As the TV sports world continues to recover from the pandemic, few sports are in a position to experience a greater renaissance than boxing -- particularly on the pay-per-view event platform.
The addition this week of the July 24 Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder trilogy fight to an already stacked summer PPV boxing schedule creates a dream lineup that could generate significant revenue for the PPV industry.
The PPV boxing industry was poised to have a strong 2020 after the second Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight championship fight in February of that year drew a reported 1.2 million PPV buys -- the first fight to break the industry standard mark since 2018. With potential fights being lined up featuring the top draws in the sport including Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez -- as well as up and coming PPV draws such as Gervonta Davis and Errol Spence Jr. -- the category in 2020 was well positioned to generate significant revenue.
Then COVID-19 hit and nearly all of the proposed big PPV events fell by the wayside. Showtime and Fox Sports jump started the category in late 2020 with PPV fight cards headlined by champions Jermall Charlo, Davis and Spence that averaged around a reported 220,000 buys across three fights. But it was a November exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. that proved that boxing could still deliver significant PPV purchases and revenue.
That event, distributed by social media company Triller and featuring musical performances alongside traditional fights, drew more than 1.6 million PPV buys -- finishing among the top 10 biggest PPV events ever -- and set the category in motion to create in 2021 one of the more impressive stretches of PPV fights in recent memory.
The June 6 Showtime-distributed exhibition fight between all-time PPV revenue champion Floyd Mayweather and YouTube sensation Logan Paul is one of three PPV fights scheduled over the next three months that have a puncher’s chance of hitting the 1 million PPV buy mark.
The Wilder-Fury trilogy fight as well as the Aug. 21 Pacquiao-Spence Jr. welterweight unification fight -- Spence is arguably among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and Pacquiao is the second-biggest PPV revenue draw ever behind Mayweather -- could provide the industry its first year of three or more 1 million PPV buy events since 2017 when Mayweather-Conor McGregor, Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin II all surpassed the mark.
Also on the summer PPV boxing schedule is Triller’s June 19 Teófimo López-George Kambosos Jr. lightweight championship PPV event and Showtime’s June 27 Mario Barrios-Gervonta Davis junior welterweight title PPV fight.
And that’s all before the fall when iconic fighters Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield and Tyson potentially return to the ring in PPV exhibition fights.
"2020 was incredible for PPV - we didn’t think we could top it but we’re on our way," said In Demand SVP programming and marketing Mark Boccardi. “2021 is shaping up to be a great year for PPV with a heavyweight title at stake, the return of Floyd Mayweather, possibly Manny Pacquiao’s last fight which will be against superstar Errol Spence, crossover social media fights, and still more to come.”
Even as the country begins to open up this summer and show signs of returning back to some sense of normalcy, the PPV boxing category is set to keep millions of fight fans glued to their TV screens over the next few months
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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