Will PBC turn strategy into media rights deal?

April 24, 2017

Sports Business Journal (subscription recommended) reports on the current status of Premier Boxing Champions and its strategy of time buys across a broad landscape of networks.  The article looks at the ratings over the court of the innovative and risky experiment.

The hope was to turn the time buys into a lucrative “rights fees” deal.  This has not happened thus far.  Instead, the strategy has seemed to spread the brand thin and ratings have been sporadic.  Recently, Spike TV decided not to pick up its option for PBC stating that it would focus more on Bellator.

Per the article, there is still an opportunity for a rights fees deal but with the UFC shopping its rights package, there is some competition.  CBS might be a potential landing spot for PBC since it already has a tie-in with Showtime and has a $40 million budget for 2017.  In addition, there is the underutilized CBS Sports Network which could use additional live content.  In leadup to the last couple of PBC fights on CBS or Showtime, CBS Sports Network has shown previous fights of boxers that have upcoming fights on the networks which has served as good shoulder programming marketing the fighters.

One of the concerns for PBC is the lack of sponsors to spend consistently in the sport.  Showtime executive vice president and general manager of sports Stephen Espinoza notes that sponsors is where boxing is “living or dying.”  He believes there needs to be more education of sponsors to show that it has a valuable demo to deliver.

PBC has produced 54 cards in the last 12 months that aired across nine channels.  The highest average it has produced was 2.75 million viewers on CBS for two shows.  Its most-viewed show was a Sunday afternoon fight on NBC in August between Errol Spence-Leonard Bundu which aired immediately after the men’s basketball gold medal game.  The fight drew over 4.8 million viewers with a peak of 6.34 million.  More recently, last month’s Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia fight drew an average of 3.1 million viewers with the fight drawing 3.74 million and peaking at 5.1 million.  In February, the return of Adrien Broner on Showtime drew 779,000 of its network subscribers.

Payout Perspective:

The article notes that PBC is at a crossroads in its business model.  Based on the TV ratings, the time buy strategy has not been effective.  Despite the fact, the strategy has not produced desired results the article notes the last couple of events for PBC have produced good ratings highlighted by Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia on CBS.  We should see some decent ratings for Thurman-Andre Berto on Showtime this past Saturday.  Will PBC survive past 2017?  Better events, promoting its top fighters and maintaining a focused network strategy should help a turn around.  Of course, the networks and sponsors which would infuse PBC with an injection of money would help a business that has seeped money since the beginning.

Rousey to guest star on NBC series

February 22, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Ronda Rousey will be back on television guest starring on the NBC crime-drama series “Blindspot.”

Rousey will play a female prison inmate.  The backstory of her role here:

Rousey will be playing DEVON PENBERTHY: a female prison inmate who grew up in a working-class family from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and is serving time for transporting weapons across state lines. She is a tough, athletic woman who knows how to fight and handle a weapon.

Payout Perspective:

Maybe we are seeing Rousey’s next career taking shape.  Despite losing this past December, her Hollywood agency is still seeking opportunities for her outside of the Octagon.  It will be interesting to see whether or not her last two fights and her shunning the spotlight will negatively impact her persona as she moves away from fighting.

UPDATED: WSOF 34 draws 951,000 viewers, prelims draw 71,000 on NBCSN

January 4, 2017

World Series of Fighting drew 941,000 951,000 on NBC Saturday afternoon according to Nielsen.  The rating makes it the highest-rated televised WSOF event ever.

The preliminaries on NBC Sports Network drew 71,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings.  The prelims aired from 11:30-1pm PT.  The main card aired on NBC from 1-3pm PT.

Notably, the WSOF event took place during the first NCAA College Football semifinal at the Peach Bowl between Washington and Alabama.  The game drew 18,397 million viewers on ESPN per Sports TV Ratings.

Also of note, the UFC 207 PPV post-fight replay on FS1 drew 76,000 viewers at 3-4am PT.

