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.

MPO Year in Review: No. 1 The Money Fight

January 1, 2018

MMA Payout’s business story of the year is likely everyone else’s big news of the year: The Money Fight which saw Conor McGregor make his debut in the ring against Floyd Mayweather.

What many thought would never happened at the beginning of 2017 actually came together rather quickly as the two squared off the last week of August at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.  Although the fight did not break the gate record for a boxing event in Nevada or the PPV buy record (both retained by Mayweather-Pacquiao), it drew blockbuster numbers.

The event was not a sellout but drew 13,904 for a gate of $55 million.  The PPV drew 4.3 million domestic buys and set records overseas for PPV.

McGregor received $30 million for his part in the fight while Mayweather drew $100 million.  With all of the PPV upside and other payouts tied to the event McGregor ended up with something near $100 million.

The event included an ambitious 4 city tour which went from Los Angeles, to Toronto, to Brooklyn, to London in successive days.  The events ranged from heated to comical to off-putting.

Still, the buzz for the event drew mainstream interest and was on the top of ESPN shows during fight week.  There was a small controversy concerning glove size but in the end the Commission allowed a last-minute change.  Then, there was the last-minute change to add Zuffa as co-promoter.  Frankly, the Commission would have let this go with any and all additional conditions as it was willing to allow McGregor, an MMA fighter, with no pro boxing record to step into the ring against one of the best fighters in boxing and a 49-0 record.

The event was truly a spectacle and basically a fantasy matchmaker’s dream.  The fight itself was easy to predict with Mayweather winning via stoppage in round 10.  The match was not that competitive as you could sense that Mayweather was never in peril.

But, from a business standpoint, one might surmise that it was the biggest revenue driving event for the UFC this year.  With a down year for PPV, the company capitalized on this fight with its top star.  McGregor sold himself to get the fight and his confrontational style help promote it to the casual viewer.

The event also made every fighter on the UFC roster dreaming to box.  Also, Dana White unveiled the idea that Zuffa would promote boxing in the near future.  As for McGregor, we will see if/when he returns to the Octagon.  Despite floating the idea of another boxing match, it’s hard to think he would do one for anything less than he was paid for Mayweather.  One would think that his deal with the UFC would include a return to the Octagon to fight in exchange for the boxing match with Floyd.  Yet, with all the money, McGregor might wait until he is given the money he wants before setting foot back into the Octagon.

Showtime announces Mayweather-McGregor draws 4.3 million domestic PPV buys

December 15, 2017

On Thursday, Showtime announced that the official domestic PPV buys for August’s Mayweather-McGregor fight drew 4.3 million PPV buys which fell short of the record set by Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.

Showtime also announced that it drew over $600 million in total revenue.

The Mayweather-McGregor fight was second biggest gate ever with $55,414,865.79 in ticket sales, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Mayweather-Pacquiao was the biggest with a gate of over $72 million.

Dana White indicated to Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal that the event drew 6.7 million PPV buys globally with it breaking records in Australia, UK, Spain and Canada. The simple math based on White’s comments would be that global PPV drew 2.4 million PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement confirms what many within the industry already knew – the August novelty fight reined in tons of money. It was only a question as to whether it would break the all-time U.S. record set by Mayweather and Pacquiao. Regardless of breaking a record, the PPV buys were enormous considering McGregor had never had a professional boxing match. Regardless of what you thought of the matchup, the fight elevated McGregor’s draw and could make it hard for the UFC to meet his monetary demands in the future.

Mayweather-McGregor draws $55.8M gate

September 6, 2017

ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reports that the gate for the Mayweather-McGregor fight drew $55.8 million.  The fight which took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on August 26th.

The event came in second in total gate in Nevada to the $72 million gate of Mayweather-Pacquiao in May 2015.

Per ESPN:

There were 137 complimentary tickets given away, according to the Nevada commission. The gate was generated from the sale 13,094 tickets, far short of a sellout at an arena that could have held as many as 20,500 for the fight.

Payout Perspective:

There was a lot of high projections for the gate but the sluggish ticket sales were largely due to the astronomical prices.  Its interesting that this event did well with PPV buys but fell short in the projected gate.  $55.8 million still is much more than any other event in Nevada aside from May-Pac.

Mayweather-McGregor replay on Showtime draws 549,000

September 6, 2017

The replay of The Money Fight on Showtime this past Saturday drew 549,000 viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  In addition, an epilogue of All Access which followed immediately after drew 291,000 viewers.

The Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight drew 549,000 Showtime subscribers and 0.15 in the A18-49 demo for the 42 minutes it aired on the network starting at 9:23pm ET.  It was a stand-alone presentation as it was not coupled with any live fights.

Previous PPV replays of note:

Mayweather-Pacquiao:  1.18M on HBO (coupled with Canelo-Kirkland)

Canelo-Chavez, Jr.:  769,000 on HBO

Canelo-Smith:  459,000 on HBO

Canelo-Khan:  767,000 on HBO

Canelo-Cotto:  901,000 on HBO

Mayweather-Berto:  587,000 on Showtime

Payout Perspective:

Maybe everyone saw the fight the previous Saturday or the opening weekend of college football detracted from the viewership.  The Labor Day Weekend likely took away some of the network subscribers from the ratings.  In comparison, the Mayweather-Pacquiao replay drew almost double the viewership although it was coupled with the live event of Canelo-Kirkland.  You might recall that event drew the best boxing ratings on HBO since 2006.

Payout Perspective: The Money Fight

September 4, 2017

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  Almost a week later, but we are still talking about The Money Fight that took place August 26th at the T-Mobile Arena.

Mayweather stops McGregor in 10

Floyd Mayweather waited it out.  As most believed, he tested out Conor McGregor for the first couple around before going on the offensive.  Out of the ordinary for the counterpuncher, but Mayweather pressed McGregor and it was clear that the UFC champ was tiring.  Despite not being brought to the canvas, the fight was stopped.  A good call despite McGregor’s post-interview protesting.

Mayweather gets his 50th win against McGregor who takes his first loss of his career.  Of course, it was just McGregor’s first fight.

We should see McGregor back in the Octagon but it’s clear that Mayweather may want to dabble in boxing again.  He wasn’t the worst in there but boxing in MMA is different than boxing.

Attendance and Gate

The fight was not a sellout which was not a surprise leading into the fight.  The astronomical price to see the event without much of an undercard likely was the primary reason for a non-sell out.  Due to the prior disappointment of Mayweather-Pacquiao, the event likely scared the big spenders away.

Payouts

The official payouts from the event had Mayweather earning $100 million not including PPV upside and McGregor getting $30 million.

Attendance and gate

The only thing that may have been a disappointment was the attendance for the event at the T-Mobile Arena. The event drew 14,623 although the gate was yet to be officially announced.  It was thought that due to the high prices the event would have drawn over the $72 million record for May-Pac.  With capacity at 20,000, the event fell way short of capacity but the big financial boon was the $99.95 price tag for the PPVs.

Promotion of the Fight

The 4-city world tour this past July introduced us to The Money Fight.  Maybe the Toronto tour stop was the best and the New York/Brooklyn stop was the worst.  Whatever you thought of it, it was the beginning of a monthlong run-up to the fight.

There were tons of promotion around the event including Showtime All Access and UFC’s Embedded Episodes.  At times, it appeared that each show favored its own boxer.  As always, this shoulder programming always interests me.

Saturday Night Live did a skit during its prime time Weekend Update the week before the fight.  The skit featured someone pretending to be Conor McGregor.  It was a bad impression.

Television Ratings

The Prelims to Mayweather-McGregor on Fox peaked at 3.1 million viewers and averaged 2,568,000 viewers.   It drew an outstanding 1,156,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Other associated ratings:

  • Mayweather-McGregor Prefight Show 1,463,000
  • Mayweather-McGregor Postfight Show 368,000
  • Mayweather-McGregor Weigh-In 287,000
  • PBC on FS1 drew 269,000 viewers on Friday night.

PPV estimates

Dana White proclaimed that the event drew 6.5 million buys.  Showtime stated that the fight sold between 4 and 5 million buys.  Other reports stated that the initial estimates did not break the 4.6 million record of Mayweather-Pacquiao.  ESPN noted that an estimated 50 million people saw the event.

The PPV estimates will not come in until this week but Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza claims it was a “massive financial success.”  This seems like an understatement based on the numbers.

Espinoza noted in a New York Times article that 10 to 12 percent of the total buys were through a digital service.  We note the tech difficulties those users had below.

Technical Difficulties

Due to the high demand, people reported issues with their streaming of the event.  The Showtime App, UFC.tv and Fight Pass were the main culprits with issues although other ways to purchase the PPV had problems.

Showtime issued a “limited number” of refunds.  Espinoza seemed to minimize the affect the technical difficulties had claiming that they were “definitely exaggerated.”  However, the first lawsuit filed over not being able to watch the event was filed in Oregon over futile attempts to watch the vent on the Showtime App.

