Ring Of Sports Marketing

Date archives August 2016

Boxing / Ratings

Errol Spence Jr.’s PBC Network Ratings Soar To New Record

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.

Ringside Analysis:

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.

Regulations / Sports Law

Daily Fantasy Sports Open For Business In New York

The five leading companies in daily fantasy sports have been issued temporary permits to run daily fantasy sports contests in the state of New York.  Earlier this month Governor Cuomo signed a bill that legalizes daily fantasy sports providers but places them under regulation from the state.  The new law states that daily fantasy sports are mostly a game of skill.  The five sites allowed to operate daily fantasy sports in the state are DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo, FantasyDraft, and Draft.

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Entertainment Business / Ratings

Disney Invests In BamTech Streaming

Bamtech is Major League Baseball’s fastest-growing streaming division and Disney has just purchased a 33% stake in the company for $1 billion with the option to purchase a majority stake in the company in the future.  The investment is a direct response to the viewers that ESPN and cable television as a whole are losing a significant amount of users every day.  Disney will be developing an over the top streaming service for ESPN that will debut by the end of the year.

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UFC 202 Diaz-McGregor 2 Press Conference Heats Up

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz had a scheduled press conference promoting UFC 202 with other fighters on the card.  McGregor was very late and once he began answering questions Diaz left and says, “F – – – your whole team, how about that.”  Conor McGregor then responds back with similar language as Diaz walks out of Dvaid Copperfield Theater with his camp.

The press conference is abruptly ended by Dana White once Diaz’s camp has fully left the theater and Conor McGregor has been restrained and snet back behind teh curtain.

Ringside Analysis:

Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor have had some very heated exchanges in the past outside of the octagon so it is not a surprise that emotions boiled over at this press conference.  When Diaz and McGregor began throwing things at each other it instantly brings to mind the press conference brawl between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, which ultimately led to a postponed fight date.  Dana White can be heard yelling, “Conor don’t throw that!” as McGregor goes to pick up a Monster Energy can.

Athlete Branding / Boxing

Shakur Stevenson Is On The Verge Of Stardom

Shakur Stevenson is the only American boxer left with the potential to win a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.  If Stevenson wins the gold medal he will be the first American fighter since Andre Ward in 2004 to receive the highest prize in amateur boxing.  The young fighter is already getting comparisons to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and is featured in a Powerade commercial.  With the athletic success and commercial value that has already been established Shakur Stevenson is on the verge of stardom.

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George St. Pierre And Chael Sonnen Enter Into USADA Testing

Both George St. Pierre and Chael Sonnen have entered into the USADA drug testing pool.  Both fighters will undergo the full six months of testing before the possibility of competition.

Chael Sonnen retired from professional MMA in June of 2014.  The former fighter asked to be part of the testing pool while he considers a possible comeback.  In 2014 Sonnen failed two drug tests around UFC 175 resulting in a two-year suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.  He failed a total of five drug tests before UFC 175 and is unapologetic in his use of PEDs:

“I’m not going to apologize because I’m not sorry.  I’m a consenting adult; I knew exactly what I was doing. This was a premeditated decision. If I go jump in my car and I back up and I hit my neighbor’s garbage cans, I’m sorry for that. This was a calculated decision. I made the decision, and I’ll live with it. That’s it. I wouldn’t make any excuses about it.”

There is some skepticism around Sonnen’s entry into the testing pool.  When Sonnen was asked if his comeback was imminent he said, “Not if the test is as good as I remember it being.

George St. Pierre, widely considered to be the best MMA fighter of all time, has also begun testing by USADA to make a comeback to the sport.  Pierre has been very outspoken against the use of PEDs in MMA so he decided to forego the option of getting a testing exemption similar to the one Brock Lesnar received so that he could fight at UFC 200.

Ringside Analysis:

Based on interviews done by both athletes it appears that it is much more likely that we will see George St. Pierre return to the ring than Chael Sonnen.

There is a clear risk by placing Chael Sonnen in a big-time program because there’s a chance he might not be eligible at the time of the fight.  He has an extensive history of using PEDs and really seems to have no interest in staying clean of all PEDs, openly saying that he won’t pass testing if the testing is effective.

George St. Pierre has been negotiating with the UFC through his agent over his first fight back and the financial compensation.  The sale of the UFC essentially hit the reset button on some of the talks.  According to George St. Pierre the only thing holding him back from participating is getting the right agreement with the UFC.

Entertainment Business / UFC

WME-IMG & UFC Betting Against Sports TV Rights Trend

When the WME-IMG paid $4 billion for the UFC they are making multiple bets on the future.  First, they are betting that they can market athletes so the revenue stream on a per athlete basis boosts the income of WME agents.  Second, that IMG can coordinate huge sponsorship agreements between corporations and the UFC.  Third, that the volatility in the industry between an inconsistent schedule and looming legal battles will work in the UFC’s favor.  Lastly, and probably most importantly, that when the UFC and FOX reach an agreement on a new television rights deal in 2019 will earn the UFC $400 million annually.

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Rio Olympic Boxing First Without Head Guards

Men’s amateur boxing at the Rio Olympics will be the have the first matches without head guards since 1984.  In 1984 some of the boxing matches appeared to be somewhat brutal and increased the perceived violence in the sport.  As a result, head guards were added to all amateur boxing matches at the Summer Olympics.  Leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio the International Boxing Association (AIBA) voted to remove head guards from competition.  The AIBA argued that the head guards were not preventing the scenarios that they were designed to stop and might encourage more dangerous fighting.

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Entertainment Business

Dana White’s “Looking For A Fight” Moves To Netflix

Dana White’s show “Lookin’ For A Fight” has been picked up by Netflix to be aired over their streaming service.  So far there have been seven episodes and average over a million views per episode.  “Lookin’ For A Fight” features UFC President Dana White and former UFC fighters Matt Serra and Din Thomas.  The three travel the country to find future UFC fighters who White says, “can be a world champion.”  Netflix reportedly has over eighty-six million subscribers world-wide with most living in the United States.

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