Shields to be first female boxer to headline on Showtime

February 9, 2017

USA Today reports that Claressa Shields will be the first female boxer to headline an event on premium network television as she will be the main feature on Showtime’s ShoBox series on March 10th.

Shields was featured in the WSJ last November where they drew comparisons to her and boxing as Ronda Rousey was to women’s MMA.  She made her pro debut on the undercard of Kovalev-Ward and is thrust into the spotlight in March.

She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.  Due to her Olympic success, she earned a $40,000 a year stipend from USA Boxing along with her own room at the training center in Colorado Springs.  She also receives meals, training and health insurance.

Turning pro is a gamble considering women boxers make little.  However, her pedigree meant that she earned $50,000 in her first pro fight.

She meets Szilvia Szabados (15-8, 6 KOs) in the main event from Detroit next month.

Payout Perspective:

This was a calculated gamble by Shields and her management team.  Women’s boxing does not receive the publicity as women’s MMA.  Notably, two women headline this Saturday’s UFC PPV.  Shields looks to be the new face of women’s boxing.  Certainly, she is getting paid better than most women MMA fighters.  But her pay is not the norm for women’s boxers.  For Showtime, which usually lags behind HBO in boxing ratings, Shields may bring much-needed interest for its ratings.

Showtime gets victory over HBO in Saturday boxing ratings

January 31, 2017

Showtime Boxing’s card on Saturday night did better than HBO’s Boxing After Dark.  The Showtime card featured Leo Santa Cruz taking on Carl Frampton in a rematch of their first encounter last July.

Santa Cruz-Frampton peaked with 643,000 Showtime subscribers and an overall viewership tally of 587,000 for the main event which lasted from 11:07pm-11:57pm ET according to Nielsen.

In comparison, per Sports TV Ratings HBO’s Boxing After Dark drew 497,000 viewers (234K in A18-49) for Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas.  Berchelt victory over Vargas aired approximately the same time as Santa Cruz-Frampton.  The other fight on HBO BAD featuring Takashi Miura knocking out Mickey Roman drew 491,000 viewers (209K in A18-49).

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that Santa Cruz-Frampton was the more notable fight to watch on Saturday night despite the fact that the BAD telecast had solid viewer numbers.  The fight was a rematch of their July 2016 fight which handed LSC his first loss. It’s a rare victory for Showtime Boxing which seems to lag in viewers in comparison to HBO.

Hopkins’ last fight draws 934K on HBO

December 20, 2016

Bernard Hopkins’ last fight of his career drew 934,000 viewers on HBO Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings.  Hopkins was knocked through the ring ropes by Joe Smith, Jr. and could not continue.

The fight, which aired from 11:54 to 12:24 am, drew 464,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  It also peaked at 1.035 million (according to Nielsen) at the time that Hopkins was knocked out.

In addition to the main event, there were two other fights during the telecast.  The opening bout between cruiserweights Oleksandr Usyk and Thabiso Mchunu drew 560,000 viewers (270,000 A18-49).  Usyk prevailed via TKO in the 9th round.  In the second fight of the night, Joseph Diaz and Horacio Garcia battled in a matchup of featherweights.   Diaz won via decision.  That fight drew 644,000 viewers (304,000 A18-49).

Payout Perspective:

The HBO fight occurred after the UFC on Fox event went off the air so there was no real overlap.  The ratings are a good bounce back from last week’s Terrence Crawford fight.  Of course, that telecast ran opposite a Showtime card and UFC on PPV.  Likely, many tuned in to see the 51-year-old Hopkins one last time.  Unfortunately, for Hopkins fans, he was sent through the ropes unceremoniously to end his career.

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.

UFC Fight Night 101 draws 686K, prelims 654K

November 30, 2016

UFC Fight Night 101 drew 686,000 viewers on Saturday night on FS1 per Sports TV Ratings.  The prelims which preceded the main card drew 654,000.

