Terence Crawford’s fourth-round technical knockout of Kell Brook was watched by more viewers Saturday night than his previous ESPN appearance.
Nielsen Media Research viewership figures released Tuesday indicated ESPN’s Crawford-Brook main event attracted a peak audience of 2,078,000 from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. An average of 2,029,000 viewers watched the Crawford-Brook bout, a WBO welterweight title fight that lasted only 13 minutes and 14 seconds.
Crawford’s prior ESPN fight, a ninth-round stoppage of mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas, drew an average audience of 1,481,000 last December 14 from Madison Square Garden in New York. The peak viewership of that telecast came in the opener of a tripleheader, when 1,648,000 tuned in to watch the early portion of Michael Conlan’s 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Olympic rival Vladimir Nikitin in a featherweight fight.
The Conlan-Nikitin viewership was boosted by a strong lead-in, ESPN’s live telecast of the Heisman Trophy ceremony. The Crawford-Brook telecast was preceded by a college football game that quickly devolved into a blowout – Florida’s 63-35 victory over Arkansas.
ESPN’s entire average for its two-bout broadcast, which spanned two hours and four minutes Saturday night, was 1,758,000.
That marked the highest average viewership for a boxing broadcast on ESPN since a show headlined by Vasiliy Lomachenko’s TKO defeat of Guillermo Rigondeaux drew an average audience of 1,730,000 in December 2018. The Lomachenko-Rigondeaux telecast also benefited from ESPN’s Heisman Trophy ceremony coverage that immediately preceded it.
ESPN’s telecast of the Teofimo Lopez-Vasiliy Lomachenko lightweight title unification fight peaked at 2,898,000 viewers and averaged 2,729,000 on October 17 from MGM Grand Conference Center. That whole telecast averaged 1,534,000 viewers on ESPN, but it lasted five hours and 47 minutes, much longer than the Crawford-Brook broadcast.
Crawford’s 12th-round stoppage of Jose Benavidez Jr. was Crawford’s most-watched fight that aired live on ESPN since the network entered an exclusive content partnership with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Crawford’s promoter, in June 2017. Crawford-Benavidez drew a peak audience of 2,800,000 and an average audience of 2,245,000 in October 2018 from CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford’s hometown.
Two of Crawford’s three other fights since Top Rank partnered with ESPN were offered on ESPN Pay-Per-View (a sixth-round stoppage of Amir Khan in April 2019) and ESPN+ (a ninth-round TKO of Jeff Horn in June 2018).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.