Ratings for Top Rank, PBC and NCAA Wrestling this weekend

March 26, 2019

This weekend’s boxing event took a step back from the last couple of weeks as events for Top Rank on ESPN and PBC on FS1 were flat likely overshadowed by the NCAA Tournament.

On Saturday night, Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew 469,000 viewers and 150,000 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen via ShowBuzz.  The event featured Kubrat Pulev as he defeated Bogdan Dinu via KO in the 7th round.  There were two fights on the telecast which aired Saturday night.

Sunday afternoon, PBC on FS1 took place with a fight between Lamont Petersen and Sergey Lipinets.  The Kazakhstani Russian stopped Petersen who then announced his retirement from boxing.  The event drew 374,000 viewers and only 74,000 in the A18-49 demo.

On another note, College Wrestling on ESPN drew 312,000/128,000 A18-49 Thursday (7:00pm), 407,000/147,000 A18-49 Friday night (8:00pm start), 625,000/245,000 A18-49 Saturday night (7:00pm EST start) for the NCAA Mat Madness showdown.

Payout Perspective:

This weekend sports programs were likely overshadowed by the NCAA Tournament which started for both the men’s and women’s brackets.  The opening rounds usually garner a lot of viewership which likely meant that most other sports took backseats to them.  The PBC on FS1 event is somewhat low for a name like Petersen, but with a late afternoon/early evening start it competed with NCAA games.

Disgruntled May-Pac fans get oral argument in appeals court

March 12, 2019

On March 7th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in the appeal of the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs that purchased the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.  The case was dismissed but appealed by the plaintiffs.

The underlying facts of the lawsuit brought by multiple individuals and consolidated into one case claim that they were victims of fraud when they purchased tickets and/or PPV for the fight without the knowledge that Pacquiao had an injured shoulder.  The details of the dismissal of the lawsuit were covered by MPO this past September.

Three parties representing the plaintiffs, the defendants including HBO and Showtime and separate counsel for defendant Floyd Mayweather and his company argued their briefs before the Night Circuit.

The appeal came down to two differing theories.  Plaintiffs viewpoint that the case is a consumer protection action where fans were duped into thinking that they were purchasing tickets and/or a $100 PPV to watch a healthy Paquiao and Mayweather.  But it was not revealed that Pacquiao was fighting with a significant injury.  As a result, consumers were taken advantage of by the promoters and those with business interests tied to the event.  Plaintiffs, in part, infer that the defendants were not going to cancel or postpone the event regardless of Pacquiao’s condition.

Defendants maintain the District Court ruling and uphold the ruling that the case is premised upon a revocable license.  The fans paid for what they received and despite the fact that they did not get the fight they wanted, they received the fight that they paid for.

The appellate court seemed to probe the question of whether Charpentier could be distinguished from this case based on the business-side of sports.  Charpentier was premised upon the fact that in the mid-1990s the Los Angeles Rams franchise was leaving for St. Louis, and despite its knowledge that it would, stated that it was staying.  While in Pacquiao, he indicated that he felt fine going into the fight, Mayweather asserted he knew everything within his opponent’s camp yet did not speak about a shoulder injury pre or post-fight.  HBO and Showtime did not claim to know about a pre-existing injury and promoted the fight as the Fight of the Century  It believed it to be so big that it set the ticket prices and PPV price point at astronomical prices.

Hart Robinovitch, arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs, stressed that facts were intentionally concealed from consumers set against the backdrop upon quotes from commentators inferring that the fight less that what was expected.  He portrayed the plaintiffs as the little guy that paid big prices for the event.

The Court asked about where the line might be drawn on a failure to disclose theory, here the omission of Pacquiao’s injury, where it is common that athletes play with injuries at all times.  Plaintiffs argued that the failure to disclose Pacquiao’s injury was material to this case.  Notably, Pacquiao did not publicly disclose the injury until 30 minutes into the PPV based on his request to the commission for a pain reliever for his shoulder. The Court grilled Robinivitch on the claim that Pacquiao omitted any claim of injury prior to the fight.  But, premised upon the omission, there must be a duty to disclose.  The Court also asked about “puffery” claims made by athletes (i.e., “I feel great,”) and whether something like this would give rise to a claim.

