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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 / 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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Ratings / UFC

Stephen Espinoza and Showtime Show Interest In Partnering with the UFC

Showtime Sports Executive VP and GM says that he will be reaching out to the UFC about being broadcast partners.  The UFC’s broadcast agreement with FOX is coming to a close and if the network and the UFC cannot reach an agreement on a new broadcast deal then companies like CBS, Showtime, HBO, or NBC may bid high enough to be the main broadcaster in the future.

Dana White was critical of Showtime with how it handled Strikeforce but praised the network after the UFC and Showtime worked together on the Mayweather-McGregor fight.

Ringside Analysis:

Showtime and HBO use boxing to get subscribers.  The new subscribers who want to watch a fight hopefully end up finding a new favorite TV show or the movies that the network airs and eventually become full-time subscribers.  However, while Showtime and HBO pay the promoter for the rights to each fight, making for an easy revenue stream for the promoters, it limits the exposure of the fights and fighters.  Because people have to pay extra to watch a fight it is likely that most will opt to watch a basketball or baseball game on ESPN, a channel they already get, instead of paying a monthly fee for a new, premium channel.  Maybe Showtime will get the more popular fights on their network, but that would probably require a hefty price tag.  CBS would be a big player to help promote the UFC but access to the network may not be in the cards for this broadcast agreement.

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 / Ratings

Pacquiao-Horn Sets ESPN Boxing Rating Record

Saturday’s fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn, known as “The Battle Of Brisbane,” is the highest-rated fight for cable television since 2010 and breaks the old record for most watched fight on ESPN that was set in the 1990s.  The average rating throughout the program was a 1.8 metered market rating.  On ESPN streaming digital platforms the fight averaged 78,000 viewers with 392,000 unique viewers over the course of the program.  ESPN Deportes attracted an average of 1,400 viewers with 7,800 unique viewers.

According to ESPN Media Zone the cities with the highest market ratings were Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Raleigh-Durham, New Orleans, and San Diego.

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Boxing / Ratings

Showtime Ratings Top HBO For Frampton-Santa Cruz Boxing Weekend

The Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz rematch on Showtime beat HBO’s Boxing After Dark program on Saturday, January 28th.  Leo Santa Cruz’s majority devision win over Carl Frampton averaged 587,000 viewers compared to HBO’s fight featuring Miguel Berchelt stopping Francisco Vargas, which averaged 497,000 viewers.  It is also worth noting that Showtime has 30% fewer subscribers compared to HBO.

HBO,  typically the biggest and best broadcaster of boxing matches, has stiffer competition from CBS and Showtime.  From the LA Times:

HBO, confronting financial restraints, will respond with pay-per-views featuring Miguel Cotto vs. James Kirkland on Feb. 25, Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs on March 18, and Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez on May 6.

The networks’ competition is heated over the pursuit of U.S. television rights for the April 29 heavyweight title fight at London’s Wembley Stadium between International Boxing Federation champion Anthony Joshua and former long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko.

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MMA / Ratings / UFC

UFC 207 Reported To Total Over 1 Million PPV Buys

Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting reports that the UFC 207: Ronda Rousey v. Amanda Nunes, recorded over 1 million PPV buys.   The UFC recorded five PPV shows in 2016.  McGregor was the main event in three of the events that earned more than 1 million buys with UFC 200 being the fourth show that exceeded 1 million buys.  Rousey was notably missing from all the pre-fight media events and there was very little mention of Amanda Nunes in the commercials for UFC 207.  The UFC 207 co-main event saw Cody Garbrandt take on Dominick Cruz in an entertaining fight for the bantamweight title, which surely aided in the PPV buys.

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MMA / Ratings / UFC

UFC 206 Earns Estimated 150K Purchases

Max Holloway beat Anthony Pettis to win the UFC featherweight interim title at UFC 206.  Early PPV buy estimates show that there were 150,000 purchases.  The low PPV buys match the low viewership for the prelim fights on FS1.  The 771,1000 prelim viewers were the second-lowest this year.

From MMA Fighting:

The lowest number of the year for pay-per-view prelims on FS 1 was 678,000 viewers before UFC 204, the Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson headlined show. UFC 198, which was headlined by Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight title win over Fabricio Werdum, saw the prelims do 786,000 viewers, similar to Saturday’s show. That show ended up doing 217,000 buys on pay-per-view.

The viewership on Saturday was 32 percent below the 2016 average of pay-per-view prelims on FS 1 of 1,136,000 viewers.

The Holloway-Pettis main event replaced Daniel Cormier against Anthony Johnson for the UFC light heavyweight championship.

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Boxing / Ratings

Ward-Kovalev Earns 160K PPV Buys

When Andre Ward took on Sergei Kovalev, boxing fans saw two of the pound-for-pound best put their world titles on the line.  It was the classic matchup between a power puncher and a boxing technician.  Andre Ward won a narrow, unanimous decision.  The only notable PPV program that had fewer PPV buys than Ward-Kovalev was Crawford-Postol, which earned in the 50k-60k range.

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Entertainment Business / MMA / Ratings / UFC

UFC Expects Multiple Bidders For Media Rights In 2018

The UFC’s 2001 agreement with FOX was a sign that the UFC was approaching the mainstream media audience. The new owners of the UFC, WME-IMG, appear to be very optimistic about the upcoming negotiations for their media rights. Their current contract with FOX expires in 2018 and the owners are expecting to have multiple bidders because of a scarcity of sports content at that time.

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