Crawford-Diaz draw 961,000 viewers on HBO

May 23, 2017

The Terrence Crawford-Felix Diaz fight on HBO Boxing drew 961,000 viewers on Saturday night per ShowBuzz Daily.

Crawford dominated the fight against Diaz.  Per ShowBuzz Daily, it drew a 0.37 rating in the A18-49 demo.

The other fight on the telecast between Raymundo Beltran and Jonathan Maicelo drew 687,000 viewers on HBO.

Previously, Crawford drew 982,000 viewers for his fight this past February against Hank Lundy.  In October 2016, Crawford drew 1.07M subscribers against Dierry Jean.  In April 2015, he drew 1.004M subscribers against Thomas Dulorme.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast was opposite a Showtime show so there may have been a split in viewership.  Crawford is one of HBO’s prized boxers but will he get a shot at the upper echelon?  The one sure way is a big fight with Manny Pacquiao.  The ratings reflect that his viewership is around 1 million viewers but if he’s to return to PPV, he’ll need a Pacquiao fight to do so.

Canelo-Chavez replay draw 769,000 on HBO

May 17, 2017

The replay of the Canelo Alvarez- Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. fight drew 769,000 viewers this past Saturday night on HBO per ShowBuzz Daily.

Canelo’s May fight against Amir Khan drew 767,000 for the replay on HBO.  He drew 459,000 HBO subscribers for his September 2016 fight against Liam Smith.  His 2015 fight with Miguel Cotto drew 901,000 subscribers for its replay.

Payout Perspective:
The lower ratings probably did not impact the PPV buys as it is reported that it will be over 1 million buys for the Cinco De Mayo weekend fight.  The ratings might be lower than the Cotto fight for the simple fact that news got around that the fight was a walkover.  In addition, it was on a night with UFC 211 on that night.

Where is boxing’s next PPV star?

May 6, 2017

As Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. get set to fight on the traditional Cinco de Mayo weekend boxing card, we wonder about boxing’s next big pay-per-view draw.

The two fighters in the main event were thought to be the future of boxing.  You can argue that only one of them has lived up to the billing of being the next big star while the other has been a disappointment thus far in his career.  For those that don’t follow boxing, Canelo is the fighter that is still on a career arc while JCC has the name and pedigree but perhaps not the desire needed to be a top star.

Last week, Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 in Wembley Stadium in a showdown between heavyweights.  While Joshua is massively popular in the UK, it’s still unknown whether that fandom would translate to US audiences.

The overarching question is whether any of these fighters could translate into a PPV star for boxing.

Canelo seems to be the best active fighter to be considered a boxing star on PPV.  He produced 2 million PPV buys when he fought Floyd Mayweather in September 2013 and 900,000 PPV buys against Miguel Cotto in November 2015.

But since the Cotto fight, Canelo has had lackluster PPV performances in a KO win over Amir Khan and Liam Smith.  In the Khan fight, it was estimated it had between 460,000 to 600,000 PPV buys.  It was later recalibrated down to 450,000 – 500,000 buys depending on who you asked.  This is respectable but down considering Khan had some notoriety prior to fighting Alvarez.  The Smith fight in September 2016 drew less than 300,000 PPV buys.  This may be due to the unknown opponent and the prior rumors that Alvarez was going to meet GGG.

In 2016, the biggest fight of the year, Andre Ward versus Sergey Kovalev, drew just 165,000 PPV buys.  GGG’s fight against Daniel Jacobs this past March did 170,000 PPV buys which was an improvement from GGG last showing on PPV.  Yet, fair or unfair to compare, 170,000 buys is less than a mediocre monthly PPV.  GGG is considered one of boxing’s best and can only muster 170,000 to pay for his fight, while a PPV with CM Punk drew 450,000 PPV buys.

In a November 2015 Sports Business Journal article former HBO PPV chief Mark Taffet identified seven factors that set apart PPV “megastars”:

  1. In-ring style – this goes to being an action fighter with the intent to KO an opponent in every fight
  2. Out-of-ring persona – Likable but also someone that sets themselves apart from the rest.
  3. Natural rivalries – this refers to fighters in the same weight class, or in a division close to their own.
  4. Demographics – this refers to the fighter being able to be identified with a particular group or audience.
  5. Media/technology – the ability to use social media to build followers and then monetize the opportunity.
  6. Intent – the desire to build a fan base as their career grows
  7. “It” factor – An undefined intangible, that Taffet states usually takes the form a storyline that is “unique and memorable.”

