The boxing props market for the May 2 superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is going through the roof. But will the number of households watching on pay-per-view do the same?
We’re a little more than one month away from what will almost certainly be the biggest moment ever in the history of sports – as measured by pay-per-view buys. When Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao touch gloves this May 2 at the MGM Grand, reports say there should be north of three million households shelling out the full price to watch this Showtime/HBO production. That’s well above the 2.4 million who watched Mayweather win a split decision over Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
How far north of three million households? That’s hard to say, but if you look at the props market and the total for PPV buys, it could be a few hundred thousand. As we go to press, the boxing odds at 5Dimes have the over/under set at 3.15 million buys, with the OVER priced at –250. SportsInteraction has an even bigger number: 3.3 million, with the OVER pegged at –200.
Sharing is Caring?
Before we wade into these numbers, let’s address the elephant in the room: Internet streaming. It’s not as if people didn’t have access to pirate feeds in 2007, but the technology that exists today makes it incredibly easy for just about anyone to watch just about anything for free while making their boxing picks. That’s going to take a big bite out of the potential PPV audience for the Fight of the Century.
Then you have the state of the economy. The Mayweather De La Hoya fight happened on May 5; five months later, the Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at over 14,000 points. And then everything went busto. The global financial crisis of 2007-08 led to the Great Recession, and we still haven’t dug out of it. Inflation-adjusted levels of income are down to where they were in 1996. Poverty levels are up from 12 percent of Americans in 2007 to 16 percent today.
On the other side of the coin, you’ve got an ever-increasing population base. The annual growth rate in the United States has been anywhere between 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent since 1992. That will add to the number of potential PPV buys compared to 2007. So will other factors like the drop in price for electronics and the increased focus on promoting live event television.
Eight Sides of Trouble
Having said that, Mayweather-Pacquiao could end up being the last of the great PPV fights. While the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps will make a ton of money off the Fight of the Century, this business model no longer makes financial sense for promoting any other event. For example, the Nov. 22 fight between Pacquiao and Chris Algieri reportedly took in 300,000 buys, well under half the number who saw Pacquiao battle Timothy Bradley in April 2014. However, keep in mind the Pacquiao-Algieri bout took place in Macau, while Pac-Man and Bradley fought stateside at the MGM Grand. Time zones matter.
For a better understanding of how PPV numbers have dipped the last few years, let’s switch from the squared circle to the Octagon and see how UFC buyrates have declined (as per Sherdog):
UFC Average Buys per Year
That is a catastrophic collapse – and a big reason why both the UFC and boxing have made a big push into cable television. Which brings us back to that elephant in the room. Pirated Internet streams have become so popular, and so much more reliable in terms of signal, that we’re seeing the same inevitable disappearance of paying customers that the music business experienced after Napster. We don’t have numbers to tell us how many people are watching stuff for free now, but these figures for UFC might give you enough incentive to bet the UNDER on the boxing odds for this prop.
Free Boxing Picks: Take UNDER 3.15 Million (+170) at 5Dimes