The main card (10:00-12:56 am ET) was headlined by Robert Whittaker taking on Derek Brunson.  Whittaker won via first round stoppage.  The event drew 342,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The 2 hour prelims (8:00-10:00pmET) drew 296,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

The ratings are somewhat surprising considering the UFC weigh-ins on FS1 Friday drew a very good 297,000 viewers which is above average for a weigh-in on the network.

Notably, the Kovalev-Ward replay on HBO drew more viewers, 834,000 (391,000 in A18-49), than during the main card.  Also, the live fight of Lomachenko-Walters drew more viewers (761,000, 347,000 A18-49) than the live UFC event.

ufc-fight-night-101

Payout Perspective:

It was the first time in a while that boxing on either HBO or Showtime drew better than a UFC event on FS1.  It was a free preview weekend for the premium cable channels which may be a reason although I am not sure if the Nielsen numbers include those not subscribed.  Still, good numbers for HBO, while the UFC event numbers were lower than the Fight Night average.  It is interesting that the main card and prelims were so close in viewership numbers.

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.

Alvarez-Smith draws 459,000 HBO subscribers

September 27, 2016

The HBO replay of the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith fight drew 459,000 HBO subscribers on Saturday night according to Sports TV Ratings.

The replay was the only fight as there was no live event to go along with the fight.  It drew another 216,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

Alvarez stopped Smith in the 9th round before over 51,000 at Texas Stadium.

Despite the big crowd, the early indications of PPV sales appear to be less than 300,000.  However, there is a report that the event was seen by 18 million viewers in Mexico on free television via Azteca 7.

Notably, Alvarez’s fight this past May versus Amir Khan drew 767,000 HBO subscribers on the replay and 339,000 in the A18-49 demo.  His Miguel Cotto replay drew 901,000 HBO subscribers.  The Cotto replay was aided by a live fight while the Khan fight stood alone.

Payout Perspective:

On a night when the UFC did really well with its Fight Night event from Brazil, the PPV replay of Canelo Alvarez garnered less than 500,000 subscribers and was from its last two replays on the network.  This has to be due to the opponent and perhaps Canelo has yet to draw a huge base of fans from the casual American viewer.

Report: Canelo-Smith draws less than 300K PPV buys

September 22, 2016

Lance Pugmire of The LA Times reports that the early information for the buy rate of the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith PPV last Saturday drew less than 300,000 buys.

Alvarez stopped Smith in the 9th Round before a packed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Canelo drew 450,000 PPV buys against Amir Khan this past May.  Prior to that, he drew 900,000 PPV buys against Miguel Cotto in November 2015.

Earlier this month, it was reported that July’s Terrence Crawford-Viktor Postol fight drew between 50,000-60,000 PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

The buy rate may have something to do with Canelo’s opponent but reflects the fact that he has yet to be the breakout PPV star that boxing wants and needs.  In the UFC, certain fighters can emit PPV buys regardless of their opponent.  Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey come to mind here.  Is boxing different?  Canelo as a huge fan base as seen by the over 50,000 that attended the fight.  But, he cannot draw PPV buys on name alone based on these numbers.  It will be interesting to see what he does next as he waits for an eventual GGG showdown.

Top Rank to distribute Pacquiao-Vargas PPV

September 14, 2016

The Sports Business Journal reports that Top Rank will not seek a distributor for Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Jessie Vargas on Saturday, November 5th.

There will not be shoulder programming (i.e. HBO 24/7s) to help promote the fight.   Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, could lose out on rights fees from the rebroadcast of the fight.  According to the Sports Business Journal, recent rights fees ranged from $350,000 to $800,000.

On the bright side for Top Rank, not partnering with HBO means it save 3 to 4 percent of the gross revenue from PPVs that it produces and distributes.

Payout Perspective:

There’s a reason that most promoters seek to partner with a PPV distributor.  The marketing and promotion of fight is paid for instead of the promoter in exchange for a cut of the PPV revenue.  We’ve seen the marketing dollars explode for a fight like Mayweather-Canelo three years ago.  Pacquiao-Vargas is not May-Canelo.  The lack of partner reflects more on the lackluster fight put together than an opportunity for Top Rank or the fact that HBO is dedicating its PPV budget on Ward-Kovalev.

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