Mayweather/Pacquiao: Price Uncertainty

HBO and Showtime live-streamed the March 11 Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather press conference to boxing fans for free, but the networks have yet to decide how much to charge viewers to watch the fighters slug it out in the ring on May 2.

The suggested retail price for the mega PPV fight was not revealed during Wednesday afternoon’s glitzy Los Angeles press conference to promote the much anticipated fight. PPV distributors say they are anxiously awaiting word from the fight’s co-distributors, HBO and Showtime, about how much to charge for a PPV event pitting against each other arguably the two top pound-for-pound fighters in a bout that’s been in the making since 2009.

While no one doubts the fight will carry the highest price ever for a PPV event – certainly above the $75 to $85 mark charged for several recent Mayweather PPV fights – the question is, how high is high? Speculation that the event could cost viewers as much as $100 has some distributors a bit nervous that the price tag could dampen potential PPV buys.

Instead of Joe and Johnny having separate boxing fight parties of 10 people each, a $100 PPV fee could force everyone to come together under one roof.

Yet even with the potentially high PPV fee, most boxing observers believe the fight will break the all-time PPV revenue record of $150 million set by the 2013 Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight and could approach a record 3 million PPV buys.

During the Mayweather-Pacquiao press conference, executives from both networks weren’t shy about predicting a knockout PPV performance from the fight. While Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza said there were many obstacles to making a fight, he believes it will end up as a “monumental and historic event.”

HBO Sports president Ken Hershman, noting that Pacquiao and Mayweather are the two best fighters of their generation, said the May 2 event will transcend boxing and the sport.  “This is a historic moment and we’re proud to be part of it,” Hershman said.

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.