The upcoming boxing-rules bout between ring king Floyd Mayweather and UFC superstar Conor McGregor could be the biggest-money fight ever, shattering pay-per-view (PPV) records.
It is therefore no surprise that the major pay-per-view and subscription platforms would be fighting for the right to broadcast the Mayweather v McGregor event in the UK.
Business Insider contacted IMG, who own the rights to the fight, to ask whether a bidding war had broken out. “There has been active widespread interest and we are in advanced stages of discussions with several parties,” a spokesman told us.
According to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who has an exclusive arrangement with Sky Sports, at least three broadcasters are in the frame to screen the fight.
“I have had conversations with IMG and I would think Sky have bid, BT Sport / Box Nation have bid, and ITV have bid,” Hearn told IFL TV on Tuesday. “All the broadcasters have put their bids in but there’s been no decision yet.”
A £20 million fight for the UK
Mayweather and Filipino opponent Manny Pacquiao set the PPV record when their 2015 bout was bought by 4.4 million households in the United States.
The fight attracted so much global publicity that it was also a PPV success in other territories, particularly the UK. Despite a 5 a.m start, Sky Sports managed to sell the event to 1 million households.
This means that, because the event carried a £19.95 price point, the PPV would have generated approximately £20 million from consumers alone (advertisement slots and event sponsorship would have brought in even more revenue).
Considering Mayweather v McGregor is expected to smash that record, it is no wonder “there has been widespread interest” from broadcasters.
How much will the pay-per-view cost UK fight fans?
Because of the interest in the Mayweather v McGregor fight, there has even been speculation that the August 26 PPV could be far costlier than previous events. According to Hearn, “Mayweather wants the price to be £100.”
Hearn, though, has allayed fears that Sky would drastically increase its pricing point. “Can you imagine if Sky priced the PPV for £89.95?
“The price will be within the same realms as it always has. I don’t set the price, but my gut feeling is £19.95. If it went to £24.95… I can’t see it, it wouldn’t be my decision. Sky won’t want to go beyond £19.95. That is their price point. Forget about £39.95, £49.95, even £29.95.”
“That’s our bid and if they [IMG] want to deliver the biggest PPV numbers in the UK they know where to come. Mayweather did over 1 million PPV buys against Pacquiao at 5 in the morning on Sky. He knows where the dough is at.”
Hearn is hopeful Sky will win its bid but wants the announcement to be made quickly, so the broadcaster can begin promoting the show.
“They [IMG] must make a decision this week otherwise the value diminishes for both sides [IMG and the chosen UK broadcaster]. If you don’t have the build-up time to push the PPV, you’re not going to hit the buys you hope to hit.”
BI contacted ITV Box Office and Box Nation for comment, but has yet to get a response.