More people live in China than anywhere else, so it makes sense that if one can really cultivate the population, there is a windfall to be realized.
Bob Arum and Top Rank are trying to do that as they move forward with Manny Pacquiao’s next fight.
Arum made a connection to promote fights at the Sands Venetian Resort & Casino in Macau a few months ago, and not coincidentally, that has turned out to be an ideal venue for Pacquiao’s purposes. You see, Pacquiao is sick and tired of the excessive tax rates that have been imposed on him in when he has fought high-profile bouts in the United States, and he sought another place where he could avoid that kind of taxation. Well, Macau fits the bill, as the country will tax him only a portion of what he would experience in the U.S.
Of course, Macau is a district of China, so the biggest market that feeds this huge gambling market comes from there. They obviously like boxing, and those who are not going to be on hand and have television might have an interest in Pacquiao’s November 23 fight (that’s November 24 at the location itself) against former world champion Brandon Rios.
For those people, Arum has a deal as well.
For the April 6 show he conducted, which included two championship fights, Arum had the fight shown on free television in China, and the big draw there was not the title bouts but the professional debut of China’s Zou Shiming, the two-time Olympic gold medalist. It drew a surprisingly big audience.
Now Arum has a worldwide pay-per-view draw in Pacquiao to headline his show, and could also place Zou on the card. That double wallop is enough to test the Chinese pay per view market. With 1.34 billion people, which is more than three times the population of the United States, one can see the enormous potential, and even though the technology may not as pervasive as it is in the U.S., there is a way that the fight can be distributed easily to whoever wants to see it.
The broadcast of the fight will be available on tablets and smartphones in a live video feed. When one considers that no country in the world has more accounts for smartphones than China does (over 250 million), the possibilities would appear to be endless. And that actually represents a method that hasn’t even been widely attempted in the U.S., so in a way it is also a test run for what could be a greatly expanded way of doing business.
The cost of the PPV subscription will be inviting enough; Arum intends to charge just $5 for the show, which is considerably less than fans in the United States will be asked to pay. He will employ a somewhat similar formula as he does in the U.S. in that he will have a press tour covering three major cities; whereas in the United States he might bring the fighters to New York and Los Angeles, he will take a tour of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
The exploration of a new market is intriguing enough, because one doesn’t even know how big it could possibly be. But for the fighters, it is downright exciting, because of the fact that they will have an opportunity to participate in the “back end.” When main event combatants like Pacquiao and Rios square off, they are doing so for a guaranteed purse, but there can also be a participation in the revenues once they get past a certain point. For example, Rios is going to be getting a figure that is in the neighborhood of $3 million plus a certain percentage of PPV revenues, once they exceed a certain amount.
If the promoters hit big with the Chinese pay per view “experiment” on this fight, the fighters will score a knockout as well – financially, that is.