Crawford, Pacquiao replay come up with disappointing ratings Saturday

December 3, 2014

ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Saturday night’s HBO Boxing After Dark featuring Terence Crawford scored an average of only 836,000 viewers of its subscribers with a peak at 936,000.  The event also include the replay of Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri from the week before which scored an average of 904,000 with a peak of 1.120 million viewers.

The other live fight of the night, Evgeny Gradovich and Jayson Velez drew more viewers than the feature.  It averaged 865,000 viewers with a peak of 1.033 million.  Crawford defeated Raymundo Beltran and Gradovich and Velez fought to a draw.

As is traditional for HBO/Showtime boxing events, the ratings were given for the specific fights and not on the event as a whole.

Payout Perspective:

The event did go up against the big Auburn-Alabama game (which drew 13.5 million viewers) and other rivalry college football games.  Rafael points out the fact that the main event occurred late for east coast viewers which may have impacted the draw.  Still, the number is poor considering the event also included the PPV replay.  Moreover, Crawford drew 1.2M viewers for his fight this summer. As one of the fighters that could (and should) carry the torch for boxing post-Mayweather/Pacquiao, the ratings are disappointing.  Yet, the opening fight did better ratings than Crawford.

SBJ survey looks at UFC growth, Fight Pass

November 29, 2014

The Sports Business Journal revealed its annual reader survey on various topics related to sports business.  This year included questions about the UFC, WWE and boxing.

In a survey related to over the top networks, readers indicated that the UFC is the “Fight sport” that will see the biggest growth over the next five years.  Of the 684 readers that responded, the UFC garnered 72% while boxing drew 17% and the WWE had 11%.

It also asked readers which over-the-top service was their favorite.  Of the 818 responses, NFL Now drew the most votes with only 11%, followed by 120 Sports with 9%, WWE Network with 4% and then UFC Fight Pass with just 1%.  Notably, 75% of the respondents stated it did not watch any of them.

On an unrelated, yet interesting note on digital league subscriptions, readers found MLB.tv (22% of the 818 respondents) their favorite followed by NFL Sunday Ticket (18%) with NHL GameCenter Live coming in third (14%).  This is interesting considering the NFL usually takes tops with its coverage.

Payout Perspective:

SBJ indicates it has a readership of over 54,000 with many business executives in sports reading the trade publication.  The UFC is periodically featured in the publication and the UFC and WWE both advertise in it.  Obviously, the survey is not based on anything other than the opinions of the readers.  Still, it’s an interesting viewpoint on the business from those that do not closely follow the UFC.  With the “growth” aspect, it’s clear that the UFC is moving into more global markets and are forging overseas television deals to advance its product.  The WWE is already global and it depends on what organization you look at when looking at boxing.  Certainly, Top Rank is trying to tap into the Chinese market.  As for the over the top networks, it appears that we are still in the “early adopter” stage for the platform.  The WWE has gone all in with its network but the UFC seems to be doing much better with Fight Pass despite the perception from the survey.

Payout Perspect: Pacquiao-Algieri Perspective

November 26, 2014

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at Manny Pacquiao’s latest fight this past Saturday against Chris Algieri at the Venetian Macao off of mainland China.

Pacquiao posts 6 knockdowns in rout of Algieri

Maybe 2 of the knockdowns were due to slipping in Pacquiao’s corner.  Yet, the other four were legitimate and reflects the fact that Chris Algieri was not in the same class of Manny Pacquiao.  Although Pacquiao’s star may not be as bright in the U.S., the Macao fans were fully behind him. Pacquiao could not end Algieri short of the final bell but showed that he still had the speed and power to score some impressive knockdowns.

So what’s next for Pacquiao?  He is contemplating a move back down to 140 pounds where Roy Jones-trained Jessie Vargas, who was on the undercard, may be an interesting match-up.  Of course, there is that long-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather looming.  Then again, everyone has heard these rumors for years.