Payout Perspective:

The Saturday event bests the WSOF’s last time on NBC when it drew 741,000 for WSOF 11 on July 5, 2014.  This past Saturday’s event, which took place in New York, featured Jake Shields-Jon Fitch and Justin Gaethje-Luiz Firmino.  Considering WSOF was up against one of the national semifinals for college football, reaching close to 1 million viewers is a success.  Of course, the question of whether the WSOF can remain afloat in 2017 is another question.

WSOF announces New Year’s Eve Show in New York

October 18, 2016

The World Series of Fighting announced a New Year’s Eve show in New York which will feature a trio of main events that will be broadcast on NBC Sports and on NBC the afternoon of December 31st.

Justin Gaethje will defend his lightweight title against Joao Zeferino.  Jon Fitch will face Jake Shields and Marlon Moraes will defend his bantamweight title against an opponent yet to be named.

The event will be live on NBCSN from 3pm-4pm ET and the rest of the show will be on NBC from 4pm-6pm ET.  It will be the second time that the WSOF will be on NBC Sports Network.  The event will take place at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

In order to have this event, the WSOF cancelled two preceding events.

Payout Perspective:

The event will be great, but there is a glaring typo on the WSOF web site.


The show is a big one for the organization and the NBC exposure should help it.  Then again, a New Year’s Eve show might not garner as many fans as you might think with people preparing for festivities later that night.  Last year, SpikeTV featured “Breakfast with Fedor” with tape delayed fights from the Rizin show in Japan.  It drew only 141,000 viewers and peaked at 271,000.  One would think that being on NBC should grab more viewers despite competing with college football bowls.

PBC on NBC Sunday draws massive ratings

August 25, 2016

In case you missed it, PBC on NBC Sunday afternoon drew a huge rating for the Errol Spence, Jr.-Leonard Bundu fight.  The event drew an overall average viewership of 4.8 million viewers and a peak of 6.34 million making it the highest-rated PBC fight since its inception.

As noted by ESPN’s Dan Rafael, the fight aired on NBC after the U.S. Olympic gold medal basketball game between the U.S. and Serbia.  The one-hour show was in between the Olympics on the network which may have attributed to the huge ratings.

Payout Perspective:

The large numbers can be attributed to the fact that viewers did not turn off their television despite a blow-out in the gold medal basketball game.  It’s the best ratings for PBC and Spence is a boxer that could see more spotlight fights for the organization.

PBC on NBC draws 1.32M viewers in overnight ratings

June 19, 2016

Premier Boxing Champions on Saturday night on NBC drew 1.32 million viewers per Television By Numbers.  The rating slightly improves upon its lowest rating on the network this past April.

The event, which aired on the network from 8:30-11:00pm ET featured Andrzez Fonfara and Joe Smith, Jr.  Smith scored an upset over Fonfara with a first round knockout.  Previously, Fonfara was best known to the casual fan as stopping Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.  He would have been the next in line for Adonis Stevenson.

According to TV By Numbers, the PBC drew 0.3 rating in the adult 18-49 demo and a 1 share.

Payout Perspective:

April 2016’s PBC event drew 1.24 million so this rating improves upon its last showing.  The event went up against other live sports on cable TV including the UFC, the U.S. Open Golf Championships and soccer.  Major League Baseball on Fox which featured the Cubs-Pirates drew 2.78 million viewers on Fox from 8-10pm ET.  A rerun of 48 Hours on CBS drew the most viewers on network TV Saturday night with 3.40 million tuning in to the 10pm ET show.

PBC on NBC draws 1.24M viewers in overnight ratings

April 17, 2016

Premier Boxing Champions posted its worst ratings on NBC drawing just 1.24 million viewers in overnights per Television By Numbers.

The card featured Errol Spence, Jr. against Chris Algieri with Spence scoring the victory.

The event, which aired from 8:30-11pm ET drew a 0.3 rating in the adult 18-49 demo and a 1 share.

