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.
CBS has really committed to putting on great boxing programming. CBS owns Showtime and in 2013 signed Floyd Mayweather to a huge exclusive PPV contract for the rights to broadcast Mayweather’s last six fights.
It isn’t surprising that the rematch between Carl Frampton and Santa Cruz would be the more viewed fight, but with some big fights coming up on CBS, such as Keith Thurman taking on Danny Garcia, the competition between the two premium channels has heated up. Showtime may have the advantage in long-term finances and resources by virtue of CBS being the parent company.