SBD/May 4, 2011/Media

"Fight Camp 360" Earns Tiny Rating On CBS, But Execs Praise Exposure For Product

The “Fight Camp 360” documentary promoting Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight that many saw as a chance to nudge boxing back into the crosshairs of the casual sports fan was the least-viewed show to air in primetime on any of the four major broadcast networks in the last 10 months. However, boxing promoter Top Rank still was touting it as a victory for a sport that typically lives on premium cable. Airing last Saturday night from 8:00-9:00pm ET on CBS, “Fight Camp 360” earned a 0.8 rating and 1.136 million viewers, the smallest audience since Fox got a 0.7 rating and 1.091 million viewers for an episode of “Sons of Tucson” on July 4, 2010. While that is a minuscule number for mainstream network TV, it is actually an improvement on the viewership numbers Pacquiao’s previous preview shows drew on HBO. The first live airings of each of the first two episodes of “HBO 24/7: Pacquiao-Margarito” attracted 348,000 and 298,000 viewers, respectively. The third, which aired a week before the fight, as this “Fight Camp” did, attracted 731,000 viewers. “I achieved two to three times my normal universe,” said Top Rank President Todd DuBoef. “In one night, I got two to three times the number of impressions for my product. So, for me, I think it’s a winner.”

CBS NOT EXPECTING MUCH: CBS execs said in earlier interviews that they would not take much away from the "Fight Camp" rating because Saturday nights typically deliver small audiences and comparably little revenue. "It was a high quality, well-produced hour of original programming in a time period normally reserved for repeats," CBS spokesperson Chris Ender said in an e-mail. "It also likely reached an audience that previously wasn't aware of the May 7 event." The network's goal was to expose the fight to mainstream viewers, helping to sell PPV for sister network Showtime. “On the one hand, that’s a horrible number,” said Rick Gentile, a former Exec Producer of CBS Sports who now serves as Seton Hall Univ. Sports Poll Dir. “On the other, it is more than you’d get on HBO. And it’s probably a whole lot of people who wouldn’t have seen it if it weren’t on CBS. So it’s a new audience. I still think it’s a positive step for boxing. For CBS, it means nothing. Saturday night is a giveaway. They preempted a rerun. They felt they were helping promote something that’s good for the company as a whole. So it doesn’t mean anything, except that now it’s not like they’re going to create a regular primetime series based on what they just saw. I doubt they expected much.”
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