I’m willing to accommodate. Let’s give the boxing and MMA fans what they want to see. @grantworldwide @mayweatherpromotions

A post shared by Floyd Mayweather (@floydmayweather) on

According to the report, the parties may have a right to submit a waiver before the commission to use the 8 ounce gloves and explain the reasons why.  The commission will then vote on the waiver.  However, it appears that this has rarely, if ever, has happened.

This is not the first time Mayweather has sparred with his opponent over gloves.  He disputed the use of Everlast gloves by Marcos Maidana in their first fight in 2014.

Payout Perspective:

At first, it seemed like a ploy with Floyd knowing that the contract stated it was 147 pounds.  But now – it still seems like a plea for fans to watch the fight.  The public relations aspect here is that Floyd wants to make it clear that Conor McGregor has a chance of beating him.  The smaller gloves are supposed to be advantageous for the MMA fighter.  With most analysts acknowledging that McGregor has little, if any chance, the parties are thinking of something to make it seem more competitive.  The 8 ounce gloves provide some semblance of leveling a playing field with the opportunity for McGregor to knock Floyd out.  I would assume this happens as the commission will likely allow the sides to proceed so long as each party agrees.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night draws 728,000 viewers

August 8, 2017

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew 728,000 according to Nielsen.  The event featured Vasyl Lomachenko as he handily took care of Miguel Marriaga.

There was an overlap with the NFL Hall of Fame ceremonies which may have skewed the ratings.  Still, the main event went up against UFC Fight Night’s main event of Pettis-Moreno.

The ratings are less than Top Rank’s debut last month with Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn.  The event drew 3.1 million viewers and peaked with 4.4 million viewers.  Saturday night’s event was much less than that.

On Friday night ESPN presented Golden Boy drew 415,000 viewers and 0.13 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen.

Payout Perspective:

One has to think this is a disappointing rating for Top Rank as the UFC, with a weaker card, outdrew the debut of Lomachenko on cable TV.  It’s hard to explain why UFC Fight Night did better than someone that is considered one of boxing’s best at this time.  Perhaps the run-up for Mayweather-McGregor or combat sports fans are conditioned to watch UFC Saturdays, but boxing did not draw Saturday night.

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