The fight was delayed 20 minutes to accommodate for the technical difficulties but those paying $99.95 shut out of the telecast.

The UFC did not immediately state they would issue refunds, but upon meeting with its vendor, noted that it would issue refunds for those that had issues on the UFC.tv/Fight Pass app.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal noted that the PPV issues “appeared to come from a surge of late purchase and connectivity issues.”

Related?  The UFC announced less than a week later that FITE.TV would become the UFC’s new online streaming partner.  No official word, if NeuLion is out altogether with the UFC.

Sponsors

Corona was the main sponsor for The Money Fight.  Notably, this was not rolled out until a week or so prior to the fight.  One would have thought that the sponsorship for the event would have been announced much sooner.  In addition, Body Armor was very visible during the event as “towels and stools in the fighters’ corners had the Body Armor logo on it.  Also, fighters took their hydration from Body Armor bottles.  Also, Wish Shopping made a big splash with signage on the mats and on the weigh-in scale.

McGregor wore irish flag-inspired Beats By Dre headphones for the weigh-ins.  The company also released an ad starring McGregor on August 23rd.  McGregor signed a sponsor deal with Online betting site, Betsafe.

Odds and Ends

There were tons of newsy items coming out of this event and we couldn’t get them all in.  I wrote a preview on many of the issues including the commission agreeing to the glove change and Zuffa signing on as a co-promoter here.

While the PPV estimates may break records, Showtime had to deal with pirates using Periscope.  While Showtime obtained an injunction to stop some sites, it could not stop private users.  A tech security company claimed that almost 3 million viewers watched pirated streams.

Conor McGregor’s flip up sunglasses during the promotion of this fight were reminiscent of Dwayne Wayne’s.

Conor McGregor announced the roll-out of his first foray into the whisky business:

Floyd Mayweather introduced TMT-themed apparel for this event including one with the Irish Flag colors on a TMT shirt. He also had an assortment of mouthguards.  Iceberg Guards is selling a replica guard of the one he wore during The Money Fight for $295.00.

Gervonta Davis drew 100,000 google searches on Fight Night mainly due to his headgear coming out during the walkout.  Davis won, but drew the ire of some fans since he didn’t make weight.

While the Mayweather/McGregor announcement overshadowed the rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev this past June, Top Rank attempted to take advantage of the assembled media in Vegas by announcing a deal with ESPN that would include providing the company with the Top Rank fight library for an upcoming Disney-OTT platform.

ESPN showed old Mayweather fights where analysts talked about how he was such a pro and a likeable guy.  How times have changed.  The UFC also aired his fight with Maidana on UFC online to help promote the fight.

Although there was much publicity for this fight, the Miguel Cotto fight in Carson, California on the same night drew 730,000 viewers on HBO which is very good considering it was overshadowed by The Money Fight.

Mayweather and McGregor did the standard media appearances including on Jimmy Kimmel.

There were over 10 million google searches for the “Mayweather vs. McGregor Fight,” and 10 million google searches for “Mayweather.”

Conclusion

Usually we predict a buy rate, but with the news that it’s likely between 4 and 5 million PPV buys, we don’t have to conclude that this fight was a success.  The only question will be whether the buys passed the 4.6 million PPV record.  Whether or not it did, this fight was impressive in how it was marketed and promoted.  The UFC helped its brand with its involvement in the event and Mayweather made money as he always seems to do.  Will we see more crossover fights in the future?  Only if it is big names and promises to bring in big numbers.

The Ratings Buffet week ending September 1st

September 1, 2017

The Ratings Buffet for the week ending September 1st featured a lot of events this past weekend centered squarely around The Money Fight.

Friday

Showtime: All Access Mayweather-McGregor 10:00pm-10:23pm 105,000 viewers, 0.04 A18-49

FS1 Mayweather/McGregor Weigh-In Show 6:00-7:00pm ET 368,000 viewers

FS1:  All Access Mayweather/McGregor 8:30-9:00pm ET 214,000 viewers

FS1:  All Access Mayweather/McGregor 7:00-7:30pm ET 215,000 viewers

FS1  PBC on FS1 269,000 viewers, 93,000 viewers A18-49

Spike TV:  Bellator 182  481,000 viewers

Saturday

FS1:  Prefight show 1,463,000 viewers

Fox:  Mayweather/McGregor Prelims  7:00-9:00pm ET 2,438,000, 1,156,000 A18-49

FS1:  Postfight show 12:56am-2:00am 368,000 viewers

HBO:  Miguel Cotto/Yoshihiro Kamegai:  730,000 viewers

HBO:  Rey Vargas/Ronny Rios:  687,000 viewers

HBO:  Canelo-GGG 24/7 351,000 viewers

*Notably, the ESPN Sportscenter after The Money Fight drew 1.29M viewers which was the highest rating for Saturday night on cable.

