Joshua-Klitschko to air on Showtime and HBO Saturday

April 17, 2017

Promoters for heavyweight boxers Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko have come to terms to air the IBF heavyweight title fight on both Showtime and HBO.  Showtime will air the live broadcast at 1:15pm PT and HBO will rebroadcast it in prime time at 7:45pm PT.  The event takes place at Wembley Stadium in London.

Per Yahoo! Sports, each network will provide its own announcing crew for the show.  Showtime has an exclusive deal with Joshua and Klitschko has a deal with HBO.

The negotiated deal between rival networks is a rarity.  The last time the networks worked in conjunction with one another for a boxing event was the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.  The business relationship broke down after the fight and resulted in a lawsuit.

Payout Perspective:

This is a rarity and its good news for boxing fans that have only HBO or Showtime.  It also reflects the fact that there can be a working relationship between rival promoters and networks.  This has been a bone of contention which was brought up in lawsuits by Top Rank and Golden Boy against Al Haymon’s PBC.  This is evidence that it can happen.  It will be interesting to see the ratings for each network.  While Showtime gets the live airing, it is in the mid-afternoon on Saturday for the west coast while HBO does get a prime time replay albeit many might know the result.

HBO Boxing draws 806,000 for Crawford-Molina

December 14, 2016

HBO Boxing’s main event of Terrence Crawford versus John Molina drew 806,000 subscribers per Sports TV Ratings.  It drew 416,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

According to Nielsen, the viewership peaked at 871,000 viewers.  Crawford made a defense of his junior welterweight title in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

The ratings are below average from Crawford on HBO.  Coming off of his first PPV in July which did only 50-60K buys, his return to HBO was disappointing.  The replay of the bout on HBO a week later drew 378,000 viewers.

Past Terrence Crawford Fights on HBO

Hank Lundy, February 2016, 982,000 viewers

Dierry Jean, October 2015, 1,070,000 viewers

Thomas Dulorme, April 2015, 1,004,000 viewers

Raymundo Beltran, November 2014, 836,000 viewers

The prior matchup between Raymundo Beltran and Mason Menard on the undercard Saturday night drew 636,000 viewers and peaked at 751,000.  Also, shown during the telecast was a bout between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr.  It averaged 521,000 viewers and peaked at 585,000.  According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, the telecast overall drew 639,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Saturday night was filled with combat sports action as UFC 206 and Showtime also had a boxing event on at the same time as the HBO event.  Crawford is one of the fighters HBO hopes will draw more fans as the network moves on from Manny Pacquiao.  Saturday’s showing did not help his argument that he can be a top star that can draw on PPV.

Ward-Kovalev PPV replay on HBO draws 834,000 viewers

December 1, 2016

The Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev replay on HBO drew 834,000 viewers on Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings.  The live fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters drew 761,000 viewers.

The replay of the PPV fight aired from 10:42pm-11:33pm ET aired first followed by the Lomachenko-Walters fight from 11:59pm-12:27am ET.

Per Sports TV Ratings, Ward-Kovalev drew 391,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo while Lomachenko-Walters drew 347,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The replay did much better than the last PPV replay this past September for Alvarez-Smith which drew 459,000 viewers.  Notably, there was a UFC Fight Night the same night as that HBO replay.  This time around, HBO boxing did better than the UFC Fight Night from Melbourne on Saturday night.  Of course, last Saturday occurred during a free preview weekend which may have bolstered the viewership.

Ward-Kovalev draw 160K PPV buys

November 29, 2016

The Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev PPV drew just 160,000 PPV buys as first reported by Kevin Iole.  TheRing.tv also reported the PPV buy rate for last Saturday’s event.

Ward defeated Kovalev in somewhat of a controversial decision as unofficial scorers had the fight for Kovalev.

The ratings are lower than the reported Pacquiao-Vargas PPV buy rate earlier this month which drew 300,000 PPV buys.  It was the first time that Top Rank distributed its own PPV in some time.  The Ward-Kovalev bout was distributed by HBO.

