Watered Down PPV Market


They say too much of anything is a bad thing and that’s the case with an overload of pay-per-views in boxing. Yesterday ESPN.com reported that a much anticipated bout between Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez produced a buy rate of 350,000, a number at least 100,000 lower than expected. Cotto-Martinez did make a profit according to Bob Arum because of the live gate of $4.7 million produced at Madison Square Garden.

While some are surprised, this should have come to no surprise as the fans have spoken with their wallet as this saturation of pay-per-views has hit their monthly bills hard.

Going back to September 2013, there have been 7 pay-per-views in the last 10 months, with the likelihood of at least 5 more pay-per-views this year. Couple that on your cable bill with the 20-30 dollars that you’re already paying to watch HBO and Showtime, plus your regular programming, then you may have a care note or worse a mortgage as your cable bill.

So it should be to no surprise that since Mayweather-Canelo did 2 million plus buys, the rest of the market has suffered.

Here’s a list of purses and buys since September 2013 from major pay-per-view bouts (source badlefthook.com):

Cotto ($7 million) – Martinez ($1.5 million): 350,000 buys

Pacquiao ($20 million)-Bradley ($6 million): 750,000-800,000 buys

Canelo ($1.25 million, guarantee 8 million)-Angulo ($750,000): 350,000 buys

Marquez ($6 million)- Bradley ($4million): 375,000 buys

Pacquiao ($18 million)- Rios ($4 million): 475,000 buys

Mayweather ($32 million) – Maidana ($1.5 million): nothing official but rumored 854,000 buys

Mayweather ($41.5 million) – Canelo ($12 million): 2.2 million buys.

Based on the purses of the main event, you can see why these fights are on pay-per-view. There’s no way HBO or Showtime are going to fork over on the low end a $9 million license fee. So as a boxing fan, where does this leave you? For starters, more pay-per-views.

You know there are at least one more Mayweather, one more Pacquiao, one more Cotto, and two more Canelo pay-per-views coming this year. Then there’s the wild card of Chavez Jr. Should he fight a Carl Froch or Gennady Golovkin, that would likely end up going the same route. Total it up and you have anywhere between 5 and 6 and more pay-per-views this year.

Are there any solutions to this in the future or is this trend we’re looking at, a UFC and WWE layout where we all watered down with pay-per-views?

Unfortunately, this looks like a trend but there are some solutions to look at. For one, we can do without waste cards like Showtime’s Aug 9th card where Danny Garcia faces Rod Salka and Lamont Peterson taking on Edgar Santana. I can almost guarantee that Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson will make good on their purses facing lower level opposition in hopes of building up a Garcia-Peterson fight. A fight between Garcia and Peterson doesn’t need a build up especially with Garcia wanting to move up.

We can do without fights like Hopkins-Shumenov and Quillin-Konecny. We can do without Robert Guerrero making a million dollars to fight someone who’s unknown to us in the states that by the way made more than 90% less to fight Guerrero. Just because you’re paid like a star doesn’t mean you are one. There are plenty of Haymon fighters who are paid well and don’t bring much to the table.

Last year was one of boxing’s best years in a long time and part of it had to do with their only being 4 pay-per-views the whole year. You felt like you got your money’s worth with subscribing to premium networks. On top of that, other networks were buying into boxing like NBC which showed two cards on their regular channel.

This year, on Showtime there has been only 5 telecasts on Saturday night in 6 months. While on HBO, there have been 8 Saturday night telecasts. Now HBO is far from perfect green lighting fighters like Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello to take on Sergey Kovalev. But they have had a good balance between showing more even fights to tag along with their Pay-Per-View lineup.

If you look towards the rest of 2014, there’s just more to look forward to on HBO who was said to have taken a back seat to Showtime last year. But rumors are out on both that there is less and less in the boxing budget.

It would also be good if ESPN got involved with Saturday night boxing much like they did with Arreola-Stiverne 2 as they have a larger audience and budget then both premium networks.

Now the year is far from over and so are the pay-per-views but if the trend keeps going, expect the downward plunge of lower pay-per-view buys to continue. The only way anything will change if if promoter and networks lose money and even with the lower numbers, Top Rank still made a profit from their last two pay-per-views, as did Golden Boy on the Canelo-Angulo bout. Now with the Mayweather numbers being unconfirmed, it’s hard to say. But the bottom line is, as the fights are becoming more expensive to put on, the more we’ll see on pay-per-view. I’m all for fighters getting paid, but wasting premium money on showcase bouts Is only going to harm the market, and over paying some fighters for showcase bouts has had its effect.