Top Rank Boxing on ESPN draws 1.487M viewers Saturday night

November 14, 2017

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew 1.487 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The main event saw Jose Ramirez defeat Mike Reed in a junior welterweight matchup.  The victory keeps Ramirez in line for a shot at the title vacated by Terrence Crawford.  In addition, Artur Beterbiev beat down Enrico Koelling to win the vacant IBF World Light Heavyweight title and remains undefeated.

Surprisingly, the ratings rank 2nd behind the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight for Top Rank Boxing on ESPN.  The event’s lead-in was the Alabama-Mississippi State game which drew over 7 million viewers.

Headliners for Top Rank on ESPN since July 2016 and the telecast overall rating:

7/1/17:  Pacquiao-Horn – 2.812 million

8/19/17:  Crawford-Indongo – 965,000

8/05/17:  Lomachenko-Marriaga – 728,000

9/23/17:  Valdez-Servania – 706,000

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are a success for Top Rank as the fighters on the card are not really known to the casual boxing fan.  Still, the placement on ESPN after a big college football game likely aided the ratings in this case.  It is hard to think that this telecast did far much better than one with Terrence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko on it.

Top Rank and Plaintiffs in Antitrust Lawsuit Resolve Discovery Dispute

October 2, 2017

Top Rank and the Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit have resolved their discovery dispute regarding a motion to compel production of documents and for the attendance of the deposition of Bob Arum.

A notice of resolution was filed late last week.  The agreement between the parties avoids a motion to compel brought by Plaintiffs in the Zuffa Antitrust lawsuit seeking financial information and the deposition of company head Bob Arum.

Resolution Re Top Rank Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Originally, the motion was to be heard in early September but was continued until later in the month, but the parties came to an agreement.

Top Rank argued that a subpoena for the production of documents from the company was not relevant to the Zuffa lawsuit.  It also argued that the Plaintiffs failed to show a “substantial need” for Top Rank’s information. It also stated that the Plaintiffs’ document request were overly burdensome.

Top Rank Oppo to Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Plaintiffs argued that they were entitled to the discovery as it is relevant to their lawsuit against Zuffa, there is a substantial need for the documents and believe the discovery is not overly burdensome.

Reply to Opposition to Top Rank MTC by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Top Rank noted in its opposition that it “cannot have it both ways.”  It argued that in its lawsuit it claimed that the “relevant market” was limited to the sport of MMA and noted that it was different from boxing.  Yet, it was requesting “ten years’ worth of revenue, profit, loss and payment information.”  Yet, Top Rank claimed that However the Plaintiffs lawsuit against them, claimed that it had differentiated itself from pro boxing and thus its financial information was not relevant to the instant lawsuit.

Top Rank argues that the document requests are intrusive and it is a way for Plaintiffs’ experts to “compare financial data from Top Rank’s promotion of boxing events to Zuffa’s promotion of MMA events and create “benchmark percentages of revenues.”  Moreover, it claims that Plaintiffs do not explain why they are unable to obtain this information from other sources.  Top Rank’s opposition brief claims it has told Plaintiffs where it might obtain public data about the company.

Top Rank lists some of the requests in its brief:

REQUEST NO. 1: Your Company’s Income Statements, including event-level profit and loss statements for the Relevant Time Period [defined to be from January 1, 2005 to present], including without limitation All Documents, including depositions, declarations, affidavits, or other statements under oath, You produced in any lawsuits or arbitrations, or to any governing athletic commission or sanctioning body, relating to TOP RANK’s accounting of its revenues, expenses, and profits.

• REQUEST NO. 2: Data in as granular form as it is maintained (itemized ledger entries, if they exist) sufficient to show all bout-related revenues and expenses (including for championship bouts, bouts where victory leads to championship, and all other Professional Boxing Events), payments made to individual Professional Boxers (including purses, bonuses, pay-per view, and any other event and non-event related payments), and non-bout related revenues and expenses.

• REQUEST NO. 3: To the extent not included in Your response to Request Nos. 1 and 2 above, documents sufficient to substantiate Bob Arum’s statement that TOP RANK pays 80% of event revenue to the Professional Boxers who participate in bouts promoted by TOP RANK….