Boxing PPVs 2016

April 9, 2016 – Pacquiao-Bradley III: ~400K PPV buys

May 7, 2016 – Alvarez-Khan: ~450K-600K PPV buys

July 23, 2016 – Crawford-Postol: 50K-60K PPV buys

September 17, 2016 – Alvarez-Smith: >~300K PPV buys

November 5, 2016 – Pacquiao-Vargas: ~300K PPV buys

November 19, 2016 – Ward-Kovalev – 160,000 PPV buys

Payout Perspective:

The PPV buy rate for Ward-Kovalev might have been impacted by the Pacquiao fight and UFC 205 as it would have been the third PPV this month for combat sports fans.  The buy rate may reflect the casual boxing fan’s consumer interest.  Among those in the boxing community, Ward-Kovalev was a matchup of two of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport today.  Yet, it drew less than most UFC PPV events.  The PPV buy rate ends a down year for boxing PPVs as it tries to move beyond Mayweather and Pacquiao on PPV.

How will Kovalev-Ward do on PPV?

November 18, 2016

On Saturday night, Sergey Kovalev will take on Andre Ward in a much-anticipated fight for a variety of titles at light heavyweight and will answer the question as to who is the best pound-for-pound boxer.  How will the HBO PPV do?

For combat sports fans, November is/will be an expensive month as Kovalev-Ward will be the third straight week for a PPV.  Pacquiao-Vargas started the month, with UFC 205 next and now comes Kovalev-Ward.  It may be argued that Saturday’s boxing event in Vegas will be the best PPV of the three.  But, for the casual combat sports fan, will Saturday’s event be worth the money in a month where you could feasibly spend over $200 on PPV.

Another issue is that Kovalev-Ward comes on one of the biggest days for combat sports in some time.  There are two UFC events and a huge Bellator card competing for eyes.

The allure of Ward, 30-0, facing Kovalev, 30-0-1, is tantalizing for boxing fans.  Ward, the former Olympian, has been criticized for not taking on challenging opponents.  He’ll get one in Kovalev.  The Krusher looked invincible as he prepared for this fight but looked human against Isaac Chilemba as he was unable to knock Chilemba out.

It’s been an underwhelming year for boxing on PPV.

April 9, 2016 – Pacquiao-Bradley III: ~400K PPV buys

May 7, 2016 – Alvarez-Khan: ~450K-600K PPV buys

July 23, 2016 – Crawford-Postol: 50K-60K PPV buys

September 17, 2016 – Alvarez-Smith: >~300K PPV buys

November 5, 2016 – Pacquiao-Vargas: ~300K PPV buys

On another note, according to Lance Pugmire, Ward will make $5 million while Kovalev will earn $2 million for Saturday night.

Payout Perspective:

The Alvarez-Khan number has been rumored to be anywhere from 300K to slightly under 600K and anywhere in between.  But, the main point is that there has not been a blockbuster fight this year which has drawn truly big “Conor McGregor” numbers.  Boxing is centered on the one fight whereas the UFC packages 2 or 3 big fights together.  Still, it’s the one star (i.e. McGregor, Rousey) that does the huge numbers for the UFC.  Even Canelo Alvarez, the next big hope for boxing on PPV, had an uneven year.  While he may have done well in May against Amir Khan, he did not follow-up in September with a strong buy rate.  We already knew that Pacquiao is trending down domestically while the hope is that he does better in Asia.  As for Saturday, I do not expect Kovalev-Ward to do better than 300K PPV buys due to the aforementioned combat sports competition.  In addition, there has been little lead-up for this fight by HBO.  The shoulder programming has been less than previous HBO Boxing PPVs and the stars are less familiar to the casual viewer.

Pacquiao-Vargas draws “a little over 300,000” PPV buys

November 16, 2016

USA Today reports that the November 5th fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas deliver “a little over 300,000” PPVs according to Bob Arum.  The event was the first event in years without support without HBO as its PPV distributor.

