HBO leaving boxing busines

September 27, 2018

The NY Times reports that HBO is leaving the boxing business after 45 years in the business.  HBO’s vice president of sports, Peter Nelson, made the announcement to HBO Boxing production staff Thursday morning.

According to the NY Times, Jim Lampley will remain on with HBO while Max Kellerman, Harold Lederman, Andre Ward and Roy Jones, Jr. will depart the network.  Nelson indicated that based on audience research, boxing was no longer a factor when subscribing to HBO.

The competition for boxing on television has increased in recent years.  Most recently DAZN launched its over the top platform this past Saturday with Anthony Joshua fighting Alexander Povetkin.  The company has signed a stable of boxers to fill its platform with content in addition to select Bellator MMA events and Combate Americas.  ESPN signed a deal with Top Rank which cut out a big piece of HBO’s roster of boxers.  Top Rank is now on ESPN and ESPN+.  Despite questions regarding its controversial business strategy, PBC has signed a lucrative deal with Fox to air its event on the network.

Payout Perspective:

The decline in viewership for boxing events on HBO and the increased competition was likely the nail in the coffin for boxing on the network.  There have been many memorable moments on HBO and it will be a shame to see it go.  But the reality is that the competition from other forces which center on combat sports and the network’s commitment to other areas of programming meant that this business decision was reasonable and probably best for the company.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN draws 662,000 viewers

September 17, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Friday night drew 662,000 viewers and a 0.22 rating in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen.  The event took place the night before the big GGG-Canelo Alvarez fight.

The main event of the ESPN telecast saw Jose Ramirez defeat Antonio Orozco via unanimous decision in a matchup of super lightweights.  The event took place at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California.

This summer’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Ratings:

September 15 – 662,000 viewers

August 18 – 686,000 viewers

July 14 – 518,000 viewers

July 7 – 534,000 viewers

June 30 – 632,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The event is slightly less than last month although it was the second-highest TR on ESPN telecast this summer. The telecast served more as a reminder to the casual viewers of the big PPV event Saturday.  It also gave boxing fans a little action before the main event the next day.

HBO’s BAD draws 777,000 for main event

July 24, 2018

HBO’s Boxing After Dark drew 777,000 viewers for the main event Saturday night featuring Jaime Munguia and Liam Smith.  The fight peaked with 827,000 network subscribers.

On the other card of the evening, Alberto Machado defeated Rafael Mensah via unanimous decision.  The event peaked at 762,000 viewers and had an overall viewership of 665,000 for the fight between the 130-pound fighters.

Payout Perspective:

It was a return to HBO from his May fight for Munguia which drew 711,000 viewers and peaked at 779,000.  In that fight, he defeated Sadam Ali.  This fight was entertaining as Smith was a game opponent.  The telecast reached the overall top 20 in cable ratings for Saturday.

Pacquiao-Matthysse available on ESPN+ in U.S.

July 7, 2018

One week before Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring against Lucas Matthysse and the fight finally has a U.S. broadcast partner in ESPN + announced it will stream the fight live from Malaysia.

By the time Pacquiao fights Matthysse, it will have been over a year since his last fight on ESPN against Jeff Horn in Australia.  Pacquiao lost a surprising decision in favor of Horn.  The event brought huge ratings to the network as it was the first fight in the Top Rank-ESPN deal.

This event has had its problems as Pacquiao’s promotion recently ensured payment for Matthysse so that he would travel to Malaysia.  A lot has changed for the Filipino former champion as he no longer is trained by Freddie Roach and Top Rank Boxing is not promoting this fight.  Bob Arum is handling the media deals for the event but not promoting.

Payout Perspective:

Is it an ominous sign that we haven’t heard much about a broadcast partner until a week before the event which gives little, if any promotion time for ESPN+.  It does provide the latest OTT platform another bit of content and with a cadre of Pacquiao loyalists still around, we should see a rise in subscriptions before next week.  But, this platform is a significant drop from Pacquiao’s PPV star.

Three live boxing events Saturday night split viewership

May 1, 2018

Boxing was big on television Saturday night with 3 live telecasts for fans to choose.  Each telecast outdrew Bellator on Paramount ratings.

HBO’s telecast featuring Daniel Jacobs was the highest-rated fight on cable television.

Jacobs’ unanimous decision win over Maciej Sulecki drew 811,000 viewers and 341,000 in the A18-49 demo.  It drew a household rating of 0.54.  Jarell Miller’s win over Johann Duhaupas drew 706,000 viewers and 290,000 in the A18-49 demo.  It drew a household rating of 0.48.  The ESPN Top Rank Boxing telecast which started prior to HBO’s telecast drew 701,000 viewers with the feature fight being Jessie Magdaleno taking on Isaac Dogboe.  It drew 259,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and 0.49 household rating.

