Errol Spence Jr.’s fight against Leonard Bundu set a new ratings record for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). According Nielsen Media Research there was an average of 4.8 million viewers over the course of the single hour of programming. Viewership for the fight peaked at 6.34 million viewers making it the highest-rated fight in PBC history.
The PBC, led by Al Haymon, has prepared for a long-term investment in the sport. They have a four-year plan that they are in the second year of. That plan includes buying their own time spots on television, meaning that Al Haymon and the PBC specifically chose to follow the gold medal basketball game in the Rio Olympics on network television.
Promoter Lou DiBella said:
“Six million watching a fight is great for boxing… Millions of people were watching the basketball game and saw the electric crowd, and then when the game was over, they were taken to the fight in Coney Island to another electric crowd, and they stayed with it, and they saw a great performance from Spence. That’s a great sign for boxing. For a young superstar in the making like Spence, that’s great for him also. It’s great for the whole sport.”
Spence is a former Olympian and undefeated welterweight with a record of 21-0, eighteen by coming of way by knockout. Bundu had never been knocked down before and he was eventually knocked out in the sixth-round. The victory makes Errol Spence Jr. the IBF mandatory challenger for current champion Kell Brook. Kell Brook’s next fight is against Gennady Golovkin and there are some speculations that Brook will not return to welterweight after the Golovkin fight.
Buying television time after the Rio Olympic gold medal basketball game turned out to be a very smart decision. There is a risk present when following any huge tentpole program of paying a lot of money for a spot that most people will turn away from. However, the investment paid off big in this case.
The Olympics bring out a part of the United States that may not watch sports regularly and were only watching because it was the Olympics and Team USA was playing. The ratings show that a lot of viewers, both sports fans and some non-sports fans, stayed on the channel for the PBC program that was only scheduled to last an hour.
Haymon’s long-term strategy might be paying off now, especially with a fighter like Errol Spence Jr. who has developed a brand on network and free television. We will have to watch to see whether the ratings are a sign that the winds are changing or if these ratings are just an Olympic bump.