Wilder-Fury III promotion reflects boxing status as a niche sport – Sportico.com
The final bout of the trilogy between Deontay Wilder and WBC champion Tyson Fury takes place on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Fox Sports and ESPN are jointly presenting the pay-per-view event. Both companies, along with Top Rank (promoter of Fury) and Premier Boxing Champions (promoter of Wilder), have stepped up promotion of the fight over the past week (see: spots during Monday night football, Fox’s Wild Card Yankees-Red Sox game on Tuesday night and the NFL pre-game show Thursday night, and a countdown show that aired on both networks).
But according to iSpot.tv data, that didn’t match the unprecedented promotion given to the rematch in February 2020; ISpot figures show Wilder-Fury III promos received about 600 million fewer linear impressions out of about 1,500 fewer broadcasts than the previous fight.
There are several logical reasons for the decline (think: time on schedule, competitive fall advertising market, changes in promoters’ marketing strategies), but some boxing insiders believe the current approach shows that no matter how much money and promotion is invested in boxing, it remains a niche sport with a niche audience.
Taken from JWS: There is a lot of boxing available on multiple media platforms and a lot of investment in the sport. But Wilder-Fury II has shown that the sport does not increase fan base or transcend diehard fans. You have to go back to the 2015 fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to find a championship-caliber fight (i.e. not the one involving Jake Paul or Mike Tyson) that caught the casual observer. Some 4.6 million people bought the ~ $ 100 PPV.
Meadowlark CEO John Skipper believes Wilder-Fury II’s inability to attract far beyond the die-hard fan, even with the solid promotion he has received, stems from the lack of organization in the sport. . “These games don’t add up to anything,” Skipper said. “They are all distinct points of light in a great ancient sky. They don’t connect. A fight occurs and it leads to nothing else. There is no clear unified champion. There are no playoffs. There is no sequence of events. Skipper would know. Remember that he was previously the executive chairman of DAZN, a boxing specialist.
To be clear, no one we spoke to suggested that the second Wilder-Fury fight was a failure. The PPV would have generated 800K-850K purchases – more than a respectable number, especially compared to the fights that have taken place since. No “real boxing” PPV has exceeded one million purchases since HBO made it with Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin in 2018.
But given that Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum predicted that Wilder-Fury II would become just the fifth boxing match in history to make more than 2 million purchases, it’s understandable that the networks be disappointed.
As for Wilder-Fury III, it is assumed that the second fight didn’t expand the audience enough to justify its unprecedented marketing muscle, so the decision was made to step down this time around. “In many networks, including ours to some extent, the amount of marketing [is] proportionate to what we think the fight can or should do, ”said Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza.
Fox Sports and ESPN insist there was no difference in their approach to this weekend’s fight, saying in a joint statement: “The combined efforts of ESPN and FOX Sports to promote the Championship Saturday’s heavyweights – via marketing, promotion and publicity – were strategic, well coordinated and equal to the previous fight. Fox noted that the only difference was that they had more high profile events through which they could promote. the fight last time around (see: NFC Championship Game, Super Bowl). At this point, excluding the two Super Bowl spots (which totaled 164 million impressions), iSpot.tv data showed that Fox promotions only generated about 8 million fewer impressions (175.6 million vs. 167.1 million III) for this fight. ESPN + promotions saw the number of impressions drop by 40.1 million to 20.9 million.
Top Rank says he hasn’t cut his marketing budget for this fight either. But the promoter admitted to having allocated its resources differently, which helps to explain why there were less linear diffusions. “For Fury-Wilder III, strategically we are relying more on digital promotion and advertising, as we have had tremendous success on these platforms, which has resulted in high PPV buy rates,” said the Top Rank chairman, Todd duBoef. “We think these are great mechanics to harness to lead this fight. “
Of course, targeted digital advertising is not an effective way to reach large audiences, which supports the narrative that boxing’s TAM cannot extend far beyond the die-hard fan.
The lack of a stand-alone Premier Boxing Champions campaign (which last generated over 385 million impressions out of over 1,800 broadcasts) and the DirecTV promotion (18 million additional impressions) was also a factor. important in reducing linear impressions and diffusions.
It’s also important to remember that this fight was originally scheduled to take place in July. Top Rank’s DuBoef acknowledged that the postponement forced an adjustment in their planning, saying, “There has been a unique cadence so that we can get the promotion going again.”
To be clear, waiting for the promotion until the week of the event isn’t necessarily a bad decision, especially with the evidence that spending weeks away pays little. “In today’s media market, the most fertile climate is last week,” Espinoza said.
That said, a more traditional marketing approach would favor a phased fight and include a period of interest cultivation before trying to engage the consumer in the days following the event.
Arum predicted that this weekend’s fight will overtake the second fight. Considering the competition and the general lack of buzz, this seems unlikely. Adam Grossman, vice president of Excel Sports Management, Business Insights & Analytics, said: “The second fight had a much higher conversation (think: media mentions, social media posts) at this point before the event that this weekend’s fight does now. “