Ward-Barrera ratings a sign of HBO’s power to sustain and create stars?


Andre WardThe TV numbers came in for Andre Ward’s unanimous decision win over Sullivan Barrera on HBO this past weekend and the bout did an impressive 1.064 million viewers according to Nielsen. The 12 round light heavyweight showdown, which took place at the Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, California, peaked at 1.152 million viewers during the live showing.


Is it the highest number ever turned in? No. The ratings were smaller than Sergey Kovalev’s, Ward’s presumed next opponent, last fight on the same network which came in at 1.179 for his 7th round stoppage over Jean Pascal in January.


Still, considering the fact that Ward has not fought on HBO since November of 2013 and really hasn’t fought much, period, the ratings are respectable.


Despite the fact that Ward was able to draw a significant live gate, the credit has to be given mostly to HBO. The network kept Ward relevant at a time when he was only being judged on his commentating skills.


If you look at the number turned in and the relatively unknown opponent in Barrera, the consideration that HBO was able to maintain a significant viewership for the all but forgotten hardcore commodity with little commercial upside is impressive.


When you look PBC and the little success they’ve had with transitioning its boxing stars into sports stars, it would seem like HBO, even with its downsized talent pool, is still the king of helping fighters to reach their full potential.


Most see Ward-Kovalev as one of the biggest fights in boxing, but few give it any credit for the potential commercial success it could have as an HBO PPV. It is difficult to assess what HBO will be able to do with the fight, but it is clear that only HBO can bring it to its maximum efforts as an attraction.

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