For the last five years one thing has been certain. If you are going to watch Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao fight you are most certainly going to pay for it. Their popularity has defined Pay-Per-View numbers for the sport of boxing. Mayweather usually fought once a year while Pacquiao usually fought twice. Paying for 3 Pay-Per-Views a year for boxing fans isn’t that hard to do. It’s a little extra money out of the pocket for the cable bill but only three times a year isn’t that bad. One can put aside, plan, and be ready for it. This year however things will be much different.
Floyd Mayweather will fight twice this year, once in May and once in September. Manny Pacquiao will fight twice this year as well. He fights Timothy Bradley on April 12th and he’ll likely fight again in October or November. Both Mayweather and Pacquaio have reached the point in their careers where even if they were to lose their fights will still be PPV caliber. That makes four for 2014. That’s still not bad considering 2012 had four and they all did pretty well. But, that’s not where it ends.
This year will provide some new PPV events. Saul Canelo Alvarez has been deemed a star among the boxing fans. Golden Boy is determined to make him one. Canelo will fight three times in 2014 and Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer is not backing down from his promise to make them all Pay-Per-View events. Canelo has scheduled three PPV fights, one in March, one in July, and one in November. That’s not all. A fight between Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez is being worked on for June 7th. If they were to square off in the ring, which is likely going to happen, that would add to 8 PPV fights for the year 2014, the most that boxing has ever had since I can remember.
Eight is a lot and it may not be it. Stars like Carl Froch, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Gennady Golovkin, Adonis Stevenson, Andre Ward, and Sergey Kovalev are still all going to fight. If some of these matches end up against each other, for example Carl Froch vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, this could easily be turned into a PPV event. So, boxing is looking at roughly 8-10 PPV events in 2014.
This could be a serious problem when it comes to hitting certain numbers. Unlike previous years where one could just buy all three or four PPV’s without really thinking about it fans will have to be selective in 2014. That will hurt numbers all across the board. Hardcore fans will likely buy all or most of them. But they aren’t a lot and the casual fans and just fans of boxing who watch fights but don’t make it a priority are the ones that sky rocket PPV numbers. They will be torn between buying some, and leaving some out. Their persuasion will be based on the hype of the fight from the media and boxing fans. And no matter where they choose to put their money, one buy in March means one less buy in April. One buy in June, means they may not buy in July. They can go to bars for the other fights which is good because they are still watching but the PPV numbers that these promoters like to see will not be as high as they would like.
This is also a good thing for boxing. More PPV events means more stars are rising. The sport is no longer surviving on Mayweather and Pacquaio, although they do have the most appeal to the “casual” fans that draw numbers over the one million buy range. Slowly though, other fighters like Canelo, Mikey Garcia, and Gennady Golovkin can begin to increase numbers so that when Mayweather and Pacquiao have walked away from the sport the casual fans have somewhere to turn. The term “Pay-Per-View” walks parallel to the phrase “big fight”. It’s not like the UFC where one is featured every month. When casual fans see a boxing event that is PPV it means that it’s something that they may want to check out. And we all know in the sport of boxing that it only takes one or two big wins before someone becomes a fan. If these PPV events can draw more casual fans to watch, even if it is in the bars, it could mean bigger numbers for the future.
The biggest problem this year though will be building the names, and keeping the big numbers for the big names. It’s likely not going to happen. One buy is going to hurt another. Fans that buy Canelo-Angulo on March 8th may not buy Pacquiao-Bradley on April 12th because of it. If they do buy both they may go to the bar to watch Mayweather-Khan (not confirmed but likely) on May 3rd. If they want to see Mayweather fight on May 3rd, they’ll skip both the March and April event to make a purchase on May 3rd. Some may buy the April fight between Pacquiao-Bradley and not again till the June fight between Cotto-Martinez. In fact, the Miguel Cotto vs Sergio Martinez matchup has been deemed the biggest PPV fight of the year for the boxing fans. It’s the one their most excited about. While it likely won’t surpass a Mayweather fight in numbers it’s likely to hurt it as some fans will pass on it so that they can buy Cotto-Martinez. It’s also likely that Mexican fans who will mostly buy Canelo’s fights will be very particular in to what fights to buy and what fights to go to the bar for after March 8th. It’s no secret that the Mexican fans draw huge numbers and where they decide to put their money goes a long way in drawing big numbers. And guess what, this is just the first half of the year.
Most would say to make the PPV events cheaper so that would generate more buys. While that may be true the calculations aren’t. 300,000 PPV buys at 29.99 gets about 9 million dollars while 200,000 PPV buys at 59.99 brings in around 12 million. Promoters know that fans are going to buy certain fights regardless of the price and by lowering it the increase in buys will not make up for it. Basically, it’s better to keep the price high with less buys because as you can see it still generates more money. The biggest problem comes for the big guys. Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather will likely see big drops on their numbers due to the other PPV events. It’ll be interesting to see how much. One thing is for sure, boxing fans better be ready to dish out some serious cable bill money this year because it’s likely they’ll be buying more PPV events than they ever have in a one year span.