Errol Spence Jr. – The Six Million Viewer Man
By: Sean Crose
Not only did undefeated welterweight Errol Spence Jr impress in Sunday’s televised battle against Leonard Bundu, he gave boxing a much needed bolt of adrenaline. For this weekend’s bout, which was aired live from Coney Island in Brooklyn, brought in an estimated six million NBC viewers. Needless to say, that’s a whole lot of eyeballs tuning into a boxing match. Sure enough, the Premiere Boxing Champions broadcast broke PBC records and proved that, when situated properly, the sweet science can bring in an impressive viewership – even late on a Sunday afternoon in the doldrums of August.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions
If this is all very good news for boxing – and it is – it’s exceptional news for PBC powerhouse Al Haymon, who arranged to have a star up and comer in Spence Jr appear right after an Olympic broadcast. That sort of lead in can prove to be invaluable, as it may have proved to be on Sunday. Maybe even more telling, however, is word that roughly three quarters of Olympic television viewers stuck around to see Spence take Bundu out in ruthless fashion in the sixth round. Had Spence bored his audience, well, that audience clearly would have changed the channel.
Something here obviously worked. The question now is whether or not it can work again. The truth is that it certainly can, but strategic thinking will have to be in place. Those of a certain age will remember first learning of fighters like Marvin Hagler and Mike Tyson by watching weekend afternoon television. They may not have turned on the t.v. looking for those fights, but once they saw them, those viewers stopped changing the channel. Having good fights/fighters on an afternoon broadcast can be a terrific thing. All of the elements, however, have to come together.
And the entertaining Spence Jr coming on after the US Olympic basketball team got its gold medals proved to be dynamite. Indeed, it may well be Spence who is happiest of all in all of this. For while he’s still considered an up and comer, the talented Texan has arguably now been seen by more people than peers Keith Thurman, Kell Brook and Danny Garcia. That’s saying something. It also means that it will be harder for the division’s top players to simply write the former Olympian off. Whether the biggest names like it or not, Spence has arrived – and it appears he doesn’t aim on going anywhere.
Except, of course, up.