Pacquiao defeated Vargas via unanimous decision and won a welterweight title in the process.  Arum indicated that the buy rate was similar to Pacquiao-Bradley III last April.  The initial report from ESPN on Pacquiao’s fight last April was between 400-500K PPV buys.

Pacquiao-Vargas: ~300K PPV buys

Pacquiao-Bradley III: ~400-500K PPV buys

Pacquiao-Mayweather: 4.4M PPV buys

Pacquiao-Algieri: ~300K PPV buys

Pacquiao-Bradley II: ~750-800K PPV buys

Payout Perspective:

Arum intimated in the article that he will not need HBO as its PPV distributor based on the results of this event.  If you saw the PPV, Arum is focusing on Asia for Pacquiao in terms of sponsorship and revenue.  The card was stacked with Asian fighters and Chinese sportswear maker, Anta, was a visible sponsor for the event.  We shall see if Top Rank can recoup some of its losses in the domestic market with international gains.

Report: Crawford-Postol PPV draws 50K-60K PPV buys

September 4, 2016

ESPN’s Dan Rafael notes that July’s HBO PPV featuring Terrence Crawford as he took on Viktor Postol drew between 50,000-60,000 PPV buys.

Bob Arum noted that a “stronger-than-expected” gate helped offset losses although he noted that Top Rank lost $100,000 on the fight.  Arum noted in the ESPN piece that he wanted the fight to be on HBO but the network did not have the money in its budget to buy the fight.

Whether or not HBO did not have a budget might be based on who you ask.  HBO did not provide comment on the brief article about the PPV buys.  It could be possible that HBO simply passed on paying a rights fee for the fight.  However, Crawford has been a mainstay on HBO and this was his first time on PPV.

Payout Perspective:

A generous PPV buy rate would mean that the July 23rd event drew approximately $3.6 million in gross PPV revenue.  According to Arum, a strong gate offset losses which still amounted to $100,000.  The numbers reflect the high cost for producing these type of events and also the need for star power to drive a PPV.  Crawford is a fighter on the rise but he’s not a fighter than the casual fan would pay $60 for at this time.  A fight with Pacquiao could have changed this and set him up to be the next in line.  But, Pacquiao and/or his camp decided to go with Jessie Vargas.  Notably, Top Rank will put on the Pacquiao-Vargas PPV as HBO has passed on it in favor of Ward-Kovalev later in November.

Arum says HBO will not distribute Pacquiao fight

August 12, 2016

Manny Pacquiao will be facing Jessie Vargas on November 5th on pay-per-view.  However, according to Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, HBO will not be the PPV distributor despite a contract with Pacquiao.

The cause might be due to the fact that HBO PPV will be handling the anticipated fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev on November 19th.  Certainly, HBO could handle two PPVs in one month if it made economic sense.  But, with the diminishing PPV value of Pacquiao, it appears that HBO will not make a guarantee to the once dominant Filipino fighter.

For Pacquiao, it’s a matter of finances.  It’s been written that the fighter needs money and his salary as a public official is not sufficient.  Frankly, not many people felt like Pacquiao was going to quit boxing.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael notes that Arum has inferred that if HBO will not produce or distribute the PPV, it will make him a free agent.  With a potential rematch with Mayweather (yes, really) a possibility next year, HBO may lose out on what (still) could be a big money fight.

Payout Perspective:

Outside of the Mayweather PPV, Pacquiao has not been the bright PPV star he once was.  The April 2016 PPV drew between 400-500K PPV buys.  Prior to Mayweather, his fight with Chris Algieri mustered just 300K-400K PPV buys.  Despite the need to retain Pacquiao, the Vargas fight is nothing that the casual Pacquiao fan will want to purchase.  With a long-awaited fight later in the month, HBO probably wants to dedicate its resources to Ward-Kovalev with the knowledge that more boxing fans would be willing to spend their money on that fight than Pacquiao at this point.

