Bob Arum’s promotional company and its network partner, ESPN, took an atypical approach to setting the price for the pay-per-view show that’ll feature Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Competitors, and even ESPN and Top Rank themselves, have previously raised prices when they’ve offered expensive events they believed would captivate consumers in the United States more than most pay-per-view shows.
Showtime, Premier Boxing Champions and Golden Boy Promotions will offer the Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia card for $84.99 on April 22 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That’s $10 more than it cost to purchase the Showtime/PBC card headlined by super middleweights David Benavidez and Caleb Plant last Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Top Rank and ESPN were involved in the second and third heavyweight championship bouts between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, both of which cost $79.99. ESPN and Top Rank also made the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter show available only through ESPN+, which cost $69.99 and an additional $6.99 for a one-month subscription to ESPN’s streaming service, $76.98 in total.
This time, however, ESPN and Top Rank actually lowered the price for the Haney-Lomachenko show, from the typical $69.99 or $74.99 to $59.99. Their hope, according to Arum’s explanation Thursday during a press conference in Los Angeles, is to entice more buyers by dropping the price and increase interest overall in their lightweight showdown.
The lower price still isn’t cheap for a fight Arum told BoxingScene.com late last year that he had hoped to keep off of pay-per-view, but the 91-year-old promoter and his network partners considered it a worthwhile risk.
“We studied this with ESPN,” Arum said, “and we determined that this fight had enough interest that if we went with a [price point] that was less than what everybody else was charging that we would make up for it by an increased number of buys. Now whether that happens or doesn’t happen remains to be seen. But all I know is that anybody that calls themselves a boxing fan, they have to watch this fight. And that’s the determination we made setting the price for the pay-per-view.”
The 12-round, 135-pound bout between the unbeaten Haney (29-0, 15 KOs) and Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) is intriguing, and the outcome will determine boxing’s fully unified lightweight champion. It is unlikely, however, to come close to generating the buy rate Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) and Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs), two of the most popular boxers in the sport, will produce four weeks earlier in what is generally regarded as the highest-profile fight on the boxing calendar, even though there isn’t a title at stake.
The guaranteed purses for Davis and Garcia are higher than the first two Showtime/PBC pay-per-view shows thus far this year, therefore the price was raised. There will also be three undercard fights on the Davis-Garcia pay-per-view show, whereas Top Rank has experimented with airing only two pay-per-view bouts before Henderson, Nevada’s Haney and Ukraine’s Lomachenko clash in the main event.
“Now, you can’t really criticize people that are charging $85 or $90,” Arum said. “That’s their choice. They’re looking at a shrinking fan base who buy pay-per-view, and so by raising the prices they don’t get hit with a money loss.”
Piracy remains an enormous problem for promoters, networks and streaming services that offer boxing pay-per-view shows as well. Though thievery will significantly impact the buy rates for the Garcia-Davis and Haney-Lomachenko events, Top Rank and ESPN learned from another mistake they’ve made.
ESPN+ will still be the exclusive digital provider of Haney-Lomachenko, which will cost consumers an additional $9.99 for a one-month subscription, $69.98 altogether, to stream that three-fight show. But unlike the Crawford-Porter card in November 2021, Haney-Lomachenko will also be made available by all cable and satellite providers for $59.99.
The only Top Rank/ESPN pay-per-view show of 2022, Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte last April 23, was also sold through traditional cable and satellite companies.
The price point for Davis-Garcia is the same, $84.99, whether it is purchased digitally via sho.com or PPV.com, or through cable or satellite operators.
Regardless, Arum is confident his company and its network partner have made the right choice by offering Haney-Lomachenko for approximately $60.
“There is a debate of what is the appropriate price,” Arum said. “Now, it seems that the pay-per-view universe, the number of people willing to buy the pay-per-view, hasn’t expanded. And so the tendency for promoters and networks are to raise the prices, and it really puts an event outside of the ability of fans to pay. So, we decided that a good solution was to go for a price of approximately $60 and try to make up for that by getting more people interested in buying the pay-per-view. And so we wouldn’t really be the loser because of that, and we would help boxing.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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