Preliminary PPV numbers for Kovalev-Ward not good

November 29, 2016


November 19th’s fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev was highly anticipated among hardcore boxing fans, but I have to say it didn’t seem like there was a lot of buzz about it.

It felt like the promotion for this fight was severely lacking.  I honestly can’t remember seeing any promotions for it anywhere.  I read where one person pointed out that with Andre Ward being a Roc Nation fighter that they could have gotten some of their recording artists with millions of Twitter followers to say something to hype the fight, which I thought would have been a good idea.  But there was no buzz for this fight outside the boxing community.

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And now the numbers have come in and confirmed this.  According to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, the fight only did around 160,000 pay-per-view buys.  For comparison’s sake, Manny Pacquio vs Jessie Vargas did around 300,000, as did Canelo Alvarez vs Liam Smith.  Those fights were not something that most boxing fans were very excited about since they were seen as non-competitive, but apparently casual fans wanted to see the bigger name fighters.  The fact that Kovalev-Ward only did half of what those two fights did is startling.

I wonder what percentage of hardcore boxing fans buy PPV versus streaming online and how that compares to casual fans.  It didn’t seem like this fight was lacking in interest among hardcore boxing fans at all, but casual fans didn’t even know about it.  I’d imagine that if casual fans are going to watch a fight, they would be more likely to buy the PPV than hardcore fans would be, since they might not know that you can find it online for free.  Plus the casual fans would only want to watch maybe one or two fights a year, so it wouldn’t be a big deal just to buy the PPV.  If you’re a hardcore boxing fan, trying to buy every PPV will add up really quick, and I think they may be less likely to buy.  I am just speculating here though and don’t have any data to back it up.

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You have to think that with the fight having a controversial ending and not exactly being the most action packed, the rematch would do even worse.  Maybe they could run it as a co-feature with another fight.  A card with Gennady Golovkin and Danny Jacobs along with Ward-Kovalev II would be be pretty awesome.  I’m sure that would be close to impossible logistically, but a co-feature would be a way to get the second fight some PPV buys.

It’s really unfortunate that a fight as significant as Kovalev-Ward did so poorly.  This was the most important fight of recent memory between two undefeated fighters who are both indisputably top ten pound-for-pound.  I’m not sure what this means for the well-being of the sport, but if the fights aren’t selling on PPV it’s probably not good.

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