Monday

USA:  Monday Night Raw  9:00pm ET 3.364M viewers

USA:  Monday Night Raw  8:00pm ET 3.384M viewers

USA:  Monday Night Raw  10:00pm ET 3.163M viewers

Tuesday

USA WWE Smackdown 8:00pm-10:00pm ET 2.455M viewers, 0.76A18-49

Wednesday

FS1 TUF 26 Episode 1 10:00-11:00pm ET 308,000 viewers

El Rey:  Lucha Underground 8pm ET 92,000 viewers, 9pm ET 49,000

Thursday

PopTV: Impact Wrestling, 8:00pm-10:00pm 268,000 viewers, 0.05 in A18-49

Showtime’s Espinoza claims The Money Fight a “massive financial success”

September 1, 2017

While the 6.5 million PPV buys boasted by Dana White may be premature, the PPV buys for this past Saturday’s Mayweather-McGregor fight may draw closer to the North American record of 4.6 million PPV buys earned by Mayweather-Pacquiao.

According to Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza, the event was a “massive financial success.”  If it doesn’t break the record, it will come close according to Espinoza.  CBS Corp.’s estimates have the fight drawing more than 4.5 million buys and could be closer to 5 million once all buys are calculated by next week.

The $99.95 price tag would calculate to approximately $450 million and perhaps $500 million if it hits 5 million PPV buys.  According to a Wall Street Journal article, the percentage that the cable and satellite operators may take are closer to taking closer to 40% of the revenue as opposed to the standard 50%.  The same thing occurred with the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

Notably, Espinoza states that the technical issues were “over-exaggerated.”

Payout Perspective:

Maybe the 6.5 million buys White was talking about was worldwide and not just North America.  The results are astounding and a “massive financial success” almost seems like an understatement.  The PPV buys reflect the great marketing behind this fight and the star power of Mayweather and McGregor.  Interesting comment from Espinoza minimizing the technical issues on Saturday.

White states The Money Fight drew 6.5 million buys

August 31, 2017

6.5 million buys.  This is the amount that Dana White state’s this past Saturday’s Mayweather-McGregor bout.

White stated this while talking to Urijah Faber and Snoop Dogg on Tuesday.  The amount is thought to be a worldwide total and not just limited to North America.  No official announcement had been made by Showtime or Zuffa.

The Los Angeles Times indicated that it should surpass the record 4.6 million buys by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in 2015 although it was too early to tell.

Payout Perspective:

All signs point to this fight breaking the record.  The Prelims on Fox, which did not have any boxer of note, peaked at 3.1 million viewers and averaged 2.438M viewers.  There were over 10 million searches for “MayweatherVsMcgregor Fight” and “Mayweather” on Saturday night which would suggest that this fight was widely sought after.  6.5 million seems like a worldwide number which would directly correlate with a lofty number of those coming from Europe and Ireland.  The official estimates are said to come out later today.

Mayweather-McGregor Prelims peak at 3.1M and other ratings

August 30, 2017

Nielsen has provided some additional ratings from this past weekend’s Mayweather-McGregor fight.  Notably, the prelims drew 2,568,000 viewers across Fox, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Go.  The show peaked at 3,110,000 viewers.

The Prelims on Fox drew 2,438,000 from 7-9pm ET.  In the A18-49 category, it drew 1,156,000 viewers and was up over 150% versus the average to date for Fox boxing telecasts.

The first prelim bout on the show drew 2,360,000 viewers.  The show peaked at 3,110,000 from the 8:45-9pm ET quarter hour.  This was during the welterweight fight between Yordenis Ugas and Thomas Dulorme.  Ugas defeated Dulorme.

Other ratings from the telecasts associated with The Money Fight include:

  • Mayweather-McGregor Prefight Show 1,463,000
  • Mayweather-McGregor Postfight Show 368,000
  • Mayweather-McGregor Weigh-In 287,000
  • PBC on FS1 drew 269,000 viewers on Friday night.

Also, a replay of All Access Mayweather/McGregor on FS1 drew 215,000 viewres.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the immense popularity of The Money Fight.  Ratings were up across the board for the Prelims as well as the pre/post and weigh-in shows.  Despite the technical issues, the marketing and promotion of the fight had people buzzing to watch this fight.

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