March 4, 2014
The HBO broadcast of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. versus Bryan Vera Saturday night scored an subscriber audience average of 1.39 million viewers with a peak of 1.53 million according to Nielsen Media Research via Boxing Scene.
The rematch between the two has made it one of the biggest audiences for either HBO or Showtime in the last 12 months. The first fight in which Chavez was handed the decision earned an average viewership of 1.4 million. The September 2013 fight was the second highest of 2013 on HBO as June 2013’s Miguel Cotto-Delvin Rodriguez fight earned over 1.5 million viewers.
Notably, the undercard fight between Orlando Salido and Vasyl Lomachenko did remarkably well as it averaged over 1 million viewers.
Chavez looked much better this go round with Vera and based on the ratings, he’s one of the major draws for HBO/Top Rank. The interesting thing about the great ratings is that the actual attendance was low for the Alamodome in San Antonio (approximately 7,000). The attendance was newsworthy enough that the broadcasters made reference to it and the fact that Chavez was partly to blame for his lack of promotion as well as his effort in the last fight with Vera.
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.
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.
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)
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.
January 26, 2014
ESPN reports that Manny Pacquiao will face Timothy Bradley in a rematch of their first bout in June 2012. Notably, Pacquiao will receive a pay cut and Bradley a modest pay raise for the second fight scheduled for April 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum stated that Pacquiao will be guaranteed $20 million which is $6 million less than their first fight. Bradley will receive $6 million which is $1 million more than their first fight. Both fighters will receive a cut of the PPV although it was not reported how much either will receive. Their first fight received 890K PPV buys per HBO.
Bradley defeated Pacquiao in a controversial decision which saw Arum lobby for an investigation by the Nevada Attorney General. The investigation found no wrongdoing but it began a crossroads for both fighters. Pacquiao, not seeking an immediate rematch, fought Juan Manuel Marquez and was KO’d by his old foe. In November, he defeated Brandon Rios although the buy rate was a mediocre 475K PPV buys. Since the Pacquiao fight, Bradley defeated Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Notably, Bradley entered into a one year sponsorship deal with Nike right before their first fight. He has been sponsored by the swoosh ever since.
Despite receiving less for this rematch, Pacquiao does get $2 million more from his last fight in November. The fight should do better than their first encounter based on the story line of what transpired in their first fight. Realistically, Bradley winning their first fight has aided Top Rank as it helped them promote Bradley while Pacquiao was out. And frankly, he’s a better fighter now than he was in June 2012. For Pacquiao, it’s a chance to avenge a loss he doesn’t believe should be a loss.
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.
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.
December 12, 2013
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports penned an informative article about the HBO-Showtime boxing viewership this year which turns out to be a great time for the boxing fans. It also shows the HBO-Top Rank v. Showtime-Golden Boy is heating up.
Iole reports that 25 events on HBO and Showtime scored over 1 million viewers in 2013. 21 of the 25 were HBO fights. The seeming dominance comes despite HBO severing ties with Golden Boy Promotions. Even though HBO had the better ratings, Showtime can claim one of the biggest PPVs ever this year with the Mayweather-Canelo fight grabbing 2.2 million PPV buys.
On Saturday, the two networks competed for boxing fans with dueling events that took place in the same area (HBO –Atlantic City) (Showtime – Brooklyn). HBO’s ratings were disappointing as the main event featuring Guillermo Rigondeux drew just 550K viewers according to Nielsen (via Dan Rafael). In comparison, Showtime’s main event of Malignaggi-Judah received a 640K viewer average. (via Rafael tweet).
Regardless of which premium network won the ratings war, the overarching statement is that viewers are watching boxing and 2013 has been a big year for the sport and HBO and Showtime. The competition and venom between Top Rank-Golden Boy has seemingly fostered better fights and overall events. With the continued boxing programming on each network, fight fans that don’t have both premium channels may look into the investment for 2014.
December 5, 2013
HBO’s president of pay-per-view, Mark Taffet, said that the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight in Macau on November 23rd did “in the neighborhood of 475,000 buys” as reported by USA Today. Taffet also said that it generated “roughly $30 million of PPV revenue.”
Taffet indicated that overseas PPVs do between 30% and 40% of the buys compared to those events in the US. Taffet said, “It was an extraordinary effort by everyone involved, and we recognized that anything above 350,000 buys would be a success.”
Pacquiao has averaged over 1 million PPV buys in his last 9 fights which makes the Rios fight the lowest PPV buy output since his 2008 Oscar de la Hoya fight. His fight with Joshua Clottey was the previous low at 700,000 PPV buys.
Did Top Rank really think 350,000 PPV buys would be a success? It’s interesting that in October Arum indicated that Marquez/Bradley would be a success if it hit 350,000 PPV buys. I don’t think the two events had similar expectations.
