Saturday, 08 June 2013 23:21

Floyd Mayweather vs Guerrero: Real Reason for Alleged Disappointing PPV Buys

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The Floyd Mayweather vs Robert Guerrero fight last month was the first major televised fight of Floyd's career to not be aired on HBO.
Mayweather's six-fight, 30-month deal with Showtme was called the "richest individual athlete deal in all of sports" in a press release.

For that bout, Floyd Mayweather equaled his own all-time base purse record with a guaranteed $32 Million - But the numbers were not as good for the Showtime network who spent a fortune to lure 'Money May' from HBO.

We don't know for sure what the PPV buyrate was but we do know one thing: It was unimpressive... At least versus expectations.

Although it was initially reported the fight garnered one million buys, its now rumored there were only 870,000.

So 870,000 isn't so bad, right?

Answer: Its an excelent buyrate... Unless the main event showcases fighters named Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.

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Compare the alleged buyrate to many of Mayweather and Pacquiao's fights over the last 6 years.
  • Mayweather vs De La Hoya (2007) 2.4 million
  • Mayweather vs Cotto (2012) 1.5 million
  • Pacquiao vs Marquez 3 (2011) 1.45 million
  • Mayweather vs Mosley (2010) 1.4 million
  • Pacquiao vs Mosley (2011) 1.34 million
  • Mayweather vs Ortiz (2011) 1.25 million
  • Pacquiao vs De La Hoya (2009) 1.25 million
  • Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 (2012) 1.15 million

Guerrero's Name Recognition or Fans Just Fed Up with Floyd?

Some will insist the disappointing buyrate came as a result of Robert Guerrero being a virtual unknown to casual fans and the masses in general. Others will assert fans are fed up with Floyd and are, in some way, boycotting his fights as a form of protest.

Both assersions, despite possibly having "some" truth, are far from the real reason Mayweather vs Guerrero allegedly tanked at the box office.

Although Robert Guerrero isn't exactly a household name among casual fans, neither was the name Victor Ortiz yet the latter's fight with Mayweather in 2011 generated a whopping 1.25 million buys. And as far as fans boycotting Floyd's fights, they have been threatening to do that for years yet his PPVs sales continued to soar. As a matter of fact, Mayweather vs Cotto (one year earlier) generated a stellar 1.5 million buys - even though many protested the match-up, insisting Cotto was well past his prime.

HBO vs Showtime

So what is the real reason Mayweather vs Guerrero failed to reach PPV buyrate expectations?

It's easy...

According to ratings from Nielsen Media Research last fall, HBO was in 29 million homes, while Showtime only in 21 million. HBO, at least back then, had 28% more subscribers than its rival. Given the survey was less than a year ago, there's little to suggest the ratio has changed much.

So what difference does it make that HBO has 8 million more subscribers, right?

Answer: Its huge! That means the fight was marketed in 8 million fewer homes. 

Nowadays, marketing is critical to the success of PPVs and having HBO's influence and marketing power behind you can give you a supreme advantage versus a venue on another network. 

HBO has the biggest boxing budget in the world. And while Showtime is a quality network too, its fighters get far less exposure.

Moreover, there was obviously no build up on HBO's popular 24/7. The best thing to happen to HBO Sports in the last 10 years was the success of 24/7, both as a marketing vehicle and for pay-per-view buys. Although there were episodes of Showtime's All Access for Mayweather vs Guerrero, the audience was far less.


Shows like 24/7 and All Access have proven to be important tools in building the audience for pay-per-view fights so if the audience for one is much greater than the other, the show with the much larger viewership will likely get a boost in PPV buys.

Its marketing and shows like 24/7 and All Access that get "borderline" fans to pay good money for PPV events - And right now HBO's marketing machine is the best, bar none.

Pacquiao vs Mosley
So why did Pacquiao vs Mosley, also on Showtime, do so well?  Well, when you have two legends of the sport and and first ballot hall of famers fighting each other, its hard to imagine such a match tanking.

With all due respect to Robert Guerrero, he hadn't reached the iconic status of Pacquiao or Mosley when he fought Floyd so instead of superstar vs superstar, Mayweather vs Guerrero was more like superstar vs question mark.

Since Pacquiao vs Mosley, Manny has had 3 fights and they've all been broadcast on which network?

Lee Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.