Showtime, CBS Eye More Boxing In '13 After Success Of Saturday Card
Boxing's return to network TV on Saturday "for the first time in 15 years went off smoothly," according to Lance Pugmire of the L.A. TIMES. Showtime Sports Exec VP & GM Stephen Espinoza “breathed a sigh of relief" when the Leo Santa Cruz-Alberto Guevara fight was "barely delayed" by the Butler-Indiana basketball game going to OT. Espinoza said of Santa Cruz' victory by decision, "It was a good match and performance for this broadcast, all-action from the opening to the final bell." He added, "We'll look at the ratings and have the discussion about when we can do it again, but I thought the production went extremely well." Pugmire noted the Butler-Indiana lead-in "should help the bout's ratings.” Meanwhile, Espinoza’s plans for next year “start Jan. 9 with the debut of ‘60 Minutes Sports’” on Showtime. Negotiations “are underway” for Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s May 4 fight, with Robert Guerrero “the top candidate” to fight Mayweather (LATIMES.com, 12/15). CBS earned a 1.3 overnight rating for the bout from 4:45-6:00pm ET. The telecast retained 90% of the audience from the Butler-Indiana lead in (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
SMALL FALL: Top Rank Chair Bob Arum said that the fourth fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 8 “generated about 1.15 million buys on HBO PPV.” ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reported throughout the promotion for the fight, “apparent fan fatigue resulting from their three previous bouts was evident.” After “a bit of an admittedly slow promotion,” Arum said that PPV projections were “sluggish -- until the buys picked up significantly on the final day with a rush that he said helped push the fight into seven figures.” Rafael noted the fight “will generate in the neighborhood of $70 million in domestic television revenue.” Marquez-Pacquiao IV “did just a shade less than the third fight between them” in November ’11, which “did 1.25 million buys.” Their second fight in ‘08 “did 407,000 buys and their first fight in 2004 was live on HBO, not on pay-per-view” (ESPN.com, 12/15). Meanwhile, MULTICHANNEL NEWS’ R. Thomas Umstead cites industry insiders as saying that Pacquiao’s recent losses mean he has “lost a bit of his in-ring aura and some of his PPV box-office appeal.” That could “deliver a major body blow to a PPV boxing category reliant on Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the majority of its PPV revenue over the past three years.” After back-to-back losses, Pacquiao “might need to take a tune-up fight on HBO or Showtime before returning to the PPV arena” (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 12/17 issue).
FINAL BELL: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes HBO “did a cool retrospective” of announcer Larry Merchant’s career during Saturday's Nonito Donaire-Jorge Arce bout, “then let Merchant say goodbye with a brief monologue.” Merchant is ending a 35-year stint as the net's main ringside analyst. Jones: “I’m sad to see Merchant go. Sometimes I disagreed vehemently with his opinions. Sometimes, his style was holier-than-thou. Sometimes he acted like he was the smartest guy in the room. But, always, he was straight-forward. He said what he believed and made no apologies for it. And he was as intelligent of a broadcaster as you could find” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/17).