The PPV buys are disappointing if you compare the last several years of Pacquiao’s PPV fights. His popularity and fighting style drew fans but a disputed win to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2011, followed by a loss to Timothy Bradley and a KO by Marquez in 2012 which left Pacquiao face down on the canvas are all reasons why Pacquiao’s brand has taken a downturn. Brandon Rios was a relative unknown to the casual boxing fan which added to the obstacles of selling the fight. Of course, Taffet’s explanation that overseas events do far less is another excuse for the poor showing. In addition, the lack of promotion in the United States, sponsorship activation and overall buzz did not help.
Top Rank had flirted with the idea of holding events in Macau to open up the Chinese market. It knew of the obstacles an overseas PPV presented but decided to take the chance with the company’s biggest star. While it may have succeeded, it is taking a short term hit in the form of low PPV buys. We will see if Pacquiao’s next fight (likely against Timothy Bradley) takes place in Vegas.
November 25, 2013
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective where we take a look at the return of Manny Pacquiao as he took on Brandon Rios at the Venetian Hotel on the island of Macau off the coast of China.
Pacquiao outclasses Rios
As many had expected, the speed of Manny Pacquiao was too much for Bam Bam. While the threat of the one punch KO was there, the movement and angles of Pacquiao muted any thought of a left hook from Rios.
Let’s pump the brakes on any talk of Floyd Mayweather. First, there’s the Top Rank/Golden Boy-HBO/Showtime schism which would prevent any such fight from happening Pacquiao looked impressive and it appears that the 11 months away has helped. Rios is a dangerous fighter but nowhere near the skill level of a Mayweather. However, a Timothy Bradley fight seems the most logical and reasonable next fight for Pacquiao.
Bradley’s career has ascended since he won that controversial fight over Pacquiao in June 2012. Most recently, he dispatched of Pacquiao’s arch-nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez. Thus, promoting this fight should not be too hard considering this would be a rematch of a controversial decision. With his post-Pacquiao fights, Bradley has proven that he belongs in the upper tier of boxing. A return match against Pacquiao could serve as “passing the torch” to Top Rank’s next superstar or will serve as another reason for all parties to wait out Floyd’s Showtime contract.
Zou Shiming Shines
In terms of importance of a boxer winning Saturday, Shiming was a close second behind Pacquiao. The reason for this is the overarching theme of tapping the Chinese market. Shiming has the amateur credentials but has not really showed whether he could be a star as a pro. He dominated his 6 round fight over Juan Tozcana in which the announcing crew questioned whether the fight should have been stopped.
If Shiming could show continued improvement, he has a built in audience and could ascend quickly. Of course, at 32 years of age, the plan is for him to ascend quickly.
Attendance at the Venetian Hotel in Macau where the event was held was a sellout of 13,200. No gate figures yet although front row seats were selling for three times the amount that it usually would in Vegas.
In comparison, Pacquiao’s last fight in December 2012 against Marquez had an attendance of 15,430 for a gate of $10.8 million. However, based on the front row seats going for three times what they do in Vegas, we can see a comparable gate here.
Manny Pacquiao will receive a guaranteed $18 million with the potential for $30 million and does not have to pay the 39.6% U.S. tax since the fight did not happen in the states. Rios, however, will receive $4 million but will need to pay Uncle Sam because he’s a U.S. citizen.
The incident in the gym between Freddie Roach, Robert Garcia and Alex Ariza provided some “propaganda” for the fight. Was the dustup manufactured? It received press and drew some emotions but looked bad for both camps. But, we all can assume the Roach-Ariza bad blood is genuine based on how Pacquiao’s team dispatched of Ariza and he was picked up by Rios.
The 24/7 series was well-done as always. It seems hard to come up with angles to cover Pacquiao each series although the typhoon and the aforementioned ill-will between camps provided some topics. We also learned that Rios curses a lot.
The ring sponsors included Smart Communications, a Philippines mobile phone and internet carrier, the movie “Grudge Match” starring DeNiro and Stallone and Tecate. Tecate ran its usual promotion of offering rebates with a purchase of its product. What was not present was the usual run up for a Pacquiao fight in the states which usual includes in-store promotions and sponsor activation.
Rios wore a Sigue Corporation shirt at weigh-ins. Sigue is a money transfer company specializing in US-Mexico transaction.
As always, Nike sponsored Pacquiao however this article by footwear blog Sole Collector details the little buzz from the swoosh over the Macau fight. In fact, the online Nike store only has one shirt (from last year) from Pacquiao on sale. This from a company that rolled out shirts, sweats and shoes for the boxer before past fights. This time, it seemed like the brand was in a “wait and see” mode. Of course, it also could be due to Pacquiao’s newfound faith in which media outlets have interpreted (or misinterpreted dependent on how you view it) Pacquiao’s stance against gay marriage. Nike supports gay marriage. There were also the comments made by UFC president Dana White claiming the Beaverton, Oregon Company had dropped Pacquiao.
