PPV: Has The Boom Already Ended
Everything in life has a shelf life, nothing lasts forever. We get the boom and more often than not that is followed by the bust, the current PPV boom in boxing will be no different. There are already signs the UK PPV market will struggle to stay where it has been the last few years.
Outside of Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte depending on where Whyte ends up plying his trade long-term, where are the future generation of potential UK big box office attractions?
Matchroom are in the middle of growing their empire in America, which while for their business might be extremely lucrative, but it does come at a price. Many of the stable of fighters they have at their disposal are having fights outside of the UK, which is watering down the product for UK viewers on Sky Sports. Have the prime time fight nights declined in recent times, it’s difficult to argue against that point. Every decent show seems to end up on PPV, and the free to subscribers shows are not what they once were.
At some point in the near future, I can see problems ahead for the Matchroom/Sky partnership. Sky will quite rightly demand a certain quality for their shows, and that might not fit in with what Matchroom want for their business.
BT Sport have just announced that the forthcoming Terrence Crawford Amir Khan fight will be PPV on their network which came as a surprise at least to me. Khan is seen as a fighter very much in the decline, and while Crawford is a superstar in America, he is far less known in the UK, is this really a PPV fight for the UK, I seriously doubt it, the numbers will be very interesting indeed.
Khan is a Matchroom fighter, at least for now, but Sky seemingly either don’t want the fight or won’t pay the price to have it.
I don’t blame Khan for taking the Crawford fight rather than face his bitter rival Kell Brook. There is a world title at stake and Khan thinks the Brook fight will still be there after this fight, that is where I disagree with him. The popular feeling is that Khan will start well against Crawford, before eventually being taken out by the American.
If as expected Khan loses convincingly, his already perceived decline will be enhanced, will that entice people to buy a PPV with Brook, will Brook even want the fight then, on both points I would say no.
The aforementioned Whyte, the 4th best heavyweight in the world is somehow a PPV attraction. That’s not meant as being disrespectful to Whyte, its more an indication of the market forces today, in any other era he wouldn’t be.
PPV should be reserved for the elite, the superstars of the sport, and the PPV events need to be stacked with an undercard to match. I remember Eddie Hearn saying something along the lines of if the PPV headliner is strong enough, the undercard will be weaker, but if the main event is weaker the undercard will be stronger. Surely that says everything, Matchroom and Hearn have done so much for British boxing, but the recent PPV surge has been milked to every last inch of its life.
Yes, the fighters at the top end have undoubtedly financially benefited and good luck to them and nobody has to buy the events, but there comes a time when enough is enough. The PPV market will eventually level out and return to a more normal life, the lack of PPV fighters will very soon play its part.
At some point Joshua, Fury, Whyte and Deontay Wilder will have to leave the ego’s at the door and actually fight each other if they want the big PPV purses, eventually, the public will tire of paying for the lesser opponents. I wonder despite the big financial reward of Fury going with ESPN, who will he actually fight. Wilder at this point looks to be heading towards DAZN, will that leave Fury with the big deal but with no big fights.
Chris Eubank Jr has the backing of ITV, and as ever he will do his own thing, but where are the rest of the future generation of PPV stars. If I am honest I don’t see them, talent is obviously needed, but so does exposure. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket, new stars need building and to the market where you intend to sell your PPV.
Having your next generation box outside of the UK or on the undercards of PPV events limits their exposure.
Joshua at best will only fight twice a year, so what other PPV shows do Sky have, realistically outside of Whyte probably nothing or very little at best.
BT have Fury, but will people pay just to see Fury fight inferior opponents. The PPV boom may already have come and gone.