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PPV Boxing Card Featuring YouTube Celebrities Reports 800,000 Buys
Last Saturday Night, a YouTube PPV boxing card featuring 4 “YouTube celebrities” (headlined by KSI vs. Logan Paul) reported 800,000 buys at a cost of $10. If you count those who watched the action on pirated streams, it’s been estimated that upwards of 2 million viewers tuned in for the event. An additional 15,000 fans bought tickets to catch the fights live at Manchester Arena.
Howie Long-Short: 800,000 buys is impressive considering UFC 226 (Miocic vs. Cormier) did less than 400,00 PPV; of course, the UFC event was priced at $64.99, not $9.99. With that being said, only 2 UFC events over the last 2 years have reached 800,000 PPV buys and there have been none thus far in 2018.
Comparing the UFC to an amateur boxing card isn’t exactly apples to apples, though. A better comparison would be to compare the YouTube card to Barstool’s amateur boxing series Rough N Rowdy (RNR), which also streams their events. While I don’t have data on Rough N Rowdy 3 or 4, this past weekend’s event destroyed RNR 2 (February ‘18); a card that only drew 41,000 buys (between $9.99-$15.99).
Tiger vs. Phil is going to be priced at $24.99. Alan Shipnuck, Senior Writer at Golf.com wrote before that price was disclosed that “this ain’t the freakin’ Ryder Cup — I’m not sure there’s that much demand. For $19.99 only the lunatic fringe will buy in. Any more than that and it’s full-blown insanity.” Well, it’s full blown insanity and I’m not certain it’s going to post more buys than recent RNR events. For contextual purposes, in April 1988 Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Greg Norman and Ian Woosman competed in a similar event called the “Desert scramble”. The event cost fans $12.95 ($30 today). Less than 65,000 people tuned in and the event failed to break even. With a $9 million prize, AT&T will need at least 360,000 PPV buys to break even; I wouldn’t think there are 360,000 on the lunatic fringe.
Fan Marino: While it’s likely you’ve never heard of these people, the two fights on the card featured Jake Paul (16 million YouTube followers) vs. Deji Olatunji (9 million followers) and his brother KSI (19 million followers) vs. Logan Paul (18 million followers). If you’ve heard of Logan Paul, it’s likely because earlier this year he made headlines for broadcasting a dead body in Japan’s suicide forest (i.e. he’ll do anything for views) on his channel. Jake Paul won his fight before challenging Chris Brown (of Rihanna infamy) to a match; KSI and Logan Paul fought to a draw (6 rounds) before announcing a rematch.
Cubs Set to Launch TV Channel in 2020, Control Exclusive Local Broadcast Rights to Games
The Chicago Cubs are reportedly planning to launch their own television network (think: YES) at the completion of next season, as the Ricketts family wants to control the team’s exclusive local broadcast rights. While rumors that the Northsiders would leave NBC Sports Chicago for greener pastures (pun intended) have persisted for years, the club’s recent decision to hire Mike McCarthy (former President of MSG Network and CEO of St. Louis Blues, not the Packers coach) to execute the transition is the clearest indicator to date that the team is moving forward with the plan. President of Business Operations Crane Kennedy announced on Wednesday, in no uncertain terms, that “2019 is our last year with Comcast, so we’ll move over and launch our own channel in 2020”. It remains unclear if the team will “bring in a carrier to oversee the production or go at it alone by producing and selling their own product.”
Howie Long-Short: The Cubs own 20% of the RSN NBC Sports Chicago (as do NBC Sports Group, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks), but the club’s existing broadcast deal with the network (and with ABC, WGN) expires in October ’19 and there are no mandates requiring team games remain on the station. It’s the front-office’s belief that they can maximize revenues by maintaining a team-owned network, capital needed for the franchise to operate with a “big market” payroll. Of course, there’s no guarantee the move will be successful; “the carriage problems surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers and their reported $8 billion deal with Time Warner Cable have fueled fears of a bubble.” It’s worth mentioning that should the Cubs decide to partner with an established carrier, NBC Sports and Disney are said to be interested.
Speaking of Disney, the company has 22 RSNs it must sell within 90 days as a condition of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox film and television assets. We’ve suggested several potential landing spots, but one we hadn’t mentioned was Fox. It now appears as if that is a possibility, as The Information has reported Fox execs are considering buying back the channels. It’s been estimated the RSNs could sell for between $15-20 billion, which would be upwards of 10x EBITDA – if MoffettNathonson’s estimate that the stations earn a combined $2 billion in EBITDA is accurate.
Fan Marino: MLB attendance is down, but fans continue to watch on television. Nielsen Media reported that through the All-Star break, 11 RSNs with rights to broadcast MLB games ranked #1 in their market in primetime (amongst all channels) and 11 more finished in the Top 3 (if only comparing cable channels). RSNs that host MLB franchises were #1 in primetime in 24 (of 29) U.S. markets. It’s worth noting that 6 (Cards, Indians, Brewers, Royals, Yankees and Diamondbacks) of the 11 RSNs ranked #1 in the market in primetime (amongst all channels) are Fox Sports affiliates that Disney must unload.
FYI, the Cardinals draw the largest TV audience in MLB, averaging 86,000 fans/game on Fox Sports Midwest.
What is JohnWallStreet?
JohnWallStreet, located at the intersection of sports and finance, is a destination for the educated sports fan.
While we won’t be publishing “hot takes” on LeBron’s relative greatness to Jordan, we will be offering up the most relevant sports related business news, in easily digestible bites, with commentary from both the sports money and sports fanatic perspectives.
We’ll cover publicly traded professional teams & stadiums (MSG, RCI, BATRA, MANU), television networks (DIS, FOXA, CMCSA, CBS, TWX, MSGN), apparel & footwear companies (NKE, UAA, ADDYY, FL, LULU), equipment companies (GOLF, ELY, FIT), ticketing companies (EBAY, LYV) content and facilities providers (CHDN, DVD, ISCA,TRK, LMCA). If it trades on Wall Street, and has a sports angle, it’s in our wheel house.
Howie Long-Short and Fan Marino will be providing their expert opinions on each story. They have slightly different areas of expertise. Fan Marino is a firm believer that the SEC is the premier football conference. Howie Long-Short knows it as the Securities & Exchange Commission. Fan Marino lives and dies with the college selection of 5 star, blue chip recruits. Howie Long-Short spends his days analyzing blue chip stocks. Howie Long-Short knows that Black Monday occurred on October 19th, 1987. Fan Marino swears it happens every January after Week 17. You get the point.