Despite falling short of pay-per-view industry expectations, Manny Pacquiao’s win over Brandon Rios in their Nov. 23 fight ended a strong PPV boxing year and set the stage for the category to have a potentially busy 2014.
HBO’s Pacquiao-Rios PPV boxing event drew approximately 475,000 buys, HBO Sports senior vice president Mark Taffet said. The fight, in which Pacquiao won an easy unanimous decision in his first PPV event in nearly a year, nevertheless fell well below the 1 million buys Pacquiao surpassed for both his June 2012 loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. and his December 2012 knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.
Taffet said having the fight in China ultimately hurt its PPV performance, as the international time difference hampered HBO’s inability to effectively build momentum through the press in the weeks leading up to the fight.
To offset that, the network tapped former boxing champions George Foreman, Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Ray Mancini and Marco Antonio Barrera to help promote the fight by talking to press in the U.S. while the fighters trained abroad.
DIP WAS EXPECTED
“PPV events originating from overseas typically do between 30% to 40% of the buys compared to similar events which originate from the U.S.,“ Taffet said. “We knew there would be challenges and tempered our expectations from the beginning. It was an extraordinary effort by everyone involved, and we recognized that anything above 350,000 buys would be a success.”
The fight’s performance helped the PPV boxing category draw close to the 4 million buys it generated in 2012. This year’s tally was paced by the more than 2.2 million buys generated by Showtime’s Sept. 14 Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez PPV event.
It also has helped build momentum for the category going into 2014. After offering only two major PPV fight cards in 2013, Taffet said HBO is looking at delivering as many as three PPV boxing events during the first half of next year and potentially five to six events by 2014’s end, although he would not reveal specific bouts.
Pacquiao promoter Top Rank Inc. is pointing to an April 12 PPV event for the fighter. Possible opponents could include rematches with either Bradley or Marquez.
Showtime is also expected to step into the PPV boxing ring on several occasions in 2014. The network plans to offer Mayweather PPV fights on May 3 and Sept. 13, although no opponents have been named.
Showtime also expects Alvarez to fight at least three times in 2014, the first of which is expected to be March 8 on PPV, according to the network.
With 475,000 buys, HBO’s Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios bout fell well below past performance, but nonetheless set the stage for a productive 2014 in PPV boxing.