By Keith Idec
Scheduled for the Saturday night before Christmas, the timing of the debut of FOX’s rebooted boxing partnership with PBC wasn’t ideal.
The “PBC Fight Night on FOX” tripleheader still attracted respectable viewership. According to figures released Thursday by Nielsen Media Research, FOX’s three-bout broadcast from Barclays Center in Brooklyn drew the second-highest viewership of any boxing telecast this year in the United States.
An average of 1,971,000 viewers watched FOX’s entire telecast, which ran for approximately three hours and 15 minutes. The broadcast attracted a peak audience of 2,421,000 during the main event between Jermall Charlo and Matt Korobov.
Including FOX Deportes (135,000 viewers) and FOX’s streaming platforms (8,184 viewers), the average viewership of the show was 2,114,184.
The peak and average audiences for Saturday’s show each ranked No. 2 among all boxing broadcasts in 2018. The only boxing offering to attract more viewers this year was ESPN’s telecast October 13 from CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
Viewership for that card peaked at about 2,800,000 viewers during the main event – Terence Crawford’s 12th-round technical knockout of Jose Benavidez Jr. That two-bout broadcast also averaged the highest boxing viewership of this year (2,245,000).
FOX is available in roughly 120 million homes in the United States, approximately 33 million more than ESPN, a basic cable channel. FOX’s four boxing broadcasts in 2018 averaged 1,254,000 viewers, 337,000 more than Top Rank’s 14 telecasts averaged on ESPN in 2018 (917,000).
Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions and FOX announced a four-year deal early in September. As part of that agreement, FOX will air 10 PBC shows per year starting in 2019 and 12 PBC cards per year on FOX’s cable channels, FS1 and FOX Deportes.
In addition to finishing second overall this year among boxing broadcasts, viewership for FOX’s show Saturday night was significantly higher than for its previous boxing telecast.
That show, headlined by Andre Berto and Devon Alexander, peaked at 1,266,000 viewers during Berto’s split-decision victory over Alexander on August 4 in Uniondale, New York. That four-bout broadcast averaged 941,000 viewers overall.
Saturday’s show featured Houston’s Charlo twins in much more difficult fights than odds-makers predicted.
Detroit’s Tony Harrison upset Jermell Charlo in the co-featured fight to win the WBC super welterweight title. Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs), an 8-1 underdog, defeated Charlo (31-1, 15 KOs) on all three scorecards to win a unanimous decision in their 12-rounder (116-112, 115-113, 115-113).
Jermall Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs) beat Russia’s Korobov (28-2, 14 KOs) by wider margins – 119-108, 116-112 and 116-112. The WBC interim middleweight champion admitted afterward, however, that Korobov provided a tough test.
Korobov took the fight on just six days’ notice, once Charlo’s original opponent, Willie Monroe Jr. (23-3, 6 KOs), provided an adverse sample in a performance-enhancing drug test.
The tripleheader began Saturday night with a very competitive heavyweight fight. In that bout, Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs), of Eastvale, California, knocked out Puerto Rico’s Carlos Negron (20-2, 16 KOs) in the ninth round of a 10-rounder.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.