Much Ado About Pay-Per-View

By Robert Ecksel on May 10, 2013
Much Ado About Pay-Per-View
The number of buys for the fight with Guerrero is edging toward Vicious Victor territory.

The pay-per-view numbers represent more than cold hard cash. They represent the approval or opprobrium of those who tuned in to watch the fight or not…

Floyd Mayweather is the highest paid athlete in the world. He doesn’t generate revenue by shooting skeet or playing shuffleboard or pushing a toboggan. He does it in the ring, using his fists, his wits, and his transcendent skills at marketing. So the tempest in a teapot concerning how many pay-per-view buys he generated by fighting Robert Guerrero, while significant on its face, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. But there is only one Floyd Mayweather. No one does it better than Floyd Mayweather. And numbers, however at times inconvenient, don’t as a rule lie.

The first person out of the gate was ESPN’s Dan Rafael. Master of the scoop, he wrote on Twitter, “No official PPV #‘s yet for Floyd but 2 industry sources tell me they look bad (under 1M). We’ll see. If true, heavy $$ losses for Showtime.”

What Rafael tweeted wasn’t groundbreaking, it was gossip, but given the size of his audience and its reflexive tendencies, it was enough to set tongues wagging. One-million pay-per-view buys is the benchmark, and if Mayweather was shy of that mark the world, for all intents and purposes, stops spinning on its axis.

Rafael’s tweet led to some soul-searching. Had Mayweather lost his touch? Was Guerrero not a big enough name for fight fans to part with their hard-earned dough? Were those numbers indicative of a trend, a premonition, or was it a misreading of the proverbial tea leaves?

Many pointed out that less than three days had passed since the fight, and Rafael’s bombshell, in addition to being premature, may have been a dud. All the PPV numbers weren’t in, so the “2 industry sources” that spoke to Rafael might have been mistaken, might have had an ax to grind, or they might have been drunk.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer bit his tongue for as long as he could. Once he staunched the bleeding, thereby ending the show of restraint, he let loose with a now familiar diatribe, where facts, wishful thinking and name-calling comingled in a semi-coherent rant.

“All of these knuckleheads who said what a fucking disaster the pay-per-view was and how Showtime lost all this money,” he told, “all of that is wishful thinking from the spinmasters over there, you know what I’m talking about. This is bullshit.”

Schaefer has worked miracles with Golden Boy, but he didn’t learn to talk that way in Switzerland.

Although the pay-per-view numbers are still dribbling in, it appears that Mayweather-Guerrero did indeed exceed the magical one-million mark. Judging by the smiles, it looks like everyone is happy. Some are happy because Dan Rafael was wrong. Some are happy because it affirms Mayweather’s box office appeal. And some, like Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza, seem happy because to appear otherwise would be to admit that Mayweather fatigue may have set in.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but it’s a good place to start. According to the Nevada Athletic Commission, Mayweather-Guerrero generated $9,922,350 in ticket sales at the MGM Grand. The million pay-per-view buys is respectable, except when compared to the numbers Money May has garnered in the past. The gold standard is the 2.48 million buys for Mayweather vs. De La Hoya. Mayweather-Cotto brought in 1.5 million buys. Next in line are the 1.35 million buys for Mayweather-Mosley. And the fight against Victor Ortiz, such as it was, generated 1.2 million pay-per-views buys.

Saturday’s fight with Robert Guerrero is edging toward Vicious Victor territory.

Reporting those numbers doesn’t make one a Mayweather hater. The numbers speak for themselves. But the numbers represent more than cold hard cash. They represent the approval or opprobrium of those who tuned in to watch the fight or not. The million buys and millions who watched may or may not know much about boxing, but the society of the spectacle takes many forms. Every Mayweather fight is a spectacle, and even those with scant knowledge of the game understand that the best fighting the best, whether it’s Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney or Hans Solo vs. Darth Vader, is what they want to see. Accordingly, if Mayweather fights Canelo Alvarez or Manny Pacquiao, those pay-per-view buys will be through the roof, at which time there will be no need to spin the numbers, and what they might mean, while hoping they reach Victor Ortiz levels.