• REQUEST NO. 4: A Representative Sample of All Agreements between TOP RANK and any Boxers, relating to participation in a Professional Boxing Fight or Professional Boxing Event, and any Documents and Communications relating to the negotiation, termination, cancellation or transfer thereof. Responsive Documents include, without limitation, executed Agreements, draft Agreements, side letters, all negotiations between TOP RANK and any Boxer, including any Professional Boxer,
or their agents, managers, promoters, or other representatives (regardless of whether such negotiations resulted in an executed Agreement), copies of any form agreements; and all Documents relating to the effects any such actual or potential Agreements between TOP RANK and any Athlete, including any professional Boxer, had on TOP RANK’s revenues, valuation, or ability to operate profitably as a Boxing Promoter.

Zuffa Plaintiffs claim that the information is vital for their case and that the UFC denied the differences between boxing and MMA in its answer to the lawsuit with the inference that they were interchangeable.  Notably, in its Reply brief it claimed that the business of promoting fights is the same for all combat sports.

Payout Perspective:

Plaintiffs Reply Brief includes quotes from Lou DiBella and Dana White’s deposition but most of the citations are redacted.  The order which spells out what Top Rank and the Plaintiffs had agreed upon is heavily redacted so we specifically do not know what the parties agreed to provide and whether or if the deposition of Bob Arum will take place.  It could be that Top Rank agreed to provide a portion of documents so long as Arum is not deposed and/or someone else within the company is deposed.

GGG-Canelo replay on HBO draws 726,000 viewers

September 26, 2017

HBO’s Boxing telecast which included a replay of the GGG-Canelo fight drew 726,000 viewers via Nielsen.  The live fight of the telecast drew 687,000 viewers.

Saturday night’s event which replayed GGG-Canelo peaked at 840,000 viewers and drew 0.24 in the A18-49 demo.

The fight between Jorge Linares and Luke Campbell peaked at 726,000 viewers and drew 0.23 in the A18-49 demo.  Linares won via split decision.

Canelo PPV replays on HBO:

Canelo-JCC, Jr:  769,000

Canelo-Khan:  767,000

Canelo-Smith: 459,000

Canelo-Cotto:  901,000

Payout Perspective:

Despite the hype for this fight it is only third on the above list in terms of replay viewership.  This is surprising considering the draw and how most thought this

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Friday night draws 706,000 viewers

September 25, 2017

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Friday night drew 706,000 viewers on ESPN according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured title defenses by Oscar Valdez and Gilbert Ramirez.

The ratings for the event are the best thus far for Friday night boxing on ESPN since the agreements with Golden Boy and Top Rank went into place earlier this year.

The Valdez-Genesis Servania ended the night of fights which started at 11:42pm ET.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are promising as these Friday night fights are used to promote up and coming fighters.  Those that tuned in to see Valdez-Servania saw a great action-packed fight.  Notably, Top Rank Boxing did much better than the UFC on FXX Friday night which drew just 502,000 viewers for its main card and 416,000 for the prelims.

Appeal to 9th Circuit for plaintiffs that felt duped from Pac-May fight

September 20, 2017

Late last month, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed the class action lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming that they were duped by the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight in May 2015 due to the fact Pacquiao did not disclose a previous shoulder injury.

Despite the order dismissing the case, the plaintiffs have filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  But first, let’s look at the facts and the district court opinion.

Order Dismissing Pacquiao-Mayweather Boxing Match PPV Litigation by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

As we know, Manny Pacquiao faced Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Mayweather won via unanimous decision.  After the fight, Pacquiao indicated that he had an injury.  However, the facts would suggest that this was never disclosed prior to the fight.  In fact, on his pre-fight questionnaire, he did not indicate an issue with his shoulder.

Many believed that the injured shoulder was a factor in the outcome of the fight.  Those that paid for the fight on PPV ($100), bought a seat at the venue or watched on closed circuit or in a movie theatre were angered that they did not see the best Pacquiao and/or the injury was not disclosed.  Obviously, something like this has a trickle-down impact to the consumer but also to those that placed money on the fight.

Lawsuits were filed as a result and were subsequently consolidated to this court.  Plaintiffs allege that “Defendants were motivated by huge profits” to continue with the fight despite the alleged injury.  They claim that they affirmatively concealed the injury in promotion of the fight.

Attorneys for Pacquiao, Mayweather, Top Rank, Mayweather Promotions, and its related entitites filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuits.  On August 25th, the district court agreed with the defendants that this lawsuit should be dismissed.

The opinion emphasized that the legal system is not the proper place for unhappy fans to vent their anger over a result of a sporting event.  The court made a determination as to whether to determine the complaints per a “license approach “to assess the rights of fans that purchase a ticket to a sporting event.  Under this approach, purchasers are entitled to “nothing more than a revocable license” regardless of what transpires at the event.  However, the court noted that this specific issue was a novel occurrence and it had to determine whether it should apply this standard.