Plaintiffs argue that the license approach is premised on a contract claim, which differs from what it is arguing here.

They claim that the district court erred when it did not interpret Plaintiffs claim that Pacquiao concealed his injury for the sole business reason of making money.  Plaintiffs argue that there is a material fact, which cannot be dismissed on a Motion to Dismiss stage.

During oral arguments, Plaintiffs stressed the Charpentier case which was central to its case.  The case was brought by Los Angeles Rams season ticket holders that claimed the franchise publicly denied moving while concealing material facts that its intention was to move.   The court in that case stated, “Defendant knew these statements were false, but defendant made them purely to maintain and manipulate the sales of tickets.”  In that lawsuit, the court dismissed the contract-based claims but maintained the plaintiffs’ fraud claim.  The distinction is important when set upon the footprint of the Pacquiao case because plaintiffs argue that the material misrepresentation of Pacquiao’s injury in addition to the affirmations that he was fine is sufficient for this case to go forward.

While the question of disclosing an athlete’s injury is a debatable question, Plaintiffs cited the NFL’s policy of injury reports which discloses the nature and reason a player does not practice in the week prior to the game.  It notes this as an example of an affirmative

Daniel Petrocelli represented the defendants except the Mayweather defendants.  He argued that there are reasons why an athlete’s private health information is not disclosed.  First, there is a right to privacy issue regarding health issues.  Second, there should not be an expectation to know an up-to-date status of an athlete’s physical condition.  Finally, its common knowledge that boxers do fight with injuries.

The Court questioned Petrocelli if whether there are cases where there are material misrepresentations or omissions that give rise to a consumer claim.  But, Petrocelli argued that the cases are segmented between off the field business cases versus athletic case.  He argued Charpentier was based on the misrepresentation of the business aspect of sport and differed from Pacquiao’s shoulder.  He claimed that the case was extrinsic to the case and this was where the line can be drawn.  He gave the example of an announcement that a team had signed LeBron James and consumers made purchases based on the representation but in actuality it was another individual, not the famous basketball player.  In that instance, would there be an issue regarding a material misrepresentation.

While the Court did not side with either about the ultimate question of the veracity of the case, it did question Petrocelli if there were material facts about the omission of Pacquiao’s injury with respect to whether or not consumers were defrauded.

Mark Tratos, the attorney for Defendants representing Manny Pacquiao, Bob Arum, Todd duBoef, Top Rank, Inc. and HBO argued that the district court correctly dismissed the lawsuit arguing that the license approach applied.  They also claimed that there is no carve-out exception to the license approach where there is a fraudulent inducement to purchase an event.

Notably, the Defendants argued an alternative scenario in which Pacquiao was cleared by the Nevada State Athletic Commission which would relieve any liability on behalf of the defendants since a third party allowed the fight to occur.  This would place some level of liability on the commission.

During oral arguments, Tratos argued a floodgates of litigation scenario if there is a duty of a fighter to disclose an opponent injury.  The implication here would be that it would be implausible for a fighter to know whether or not there is a pre-fight injury of an opponent.  But there would be hundreds of lawsuits filed if there was an affirmative duty for a fighter to know another’s injury.

Payout Perspective:

One can expect an opinion in this case later this year.  If the court were to side with Plaintiffs, it would go back to the district court and continue as the lawsuit was dismissed just at the pleading stage.  If it sides with the defendants, the case would likely go away.  While most from the outside would see this as an easy case to decide in favor of the defendants, it brings up interesting theories with respect to consumer fraud.

