Fox Sports this Saturday will step in the pay-per-view boxing ring for the first time in 2020 with the much anticipated Errol Spence Jr.-Danny Garcia welterweight championship fight card from AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
The Premier Boxing Champions-promoted fight card -- which was moved to Dec. 5 from its original Nov. 21 date to allow fans to attend the event -- is the fourth PPV boxing event for the industry since the pandemic virtually shut down all sports programming this past March, and features two of the biggest names in the sport. The fight, which will retail for a suggested price of $74.95, is the third straight PPV fight for Spence, who has reportedly averaged more than 350,000 buys for his March 2019 fight with Mickey Garcia and his Sept. 2019 bout with Shawn Porter.
Fox Sports executive VP and head of programming and scheduling Bill Wanger recently spoke to Multichannel News senior content producer, programming R. Thomas Umstead about the big fight and outlines Fox Sports’ boxing plans for 2021. An edited version of the interview appears below.
Does the fight’s date change to December help or hurt the event’s PPV buy potential?
I don’t think there’s a difference in terms of buys between late November and early December -- I think we’re in early enough before the huge holiday crush. I do think that this PPV event represents the two of the best of the best. They are both great fighters, and Errol -- with the storyline of him coming back after his horrific [October 2019] car accident.-- taking on the former champion in Danny represents a fight in which viewers will see sparks fly.
Are you concerned that the current economic environment that we’re in given the pandemic could dampen PPV buys?
Of course, we’ve very cognizant of the fact that there’s unemployment, however we do feel that with this fight at this time of the year and people not traveling as much, this could offer a bit of an escape for people, and allow some families to get together and watch. We also feel confident that we’re giving the consumer a great product.
Any projections of how many buys the fight will generate?
No, but I would say that with the reported figures for some of the earlier PPVs that the category has had, I feel like the PPV industry is right where it was pre-pandemic in terms of number of buys in relation to the fights. We’re expecting this fight to do what some of the other Errol Spence [PPV] fights have done.
Have you changed any specific marketing tactics to help drive buys for the fight?
Our marketing tactics in general are similar to what they were pre-pandemic. What I would say is that on our digital platform we’re making it easier for people to buy the fight. We’re offering more of a one-click option like Apple Pay and PayPal versus entering your credit card. So in that aspect we are trying some new things that will benefit the consumer.
How do you see the business evolving in 2021?
I think for us we’ll see our normal load of about 10 Fox fights and maybe 12 FS1 fights, and I see us doing four to five PPV events. I do think there are a few interesting things out there within the boxing industry -- will [Tyson] Fury and [Deontay] Wilder fight each other again? What will happen to [middleweight champion] Canelo Alverez after his next fight? I think we’ll see some clarity in 2021 that will create some exciting matchups that viewers will want to see.
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