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).
As Awful Announcing pointed out, the lead-in with the Heisman ceremony certainly boosted ratings, especially on the lesser known fights that started the program off.
The promotion of the event on ESPN programming was thorough and extensive, leading up to the fight over a week in advance.
The ratings also speak to the popularity of Vaysl Lomachenko. Guillermo Rigondeaux is not a well-known name, and while the gold medal might have given an idea of his skill to casual sports fans, he has made very few tv appearances in the last few years that even boxing fans could easily watch.
Like the other great foreign PPV stars before him Lomachenko speaks English and has shown he can speak at a conversational level, which was very helpful in Pacquiao’s and Golovkin’s route to PPV-stardom.
A true test of boxing’s drawing power and the partnership between Top Rank and ESPN will be how many more events Top Rank can put on with these types of numbers and how frequent those events can be.