By Jake Donovan
For boxing junkies who can’t watch the sport enough, the weekend’s action between December 6–7 proved to be an overload.
From a ratings perspective, it also proved that perhaps there is such a thing as too much boxing.
HBO and Showtime both provided loaded shows over the weekend, splitting the boxing audience nearly in half with conflicting telecasts. HBO’s live televised tripleheader from Atlantic City won the head-to-head battle, with an average of 518,000 viewers over the course of the telecast edging out Showtime’s quadrupleheader from Brooklyn, which managed an average of 489,000 viewers throughout its near four-hour telecast.
The highest-rated bout from either show was also the most entertaining fight of the evening. James Kirkland’s 6th round stoppage of Glen Tapia—the HBO co-feature attraction—was watched live by 718,000 viewers, nearly 80,000 more than the number of fans who tuned into watch the main event in Brooklyn, as Paul Malignaggi’s 12-round win over Zab Judah was witnessed by 640,000 viewers.
The ratings win for HBO also came with sidebars.
Matthew Macklin’s 10-round points win over Lamar Russ was the lowest rated bout of the evening, generating just 401,000 viewers.
The evening’s main event was literally a walkout – and tune-out – bout. Guillermo Rigondeaux was all but without a dance partner, with Joseph Agbeko refusing to engage at any point over the course of their 12-round snoozer. The fans at the Boardwalk Hall responded, leaving during the bout. Viewers also responded in kind, as the bout aired on the TV screens of 550,000 viewers over the course of the 12-round affair, making it the lowest rated HBO Boxing After Dark main event in its 17-year history.
While Showtime’s broadcast lost the overall battle, the statistics showed steady viewership throughout and gradual increases as the broadcast went along.
Sakio Bika and Anthony Dirrell had the TV screens to themselves. With the 8PM ET start for the Showtime telecast, their 12-round draw aired nearly two hours before the HBO broadcast kicked off (8:45PM). The result was a televised opening drawing 446,000 viewers.
Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout produced the lowest rated bout of the Showtime telecast, and rightfully so. Their dull 12-round affair—won by Lara—pulled in 429,000 viewers, with the second half of the bout overlapping with the start of the Boxing After Dark telecast.
The evening’s co-feature saw Shawn Porter deliver one of the more impressive performances of the year, outclassing Devon Alexander over 12 rounds to win a welterweight bout. His accomplishment played out in front of an average of 515,000 viewers, with their title fight airing roughly around the same time as the six-round slugfest between Kirkland and Tapia.
Showtime has one more weekend to add to its ratings total, with a televised quadrupleheader this Saturday in San Antonio. Headlining the show, Adrien Broner faces Marcos Maidana in a scheduled 12-round welterweight bout. Broner has been a ratings magnet for both HBO and Showtime in 2013, drawing roughly 1.3 million viewers in appearances on each network this year.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox