By Keith Idec
More than twice as many viewers watched Errol Spence Jr.’s most recent fight on Showtime than his previous appearance on the network.
Ratings released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research indicate Spence’s convincing victory over Lamont Peterson was watched by a peak audience of 695,000 on Saturday night. The Spence-Peterson fight, which Spence won by technical knockout, drew an average audience of 637,000.
Spence’s prior performance, an 11th-round knockout of Kell Brook on May 27, attracted a peak viewership of 337,000. The telecast of that fight, in which Spence won the IBF welterweight title in Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England, averaged 291,000 viewers.
The most significant difference between those two broadcasts is that Spence-Brook aired live late on a Saturday afternoon on the East Coast of the United States. Spence-Brook also took place on Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.
The Spence-Peterson fight aired live in prime time on the East Coast on Saturday night from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The 28-year-old Spence (23-0, 20 KOs), an emerging star and one of the best boxers in the sport, drew by far the biggest ratings of his career in August 2016. That fight, which resulted in Spence’s sixth-round stoppage of Italy’s Leonard Bundu in an IBF elimination match, was watched by an enormous audience that exceeded six million viewers.
Spence-Bundu benefited from being broadcast on free TV, though, and had a very strong lead-in. It immediately followed NBC’s broadcast of the U.S. Olympic basketball team’s gold-medal victory over Serbia at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Showtime, a premium cable channel, has roughly 24 million subscribers in the United States. NBC is available in approximately 120 million homes in the U.S.
The opener of Showtime’s doubleheader Saturday night – Robert Easter Jr.’s split-decision defeat of Javier Fortuna in a 12-round lightweight fight – attracted a peak audience of 540,000. An average of 462,000 viewers watched Easter’s narrow win against Fortuna.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.