Showtime sues Top Rank for Pacquiao lawsuits

May 29, 2016

Showtime Networks, Inc. has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of New York against Top Rank, Inc. citing indemnification and breach of contract related to lawsuits filed by third parties against Showtime and Top Rank stemming from Manny Pacquiao’s claim that he fought with an injury against Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

The lawsuits, filed by individuals who purchased the PPV claimed that Pacquiao was not ready to participate in the fight because of an injury in early April 2015 and it was not disclosed.  Most of the lawsuits point to the Pre-Fight Medical Questionnaire provided by Pacquiao which seemingly misrepresented the injury by not disclosing it.

Under the terms of an agreement between Showtime and Top Rank, Top Rank was to defend and indemnify Showtime from any liability (i.e., lawsuits) and supply Showtime with its own legal counsel.  Showtime’s attorneys point out that a potential conflict occurred when Pacquiao did not notify officials of a shoulder injury prior to the Mayweather fight.  According to the lawsuit, Showtime demanded that Top Rank pay for Showtime’s legal representations once these lawsuits were filed due to the potential conflict.  Top Rank claimed that the terms of the agreement which would trigger Top Rank to defend and indemnify Showtime would be an instance of actual conflict between the parties.  Per the lawsuit, Showtime claims that Top Rank did not believe that there was a conflict.

The relevant indemnification language of the Showtime/Top Rank contract is below:

Showtime also claims that Top Rank threatened to assert its own indemnity claims against Showtime.  Top Rank claimed that Showtime promotional materials for the fight were relevant in relation to claims of breach of contract filed by plaintiffs.  Thus, Top Rank requested the same defend and indemnification that Showtime had been of Top Rank.

Despite the refusal to pay for its attorneys, Showtime defended the lawsuits it was named in.  The legal fees through May 12, per the lawsuit is $682,754.06 plus interest.  Showtime seeks to recoup this plus fees and costs of the lawsuit in this action.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that this was bound to happen.  Once Pacquiao claimed the injury post-fight, the lawsuits started to pour in from plaintiffs’ attorneys and they were going to name any and all entities in its complaints.  The lawsuit presents the question of what is a conflict and what is not and when the right to indemnify and defend took place.  Showtime claims that the unreported injury should have triggered the indemnification in the contract while Top Rank will likely deny this citing no conflict at the time.

We will keep you updated.

Top Rank – Haymon settle antitrust lawsuit

May 19, 2016

The parties in the Top Rank Boxing v. Al Haymon, et al. lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles has been settled.  The parties filed a joint stipulation to dismiss the case on Wednesday.  Terms of the settlement are confidential per the stipulation filed with the court.

Al Haymon and his various business entities were sued by Top Rank Boxing this past July as the promoter claimed that Haymon’s upstart Premier Boxing Champions violated federal antitrust laws as well the Muhammad Ali Act and California State Business Regulations.

Top Rank amended its lawsuit on 3 separate occasions.  One of the tries resulted with Haymon securing a dismissal.  However, the court allowed Top Rank the opportunity to refile.  Which it did.

Perhaps what precipitated the beginning of the end of this litigation was securing the opportunity to obtain documents (including financial information) from promoter Lou DiBella and his company DiBella Entertainment, Inc.  It was claimed by Top Rank that DiBella was a “sham promoter” essentially working for Haymon.

Joint Stipulation Dismissing Lawsuit by JASONCRUZ206

Another theory which may have caused the two sides to settle would be the downturn of PBC.  Ratings have been sluggish and reports of PBC seeping money seems valid.  Also, investors filed a lawsuit in Kansas over a fund’s strategy to invest in PBC.  Settling this lawsuit may negate the hefty legal bills the company is racking up.

A similar lawsuit filed by Golden Boy against Haymon continues in Los Angeles with discovery ongoing.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how much further the Golden Boy lawsuit goes.  If they are to obtain documents from other promoters (like DiBella) in discovery, it could leverage into a favorable settlement. It is unknown if PBC would run the risk of continuing with defending this lawsuit if there is the possibility of losing a huge verdict.

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