by Rick Reeno
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer lashed out when BoxingScene.com questioned him about the circulating industry rumors that last Saturday's Showtime pay-per-view, featuring Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Robert Guerrero in the main event, was a financial disaster.
The event, which took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, was Mayweather's first bout of an exclusive six-fight deal that was finalized with Showtime earlier this year. He won a rather lopsided twelve round unanimous decision over Guerrero.
As early as Tuesday, industry rumors began to circulate that Mayweather-Guerrero had bombed on pay-per-view - generating less than a million buys - and Showtime was going to lose millions of dollars in the process.
"All of these knuckleheads who said what a f***ing disaster the pay-per-view was and how Showtime lost all this money - all of that is wishful thinking from the spinmasters over there, you know why I'm talking about. This is bullsh*t. How can they know by Tuesday what the pay-per-view did? When I did pay-per-views for the past ten years on HBO, they never told me on Tuesday what the number was. They know on Thursday and Friday is when you start getting a handle on the In-Demand and the cable numbers. That's when you get those numbers," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
"Now we are starting to get solid numbers and [the buyrate] is definitely going to be over a million. How much over I don't know. I don't think its going to be that much over a million, but its going be right around there. What were all these people talking about? All of those Top Rankers and HBOers, they are going to come and say 'bullsh*t numbers, bullsh*t numbers.' But not publicly, they are going to be going behind the scenes. Let's do it in the open. Let's go and hire a top three accounting firm to look at our numbers and all of the [Manny] Pacquiao [pay-per-view]numbers. Let the truth be told because we stand behind our numbers."
I asked Schaefer if there was any possible way that industry sources could get handle on the pay-per-view numbers as early as this past Tuesday.
"It is impossible [to know by Tuesday] and they know that. Anybody with half a brain knows. It starts on Monday. Everybody knows that the first numbers to come in are preliminary numbers from DirecTV on Monday. Those are the first preliminary numbers that you get. Then on Tuesday you usually get Dish [Network], and then you are going to get the Telecoms [AT&T and Verizon] on Wednesday, and then on Thursday and Friday you start getting cable numbers. So by Friday you get an idea [of the buyrate]. You take all of the numbers from the first week and you put them together, like on a spreadsheet, and it gives you a number of what the fight ultimately will do. That's the way it works and it works for every fight exactly the same," Schaefer said.
"And then you get the number you have on Friday, and you add between 10 to 18% by time that you're done with those different reporting cycles because it always increases. It always increased between 10 and 20%, something like that. If you know that you have a million homes on Friday, you know that you are going to end up with at least 1.1 million...it's just the way it works. And if anybody needs a f***ing ABC on how the pay-per-view number collection [process] works, I'll be happy to give it."
There were a few interesting trends in the latest Mayweather pay-per-view numbers. Although three of the four pay-per-view fights involved a Mexican boxer, the event underperformed with the Hispanic market. Guerrero, a Mexican-American, was unable to draw heavy interest from the Hispanic market. However, the event performed much better than expected with the general market, which Schaefer attributes to Mayweather's overall popularity and the added coverage from Showtime's parent company CBS.
"If you look at the DirecTV and the Dish, which are heavy in the Hispanic market - in the Hispanic market the fight underperformed and in the general market the fight over-performed. It is amazing. It's not just on the pay-per-view,. but the general market really carried this fight. Somehow the Hispanic market didn't really identify with Robert or Robert didn't identify with the Hispanic market. It underperformed there. This is not just a case with the pay-per-view. We saw exactly the same [trend] in the closed circuit as well, where it underperformed with the Hispanic market and over-performed with the general market," Schaefer said.
"The same was true with the movie theaters. The movie theaters set a new record for all of the tickets sold. It was higher than the [Mayweather-Cotto] fight, and again it was heavily generated by the general market and light in the Hispanic market. Really interesting trends and it was really interesting because for the first time in two or three fights - Canelo was not on the card [with Mayweather] and Canelo obviously has a huge recognition in the Hispanic market."
Schaefer first took notice of the trend at last Friday's weigh-in, and then he witnessed the trend continue with the live audience.
"You saw a little bit of this [trend] at the weigh-in as well. It was jam-packed to capacity. [Director of sports and promotions] Scott Ghertner of the MGM told me that they had to shut the doors because it was at capacity, and there were another 1,000 people outside. It's not like the numbers were not there, the numbers were there, but it was a relatively quiet crowd. How many Mexican flags did you see at the weigh-in? Very few. And then you think about fight night, you were there, and it was more of a Laker crowd than a Cinco De Mayo crowd," Schaefer said.
"How many Mexican flags did you see when Abner Mares and Ponce De Leon delivered that terrific fight? Even then it was a relatively quiet crowd. It was more of a Lakers crowd. That gave the indication that it was more of a general market crowd and it was the general market that really pushed the pay-per-view. And I think CBS in that regard did a terrific job in delivering that general market. I think the results speak for themselves because I don’t know any other fighter who could have delivered such a strong showing [with the general market] as Floyd did this past weekend. I’m happy for Showtime as well and I'm happy for anyone who was a part of this promotion."
And, the early numbers also reveals that fans were not steered away by the high price tag of $69.95 to purchase a high definition broadcast of the pay-per-view
"What is interesting as well, when you look at those numbers. When you used to look at the numbers, it used to be 70% in standard definition and 30% in high definition and now the numbers have switched. The price sensitivity in the general market, with [a high definition showing] being 69.95 was not really an issue. If you take the revenues generated with the gate, and the pay-per-view numbers, and the closed circuit, record numbers with movie theaters, foreign revenues were very strong - and if you start adding all of these numbers up - you have revenues [in the realm of] $90 million dollars or something like that, and I don't know too many sporting events or athletes, or for that matter anybody who can generate that kind of money in one night," Schaefer said.