By Ivan G. Goldman
So you thought the pay-per-view price for Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao would be $100? Well, you were just about right, according to the Wall Street Journal, which is usually correct on these financial topics. Its sources say the price will come in somewhere around $99 for high-def.
That exceeds the previous $75 record by about 33 percent.
Usually the sellers quote the price for the grainy, old-fashioned transmission because it sounds less expensive, but face it, most viewers will spring an extra few bucks for the high-def reception. It only makes sense. Otherwise it’s like trying to save money on a pizza by ordering no toppings.
The May 2 card will break all previous records by miles. The PPV money record is $152 million for Mayweather vs Canelo Alvarez in 2013. The record number of buys is 2.3 million for Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
Notice any common characteristics? There are plenty, but I’ll name three. First, of course, there’s Floyd. Second? You can bet that once again a majority of the buyers hope he’d lose at last. Yes, there’s plenty of money to be made from playing the villain. Whether Mayweather — who’s on the upper end of a 60-40 purse split – just plays at being a villain or is the real thing is a judgment I’ll leave to you.
It’s the third common characteristic that’s been troublesome so far. Neither of the previous two fights was particularly entertaining. The De La Hoya fight was close, but solid exchanges were rare. Oscar won most of the first rounds, then lost steam, stopped throwing his superb jab, and faded as Floyd picked him apart, throwing a shot here, a shot there, and escaping with a split decision.
Against Canelo, Mayweather had his number from the first minute. Floyd hit and didn’t get hit much at all. One judge who seemed to be watching from Mars scored it 114-114. So Mayweather, who didn’t hurt Canelo much and once again never went in for the kill, came away with a majority decision.
It’s great for the sport when plenty of casual fans get interested in a fight, but when the fight disappoints, it leaves a sour taste behind, particularly when fans paid extra to see it.
The Journal says this will be a $74 million gate at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That’s also where Floyd faced Oscar and later Canelo. If you figure in 3 million buys at $99, plus the sponsorships, the gate, the foreign rights and the closed circuit cash, you can see that a $400 million gross isn’t a far-fetched estimate.
Distributors normally get about half of the PPV money. This time, the Journal reports, they’ll have to settle for less, perhaps 40 percent. There are two networks to take care of – HBO and Showtime. They’ll do a joint telecast.
Undefeated Floyd has remained the betting favorite, slipping from about 3-1 to 2-1 as Pacquiao, a super-quick southpaw, attracts more support.
That’s another record that will be broken – the betting handle. If all the cash wagered offshore and with illegal bookies were legal and channeled through the Internal Revenue Service, we could inject some serious money into federal coffers.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More information here.