Mike Tyson's unpredictable behavior will apparently
deprive the pay-per-view industry of another year's worth of multimillion-dollar
While Tyson's latest prison sentence will
unfortunately take a much greater toll on his life and boxing career than it will on
operators' pocketbooks, it nevertheless will be very hard for the industry to ever
see the former heavyweight champion as the savior of PPV again.
If there's a silver lining to this very sad and
unfortunate situation, it's that the business will survive without its biggest draw
to date. Tyson may still fight this year -- he could serve only six months of a one-year
sentence for a "road-rage" assault charge -- but gone are hopes for the first
three-PPV-fight year from Tyson since 1996.
Even without Tyson, there are some strong boxing events
scheduled and proposed that will assure the industry a much better return than the pitiful
$40 million that the genre generated last year.
Last week's Oscar De La Hoya-Lennox Lewis fight, next
month's (March 13) Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis bout and the $33 million already
generated from January's Tyson-Francois Botha fight will most likely combine to gross
close to $100 million.
Add to that the possibility of two more De La Hoya PPV
fights and a Holyfield or Lewis bout -- or a rematch, if the March event is spectacular --
and operators will get their fill of PPV-boxing revenues.
The industry has already collected on what amounts to a
Tyson fight -- if the 700,000 to 750,000 buys for the Tyson-Botha fight is an indication
of what Tyson would have drawn for his proposed April bout. The World Wrestling Federation
drew around 700,000 buys for its Jan. 24 Royal Rumble event -- an astonishing
number, considering the fact that the highest previous buy total for that event was under
If the WWF can continue its momentum, a Tyson-like 1
million buys for its March WrestleMania event is not out of the question.
The World Championship Wrestling outfit is also generating
higher-than-expected buy-rates, giving PPV a repeat of the one-two wrestling punch that
supported the event industry last year.
Also encouraging for operators is the resurrection of the
PPV-concert business. SET's successful Backstreet Boys concert this month was the
first of several scheduled taped music events that, while not generating great numbers,
certainly could put more change in operators' pockets.
Operators are excited about April's The Paris
Concert for Amnesty International: The Struggle Continues, and there's talk that
PPV could get the rights to the proposed New Year's Eve reunion show by country-music
duo The Judds.
If the industry should be concerned about anything,
it's the future of Mike Tyson, and not the future of Tyson's PPV earnings. The
industry will be all right.