PAC Algieri

Vargas, Lomachenko and Shiming score victories

Jessie Vargas, Vasyl Lomachenko and Zou Shiming scored victories on the undercard of the PPV.  Vargas, now trained by Roy Jones, Jr. defeated Antonio DeMarco, a Freddie Roach fighter, in the opener.  Lomachenko, in his first title defense, defeated Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Zou Shiming defeated a Thai Manny Pacquiao doppelganger, Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym.

Attendance

ESPN reported attendance a sellout at 13,201 at Macao’s Cotai Arena off the coast of mainland China.   Last year for Pacquiao-Rios was a sellout as well.

Promotion

Conspicuous by its absence, were the HBO 24/7 three part episodes.  Instead, we were given just one 24/7 but it was probably for the best.  While we could have been introduced to Algieri more, I’m sure HBO execs were unsure about how much to invest in the boxer still living with his parents.  Algieri had a good backstory and the first 5 minutes of 24/7 did a good job in drawing parallels between Pacquiao and Algieri. Also, I’m sure it’s becoming harder to find interesting stories for Pacquiao.  This time around they followed him around making the rounds as a politician and captured him playing for a basketball team he now owns.

Although Pacquiao and Algieri made the normal rounds to promote the fight, it felt like this fight did not have the usual Pac Man buzz.

Sponsorships

Sponsors in the ring included Tecate, the upcoming Fox series Empire and Philippine paint company Boysen.

Probably the best promotion for this fight was Manny Pacquiao’s Foot Locker commercial which played on the reaction of Manny Pacquiao when he mistakenly believed that Floyd Mayweather had accepted a fight with him.  In that commercial, Pacquiao sported a Nike, “Black Mamba Training” t-shirt.

Pacquiao-630x355

Pacquiao had his usual sponsors including Nike. Ricoa, Café Puro and mobile app company Viber.

Algieri wore a Nike-sponsored Stony Brook (his alma mater) jersey to the weigh-ins and was sponsored by the swoosh for this fight.  Similar to Tim Bradley, the company made a logo for him.

Cerritos and South Coast Mitshubishi patches were all over boxers and corner men throughout the night.  It is the Dynamic Fastener of boxing.

Odds and ends

Dionesia Pacquiao, Manny Pacquiao’s mother was once again a part of the show. Notably, she was going around the ring post-fight with her rosary.

Having an annual event in Macao appears to be part of the plan for HBO/Top Rank as it seeks growth in the Chinese market.

Busy night for Freddie Roach with multiple fighters including Zou Shiming and Pacquaio on the card.

Possibly the fight of the night was the PPV opener with Jessie Vargas defeating Antonio DeMarco.  Vargas could be someone on the radar for Pacquiao.

Notably, comedian Dave Chapelle, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were all in attendance.  Chappelle had made the trip last year for Pacquiao’s fight.

Conclusion

There were over 500,000 google searches for Manny Pacqiuao Saturday.  Is that good?  Yes, but I am not confident that the amount of searches for Pacquiao would equate to PPV buys.  Pacquiao’s Macao fight last year against Brandon Rios did only 450K-550K PPV buys depending on who you asked.  It felt like there was less promotion done domestically and we may see this hurt the buy rate.  I would expect the same PPV range as the Rios fight last year.

With Pacquiao fight Saturday, ongoing question of whether PPVs are sustainable

November 22, 2014

With Manny Pacquiao returning to PPV Saturday night, the standard question of whether PPVs are worth it surfaced.

In a Newsday column published this week, there are quotes from both boxing and UFC executives which address the question of PPV as a viable platform. The conclusion appears to be that it takes a big event for people to purchase PPV.  This is something most of us already knew.  The column acknowledges that with the internet and social media, there are more ways to follow a PPV card without purchasing it.  Also, more people are content with highlights they may be able to obtain legally online.

