By Jake Donovan
From brand inception through present day, the brass at Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) have looked past mounting criticism of its product with its eyes on the bigger picture.
Its parternship with Fox Sports has already begun to show why patience remains a virtue.
The rebranding of the PBC on Fox primetime boxing series—which was formally announced during a glossy press conference on November 13—is due to launch with a December 22 tripleheader live from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The event will kick off a lucrative multi-year agreement between PBC and Fox Sports, with live shows due to run monthly in primetime on Fox and FS1.
The first show under the new agreement is headlined by the Charlo twins—Jermall and Jermell—in separate title bouts, marking the first time either Charlo serves in the main event of a primetime boxing telecast after years of frequently playing in supporting capacity on cable giant Showtime. Jermall (27-0, 21KOs) defends his interim middleweight title versus Willie Monore, Jr. (23-3, 6KOs) in the main event, while Jermell (31-0, 15KOs) defends his 154-pound strap versus Tony Harrison (27-2, 21KOs) in the co-feature.
Both bouts served as the first offerings of Fox’s ‘PBC Countdown’ series, airing this past Saturday immediately following the network’s live coverage of Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup series. ‘PBC Countdown: Jermall Charlo vs. Willie Monroe Jr.’ drew a favorable 1.0 overnight rating (roughly 1.2 million viewers; final figures to come Tuesday morning) for its 11:00pm timeslot, doing well on an active sports night to hold the majority of the audience from MLS Cup, which at 1.35 million viewers drew its best televised audience since 1998.
The 11:30pm-slotted ‘PBC Countdown: Jermell Charlo vs. Tony Harrison’ special pulled a 0.6 overnight rating.
“The PBC’s entire mission has been to find a partnership that will allow boxing to reach a mass audience and we believe we’ve found that partner in FOX,” Tim Smith, vice president of communication for PBC told BoxingInsider.com. “Having an opportunity to reach a potential audience of 120 million viewers on a regular monthly basis with events and other shows is a real game changer for the sport.”
The launching of ‘PBC Countdown’ comes on the heels of network promos for the December 22 telecast having frequently run during every edition of NFL (National Football League) on Fox since the initial November 13 network presser.
The latest batch came in Sunday’s Game of the Week offering, where the Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles in an overtime thriller which produced a 16.0 overnight rating, the best for any NFL afternoon game this season. Promos for the Charlos’ bouts were also part of network coverage which drew more than 50 million viewers for pro and college football a week ago, as well as back-to-back Thursday Night Football telecasts on Fox—both featuring the Cowboys in games watched by more than 53 million combined viewers.
Network promos will continue to run throughout this Thursday’s edition of NFL on Fox, pitting the 11-2 Kansas City Chiefs versus the 10-3 Los Angeles Chargers in a game with major playoff implications at stake. The Charlos will garner more exclusive coverage this Saturday afternoon, starring in the network’s debut of ‘PBC Face-To-Face’ series hosted by award-winning sports writer Mike Coppinger.
Similar coverage will come with every edition of PBC on Fox. The next primetime edition will air January 26—also live from Brooklyn, New York—followed by shows on February 14 and March 9 leading into the debut of “PBC on Fox Pay-Per-View”, headlined by Errol Spence Jr. in a welterweight title defense versus Mikey Garcia, who moves up from lightweight in a battle of unbeaten pound-for-pound entrants.
Spence and Garcia have both benefitted from NFL exposure, each making separate appearances at Cowboys Stadium for November 22 and November 29 games which aired live on Fox.
The November 22 Thanksgiving edition drew 30.8 million viewers, while the November 29 showing—in which the Cowboys upset the NFL-best New Orleans Saints—drew more than 21 million viewers, the best-ever showing for any NFL Thursday Night Football installment (excluding Thanksgiving games) since the primetime series debuted five years ago.
“Our boxers have made in game appearances on NFL broadcasts that have been viewed by tens of millions of people,” Smith points out. “[T]he Charlos, who fight on December 22 have been the beneficiaries of the first Countdown show and teases of their upcoming fights during each NFL game on FOX since the fight was announced.
“That’s the kind of complete commitment that will foster real growth in the sport. We’re excited about the 2019 season of PBC on FOX.”