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  1. Ted 07:29pm, 05/18/2013

    raxman, good points. If Manny beats Rios a Floyd-Manny fight would be mega. But would Manny do it?

  2. Joi loves boxing 11:17am, 05/14/2013

    Why does ANYONE say or think that the lack of money generated for the May 4th fight, has anything to do with Mayweather? Guerrero is the reason bc he is less known. No one wants to see a lesser known fighter with a champion. Guerrero had no business in that ring. I’m so glad he received a boxing lesson from the same person he judged. I thought he knew “thou shall not judge, lest he be judged first”?

  3. NYIrish 07:11pm, 05/12/2013

    Mayweather made a boatload sparring a very ordinary fighter in an ordinary 12 rounder. Extraordinary return for Money.

  4. Michael Hegan 03:55pm, 05/12/2013

    We North America paid $60 ...US funds…for that match… much did they pay in other countries…???  Tache….give me a run down please

  5. Michael Hegan 03:51pm, 05/12/2013

    here’s my take on Bradley…..last outing…

    Lots of critics poured slop and disdain on Bradley’s performance against Pacquiao…..especially after his WIN…over pacman…points decison.

    Bradley’s team decided to have Bradley ‘change his style’ ..when he went up against Prov…tuff fkr…..
    The brains…wanted Bradley to silence his critics… standing his ground..and slug it out….(Bradley never got where he was by doing this…nor did he beat Pacquiao by doing this)....

    Bradley ....proving he is coachable(even to bad trainers)...went along with the new strategy…and stood and exchanged with Prov…...and damned near got his head knocked off !!

    If Bradley is to continue…..he must ‘dance with the one that brought him’ that I mean….continue his modern day ‘Willie Pep…or Wilfredo Benitez…’ ..and become un hittable…while scoring many…MANY scoring blows.

    That is my take…because what I saw when Bradley was in with Prov… wasn’t the same guy….....

  6. Michael Hegan 02:10pm, 05/12/2013

    in a remote way….pbf has done to boxing fans ....what Ali did…..Half show up to cheer him on….the other half see pbf fall.

    Either way….a pbf pay per view gets viewers…

  7. Robert Ecksel 09:11pm, 05/11/2013

    It was Mark Twain who said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

  8. Michael Hegan 09:09pm, 05/11/2013

    a wise man said ....some time back….


  9. The Tache 07:15am, 05/11/2013

    Never mind the number of buys, it always amazes me how much the PPV fights cost in the States.

  10. raxman 11:54pm, 05/10/2013

    ted - will bradley get free of the arum contract though? no matter what you feel for oscar or floyd - the common denominator in the feuds is arum. it would seem arum can’t stand two of his fighters reaching out beyond their station. some may say that floyd is just a glorified golden boy boxer but nonetheless we have this terrible situation right now where 140 &147; is the most talent laden weight division (at least the two most talented within 7 pounds of each other) and because of arum v floyd and arum v golden boy, half the fights can’t be made.
    for mine the best fight to be made right now is floyd vs bradley - both undefeated, both american and stylistically different enough to make a good fight. but if jmm beats bradley then pac’s destruction of rios puts that pac v floyd super fight right back on track - but even if floyd wins, he’ll lose because all the haters will say he waited until manny was shot. - but it’d do big numbers - and if the fight were close, and good, floyd’s fight numero 3 on the showtime deal could be a rematch or #2

  11. Ted 08:07pm, 05/10/2013

    But that’s the rub. If he fights the best, he risks not finishing the 5 fights. He is kind of caught in a Catch-22. One way out of it might be to fight in London and make some serious money there without much risk, Another might be to let Rios bruise up Manny and then fight him (Manny) in Vegas for a monster purse. Save Canelo for last and the biggest purse of all. Of course, if Rios should win, he would be made to order for Floyd as would Alvarado. Another possibility is if Bradley should beat JMM. A Bradley fight would do very well.

    I also think Canelo will fight Cotto next.

    The bottom line on all this is that Guerrero was never that compelling an opponent and over 1 mil PPVs is not bad considering that fact.

    As for Rafael, all he does is trade on gossip. He knows absolutley nothing about boxing as such.

    That is all. Nice job, Robert.

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