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Boxing / Ratings

ESPN-Top Rank Partnership Showing Signs of Success

ESPN has been consistently losing subscribers on a monthly basis and with $24 billion wrapped up in television rights contracts for the next few years the worldwide leader needed a boost.  Fights like Vasyl Lomachenko’s win over Guillermo Rigondeaux that beat out UFC programming on FS1 in the younger demographics is exactly what the broadcast company needed.

TopRank boxing and ESPN are four months into their four year contract and ESPN is currently paying more for a single Monday Night Football game than they are for the entire partnership with Top Rank, according to Kevin Draper with the New York Times.

The Creative Arts Agency (CAA) is managing the sales for advertisers and sponsorships.  Creating revenue through advertisers and sponsors will be essential to make up for missing out on PPV revenue if the biggest fights and fighters are to remain on basic cable.

Ringside Analysis:

There are a few important takeaways from this article.  First, it seems that Top Rank has learned from the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) mistake.  The PBC sought to buy air time on sports networks and sell the rights themselves, then after a few years sell the rights for the events back to the networks they had previously bought air time from.  However, those results have likely not come to fruition the way the PBC thought and the partnership between Top Rank and ESPN may be a better route to go.  Networks will promote much more often if they have some skin in the game.  One example that Draper points out is that NHL coverage on ESPN dropped after the network was no longer pay the rights fees to broadcast the league.

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Boxing

Mayweather-McGregor Earns 4.3 Million PPV Buys in US

Showtime has announced that Mayweather-McGregor earned 4.3 million PPV buys in the US.  The network also stated that the fight generated $600 million in total revenue.

The 4.3 million figure is well below what Dana White has stated in the past, which means that the 6.5 million buys White references must be including international buys.

Mayweather-McGregor is second to Mayweather-Pacquiao with PPV buys, MayPac generated 4.6 million buys, and gate revenue, MayPac generated $72,198,500.  Mayweather’s fight with McGregor on August 26th generated $55,414,865.79 in sales.

Showtime exec Stephen Espinoza told ESPN:

“The pairing of Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor brought together two very significant and distinct global fan bases in one truly unprecedented event… The remarkable results are all the more impressive considering that the planning, marketing and execution took place across a span of just 72 days from the initial announcement to fight night. Together Showtime and Mayweather have now accounted for the three highest grossing pay-per-view events of all time.”

Ringside Analysis:

The primary goal of this fight was to make everyone involved a lot of money.  Mission accomplished.

The marketing for the event included a world press tour that got ugly at times, an All Access series that has always preceded Mayweather fights aired on Showtime, and plenty of commercials on sports networks.  What is unique about this boxing event is that the UFC also helped sell the event.

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Boxing / Ratings

Lomachenko-Rigondeaux Is Second Highest Ranked Boxing Match On Cable In 2017

Vasyl Lomachenko’s fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux set ratings records.  The fight drew 1.73 million viewers, making it the second most-watched fight of 2017.  Pacquiao-Horn, which took place in July of 2017 and averaged 2.8 million views but peaked at 4.4 million, remains the highest-rated boxing match on cable this year.

This boxing event went head-to-head with the UFC running an event on FS1 and Nielsen ratings indicate that the boxing event drew more viewers.  Brian Ortega’s win over Cub Swanson in the octagon earned 870,000 viewers.  The boxing event benefitted from the Heisman Trophy Ceremony preceding it, but Lomachenko-Rigondeaux actually drew more viewers than the ceremony.

From Awful Announcing:

Boosted by following the Heisman Trophy Presentation, the Dec. 9 edition of “Top Rank Boxing” featuring the marquee bout of Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux drew a combined 1.85 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN Deportes, ranking as the second most-watched boxing telecast on cable since 2012, behind only “Top Rank Boxing” (also on ESPN) from July 1, 2017 with Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn. Each of the four fight cards on Dec. 9 registered at least 1.63 million viewers: Vasiliy Lomachenko/Guillermo Rigondeaux (2.114 million), Shakur Stevenson/Oscar Mendoza (1.687 million), Chris Diaz/Bryant Cruz (1.647 million), Michael Conlan/Luis Fernando Molina (1.635 million). 

Ringside Analysis:

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Boxing / UFC

Dana White Says UFC Could Begin Promoting Boxing

On the same podcast that Dana White said that the future of the UFC’s broadcast rights could be on a digital platform, the President of the UFC also said that one day boxing could be under the umbrella of the UFC.

Rumors first began that Dana White was going to expand into boxing last summer.  While promoting Mayweather-McGregor, White wore a shirt that said “Zuffa Boxing.”  White said that he has no plans to leave the UFC because it is his passion.  He also says that he is still under contract and can’t leave per the rules in the contract for WME-IMG acquiring the UFC.

Ringside Analysis

Dana White is a former amateur boxer, boxing trainer, and boxing fan.  When he partnered with the Fertitta brothers to take over the UFC and push it to its $4 billion sale he thought he could make a fight promotion company that avoided the mistakes boxing did.  He has already begun to obtain a promoter’s license.

