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.
October 11, 2013
Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Timothy Bradley takes on Juan Manuel Marquez on HBO PPV via Top Rank. Bob Arum recently indicated some PPV predictions including the one for this fight which is priced at $64.95 (HD).
Arum speaking to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports and Ryan Burton of BoxingScene.com had predictions for Bradley-Marquez and Pacquiao-Rios which happens in late November. Arum indicated that he thinks that Bradley-Marquez would draw between 350,000-450,000 PPV buys. Arum indicated that if it does 350,000 buys it will be a successful event.
On the other hand, he predicts Pacquiao-Rios to do 750,000-800,000 buys. We’ll talk about this later as that fight draw near.
With the $64.95 price tag, we see the influence Floyd Mayweather has had on Boxing PPV. One could expect Pacquiao-Rios to be priced at $64.95 or $69.99 HD. It’s hard to say that Marquez-Bradley is worth $64.95. Here, HBO/Top Rank is hoping that Mexican fans of Marquez are willing to spend the extra money for the PPV. It is an intriguing matchup but not sure if the price tag is worth it.
Will Saturday’s fight hit 350K PPV buys as Arum predicts?
October 9, 2013
This past Saturday’s Miguel Cotto versus Delvin Rodriguez fight on HBO scored the best ratings for HBO Boxing this year. It received 1.555 million viewers and eclipsed the Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. fight held just a week prior as the best for the year on the network.
HBO also showed Wladimir Klitschko as he defeated Alexander Povetkin on Saturday afternoon. The live show scored 534,000 viewers while the prime time replay scored 705,000 viewers for a total of 1.239 million. (via Dan Rafael tweet).
Additional numbers from the Cotto card had Cotto making $2 million for the fight while Delvin Rodriguez made 160,000. Undercard fighters Terrence Crawford made $200,000 while his opponent Andrey Klimov made $85,000 (via Dan Rafael tweet)
The ratings are starting to ramp up but I’m not sure if that equates to a big number of buys for this Saturday’s PPV between Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley. We note that the HBO PPV is now $64.99 (in HD). What the ratings mean is that despite losses to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto is a draw and will likely be around for a while. As for the payouts, in comparison it gives evidence to those that argue that MMA fighters, especially those at the top of the card, are not paid their fair share.
October 1, 2013
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported via tweet that ratings for HBO Boxing’s Saturday night of fights did its best for 2013. The main event which featured Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. win a controversial decision over Brian Vera garnered an average of 1.416 million viewers.
In addition to Chavez, Jr.’s fight, the night also had Adonis Stevenson defeating Tavoris Cloud. That fight, which was shown prior to Chavez, Jr. earned an average of 1.177 million viewers according to Rafael.
Despite how Chavez, Jr. looked and the last minute need to up the weight limit due to his failure to make weight, he is still a draw. Perhaps its name recognition as the HBO crew pointed out. But, his viewership has decreased from last year as he grabbed 1.9 million viewers (Feb. ‘12) and 1.6 million viewers (June ‘12) prior to his big PPV fight with Sergio Martinez. Still these numbers are good considering the fight competed with Saturday night college football and the viewership is limited as HBO is a premium channel with less subscribers. With HBO Boxing trying to make a push at the end of the year we will see how its viewership does.
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.
April 20, 2013
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that HBO’s showing of Nonito Donaire versus Guillermo Rigondeaux scored an average of 1.1 million viewers last Saturday night.
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Nonito Donaire’s purse was $1.32 million while Guillermo Rigondeaux made $750,000.
The event took place at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in an interesting setup where the ring was on stage and most of the audience was on one side of the ring. Rigondeaux dominated the 2012 Fighter of the Year despite being put down by Donaire. Still, the Cuban fighter had enough to outpoint Donaire.
In addition, the TUF 17 Finale scored a 1.7 million viewer average the same night.
The ratings reflect a positive trend for combat sports. Fight Club OC, the Southern California boxing promotion run by long-time promoter Roy Englebrecht received its largest gate for its bi-monthly fight series run out of Costa Mesa, California. Its Thursday, April 11th card had a gate of $61,013. Pretty good for weeknight.
The fight kicks off a spring of loaded boxing events on either HBO or Showtime. With Golden Boy publicly severing ties with HBO, it appears that both networks are amplifying its boxing coverage which is good for fight fans.