When a business that is doing just ok suddenly begins to see a flourish in numbers it is almost customary to do something that upsets it’s employees and or customers. This is corporate America at it’s finest. The flourish in profits isn’t enough. Greed sets in. Two employees becomes one, prices rise for customers, and anything that the company can do to make even more money is done so that the expansion of profits continues to rise even if it’s at the expense of it’s consumers.
Why should the sport of boxing be any different? 2013 was a breakout year. So why not expose the fans for money money? Why not line up five PPV fights for the first part of the year and plan another four-six to close it out? Promoters and television networks did what every company does, tried to expand the profit. Since so many fans loved what was happening in the sport why not make them pay more to see the big names fight?
There were five PPV fights once July had finished. If it weren’t for the Chavez-Golovkin fallout, July would have actually had two PPV boxing matches only two weeks apart making it six. The fans said they were upset about it, and they tried to voice that they wouldn’t be exposed to it as each fight was being planned.
The Promoters and Networks didn’t listen. But they are definitely listening now. Only one fight, the Canelo-Angulo fight, performed at the expected drawing in between 350k-400k buys. The rest of the events underperformed. Pacquiao-Bradley did a below average 750k, Mayweather-Maidana 850k-900k, Canelo-Lara 275k, and the worst and most surprising one of them all, the Cotto-Martinez showdown bringing in a rough 350k. Now most of these are estimates but every single one was projected higher by the promoters and their projections are usually good. Arum was dumbfounded, Showtime Executive Stephen Espinoza went as far to say he was no longer releasing PPV numbers because they were so bad. They couldn't understand why the numbers were so low.
The illusions of the Mayweather-Canelo showdown that drew in 2.2 millions viewers may have raised an eyebrow. The ratings that Showtime and HBO were getting for there fights were also making the powers that be think that maybe more PPV’s would work. It’s no secret that if you put in Mayweather with another young star that many people think could beat him, the fight will sell. Mayweather’s “People pay to see me lose” signature quote couldn't be more true. The selling point for the Mayweather-Canelo showdown was the boxing fans spreading the word around the country that Mayweather was going to lose to this young upcoming Mexican superstar. For that reason, casual fans paid. Boxing wasn’t dead.
Then came the ultimate problem. Greed. Showtime and Golden Boy wanted Canelo to do his own PPV, Mayweather to follow two months later, and then Canelo to follow again two months later in another PPV. In the meantime Top Rank and HBO got Pacquiao-Bradley II and Cotto-Martinez in between. For some reason they thought this was a good idea. Five PPV’s, five months in a row, all at $50-$70 dollars. Well, boxing fans don’t have that type of money. Those numbers showed both Top Rank and Golden Boy that they will not be exposed.
For that exact reason we are down to just two PPV fights lined up for the Fall. Funny how things change. Saul Canelo Alvarez and Golden Boy have announced that Canelo’s November fight will not be on PPV. Top Rank and HBO have announced that Cotto’s December fight will not be on PPV. If you need to know whether or not money was being made on those early 2014 PPV’s, well the answer is right there. The idea that more PPV’s was what boxing needed failed tremendously.
Instead of the expected 4-6 PPV fights that we all thought would happen from September to December this year we are back down to two. Mayweather and Pacquiao. Mayweather and Pacquiao will fight on PPV’s for the rest of their boxing lives, no surprise there. But what’s interesting about this is that now the fans only have to worry about buying 2 PPV fights for the rest of the year instead of 4-6. Now, they are more inclined to buy them maybe giving both Mayweather and Pacquiao a boost in their numbers. Golden Boy and Top Rank, obviously, know this. Feeding their two biggest stars come first. Sure, Canelo and Cotto have to take to regular television for the time being, but is that a bad thing? Maybe fore them. Canelo made a lot for that Angulo fight after the PPV revenue came in. I’m not sure how much Cotto made. But for each one to be ok with just fighting on regular television for their fall returns says a lot. They don’t have to worry though. A big fight is looming against each other in May that will make both of them tons of money.
Less PPV’s is a good thing. It’s time for HBO and Showtime to start showing better quality fights for free. Their PPV plan for 2014 backfired big time on them and that’s ok. Fans just aren’t paying that much anymore. Even the UFC, at one time the biggest rising sport on the planet, has had horrible numbers for this year. People don’t want to pay to see fights anymore. They will pay for a big one here and there, and the hardcore fans of each sport will pay for every event, but the casual fans will not dig into those pockets for average fights. They won’t even dig into them for good fights (Cotto-Martinez). And even the aura around Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is slowly dropping. 850k-900k buys is not what Showtime and Golden Boy want for a guy they are paying $32 million dollars too. 750k buys is not what Arum wants for a guy he is paying $20 million dollars too. Maybe that’s why Arum has been throwing out Mayweather’s name again. Maybe that is why Mayweather has been showing glimpses of Manny Pacquiao on All Access. But that’s for another article. (Coming Soon). For now, less PPV’s is what is needed and hopefully the powers that be have learned their lesson.