CBS Might Give Mayweather Fight Away for Free

The fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao shattered all sorts of records for pay per view numbers. It was far and away the most expensive boxing match ever, and the number of people that paid to watch it was stupendous. More than 4.4 million people bought the match, and you can be assured that more than this number actually watched it, as people often pool together for viewing parties when there’s a big PPV fight like this.

Mayweather has had a six fight contract with Showtime, and the first five of those fights were handled as PPV matches just because that’s how most major boxing matches have been treated over the last decade and more. But, Showtime is a subsidiary of CBS, so going to a public station has always been a vague possibility. But, because this is supposedly Mayweather’s final fight, there is more of a push toward CBS. In essence, this would give the fight away for free to viewers. This would be a huge gamble for the network, but it is likely to pay off if the advertising can come through. It’s proven to be extremely effective in the NFL with the Super Bowl, and just based upon the popularity of the (around) $100 fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao, there’s definitely a crowd hungry to watch more of either of these boxers. Think about all the people that watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials. If something similar could be created for this fight, it would be a risk worth taking.

In television revenue alone, the fight generated about $400 million. That doesn’t include tickets to the actual event in Las Vegas, where the cheaper tickets sold for $1,000 each. Some estimates put the ticket revenue at over $72 million. It also doesn’t include the money brought in by sports bettors and fantasy sports leagues that focus on boxing and MMA. In other words, there is a ton of potential for profits to be made off of big name boxing matches, and if television stations can increase that by focusing on advertising instead of pay per view funds, you may see a shift from the classic PPV model to a public broadcasting model, much like the NFL experiences. For boxing and MMA fans, that’s a very big deal.

The problem is that Mayweather (and Pacquiao) were guaranteed a percentage of PPV sales money. If a public model of viewing was agreed upon, the contracts would need to be negotiated based upon an estimate of advertising. The Super Bowl currently charges about $4.2 million per 30 seconds of airtime, but the average sporting event only charges right around 10 percent of that. For Mayweather to make $50 million for his last fight, there would need to be a very strong push toward the major advertisers showing interest in this. CBS would need to be very sure that they would sell a lot of airtime before they would make a commitment like this.

Mayweather’s potential last fight is scheduled for September 12th of this year. His opponent is yet to be named, but there are a few contenders. Mayweather himself has named his two favorites as Andre Berto and Karim Mayfield. Both are young, and have already shown impressive technique and are racking up wins. Berto is 30-3 with 23 knockouts, while Mayfield is 19-2 with 11 knockouts. If either of these fighters could dethrone Mayweather in his final fight, it would be an impressive notch in their belt as they continue along on their career. Being part of the public television model experiment would only add to their career development.