The likes of Vasyl Lomachenko, Errol Spence, Deontay Wilder and Keith Thurman may be on the next tier of boxing’s stars that have all of the above except the fact that they have yet to translate their in-ring success to monetary gain on PPV.  None of these fighters have headlined a PPV.  This is likely due to the fact that they see GGG and Canelo having trouble to gain traction in garnering PPV buys and are weary of pushing an event that might flop.  Recall Terrence Crawford fought Viktor Postol on PPV and drew 50-60K PPV buys.

While Canelo’s last PPV outing was disappointing, Golden Boy will continue to promote its premier star.  He has all of the seven factors above and if set with the right opponent, the fight could draw big PPV buys.  GGG lacks the natural rivalry that would help him equate his talent and persona.  The long-awaited showdown with GGG is in the offing and could give him a spark.

Anthony Joshua might be the next PPV boxing star.  It is still unclear whether his UK marketability will equate in the U.S., but last week’s event which aired on Showtime and HBO drew great ratings.  More importantly, once people tuned in, they saw a great fight in which he was knocked down but eventually came back to stop Klitschko.  With 13 sponsors already in his portfolio including big brands Jaguar, Under Armour and Beats By Dre, the former Olympic Gold Medalist has the pedigree, the look and the “It” Factor to succeed.

Clearly, Joshua’s marketability can translate to U.S. dollars as it did for Manny Pacquiao.  Notwithstanding the last year or so of his career, Pacquiao’s fighting style and large Filipino following allowed him to be one of the biggest boxing stars of the last 20 years.  He was able to accomplish this despite not being from the United States.  With his Mexican roots, Canelo is doing almost the same.  Joshua may have an advantage over Pacquiao and Canelo as he speaks fluent English.  Not to discount Manny or Canelo, but each has difficulty with carrying on interviews in English.

This year could be a big year for boxing starting with Saturday’s Canelo-Chavez fight.  If Canelo wins, it should ready us for a showdown with GGG in September.  If Chavez scores an upset, we can see a rematch later this year.  In June, we will see the rematch between Ward-Kovalev and see if that spurs more buys this time around.

Despite the wealth of networks that will show boxing, pay-per-view is the gold standard for boxing as it generates the most revenue for all in this sport.  For one reason or another, boxing fans have decided to hold off on buying their fights and instead wait for the next one on television.  In a post Manny-Floyd era, the lack of star power to drive boxing PPVs must be a concern for promoters.  But, there are several boxers that could fill the void.  The question is how to build these stars.

Promoters look to curb Facebook and Periscope piracy for Canelo-Chavez fight

May 4, 2017

The Los Angeles Times reports that promoters are seeking to enforce anti-piracy efforts from this Saturday’s pay-per-view between Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.

Believing that PPV numbers have decreased due to piracy, Golden Boy Promotions and HBO are combating pirates.  HBO has hired an anti-piracy company and are looking at live streaming products such as Facebook and Periscope which are burgeoning tools for piracy.

Notably, the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight was subject to issues involving piracy.  This included people taking out their cell phones and live streaming the event from the fight.  Or, purchasing the pay-per-view or finding a pirated site and then streaming the television PPV from their phone.

Anti-Piracy companies have notified Facebook and Periscope about the issue and promoters are confident that they can curb the efforts to watch the $59.99 PPV for free.  There are also calls for distributors to take more of an active role in stopping pirated PPVs.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps piracy is not a reason for depressed boxing PPV numbers.  There has not been a boxing PPV to reach over 1 million buys since Manny-Floyd.  Most of the boxing PPVs have yielded well below 300,000 buys since Manny-Floyd.  In fact, Canelo-Miguel Cotto was the last big PPV when it drew 900,000 buys in November 2015.  Promoters hope to curb piracy but it is harder with new live streaming tools like Facebook Live and Periscope.

It would not be out of the realm of possibility that down the road promoters, rights fees holders and those with intellectual property interests might look to legal action for contributory infringement and/or vicarious liability.  But, that might be hard to prove yet the threat of action may cause others to be more active.

Could this possibly a First Amendment issue?  Maybe.  A free plug for myself as next month a law review article I authored about the live streaming of sports will be in the Marquette Sports Law Review.

Joshua-Klitschko produce ratings for Showtime and HBO

May 2, 2017

The Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight on Saturday produced big ratings for both Showtime and HBO.

The live event on Showtime drew 659,000 subscribers and 0.24 in the A18-49 demo per ShowBuzz Daily.  The pre-event on Showtime drew 308,000 subscribers.  The post-fight on Showtime drew 401,000 viewers.

