May Day May Day: Will this Showtime PPV be a boom or bust?

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During the round table interviews, after Wednesday’s press conference for the upcoming Showtime PPV, Floyd Mayweather said, “I could fight a cab driver and it would still do numbers.” Guerrero is no cab driver, but he is defiantly not a household name. Many members of the boxing media as well as boxing fans have predicted that the 1st fight of Mayweather’s potential 6 fight deal with Showtime PPV/CBS will be a bust. Are the media and fans underestimating the marketing and brand, or do they have a point when they say there is no hype for this fight.

Many media members have been disappointed with the promotion of this fight. Neither fighter gave the normal amount of interviews in the last month that the major boxing scribes have been accustomed too. Espn.com writer Dan Rafael has stated several times in his weekly Friday chat that this is one of the worst promotions for a big PPV that he has seen.  The lack of a press conference tour to announce the fight, Guerrero shutting down many interviews after the gun charge, and Floyd being very choosy on who has given interviews too leading up to the fight were some of his main points.  And he is not the only one. Many articles have been written on this subject. You see a theme on twitter and in the boxing forums that calls for this fight to be well under Mayweather’s average of over 1 million buys. After seeing the ratings for the first two All Access episodes, than comparing them to HBO’s 24-7 average ratings, some think it will do around 600,000 to 800,000 buys, which would make it a bad investment for all parties involved besides Mayweather.

Maybe the boxing scribes are bitter and using their power to influence the fans? One theory is that without a possible Pacquiao fight for Mayweather, the interest from main stream fight fans will fade. Some say the Mayweather persona has run its course and that the jail stint will turn off many buyers. There is a percent of hardcore fans that will only be hyped about a Mayweather fight if the opponents name is Canelo, Martinez, Golovkin, and of course Pacquiao. Others point to the fact that Canelo Alvarez not being on the undercard like he has in recent Mayweather PPV’s will drop a few hundred thousand buys off the final count.

 Alvarez vs. Trout was scheduled to be the co-feature and it was evident what kind of interest that fight and Canelo’s name gained at the box office and in the Showtime ratings. Obviously when you’re talking about Mayweather you have to assume some are just haters that would love to see him lose or have a big drop in his numbers. This whole Top Rank/HBO vs. Golden Boy/Showtime has drawn a line between some fans, which beg the question of what makes a true boxing fan. Also, there is a segment of new comers to the sport who for some reason can’t just watch the fights, instead somehow making it a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather thing. Much has been made about the HBO brand and whether Showtime can compete with HBO. Plenty say it will be a big mistake for Floyd and Golden Boy to only produce cards through Showtime.

Here are some counter points to this debate that has really heated up this past month. Nobody is talking about this fight. Golden Boy and Top Rank hadn’t done much business anyway in recent years, and this whole battle has been a blessing in disguise for the sport. Both promotional companies can’t do as many of the normal showcase type fights that they have been getting away for years. One reason that no one was talking about this fight was the fact that the sport in the months of March and April have been a boom! Upsets, two way fights, compelling matchmaking, and slugfests, has caused a commotion in the sport and fans have responding by filling arenas and stadiums. We were all wondering what was taking Mayweather so long to announce an opponent. Now we know what the wait. HBO and Showtime in a bidding war for “Money” Mayweather, spending time hedging out a six fight deal. By the time the card was announced, both fighters did some media but maybe didn’t feel they had enough time to do the normal 3 or 4 city press tour. I do agree that helps sell the fight and gets people excited, along with stories that can be written or broadcasted on local television and radio about the event.

Many fans watch those tours live on Ustream or catch it on YouTube. The fact that they broadcasted the Wednesday final presser on CBS Sports Network which is available in 48 million homes and was also live streamed, more than makes up for a press tour back in February.

Closed camps and not enough interviews by both fighters? Robert put in his work early doing the multiple Fox News shows and the morning show circuits both T.V. and radio. Agree or not with some of the viewpoints for the 700 club but that is a brand that does not normally get tapped by all PPV promotions.  CBS has over 250 radio stations with ads and promotions for this fight. Mayweather did Espn, Jim Rome, Larry King, and let’s not forget the halftime show for the Final Four, along with the commercials running throughout the March Madness on CBS.  The CBS documentary called “Mayweather” dug into his past and featured commentary from stars like Kobe Bryant and the great Sugar Ray Leonard. It also aired in primetime last Saturday night and scored a high number for boxing considering the competition it was facing that night.

Media members and fans alike scoffed at the over 1.7 million homes the show did because it was beat by the other 3 major networks. That number didn’t include DVR recordings and couldn’t have had a huge overhead compared to the salaries and budget for a primetime show. Plus, it wasn’t a boxing event. I did do much better numbers that the Fight Camp 360 hype show for the Pacquiao vs. Mosley in that same slot, when Bob Arum was flirting with Showtime in protest to HBO and Golden Boy taking Pacman,  Miguel Cotto, and Juanma Lopez across the street. Guerrero isn’t the name Shane Mosley was and the money they paid for that card won’t be as high, people fail to forget how well that fight did on PPV.

Even if you’re not buying this fight, you have to appreciate the undercard for this PPV. For years promoters have given us watered down cards being stingy because of the top heavy purses in the main event. Leo Santa Cruz is not in a 50-50 fight but it will be very entertaining to watch. The other two fights could make for a solid doubleheader on HBO or Showtime any given Saturday. Canelo vs. Trout didn’t work out on this card but Abner Mares vs. Ponce De Leon and Santa Cruz will attract a demographic that they are after on Cinco De Mayo, a proven PPV weekend. Like Mayweather’s last 4 fights, this fight will once again be in theatres. In fact it is up to 400 theatres around the country and for the last few weeks another avenue has been attacked with a commercial running before the films start. CBS has tried to reach Middle America with its most watch network, something HBO can do with ESPN, CNN, TNT, but it’s not the same. Will this new marketing be enough to make up for the HBO brand and all it brings, or will the move from Mayweather to Showtime PPV and CBS backfire in their face?  Either way Floyd is protected. The 6 fight deal has a release option. Bottom line, if this PPV doesn’t do the numbers they expect it, although a valiant effort, it would be a waste of Showtime and CBS’s money.