The overnight rating for PBC on Fox drew 839,000 viewers and a rating of 227,000 in the A18-49 demo.  It drew a 0.59 household rating.  The telecast started 6 minutes later from its original 8:30pm ET start due to an overrun from motorcycle racing.

All ratings from Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

Payout Perspective:

The Jacobs fight outdid the Adrien Broner-Jessie Vargas fight last Saturday on Showtime.  The HBO telecast is impressive considering Jacobs is a solid fighter but his most notable fight was a close loss to GGG.  The Fox telecast was low and went up against the NHL Playoffs on NBC and an NBA Game 7 on TNT at about the same time.  The ESPN telecast improved from the 407,000 viewers it received last month.   The ratings reflect a niche for viewers as each telecast outdrew Bellator on Paramount Saturday night.

Top Rank Boxing to be featured on new ESPN+ service

April 2, 2018

ESPN announced its new over the top platform which will debut next week. The service will feature Top Rank Boxing as well as many other professional and college sports.

The standalone subscription streaming service, ESPN+ will launch on April 12th for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. ESPN+ will be integrated into the main ESPN mobile app.

Top Rank Boxing will be featured year-round and will kick off with the April 21st bout featuring Amir Khan vs. Phil Lo Greco. The service will feature undercard fights throughout the year from Top Rank on ESPN events and re-airs of all Top Rank on ESPN and PPV events. According to the release there will also be “an unmatched library of legendary fights from the Top Rank and ESPN Big Fights archives.”

Payout Perspective:

When Top Rank signed on with ESPN last year, this was going to be one of the focal points of the agreement.  What will be interesting to boxing fans will be the library of fights that Top Rank and ESPN may have on the service.  This might be an interesting purchase for those longing for older fights.  The grouping with MLB, MLS and NHL’s service also can help with the subscription service.

ESPN Top Rank Boxing musters 488K viewers Saturday night

March 20, 2018

ESPN Top Rank Boxing fought some stiff competition in cable TV ratings on St. Patrick Day as it drew 488,000 viewers Saturday night opposite the NCAA Tournament according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The event featured Michael Conlan as he faced David Berna in a super bantamweight matchup in New York.  Conlan dispensed of Berna in just the second round.   The Irish fighter moves to 6-0.

Also on the telecast, Oleksandr Gvozdyk defeated Mehdi Amar to win the vacant interim light heavyweight titled.

The main event featured Jose Ramirez as he defeated Amir Imam to win the WBC vacant junior welterweight title.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast on ESPN Saturday night went up against a slate of NCAA second round tournament games on Saturday including Houston-Michigan which topped the night on cable Saturday on TBS with over 3.8 million viewers, Florida-Texas Tech on TNT which drew over 2.8 million and Loyola-Chicago and Tennessee on TNT which drew 2.85 million.

ESPN scores highest cable boxing ratings in 2018 thus far

March 14, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew over 1 million viewers for its Saturday night telecast featuring Oscar Valdez and Scott Quigg scored 1,082,000 on Saturday night.

The 123-minute telecast drew a 0.37 rating in the A18-49 demo.  According to Nielsen, the Andy Vences-Erick De Leon fight was the highest-rated boxing event on cable for 2018 with a 0.8 share.

The lead-in for Top Rank Boxing on ESPN was the ACC conference championship tournament game between North Carolina and Virginia which led to the highest-rated show on cable TV for Saturday night with over 3.4 million viewers.

(h/t:  ShowBuzz Daily)

Payout Perspective:

Clearly, the ESPN deal is helping Top Rank with exposure of its product.  The ratings for its programming are aided by the lead-ins.  This time around it was the ACC Championship game featuring two top programs which likely helped keep people tuned into the next thing on ESPN that night.  Saturday night exemplified this affect since for most casual fans, we did not know these fighters.  It did go up against Showtime’s event which aired at about the same time but it fared much better.

ESPN Top Rank Boxing Saturday night scores highest overnights this year

March 11, 2018

Saturday night’s ESPN Top Rank event drew the highest overnight ratings (in terms of market rating) for 2018 according to the network.  It was the prelim fight between Andy Vences and Arick De Leon that scored a 0.8 metered market rating.

Last week’s Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz drew a 0.7 rating on Showtime and 1.055M viewers.    The main event of Oscar Valdez and Scott Quigg drew a 0.7 rating.

The visual spectacle of the fights fought outside under a canopy while rain came down in Southern California was nice.

The ratings will come out on Monday.

Payout Perspective:

It was a pretty big night on Saturday with an event on Showtime and the ESPN event.  The Valdez-Quigg fight was especially entertaining with Valdez earning the unanimous decision.  One might expect the ESPN fights to draw over 1 million viewers based on the market share according to ESPN.

2017: The year in boxing

January 6, 2018

2017 was a great year for boxing which saw some great fights and the spectacle that was Mayweather-McGregor.