The replay main event on HBO drew 738,000 subscribers and 0.22 in the A18-49 demo.  The Canelo/Chavez shoulder programming which followed the HBO showing of the fight drew 315,000 viewers and 0.11 in the A18-49 demo.

On a separate note, PBC on FS1 drew 300,000 viewers Saturday night.  The 101-minute event starting at 10:19pm ET drew 0.08 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Excellent ratings for both showings and you can see that more people watched the HBO replay.  There are more subscribers to HBO and with the afternoon showing on Showtime, some probably could not watch it live.  Of course, maybe some like Lampley, Kellerman and Jones more.  Still, Showtime produced a great event and embraced the big event feel at Wembley Stadium.  The ratings on Showtime do not surpass the Broner-Granados fight earlier this year but again, this was a mid-afternoon fight on the west coast so that may have impacted viewership.

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.

Lomachenko on HBO draws 832,000 viewers

April 11, 2017

HBO Boxing’s Saturday night fights featuring Vasyl Lomachenko’s defeat of Jason Sosa drew 832,000 subscribers per Sports TV Ratings which bested the overall rating for the UFC 210 Prelims on FS1.

Arguably, the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Lomachenko made easy work of Sosa.  The event drew 389,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo per Sports TV Ratings.  The fight went from 8:49pm-9:25pm PT on HBO. Prior to the main event, a fight between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Yunieski Gonzalez drew 690,000 viewers and 299,000 in the A18-49 demo.  The opening bout between Oleksandr Usyk and Michael Hunter drew 679,000 viewers and 291,000 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Good numbers for HBO on Saturday night since it was up against a UFC PPV and Lomachenko is still not a marquee name.  But, Lomachenko is a fighter that HBO hopes to promote to a PPV level at some point.  Boxing fans that tuned in saw why he is one of the best in the world.  The ratings, which outdrew, the UFC Prelims reflect the fact that fans are learning a little more about the Ukranian fighter.

GGG-Jacobs replay draws 709,000 viewers

March 28, 2017

The replay of the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs fight on HBO Saturday night drew 709,000 viewers according to Sports TV Ratings. The rating encompasses the entire 2 hour block which also included the Roman Gonzalez upset by Srisaket Sor  Rungvisai.

The event drew 287,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The event aired from 10:00-12:00am on Saturday night.

In comparison, the PPV replay of GGG-David Lemiuex on HBO from October 2015 drew 1.07 million viewers.  This time around, GGG did more PPV buys (170K) than against Lemieux (153K).

The ratings are a shadow of GGG’s last time on HBO.  Of course, those were live events.

GGG Fights on HBO

May 2014 vs. Willie Monroe, Jr. 1.338M viewers (fight only)

November 2013 vs. Curtis Stevens 1.41M viewers (fight only)

July 2104 vs. Daniel Geale 984,000 viewers (overall show drew 758,000)

October 2014 vs. Marco Antonio Rubio 1.3M viewers (fight only)

February 2015 vs. Martin Murray 862,000 viewers (fight only)

April 2016 vs. Dominic Wade 1.325M (fight only)

Payout Perspective:

The replay may be down due to the NCAA Basketball tournament airing the same night. We note the Kansas Oregon game aired on TBS from 8:40-10:55pm and was the highest-rated sports program on Saturday drawing over 9.3 million viewers and 3.5 in the A18-49 demo.  Otherwise, the lower ratings are surprising for a GGG fight and an event that had two entertaining fights.

Early returns show GGG-Jacobs PPV draw between 130-150K PPV buys

March 21, 2017

Lance Pugmire of the LA Times reports that the early returns on the GGG-Jacobs PPV is between 130,000 to 150,000 buys although the GGG camp says that the final tally will be higher than 150,000.

Pugmire cites an industry source for the report as HBO has yet to provide an official tally.  Notably, the last GGG PPV,  GGG-Lemieux in October 2015 drew 150,000 PPV buys.

Pugmire notes that the gate for last Saturday’s event was $3.7 million as compared to $2 million for GGG-Lemieux.

Payout Perspective:

Even if the fight draws over 150,000 PPV buys, it likely won’t go much higher than that.  The PPV buy rate is not favorable for GGG as he possibly seeks a big fight against Canelo Alvarez in September.  The event went up against the NCAA Tournament but it was big fight and Jacobs was a much more marketable name than David Lemieux.

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.

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