UFC exec Marshall Zelaznik is quoted in the piece and stated that it’s up to the UFC to “figure out how to create and develop content that will make people not want to miss it.”  He went on to say that the UFC has to do “the right job to respect the consumer, to give them something that’s valuable and worth paying for.”

Dana White recently acknowledged this year’s PPV buy rates have been low and Floyd Mayweather’s PPV reputation has been affected with the underwhelming business done under the Showtime banner (except of course for The One).  Still, one big PPV event can mean a major windfall for the company.

On Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao is on PPV once again against an unknown in Chris Algieri.  Conspicuously, there has been little done in terms of promoting the fight.  Unless it has gone under the radar, there are no Tecate promotions and $25 rebates this time around.  The usual three rounds of HBO 24/7 has been limited to just one.  Even the replays of past Pacquiao fights have been limited on HBO and the Audience Network as Bradley-Pacquiao II is replayed.  Additionally, Algieri-Provodnikov has been replayed.

Payout Perspective:

There’s nothing new in the column related to the current state of PPV except the quotes from the execs.  It’s clear that the challenges of getting fans to buy PPVs are getting harder considering the amount of content out there, social media and the ability to see highlights that will satisfy one’s need to watch the event.  Are there too many PPVs?  Boxing has added several PPVs to the mix this year which may sway your mind about that question.  Certainly, many MMA fans have their opinion on the UFC PPVs.  As for Saturday’s event featuring Pacquiao, it will be interesting to see how many Pacquiao die hards will pay the $70 to watch.

Kovalev-Hopkins draws 1.328 million

November 11, 2014

According to Nielsen, Saturday night’s fight on HBO featuring Sergey Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins drew an average of 1.328 million of the network’s subscribers.  The rating makes it the second-highest rated boxing event this year next to Chavez-Vera II.

A couple weeks ago, ESPN’s Dan Rafael compiled the highest-rated fights of 2014.  Rafael reports that the peak for Saturday’s fight was 1.397M.  Additionally, the undercard fight on HBO featuring Sadam Ali and Luis Carlos Abregu drew 882,000 network viewers.

  1. Chavez-Vera 2(HBO) 1.39M (peak 1.53M)
  2. Kovalev-Hopkins (HBO) 1.328M (peak 1.397M)
  3. GGG-Rubio(HBO) 1.304M (peak1.323M)
  4. Crawford-Gamboa(HBO) 1.208M (peak 1.286M)
  5. Marquez-Alvarado(HBO) 1.198M (peak 1.322M)
  6. Donaire-Walters(HBO) 1.088M
  7. Provodnikov-Algieri (HBO) 1.017M
  8. Salido-Lomachenko(HBO) 1.017M
  9. Kovalev-Agnew(HBO) 1.006M (peak 1.048M)
  10. Postol-Aydin(HBO) 1.002M (peak 1.1M)
  11. Kovalev-Caparello(HBO) 990,000 (peak 1.052M)
  12. GGG-Geale(HBO) 984,000 (peak 1.048M)
  13. Pascal-Bute (HBO) 982,000
  14. Garcia-Herrera (Showtime) 972,000
  15. Stiverne-Arreola 2 (ESPN) 940,000

Kovalev-Hopkins moves past GGG-Rubio as second on the list.  The fight was dominated by Kovalev who put Hopkins down in the first round and controlled the rest of the fight.

Payout Perspective:

These are great numbers for a fight which pitted the 49 year old Hopkins against the surging Kovalev.  It was a fight that may be the olive branch that might end the cold war between Golden Boy and Top Rank which would be a bonus for the fans.  The viewership by HBO was likely due to the outlier that is Hopkins as there were several glowing articles about him (including a very good New York Times Magazine piece by Carlo Rotella).  There was also a 24/7 episode featuring the two fighters.  We will see now where both fighters go from here.