Odds and Ends
As predicted, the price point for Pacquiao in HD was $70.
Due to the time difference, the fight actually took place around lunchtime local time on Sunday which made fight day customs a little skewed.
NY Times writer Greg Bishop had a great piece preceding the fight correlating Pacquiao’s in-ring downturn with the rejuvenation of his religious faith and commitment to his wife. There is something to be said for the lack of perceived hunger in Pacquiao if you were to compare him now as opposed to pre-Oscar de la Hoya. Pacquiao was young and reckless socially which mirrored his fighting style. The style in the ring amounted to interest and success, the style outside of the ring nearly cost him his marriage. After “returning to form” on Saturday, can we say that Pacquiao is born again boxing-wise?
Bishop also wrote an informative article on the logistical obstacles HBO and Top Rank faced in producing a PPV abroad. This included bringing 300 cases of equipment by air and water to the location.
There were some that thought that the Carl Froch-George Graves fight should have been picked up by HBO to use as an appetizer for the fight later that night. It would have been nice but would have run the risk of being “UFC”-like in having too much boxing on in one day.
Despite the lack of buzz and usual American “over the top” promotion, “The Clash in Cotai” had a purpose. First, it was to reintroduce the world to Manny Pacquiao. The statement was that he was back to his “old” self. More importantly, it was an opportunity to enter the fertile Macau market with its casinos bringing in $38 billion in 2012 and likely more this year. Bob Arum would like to open up this region as a way to leverage it against Vegas as an option to hold a fight here. Certainly, it would benefit Pacquiao as its closer to home and he saves on paying U.S. taxes if his fights are held outside of the U.S. That being said, the costs for HBO/Top Rank to hold a show outside of the U.S. along with Pacquiao’s hefty payout may be something it needs to consider before committing time, money and resources to another fight in Macau.
For its first time holding a PPV overseas, it’s likely that Pacquiao’s return will grab at least 850,000-950,000 buys.
November 23, 2013
The NY Times reports that Manny Pacquiao could earn close to $30 million on Saturday night when he fights Brandon Rios in his return to the ring. The article also addresses the many obstacles on putting on a PPV abroad.
Pacquiao is guaranteed $18 million with “an upside closer to $30 million.” More important is that unlike his U.S. fights, he will not have to pay U.S. taxes. Pacquiao would have been taxed in the highest U.S. tax bracket (39.6 percent).
The scheduling is the biggest change from American events as the fight will take place Sunday around noon. Thus, the fighters will have to change their usual customs on fight day.
HBO “shipped in 300 cases of equipment.” This included even makeup for on-air talent in the event they could not get it locally. Instead of the regular 100 employees used for fight night, 40 employees were flown in to deal with logistics of engineering and production.
Pacquiao’s salary pales in comparison to Floyd Mayweather’s payout of over $40 million in his last fight with Canelo Alvarez. Still, Pacquiao will not have to pay taxes on almost 40 percent of his earnings. With all of the investment HBO is doing for this PPV the payoff is the potential future it may have in China. Chinese boxer Zou Shiming who main evented Top Rank’s rehearsal in the area with two fights this year will be on the undercard and will likely grab almost as much fanfare as Pacquiao. If the card does well, it will provide an alternative that Bob Arum can use as leverage in the future. Certainly if Pacquiao wins, his next fight may be closer to home.
November 5, 2013
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez fight taking place on PPV on Saturday, October 12th received 375,000 PPV buys. According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, the PPV buys generated $21.75M.
The estimated PPV buys is a good number considering Top Rank estimated the buy rate to be 350K-450K.
According to Top Rank’s president Bob Arum, the break even point for the PPV was 350K buys. But, Rafael’s article which interviewed Arum indicated that robust closed circuit numbers drew down the break even PPV mark to 275K PPV buys.
Bradley’s manager, Cameron Dunkin was pleased with the apparent result and thought the event would draw less buys.
Via Yahoo! Sports:
“I’m very, very happy with that,” he said. “Going in, I thought it would do 250, maybe 300. Those wouldn’t have been bad numbers, either. But this is a very solid number and I’m glad to hear it did so well.”
In addition, Rafael reports that Juan Manuel Marquez earned $6 million and Timothy Bradley earned $4.1 million.
The first takeaway about this result was the fact that the new standard price for boxing PPVs is $65. With the Mayweather-Alvarez fight going for $75 a month prior and doing 2.2 million PPV buys, the 375K PPV buys has to be considered an accomplishment considering the higher price point and that it was not a Pacquiao or Mayweather fight. With the $21.75M figure, this amounts to $58 per PPV ($65 is the HD price, $55 or $60 was the non-HD price depending on your provider). We will see how this affects future PPVs and whether the UFC is looking at this and thinking about raising its price point.