The PBC on NBC December 12th card drew 1.85 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

On the other end of the watching spectrum, while the UFC on Fox won the night in the A18-49 demo, PBC on NBC put on its worst rating since airing on the network.  This has to be a big disappointment considering it is trying to push young stars like Errol Spence, Jr.  The overnight ratings reflect show that despite the shuffled UFC card, it has established a set audience that will watch the event regardless of the matchups.  As for boxing, it has yet to produce something like this to maintain ratings.

PBC on NBC Saturday night draws 1.6 overnight rating

September 27, 2015

Sports Media Watch reports that PBC on NBC Saturday drew a 1.6 overnight rating.  The rating is down from the network’s two previous PBC primetime cards.

Although no actual viewership numbers have been posted, Television By Numbers reported that the 3 hour time block from 8-11pm on NBC drew just 1.96 million viewers and an 0.5 rating for the 18-49 demo.  Boxing (in addition to The Carmichael Show) in that 3 hour block, was last in network ratings for Saturday night.  Notably two college football game ran on Fox and ABC during PBC.

SMW also notes that the 1.6 overnight rating is the lowest ever for the UFC on Fox in its 16 telecasts.

Payout Perspective:

We will try to gather more specific information on the NBC ratings later this week but it appears that PBC did not have a good outing Saturday night.  It did not help that there were two games at the same time.  However, it also lost out to CBS in overall viewership and in the 18-49 demo which aired a rerun of Limitless and 48 hours.  Sure, boxing skews older but these ratings can be seen as concerning.  Perhaps it was a case of bad luck to run up against 2 football games, but this was to be the coming out party for America’s next best heavyweight – Deontay Wilder.

PBC on NBC for 09.12.15 draws 0.69 rating; PBC on FS1 down as well

September 18, 2015

PBC on NBC last Saturday afternoon drew a 0.69 rating per Nielsen.  It is down from June’s NBC afternoon event.  Also, PBC on FS1 this week was down in just its second live event on the network.

The main event last Saturday was Peter Quillin taking on Michael Zerafa with Quillin taking the fight by KO.  The event went up against college football and US Open Tennis.


March – 1.08 rating, 3.4million viewers

April – 0.80 rating, 2.9 million viewers

May – 0.85 rating, ? million viewers

June 2015 – 0.95 rating (h/t Showbuzzdaily)

September 2015 – 0.69 rating

The ratings reflect the number of Nielsen members that had their televisions tuned into the event last Saturday.  There was not a release of the actual estimated viewers from the event.

In addition, PBC’s second event on FS1 drew just 152,000 viewers.  It’s a decrease from its first showing on September 8th.

PBC on FS1 September 8 – 184,000 viewers (per Sports TV Ratings)

PBC on FS1 September 15 – 152,000 viewers (per Sports TV Ratings)

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps we are seeing saturation of boxing events on television with these smaller events.  Saturday afternoon on NBC is not the most advantageous spot during college football season as well as during the US Open tennis tournament.  Also, the fact that it was the 5th televised boxing event that week prior to the Mayweather PPV probably hurt the ratings as well.

PBC adds FS1 to its stable of networks

June 23, 2015

With two network shows this past weekend, Premier Boxing Champions seems to be on every channel.  You may now include Fox Sports as another network that has added PBC to its programming.

Last week PBC replaced Golden Boy Promotions on FS1 as the network allowed its contract with Golden Boy end and signed a deal with PBC.

The list of networks that air PBC include FS1, NBC, NBC Sports Network, CBS, ESPN, Spike TV and Bounce TV.  Also, PBC has some of its fighters on Showtime.

According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, it’s not clear if the Fox Sports deal is a time buy like with some of its other deals.  Also, there was no immediate word if the Fox network would air PBC cards.  Expect PBC on FS1 sometime this summer.

Payout Perspective:

PBC replacing Golden Boy on FS1 has to sting especially since Golden Boy is suing Al Haymon and others regarding PBC’s business strategy alleging antitrust violations.  We will see if this move has repercussions with respect to Golden Boy’s lawsuit.  As for viewership, we shall see if PBC does better on FS1 than Golden Boy promoted fights.

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