Boxer Garcia agrees to dismiss 3 of his claims against Top Rank

November 7, 2014

Boxer Mikey Garcia has agreed to dismiss three of his causes of action against promoter Top Rank.  The stipulation to dismiss his claims avoids a summary judgment motion brought by his promoter in a dispute over his fight contract.

Garcia’s attorneys and Top Rank attorneys stipulated to dismissal of 3 claims that were at issue in Top Rank’s motion filed last month.  The dismissed claims related to issues that Garcia alleged were in violation of California law.  The case of removed (i.e., transferred) out of state court and sent to federal court in Nevada.

Garcia still has a claim under the Muhammad Ali Act pending.

Order on Stip to Dismiss Judgment on Pleadings

Payout Perspective:

We shall see if this concession on the part of Garcia’s lawyers leads to an eventual settlement between the parties.  Certainly, the stipulation prevents a loss by Garcia’s counsel and the possibility of Garcia having to pay for Top Rank’s lawyer fees for the motion if it prevails in the case.  Not a lot of boxers succeed when suing under the Ali Act and we will see if Garcia intends to follow through with this lawsuit.

HBO Boxing tops events so far in 2014

October 22, 2014

ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted out the top live, first-time airings of boxing events for 2014.  Notably, the top 10 are all HBO events.

  1. Chavez-Vera 2 (HBO) 1.39M (peak 1.53M)
  2. GGG-Rubio (HBO) 1.304M (peak1.323M)
  3. Crawford-Gamboa (HBO) 1.208M (peak 1.286M)
  4. Marquez-Alvarado (HBO) 1.198M (peak 1.322M)
  5. Donaire-Walters (HBO) 1.088M
  6. Provodnikov-Algieri (HBO) 1.017M
  7. Salido-Lomachenko (HBO) 1.017M
  8. Kovalev-Agnew (HBO) 1.006M (peak 1.048M)
  9. Postol-Aydin (HBO) 1.002M (peak 1.1M)
  10. Kovalev-Caparello (HBO) 990,000 (peak 1.052M)
  11. GGG-Geale (HBO) 984,000 (peak 1.048M)
  12. Pascal-Bute (HBO) 982,000
  13. Garcia-Herrera (Showtime) 972,000
  14. Stiverne-Arreola 2 (ESPN) 940,000

Payout Perspective

We note that these television ratings are for the fights only and not the entire block of time.  A couple of the HBO events had two fights in the top 14.  Notably, Donaire-Walters were the semi-main event for GGG-Rubio.  Also, Salido-Lomanchenko were on Chavez-Vera 2.  Also interesting is that NBC Sports Network and the quarterly fights held on Saturday on NBC did not crack the top 14.  It had previously scored over 1 million viewers for its Saturday afternoon events.

GGG fight on HBO tops 1.3 million

October 21, 2014

ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted that this past Saturday’s HBO Boxing event featuring Gennady Golovkin (aka GGG) taking on Marco Antonio Rubio drew an average of 1.304 million viewers.  The fight was the fifth most viewed TV fight in the U.S. this year per Rafael (via Nielsen).

GGG’s decimation of Rubio lasted only two rounds but it peaked with a viewership of 1,323,000 HBO subscribers.  It reflected a 33% increase from GGG’s previous fight in July against Daniel Geale.  GGG’s third round stoppage of Geale drew just 758,000 viewers.

In addition, the semi-main event of the evening featuring former Boxer of the Year Nonito Donaire and Nicholas Walters drew an average of 1.1 million HBO subscribers.  Walters upset Donaire with a 6th round KO.

Payout Perspective:

The viewership is a testament to the growing popularity of GGG and likely impetus for HBO to put him up against formidable opponents and build on his popularity.  GGG is likely the next international PPV star as one would think that HBO sees him as someone that can take the place of Manny Pacquiao in the next year or so.

Top Rank seeks to dismiss claims in Garcia’s lawsuit

October 20, 2014

This past Friday, attorneys for Top Rank Boxing filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in U.S. District Court in Nevada seeking to dismiss a bulk of boxer Mikey Garcia’s lawsuit.

