Fox Sports on Saturday will enter the pay-per-view boxing arena for the third time this year with its Errol Spence-Shawn Porter welterweight championship fight card.
Fox Sports, along with boxing promotion company Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), is hoping its aggressive marketing push for Spence-Porter will deliver strong PPV buys that could match or surpass the approximately 300,000 buys for its March Spence-Mikey Garcia PPV event and the reported 500,000 buys for its July Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman fight.
Since early September, the Fox broadcasting and FS1 networks combined have aired more than 10 hours of fight-themed programming in and around live NFL, Major League baseball and college football game telecasts. The content included a four-part documentary series, PBC Fight Camp: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter, the finale of which aired this past Sunday on Fox and drew a series-high 1.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
Fox Sports executive vice president and head of programming Bill Wanger talks about Fox Sports’ run of PPV boxing events as well as the marketing push for the Spence-Porter event, which will retail at a suggested price of $74.99. Wanger also looks ahead at Fox Sports' PPV boxing plans for the remainder of 2019 and into 2020.
How do you see this fight shaping up compared to Fox Sports’ previous two PPV boxing events in terms of potential performance and overall awareness of the event?
They are all a little different. This one has the distinct advantage of being in the fall and being promoted throughout our various high-profile sporting events, including the NFL, Major League Baseball and college football. [Last Sunday] there was a good amount of integration of the boxing promotion inside of our NFL programming. I also think this fight has the benefit of a great co-feature event with (Super Middleweight World Champion) Anthony Dirrell against David Benavidez, which should be a great battle. So overall I think it's a really good card.
What are your PPV performance expectations for Spence-Porter?
We’re not in the business of projecting buys, but we think it will be robust.
Were you satisfied with the buys for the first two fights?
Yes. We had some growth from fight one to fight two, and that was great considering fight two was in the summer. We think in general with the UFC moving to ESPN+ that there’s an opportunity in the PPV market for the PBC and Fox to do well, because we’re the only game in town.
Will you look to do another PPV fight event in 2019, and will you remain aggressive in the PPV boxing category in 2020?
Yes, there’s some room to do a fourth fight this year but we’re not in a position to announce anything. I would look for a couple of PPV events in the first quarter -- we’re bullish on the category and we’ll keep moving forward.
How would you describe Fox Sports’ experience thus far in the PPV event business?
I think we, along with the PBC, have built good relationships with the traditional MVPD’s, and you can really see that when you look at the marketing, banners and other promotion for the fight. From a digital perspective where we actually sell the PPV event on our Fox Sports and Fox Now apps, we’ve seen some good growth and we expect it to continue to grow.
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.
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