UFC – Boxing Duel Could Make Fans “Fighting Glad” Saturday Night
- May 4th, 2012
by Charles Jay
This Saturday, we will once again have a night where the fists will fly on a couple of different fronts. Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto will slug it out on HBO Pay-Per-View, while the UFC presents the third installment of its broadcast television series on the Fox Network.
Is another head-to-head battle on? Is it, in fact, a battle to begin with?
HBO, as we know, has a formula it has developed when it comes to marketing its pay-per-view events, and that includes the “24/7″ series, which is documentary-style as opposed to the “reality” format of the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” series, which isn’t in place to push any one particular fight.
The UFC is being a little more imaginative, however, when it comes to spreading its message across different platforms. The organization is using a few different media outlets to show Saturday’s event. The first two bouts are being shown on their Facebook fan page, with other parts of the undercard slated for Fuel TV. The card that will air on Fox is highlighted by the main event between Nick Diaz and Jim Miller, in the lightweight division. This is several steps down from the first “UFC on Fox” show they aired, back on November 12, when Junior Dos Santos beat Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight championship.
At the time, there was much talk about the show going head-to-head with the pay-per-view boxing event featuring Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Which program would hurt the other?
Well, the Fox telecast drew the largest live audience for any single hour in the sport’s history, with 8.8 million viewers for the main even (averaging 5.7 million for the hour), not to mention a live gate in Anaheim that topped the million mark, so it had to be considered an unqualified success, financially and otherwise.
For those who were thinking that the UFC show would take a big bite out of the boxing showcase that night, there was something of a surprise. Pacquiao and Marquez, who were fighting each other for the third time, drew a reported 1.45 million PPV buys, at suggested retail between $49.95 and $54.95 (for HD viewers), which doesn’t take into account closed circuit sales. The live gate was $11,648,300, according to figures supplied by the Nevada commission, based on 15,498 tickets sold, and there were over 37 million viewers in Mexico (Marquez territory, and a “very important market” according to UFC president Dana White).
It wound up being Pacquiao’s top selling pay-per-view outing ever, as well as the sixth best in boxing history, in terms of subscribers. On the UFC side, only Brock Lesnar’s rematch with Frank Mir in July 2009 had more buyers.
So that was a major success as well, from any angle you want to look at it.
If you remember, prior to November 12 there was considerable argument, and a little politicking as well, about the “conflict” in programming, where speculation centered around whether the UFC purposely planted their show opposite one of Bob Arum’s big moments, and White postured that since the Fox telecast lasted only an hour, fans could still switch over and watch Pacquiao-Marquez after Velasquez-Dos Santos had come to a conclusion.
And then we all had that discussion about how there was room for both sports in the consciousness of fans, etc. Well, I guess we just presented some evidence of it.
Of course, the dynamics for this “head-to-head” are a little different. As we mentioned, the UFC fight on tap for this Saturday is considerably less attractive and significant than the first one they offered on Fox, for one thing. And whereas the best thing underneath Pacquiao-Marquez III was Timothy’s Bradley’s “gift” for signing with Top Rank, which was a blowout win over well-worn Joel Casamayor, the Mayweather-Cotto undercard offers a semi-main event that is quite a bit better, as Canelo Alvarez, who is a star attraction in the making, fights his biggest “name” thus far when he steps in against Shane Mosley, the multiple-division champion who had his moments against both Mayweather and Pacquiao in defeat, even at his advanced age.
Boxing might have the clear edge in this particular “matchup.”
Either way, this should create something of a bonanza for the sports bar business, where boxing, MMA, the NBA playoffs, baseball, NASCAR, etc. will fill up walls of televisions. The beer will flow, and testosterone levels will rise. Let’s just hope bar patrons aren’t treated to too many “live” fights over the weekend.
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