By Keith Idec
Promoter Lou DiBella is beyond pleased with the ratings Deontay Wilder’s win produced Saturday night on broadcast television.
According to final numbers released by FOX, Nielsen Media Research indicated viewership for Wilder’s fifth-round technical knockout of Gerald Washington peaked at 2.57 million. That amount of viewers tuned in between 10 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. (ET), when Wilder floored Washington with a right hand and the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion eventually stopped the former USC football player at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
The entire telecast, which began at 8 p.m. and ended at 10:15 p.m. (ET), drew an average of 1.86 million viewers. The tripleheader also included heavyweight Dominic Breazeale’s dramatic comeback in a fifth-round knockout win against Izu Ugonoh and Jarrett Hurd’s ninth-round technical knockout victory over Tony Harrison in a fight for the vacant IBF junior middleweight title.
“That rating says that a good boxing show could hold its own on broadcast television, in terms of ratings,” DiBella, the promoter of Saturday’s card, told BoxingScene.com. “And this boxing show was in competition with an NBA telecast and an NHL telecast. And it out-rated the hockey and it didn’t peak that far off from the peak on the basketball. So I think it was a pretty impressive showing for a good boxing card. And I think, honestly, that’s what these PBC telecasts have to do, is to show that viewers will tune in for quality programming, even with sports competition.
“I read the release from FOX and it appears the FOX executives were pleased. But from the perspective of a promoter, to realize that fight was seen by that many people and that, in all likelihood, Deontay’s stoppage of Washington was seen by 2½ million people, I think that’s really good news for the sport in the United States.”
The Wilder-Washington tripleheader went head-to-head with a Bulls-Cavs game on ABC and a Flyers-Penguins game on NBC on Saturday night. Updated peak Nielsen numbers from the NBA game, in which LeBron James didn’t play against former teammate Dwyane Wade, and the NHL game were not available.
The Wilder-Washington peak audience also surpassed Wilder’s two previous appearances on free TV.
Wilder’s domination of Chris Arreola drew a peak viewership of 2.54 million in a fight also broadcast by FOX on July 16. That fight also took place at Legacy Arena.
In his broadcast television debut, Wilder’s 11th-round stoppage of France’s Johann Duhaupas in September 2015 at Legacy Arena peaked at 2.36 million viewers on NBC.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.