Pay per view boxing events

Pay per view boxing events




Pay per view boxing events have become extremely popular over the past few decades as a way for fans to watch high-profile fights without paying the high ticket prices to attend the events live. This article will explore the popularity and business side of pay per view boxing events, looking at revenue numbers, pricing strategies, and what the future may look like for this broadcast model.

Popularity of Pay per View Boxing Events

Pay per view boxing events enable fans to watch fights featuring some of the biggest names in the sport from the comfort of their own homes. While exact viewership numbers are not always publicly available, some major recent pay per view boxing events give a sense of their popularity:

  • Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor (August 2017): 4.3 million pay per view buys [1]
  • Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennadiy Golovkin 2 (September 2018): 1.1 million pay per view buys [2]
  • Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman (July 2019): 500,000 pay per view buys [3]

These numbers demonstrate that there is a massive audience willing to pay to watch high-profile boxing matches from home. The most popular events can generate viewership comparable to the very top pay per view events in combat sports and entertainment overall.

Revenue from Pay per View Boxing Events

Thanks to the large audiences they draw, pay per view boxing events can generate huge amounts of revenue. There are several factors that determine the overall revenue haul:

  • Number of buys – The base price per purchase multiplied by the total number of buys is the starting point for calculating revenue. The more buys, the higher the revenue.
  • HD and Standard Definition Pricing – Event are typically offered in both HD and standard definition. HD broadcasts usually cost $5-10 more. Higher HD adoption increases revenue.
  • Broadcaster’s Share of Revenue – While the specifics vary by contract, the broadcaster (usually Showtime or HBO Boxing in the United States) generally takes 45-50% of gross revenue generated [4].
  • Distribution Platform Fees – Platforms like cable and satellite TV providers also get a share, usually around 10-15% of revenues [4].

To illustrate how this can add up, the Mayweather vs McGregor fight likely generated around $600 million in gross revenue, though exact numbers were never reported [1]. Even after shares are paid out to broadcasters and distributors, pay per view boxing events of this magnitude are tremendously profitable enterprises.

Average Pricing and Revenue for Recent High Profile Boxing Pay Per Views

Fight Year PPV Buys Avg Price Gross Revenue
Mayweather vs McGregor 2017 4.3M $99.95 ~$600M*
Canelo vs GGG 2 2018 1.1M $84.95 ~$90M*
Pacquiao vs Thurman 2019 500k $74.95 ~$40M

*Estimated gross revenue

The biggest events like Mayweather vs McGregor can generate nearly as much revenue in a single night as the UFC does in an entire year through their pay per view boxing events [5]. This revenue allows promoters to award record-setting fight purses, with Mayweather himself earning an estimated $280 million dollars personally from the McGregor pay per view boxing event [1].

Pricing Strategy and Trends

The providers of pay per view boxing events must find a pricing balance that maximizes revenue while not pricing out too many potential buyers. Pricing ultimately depends on many factors:

Event Stature – Ultra high-profile events like Mayweather vs McGregor have more pricing power, while smaller events must be priced lower to drive higher sales volume.

Competition – Scheduling on a crowded sports weekend requires more competitive pricing compared to having no direct competition.

Inflation – Rising costs over time often lead to gradual price increases for major events, though consumer tolerance limits large jumps.

Over the past decade, inflation and rising rights fees have caused pay per view boxing event prices to creep upwards, especially for mega-fights. However, we may be reaching consumer price resistance limits in the $75-$100 range for top end pricing. We could see more pricing segmentation for big events into deluxe high-end packages versus more basic streaming packages to expand the customer base. Online streaming and à la carte pricing models may also become more prominent to reach wider audiences.

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Future Outlook for Pay per View Boxing Events

While still hugely successful today, there are questions about the future ceiling for major pay per view boxing events in the current broadcast model. Potential constraints include rising prices limiting audience growth and aging star fighters not captivating newer audiences.

However, the overall interest in top-tier professional boxing shows no signs of waning anytime soon. Here are some projections for the future of pay per view boxing events:

  • Continued Popularity of Mega-Fights – As long as compelling matchups between high profile fighters like Canelo Alvarez, Tyson Fury and others can be made, mega-events on the scale of Mayweather-McGregor will continue to draw multi-million buyer audiences.
  • Growth of Streaming – Partnerships with platforms like ESPN+ and DAZN could expand market penetration into more mainstream audiences beyond the current pay TV base. But exclusivity deals also risk alienating segments of fans.
  • More Risk-Taking Promoters – The huge potential profits will entice more promoters to invest in making super-fights happen rather than letting negotiations drag on. Guaranteed fighter purses could become more common to finalize deals.
  • Pay Per View Fatigue Concerns – If buyers feel they are getting nickled and dimed too much by adding up many PPV charges per year instead of getting guaranteed value via subscriptions, fatigue may eventually impact big event buy rates.

While changes to the current system are likely inevitable to address evolving viewer and distribution landscapes, live events showcasing the top stars and matchups in boxing will continue to have tremendous audience appeal and money making potential into the foreseeable future based on recent trends.


  1. Okamoto, Brett. “Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor Broke PPV Buy Record with 4.3 Million Buys.” ESPN, 21 Jan. 2021, 
  2. Golovkin vs. Canelo 2: PPV Buys Reportedly Lower than First Fight.” Bad Left Hook, 9 Oct. 2018, 


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