Plaintiffs claim that there are material facts that would overcome a motion to dismiss the case purely on the filed lawsuit.  This is the initial goal of the Plaintiffs. Will this actual happen?  It would be surprising.  The Court seemed to wrestle with the necessity of disclosing an athlete’s injury prior to an event.  While Plaintiffs attempt to carve out the analytical argument that Pacquiao’s omission of disclosing the injury to generate sales as a business reason which would buttress its fraud claim, defendants argue that this is purely athletic strategy.  Defendants note that consumers are only entitled to watch an event and cannot dictate if its exciting or not.  It stresses that Pacquiao fought all 12 rounds and even won certain rounds based on the scorecards.  The cases argued before the court are carved out between a license approach (fans entitled to watch an event and nothing more) and those which follow the Los Angeles Rams case (Charpentier) where the court allowed a fraud claim when the Rams misrepresented that it would not move but did.  It does seem that the case will be decided upon whether there is a belief that there are material facts to determine whether the defendants had a duty to disclose the alleged injury.

The Court will be setting a new precedent when it decides this case as it will guide future lawsuits where sports fans feel duped by sports teams and/or events.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/15) outshines Bellator on Friday night

February 19, 2019

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN on February 15th drew 704,000 viewers per Nielsen according to ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured Rob Brant as he scored an 11th round KO over the previously undefeated Khasan Bayasangurov.

The telecast peaked at 769,000 viewers and was likely aided by the lead-in of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

Live Boxing on ESPN 2019

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/2):  880,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/10):  655,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/15) 704,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

As we noted with the Bellator post, the ratings for Top Rank on ESPN Friday night well-exceeded its MMA competition on the Paramount Network.  As stated, the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game helped as a lead-in.  Of course, being on the main ESPN network also helps with just many having the network on as habit.

Fury signs with Top Rank putting Wilder rematch in doubt

February 18, 2019

Undefeated lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has inked a co-promotional deal with Top Rank which will allow him to appear on the ESPN network. The question becomes what will happen to a much-anticipated rematch with Premier Boxing Champions and World Boxing Council champion Deontay Wilder.

The Fury-Wilder rematch was reportedly close to fruition, but with the new wrinkle of Fury signing with a rival promotion and network, the fight may be on hold.  The December 1, 2018 fight between Wilder and Fury occurred on Showtime Boxing’s PPV.

The news now has put a damper on the possible rematch with Deontay Wilder which ended in a draw.  The fight was highlighted by Fury going down to a vicious shot from Wilder in the final round only for him to rise from the blow to finish the round.

Payout Perspective:

Fury’s signing is another indicator of the splintering of combat sports.  Unless the sides can agree to a deal to pit the top two heavyweights in boxing, the sport will once again fall victim to promoters carving out their territory.  Can the sides come to a deal?  Of course, but it undoubtedly puts the rematch on the back burner.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/10) draws 655,000 viewers

February 12, 2019

The ESPN airing of Top Rank Boxing on Sunday night drew 655,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.   The event drew 233,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and drew a 0.44 share.

The event featured Jose Ramirez taking on Jose Zepeda with Ramirez winning and retaining his junior welterweight title via majority decision.

The telecast also featured an action-packed fight between Ray Beltran and Kiroki Okada with Beltran earning the ninth-round stoppage.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast was below average for viewership and vastly smaller than the UFC one day before.  With UFC airing this Sunday you might expect a big number but when boxing does return to TV on Sunday night’s it will be interesting to track.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/2) draws 880,000 viewers

February 5, 2019

Top Rank Boxing airing on ESPN Saturday night drew 880,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event, which included preliminary bouts to the main event of Sergey Kovalev and Eleider Alvarez, peaked at 1.022 million viewers.

On the network telecast Oscar Valdez defeated Carmine Tommasone via 7th round stoppage.  The opening bout featured Richard Comney defeating Isa Chaniev in just two rounds.

The event was bifurcated as the UFC’s debut on ESPN+ was split with prelims on the digital platform followed by the network portion followed by the main event airing once again on ESPN+.

As reported by Boxing Scene, ESPN Deportes averaged 122,000 viewers for the two-fight telecast as it peaked with 169,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Near 1 million viewers tuned in Saturday night for two prelim fights on ESPN.  The bookending of the card seems to be aiding its digital platform despite the gamble of confusing the viewer. The move for ESPN to air more combat sports will see an adjustment for the traditional sports viewer but its clear that there is an audience that wants to watch

Lomachenko fight draws over 2M viewers on ESPN Saturday night

December 11, 2018

The Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza fight on ESPN on Saturday night drew 1.865 million viewers on the network for its two-hour broadcast which was preceded by the Heisman Trophy telecast.