Some believe that this is a sign that White and the UFC think that the market is softening on MMA and it is time to expand into something that is going to be more lucrative.  I view the expansion into boxing as a way to promote fighters in forms of martial arts they have mastered and also into new revenue streams.  While MMA may be a more long-term mainstream sport, the UFC could also expand into niches like boxing or muay thai.  Mayweather-McGregor has shown that there is a strong desire for cross-over competition if the personalities are right.  In a way, the UFC could really be moving back to its roots of matching wrestlers with kung fu masters.

The UFC is expanding into its first fight in mainland China at the end of this month, is looking for a big increase in revenue for their next broadcast rights, and are getting more international sponsors than they have before.  What the UFC is today could be a fraction of what it is in the next 10 years.

Boxing / MMA / Ratings / UFC

Mayweather-McGregor Earns 6.5 Million Buys According to Dana White

Dana White is the first person directly involved with the event to give a public statement on the number of PPV buys Mayweather-McGregor earned.  At a studio with Snoop Dogg, Dana White says that the fight earned 6.5 million buys.  The previous record was for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, which doubled the previous record with a reported 4.6 million buys.

The 6.5 million buys would set the North Americna record.  Other countries sold the fight for much less than the $100 price tag we saw in the United States.  Some countries had the fight available for free on television.

There were early signs for a huge PPV total when the prelims averaged nearly 2.5 million viewers and peaked above 3 million.  It should be noted that the prelims had no well known boxers on the card so the people tuning in were there for the names on the top of the card.

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Boxing

ESPN and Top Rank Boxing Sign 4-Year, Exclusive Deal

The month of August leading up to the Mayweather-McGregor fight saw some of the premier fighters in the sport fight on ESPN.  Manny Pacquiao fought Jeff Horn, Vasyl Lomachenko fought Miguel Marriaga, and Terence Crawford fought Julius Indongo.  Those fights now serve as the introduction to Top Rank on ESPN as the two companies enter into an exclusive 4-year agreement.

HBO and Showtime have dominated boxing broadcasting over the last twenty years.  This is the first time ESPN has made itself a major player in boxing.  According to Dan Rafael at ESPN, there are already 18 cards available for broadcast during the first year of the deal.

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Boxing / MMA

Mayweather McGregor Could Be Most Pirated Event Ever According To Lawrence Epstein

The biggest revenue-drivers for both promoters and fighters are PPV events.  New streaming apps are now allowing people to bypass the financial commitment to watching the fighters by basically leeching off of someone streaming the event.

UFC COO Lawrence Epstein says, via the article:

“For Mayweather-McGregor, it’s going to be tens of millions of dollars [in stolen signal]… There’s no doubt about it. This is going to be the most pirated event in pay-per-view history. I predict that.”

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Boxing / UFC

Mayweather McGregor Ticket Sales Are Off Pace For Historic Numbers [UPDATE]

After tickets for Mayweather-Pacquiao didn’t reach the general public, Mayweather Promotions and Dana White said that they would make an effort so that regular people would have the chance to buy tickets to attend.  Just a few days away from the fight it appears that the fight has yet to sell out.  As CNBC points out, the lowest ticket price for Mayweather-Pacquiao was valued at $4,000 and the cheapest ticket to get into Mayweather-McGregor is $1,500.

From Jesse Lawrence, founder of Ticket IQ:

…despite a series of reality-TV worthy press junkets hyping this fight, neither bots nor humans have been interested in paying face prices. A week after tickets first went on sale, nearly 2,000 tickets hit the secondary market. These tickets were priced at roughly a 30-percent discount to “face price,” and since then, prices are down another 30 percent. With nearly 1,500 tickets still available, it’s likely that prices will continue to fall in the days leading up to the fight.

In the 10 days before Mayweather-Pacquiao, average prices fell 17 percent. If the same happens for or Mayweather-McGregor, the cheapest ticket for fight night would be close to $1,000.

UPDATE: On August 22nd the ticket sales for Mayweather-McGregor may have passed the $72-million live-gate record set by Mayweather-Pacquiao.

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Boxing

Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford Will Both Fight On Cards Broadcast By ESPN In August

World champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford will defend their championship belts on ESPN.  Lomachenko will fight Miguel Marriaga to defend his super featherweight belt on August 5th and Terence Crawford will take on Julius Indongo on August 19th to defend his junior welterweight belt and take Indongo’s.  Both fighters are on the pound-for-pound, best in the world list.

From Dan Rafael’s article:

“ESPN is thrilled to bring these two new title fights to fans,” Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and scheduling, said Thursday. “There is a lot of buzz around boxing right now, and much of it centers around these two great champions — Lomachenko and Crawford. We are excited and proud to showcase these two great events on all of our platforms.”

“Pound for pound, no one can match the talent of Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford,” duBoef said. “They drew the best ratings on premium cable this year, and now everyone will be able to see them when they defend their world titles in all-action fights in August, live on ESPN.”

Both Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford have had nearly all of their fights air on HBO, but not PPV.  HBO could have matched ESPN’s offer but decided to forego their matching option.  Top Rank has said that they are expecting a longer term partnership with ESPN.  Historically, Top Rank was one of the biggest suppliers of fights to HBO, who can still work with the other boxing promotional company giant, Golden Boy Promotions.

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