April's PPV Ring Events Take Jab At Category's Future

Two big April pay-per-view ring sports events could have lasting ramifications for the category.

WWE officials confirmed the April 6 Wrestlemania XXX event reached more than 1 million U.S. households, which is a record for the franchise.

To the dismay of some PPV event distributors, though, most of those households were not buying the event via traditional PPV, where distributors get a split of the revenue.

Instead, Wrestlemania was the first PPV event to be featured as part of the WWE’s OTT WWE Network. Fans pay $9.99 a month to stream new original WWE programming and WWE library content — and the pro wrestling outfit’s monthly PPV events.

The WWE’s more than 660,000 initial subscribers had full access to Wrestlemania alongside those who paid to see the event via PPV. Some operators say that cut PPV buys for the show by 50% compared with last year’s extravaganza.

Currently, all major PPV event carriers are still on board to offer future WWE PPV events. But that could change if WWE Network subscribers continue to climb and WWE PPV event revenue continues to decline significantly.

The other big event was HBO’s April 12 Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. fight.

While the industry knows Pacquiao can still box — he won an easy, unanimous decision over Bradley, avenging a disputed loss to the former welterweight champion in 2012 — the jury is still out as to whether

Pacquiao has the marquee PPV appeal he once did. Pacquiao ranks third among the top revenuegenerating PPV fighters of all time, behind only Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya.

But Pacquiao, who averaged more than 1 million PPV buys over the past five years, didn’t break that threshold in his last two fi ghts before the April 12 bout. In fact, his fight last November against Brandon Rios failed to draw 500,000 buys.

PPV estimates from Pacquiao-Bradley 2 were not available at press time.

But if the Pac-Man was unable to at least match the nearly 900,000 buys from his first fight with Bradley in 2012, then the industry will have to consider whether we’ve seen the best of Pacquiao in the PPV performance ring.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.