Wilder vs Fury 2: Why fans should buy the PPV on February 22nd
Now that the NFL's Superbowl has concluded and the Vince Lombardi trophy has been rewarded to the front office of the Kansas City Chiefs, the American sporting world can collectively look forward to the February 22nd super-fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
Thanks to FOX and PBC, the estimated 102 million viewing the NFL spectacle witnessed random spots promoting the upcoming Heavyweight showdown, which will hopefully pay-off when fans are asked to throw down $80 in less than three weeks.
But will it?
Like the commercially successful but critically disappointing "Mayweather vs. Pacquiao", which took place on May 2nd, 2015, many fans have begun unfairly calling Wilder vs. Fury 2 "the fight to save boxing" in America once again, and hope the showdown between the two behemoths can revive the popularity of the sport in the US.
There are many reasons why observers would be wise not to get their collective hopes up.
For starters, the fight is being offered on a largely antiquated PPV platform for a relatively high one-time cost. In this day and age, most have grown accustomed to paying a minimal fee for an entire month's worth of premium entertainment online. Yes, the opportunity to see the live event happens one night only, and it is indeed unfair to compare the singular event to any motion picture or television series currently being offered on any popular streaming platform.
But that logic won't stop mainstream and die-hard fans alike from complaining about the $80 price tag and electing to illegally view the prizefight for free on various streaming websites. Until the boxing powers that be figure out how to combat the global pirating issue, events of this nature will continue to struggle to produce great numbers.
Did you know that close to ten million fans worldwide illegally viewed the first match between Wilder and Fury on 133 different pirate streaming sites and 80 YouTube live links, while only an estimated 325K actually paid for it in the US?
An estimated 1.9 million American fight fans chose to illegally stream the event which took place on December 1st, 2018, from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
No one in any entertainment field has been able to solve this ongoing quandary up to this point, so don't expect anyone to figure it out before February 22nd.
This is a huge dilemma for a sport that continually asks its fans to pay for each and every major event.
And because promoters, networks and fighters depend on this supplemental income to stage these expensive events worldwide, with very little mainstream commercial endorsement for assistance, the future of the sport could be in real trouble.
Logically something has to give.
Will the forever tortured fans of boxing suddenly choose to pay for Wilder vs. Fury 2, after enduring decades of shelling out their hard-earned money to see two men tangle month after month, year after year? Highly unlikely.
Will fighters elect to start taking less money to compete in dangerous match-ups? Don't count on it.
The best solution available is the streaming monthly service plan. Although it hasn't quite been perfected, DAZN currently has the right idea. And as long as there remains a healthy alternative to the big one-time cost of the now antiquated PPV model, expect events of this nature to not reach its projected audience.
But fans continuously choose to Illegally stream DAZN events as well...so what's the real solution?
Why not lower the price to entice more fans to legally view the event? Wouldn't promoters prefer to have 2 million viewers at $20 a pop instead of a mere 500K watching for $80? Surely from a promotional standpoint, the more eyeballs on your fighters, the better...right?
Apparently, promoters and networks have very little faith that fans will choose to do the "right thing" on February 22nd. So the reality is that every paying customer will, in essence, be paying for the millions who elect to stream these events illegally.
Thanks for playing...or more accurately, thanks for "paying".
Yes, boxing can blame the various expensive anti-climactic events that came before Wilder/Fury 2 for the mass refusal to pay the $80 price tag. For decades, events like Ruiz vs. Holyfield 1,2 and 3, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, and Mayweather vs. De La Hoya built up tremendous anticipation but failed to produce a satisfying product for the fans' entertainment dollar. Yes, fans still remember having to pay for those events on their inflated cable and satellite bills.
So if fans actually have the choice to illegally stream these events for free, does anyone believe that they won't take advantage of that option?
Just because "they can", doesn't mean "they should".
If fans truly care for the future health of their "beloved" boxing, they will choose to pay for Wilder vs. Fury 2 on February 22nd.
These brave pugilists risk their lives every single time they step foot inside the ring...all in the name of sports entertainment. So yes, they do deserve to be compensated handsomely for their efforts.
But just like in the days of the gladiators who fought to their death within the historic Roman Coliseum, fans really don't care and merely want to be entertained. They are indeed hypocrites who continuously demand to see these men "walk through fire" for their own amusement, yet publicly complain about any random athlete who tests positive for a banned substance; making the claim that the fighters' health is paramount.
Save it for someone who actually believes this mass contradiction.
The proof that fans really don't care about these brave souls is in the numbers.
Once again, only 325K fans in the US cared enough to pay $75 to see the first bout between Deontaty Wilder and Tyson Fury on December 1st, 2018, while an estimated 1.9 million viewed it for free illegally.
So if you decide on February 22nd that you don't want to pay $80 to witness the two best heavyweights in the world risk their health for your entertainment, you forfeit the right and privilege to complain about any match-up or social issue concerning the overall health of the sport from this point forward.
Don't complain on your favorite social media platform that fighter A is "ducking" fighter B, or that a specific promoter isn't making your preferred match-up any longer...you don't deserve to have a legitimate voice.
Shut up and take what these promoters choose to give you.
If you don't want to pay for these great fights when they do finally materialize, then you really don't love the sport of boxing.
Choose to pay for the event on February 22nd...because Wilder vs. Fury 2 is as good as it gets.