Garcia’s lawsuit was originally filed in Riverside County (CA) Superior Court.  Top Rank lawyer’s removed the case to Federal Court in Nevada via a procedural rule allowing such transfers based on the lawsuit dealing with federal legal issues (i.e., Muhammad Ali Act).  Garcia alleged that his promotional contract with Top Rank violated California law and the state’s strong public policy to protect California-based boxers from being taken advantage of by promoters and managers.  In the lawsuit, 3 of California’s claims relate to violations of California law.  Garcia claims that the promotional contract with Top Rank violated California’s Boxing Act and Professional Boxing Rules and California Labor Code section 2855.  He also claimed it was a violation of California’s restraint on competition.

Top Rank has moved for the court to make a judgment to dismiss Garcia’s claims based on the boxer’s claims under state law in California.  Essentially, Top Rank argues that Garcia entered into contracts with the promotion that state that the contract was governed by the state of Nevada.   Thus, any claims Garcia makes that violate California law should be dismissed since the contract is based on Nevada law.

Basically, Top Rank argues that despite the fact that Garcia is a resident of California and has had events where he fought in California; the contract dispute should be governed by the state of Nevada.  As such, Garcia’s legal claims related to violations of California law should be dismissed.

Top Rank argues several reasons why Nevada law should prevail under the terms of the contract. Namely, the terms of the contract dictate it, Garcia fought in Nevada and his manager does business in Nevada.  Also, Nevada law would not contradict California law.  It also cited the fact that prior boxing contracts with choice of law provisions are typically enforced by boxing commissions and courts.  Notably, it cited Robert Guerrero’s lawsuit against Golden Boy Promotions in which Guerrero lost his legal battle allowing the parties to settle their case in New York per the terms of the contract.  Guerrero argued that Top Rank did not use the   appropriate CSAC forms and the case should be heard in California.

Payout Perspective:

The motion to dismiss a portion of Garcia’s lawsuit was not surprising.  The legal strategy here was that Top Rank transferred the lawsuit to federal court and out of California where the state laws would seemingly favor the boxer.  Once the case was in Nevada, it sought to dismiss the California-specific claims.  Certainly, prior cases reflect the fact that Top Rank had the right, based on the contract, to seek out the appropriate governing law.  Whether or not the Court will grant the motion this time is another issue.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Top Rank hopes for growth in China

October 11, 2014

The Sports Business Journal’featured an interesting article on Top Rank’s attempts to make inroads in China.

The article (subscription recommended) focuses on the boxing promotion’s efforts to gain momentum into China which is described as the world’s fastest-growing economy.  While Manny Pacquiao will make his second appearance in Macau later this year, it takes a glimpse of how the promotion is trying to build an audience with a Chinese audience.

Notably, Top Rank, in partnership with a Chinese sports marketing firm, debuted a weekly tv show on 10 regional sports channels within the country giving it wide distribution in the country. “Fists of Power,” which features fights from the Top Rank library and live events promoted by the company acts as a promotional tool for the company.

Top Rank held its first event this past August in mainland China.  Although not big, and perhaps just breaking even on its endeavor, the long-term goal is to become a mainstay in the country. The event was aired live and on delay on state-sponsored channels which has the potential to reach more than 1 billion households.

Payout Perspective:

Expansion internationally seems like the most logical step for promotions such as the UFC and Top Rank.  The obvious reason is the opening of a new audience.  The relative strength of its economy and the sheer size of the population make China a great growth opportunity. Top Rank follows the same playbook as the UFC does with its TUF series.  Allow people to see its product on television for free hoping that it entices them to patronize the promotion.  Despite Manny Pacquiao’s decline in popularity stateside, Top Rank hopes his appearances in Macau open up the Chinese market. From there, it hopes that the proliferation of local talent (e.g. former Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming) will propel the promotion in the country.

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