Digesting Errol Spence’s Poor TV Ratings

By Paul Magno on January 25, 2018
Digesting Errol Spence’s Poor TV Ratings
Boxing needs that breakout star who can bring in new fans and push the sport forward.

If we define a “star” as someone with crossover potential to the mainstream, then we may not have that with Errol Spence Jr., at least not yet…

As boxing fans, we tend to live in a bubble. We tell each other the same stories, circulate the same gossip, buy into the same narratives, and, not surprisingly, we are all equally shut off from the “real” world outside of our little fight fan bubble.

For nearly two years now boxing fans have been telling themselves that Errol Spence Jr. was boxing’s next big thing. And, really, in our little world, there was no reason to think that this WASN’T the case.

Spence, with a fan-friendly all-action style and a likeable persona, had an audience of 5 million on NBC when he dismantled Leonard Bundu in August of 2016. Nine months later he would go to the UK and beat Kell Brook for the IBF welterweight title in one of the more entertaining fights of the year. Then just this past Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, he tore through tough and usually durable veteran Lamont Peterson.

All of this points to Spence being the star we had told ourselves he’d become.

But, step away from the bubble, and a bit of realism sets in.

In August of 2016, Spence-Bundu on NBC benefited greatly from having the US Men’s Olympic gold medal basketball game as a lead-in. How many of those 5 million who didn’t change the channel actually watched the fight and how many had the TV on in the background while making a sandwich, going to the bathroom, etc? And, although the Spence-Brook fight was a thriller, it averaged fewer than 300,000 viewers on Showtime during the live afternoon telecast.

And now we have the Peterson fight, which was Spence’s first title defense and his first bout as a bona fide boxing star—or so we told ourselves.

Spence-Peterson on Showtime averaged an audience of just 637,000.

No spin can turn 637,000 into something good. Sorry. Stack Spence’s performance up against other Showtime cards and we get a draw that rates somewhere between the 881K tuned into Mikey Garcia-Adrien Broner and the 587K that watched Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton 2.

Some perspective is needed, though. Showtime has 24 million subscribers, roughly half the amount of HBO. So, if we fiddled with the numbers and prorated the views accordingly, we can assume that, if Spence-Peterson had been aired on HBO, it would’ve averaged an audience of over 1.2 million—and that would make it, easily, a more successful show than any boxing event aired on HBO in 2017. There’s also the fact that Showtime’s numbers don’t take into account those watching via their very successful streaming service.

But, still, the numbers don’t show the world beating at boxing’s door to see the next big prizefighting star. And if we define a “star” as someone with crossover potential to the mainstream, then we may not have that with Errol Spence Jr., at least not yet.

Or, maybe, we’re not necessarily thinking about finding a new Floyd Mayweather who can motivate common fans and the curious outsider into a pay-per-view impulse buy. Maybe we’re just looking for a star for our own purposes, one who can energize the base and thrill the hardcore set.

If that’s the case, then, fine. Errol Spence is our guy.

But boxing DOES need that breakout star who can bring in new fans and push the sport forward. If Spence can’t be that kind of fighter, then we must look elsewhere. There’s always Anthony Joshua…

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  1. raxman 06:10pm, 01/29/2018

    Kid Blast - My point? That Spence not bringing any dollars to the table is the what will delay the Thurman vs Spence fight. Risk vs Reward. And right now Spence is way too much of the former for way too little of the latter

  2. raxman 11:08pm, 01/26/2018

    This is a great piece because it makes fans of the sport, even the very knowledgeable boxing fans that use this site, aware of the most important part of pro boxing - the bottom line.
    You don’t reach the top level of the boxing world without having enormous self belief - no fighter of this level gives losing a thought. At the top you always think you can win. no matter who youre fighting.
    and at the top level you’re scared of no one.
    And that leads me to the point of why articles like this are important. Thurman is no more scared of Spence, than Danny Garcia was Matthysse ( I use that as an example because DG’s supposed fear, and a screen shot that went with it, was all over the internet) or Mayweather was Pacquiao.
    But fans who favour one fighter above the other want to phrase it as fear.
    if there is fear its in the heart of the promoter or manager or even trainer who doesn’t want to waste a fighters good standing with a possible loss that paid no more than a certain victory.
    Thurman has steadily built himself up in the eyes of the fans. His wins over Porter and Garcia are top level wins - so what if he’s had some time out of the ring recovering from injuries - he’s a dual title holder and he deserves to take the fight that will make him the most money, with the least risk.
    If Spence’s people want the fight so badly they’re going to have to find the money to make the reward worth the risk

  3. Alfonso Bedoya 09:48am, 01/26/2018

    Scale 148 and you’re in the 154 lb weight class.There’s plenty of fights for this super freak if not for all the promoter/organization politics and the phony ass Super Welterweight/Junior Middleweight weight class?! Forget Thurman that fight is years away if ever….there’s Crawford, the Charlos (only problem there is that he probably has been pounding their asses in sparring), Lara, Canelo and yes GGG!

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