The year started off with the talk about Mayweather-McGregor as the UFC’s lightweight champion stirred the pot by going on a rant on Instagram where he wrote “F*** the UFC.”  Dana White warned that if Conor went on without the UFC it would be an “epic fall.”

January also saw Al Haymon get a court victory with a dismissal of Golden Boy’s Antitrust lawsuit.  In a ruling which did not include oral argument, the Judge determined that Golden Boy did not come fort with genuine issues of fact to support its claims.  Most importantly, and a word of caution for the Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit, the Judge reiterated that the antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors.

Although Golden Boy suffered the loss in court, it inked a deal with ESPN with 42 fights airing on ESPN starting in March 2017.  As the prevailing party, they requested legal costs in the amount nearing $35,0000.  Golden Boy appealed the dismissal but it appears that the sides resolved the case as the appeal was dismissed by agreement of the parties.

The Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin/World of Boxing lawsuit went to trial in February and it did not take long for a jury to decide that Povetkin took Meldonium after January 1, 2016.  However, the case continues with the parties litigating the other claims as well as the issue who receives the millions of dollars that has been placed in escrow.

Wilder was also sued by rival Dominic Breazeale for a hotel melee.  The case was thrown out as the episode happened in Alabama but Breazeale sued in California.

Showtime Boxing had the highest rating of 2017 with Adrian Broner taking on Adrian Granados drawing 779,000 viewers.  The fight also aired on Twitter as the service continued to expand its offering of streamingClaressa Shields became the first female boxer to headline an event on premium network television. In March.

The GGG-Daniel Jacobs PPV drew between 130-150K PPV buys.  GGG’s next PPV appearance against Canelo would draw much higher as the draw drew 1.2 million buys.  The fight also had a higher price tag than usual:  $79.99 HD.  A rematch for May 2018 seems imminent.

March saw the second highest-rating for network viewership as Keith Thurman faced Danny Garcia in the battle of unbeatens on CBS.  The fight drew 5.1 million viewers while the overall telecast drew 2.7 million viewers.

After going through a lot of money, the viability of the PBC obtaining a media rights deal was brought into question.  Its deal with Spike TV ended but the organization found a home on FS1.

In 2017, it seemed as those everyone applied for a boxing license:  Conor, Nate Diaz, Cyborg…

Anthony Joshua faced Vladimir Klitschko in one of the biggest fights of the year.  The event aired live on Showtime and tape delay on HBO.

May’s Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. PPV drew 1.3 million buys and its replay on HBO drew 769,000 viewers.

In May, we took a look at where was Boxing’s next PPV star.  Aside from Canelo Alvarez, there are several contenders to be the next star on PPV including Anthony Joshua.

In June, The Money Fight was announced.

Also in June, Top Rank announced that it had a deal with ESPN to air fights with the first one being Manny Pacquiao fighting Jeff Horn in Australia on July 1st.  The debut earned big numbers as Pacquiao lost a controversial decision to Horn.

The Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II PPV in June drew between 130-135K PPV buys.

July saw a 4-city tour to promote the Mayweather-McGregor bouts.  It was an ambitious tour that fans clamored to be a part.  It was announced that the PPV price would be $99.95 HD.

The Money Fight drew huge numbers and was a big financial success.  We wrote about it here.  The event had streaming issues on both UFC Fight Pass and Showtime platforms.  As you might expect, there were lawsuits which are still matriculating through the court system.

Despite the big event, HBO ran an event featuring Miguel Cotto and it did well considering as it drew 730,000 viewers.

Capitalizing on the publicity of The Money Fight, announced an ESPN deal which will include airing its fight library on an OTT service that will launch in 2018.

Austin Trout sued the WBO which included claims under the Ali Act.  The case was moved to federal court in Puerto Rico where the WBO is seeking to dismiss the case and move it to arbitration.  The case will be an interesting look as to whether the court will allow a claim under the Ali Act will go to arbitration.

In September, Magomed Abdusalamov settled with the state of New York for $22 million for injuries sustained in a fight in 2013.  Abdusalamov was left with a brain injury and paralysis due to improper conduct and lack of training by the New York State Athletic Commission.

A huge ESPN fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeux drew 1.73 million viewers.  The overall telecast drew 1.487 million viewers.

In December, Showtime announced Mayweather-McGregor drew 4.3 million domestic PPV buys.  This is off from the 6.7 million Dana White had stated.  After hearing of the announcement, White took issue with Showtime’s numbers.

One of the bigger stories to watch going into 2018 is the announcement by Dana White that he will be promoting boxing.  Zuffa Boxing, a t-shirt worn by White during The Money Fight press tour, was a hint that White was up to something.  White made it official late in the year.  He indicated that he was meeting with Floyd Mayweather.  Despite stating that he will never work with Showtime again, he said he would be willing work with other promoters with the exception of Bob Arum.

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