The court did cite to a ticketholder/PPV purchaser case from 2000 where Mike Tyson was sued after a fight between Tyson and Evander Holyfield.  You may recall that this was the bout where Tyson infamously bit Holyfield’s ear.  Plaintiffs in that case claimed that Tyson’s plan was to get disqualified if he could not win and this was a “premediated plan” to end the fight.  In that case, the plaintiffs’ lawsuit was dismissed and the appeal upheld the dismissal rationalizing that fans got what they paid for.

In addition to the “license approach,” the opinion discusses a set of cases which do not use the theory.  Instead, this line of cases have had plaintiffs assert their legal rights when sports teams allegedly lie to promote ticket sales.  Two lawsuits involve professional teams that were moving but did not tell their fan base and one case in which a team stated it was financially able to finish a hockey season but folded 13 games into the season.

So, the court determined which of these approaches it should take.  Either the “License approach” cases which resulted in no legally cognizable injury or the lawsuits against sports teams which reflects a legally cognizable injury.

The court found the “License approach” was the correct application since the alleged omissions and misrepresentations were based on athletic competition (i.e, concealing Pacquiao’s injury).

From the opinion:

The Court holds that a misrepresentation or omission implicates the core of athletic competition, and therefore does not constitute a cognizable injury to a legally protected interest under the license approach, if it is related to: (A) competitive strategy, or (B) the quality or outcome of competitive performance.

It’s also noteworthy that the court argues public policy as to why it ruled against the Plaintiffs here:

Thus, allowing sports fans to sue over the vicissitudes of competitive sports could destroy the
very thing that makes sports fandom so special. A holding in favor of Plaintiffs in this case could be construed to require near total transparency in sports, whereby any inflated, unreliable, or cryptic prevent statements would beget lawsuits. Gone would be the days of headstrong athletes declaring their complete readiness to destroy their opponents. Athletes would never again publicly predict that they will prevail, or even conclude that an event will be exciting. Sports teams and athletes might even be required to disclose the weak spots in their game plans or preparations before every event for all to see (including their opponents).

The judicial opinion is highlighted by a cite to a Joe Rogan podcast related to the uncertainty of sports.  The court commented that the “unpredictability and uncertainty” of competitive sports is important to it.  The point is that the unexpected nature of sport is inherent in sport and expected by fans.

Payout Perspective:

At first read, you wonder why Plaintiffs have decided to appeal this case to the 9th Circuit.  There’s a lot of money that goes into an appeal and the success rate seems in doubt.  However, if you read the opinion closely, you can tell that the district court is making up their own law as they go.  Perhaps that’s a little strong, but they are definitely applying a legal standard they feel is right for this circumstance.  While the “license approach” has been used to decide cases in disgruntled fan lawsuits in the past, there is no real precedent setting case (as the court notes in the opinion).  Thus there’s a line of cases which could be helpful to Plaintiffs but is not applied.  Moreover, the public policy as argued by the Court gives us the old “slippery slope” argument which I personally take offense.  Even if you think that this is ridiculous to follower, there is a telling piece of law here that may be more important than whether someone gets their $100 back.

 

Mayweather-McGregor replay on Showtime draws 549,000

September 6, 2017

The replay of The Money Fight on Showtime this past Saturday drew 549,000 viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  In addition, an epilogue of All Access which followed immediately after drew 291,000 viewers.

The Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight drew 549,000 Showtime subscribers and 0.15 in the A18-49 demo for the 42 minutes it aired on the network starting at 9:23pm ET.  It was a stand-alone presentation as it was not coupled with any live fights.

Previous PPV replays of note:

Mayweather-Pacquiao:  1.18M on HBO (coupled with Canelo-Kirkland)

Canelo-Chavez, Jr.:  769,000 on HBO

Canelo-Smith:  459,000 on HBO

Canelo-Khan:  767,000 on HBO

Canelo-Cotto:  901,000 on HBO

Mayweather-Berto:  587,000 on Showtime

Payout Perspective:

Maybe everyone saw the fight the previous Saturday or the opening weekend of college football detracted from the viewership.  The Labor Day Weekend likely took away some of the network subscribers from the ratings.  In comparison, the Mayweather-Pacquiao replay drew almost double the viewership although it was coupled with the live event of Canelo-Kirkland.  You might recall that event drew the best boxing ratings on HBO since 2006.

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.

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.

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.

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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