The lead-in likely helped the Top Rank Boxing ratings but Lomachenko is becoming destiny television for many fans.  The event drew 0.63 in the A18-49 demo per ShowBuzz Daily.  The fight alone during the telecast drew 2,013,000 viewers and peaked at 2,100,000 per Nielsen.

Its the second-most viewed fight on ESPN this year after Terrence Crawford’s win over Jose Benavidez this past October.

The Heisman Trophy Presentation on ESPN drew 2.928 million viewers and came on a night of a UFC PPV, HBO Boxing and the replay of Fury-Wilder on Showtime.

Lomachenko’s last fight on ESPN this past May against Jorge Linares drew slightly over 1 million viewers.

He drew 1.73M viewers last December for his win over Guillermo Rigondeux.

Payout Perspective:

Lomachenko was put in this same timeslot in 2017 after the Heisman Trophy Presentation and did better this time around.  It could be that more fans are aware of Lomachenko and used to Top Rank on ESPN that improved the ratings.  But, viewers are definitely gravitating toward Lomachenko as the ratings dipped after the Heisman telecast and then rose again when Lomachenko was about to fight.  We shall see what he does next as his next anticipated fight looks to be in April.

Top Rank Boxing on Friday night draws 950,000 on ESPN

November 19, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on Friday night drew 950,000 viewers per Nieslen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The telecast saw Maurice Hooker TKO Alex Saucedo in the seventh round of their title fight.

It was an exciting fight as Hooker went down in the second round of the fight versus the previously unbeaten Saucedo.  Hooker retained his junior welterweight title from the previously undefeated Saucedo.

NBA Basketball was the lead-in for Top Rank Boxing as the Milwaukee Bucks faced the Chicago Bulls.  The game drew 1.7million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Impressive for Top Rank following the NBA on ESPN.  The telecast started close to 9pm PT and still retained a significant amount of NBA viewers.  Hooker and Saucedo are not household names but the ratings are promising for future telecasts.

ESPN Top Rank Boxing reports strongest telecast of 2018

October 16, 2018

ESPN Top Rank Boxing on Saturday night drew 2.245 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The event was the highest-rated live boxing telecast of 2018.

Ring.tv reports that the peak of the telecast drew 2.7 million viewers.  The main event saw Terrence Crawford put away Jose Benavidez, Jr. in the 12th and final round of their fight.

It drew 1.038 million viewers in the A18-49 demo according to Nielsen.

The ratings reflect the highest rating for an ESPN Top Rank Boxing telecast since Manny Pacquiao took on Jeff Horn in the first telecast of the partnership.

Payout Perspective:

This is good news for boxing and boxing fans as we have seen an expansion of boxing viewership.  While HBO has foreclosed its time in the sport, PBC on Fox, Top Rank on ESPN and now DAZN’s latest coup of signing on Canelo Alvarez for his next fight this December shows that the sport continues to grow.  With these latest ratings, we will see if Terence Crawford can make the next step in his career: pay-per-view star.

Crawford-Benavidez fight draws big ratings on ESPN

October 15, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew a 1.6 metered market rating according to Nielsen which made it the highest-rated boxing telecast in 2018.  The main event which featured Terence Crawford scoring a 12th round KO of Jose Benavidez averaged a 1.8 metered market rating.

The main event was the highest-rated Top Rank bout and main event on ESPN.  The event took place in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  The main event between the two unbeatens was heated as Crawford took a swing at Benavidez at the weigh-ins.

In the co-main event, Shakur Stevenson defeated Viorel Simion via TKO in the first round.  The event drew a metered 1.3 rating according to Nielsen.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast was the second-highest rated Top Rank event on ESPN to the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight which kicked off the Top Rank-ESPN partnership. The event went up against Bellator on Paramount and though we will not get the overall ratings until later on Monday, boxing beat MMA on Saturday night.  The question becomes whether Crawford can draw on PPV and outside of Omaha.

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