Pay-per-view (PPV) has become a major revenue stream for sports events worldwide. PPV allows viewers to pay for access to live broadcasts of their favorite sports events, whether it be boxing, MMA, basketball, or soccer. The demand for PPV sports events has increased dramatically over the years, with certain events commanding millions of dollars in revenue.
Combat sports dominate in terms of pay per views as all top billed fights are made available by pay-per-view exclusively. Other team-based sports like basketball and soccer (which wrapped up our list) are available to many viewers through either a subscription to a particular broadcaster or via cable package.
The other caveat is that with the massive influx of VPN streaming, it’s very difficulty to get any reputable numbers concerning pay per views. Therefore, our focus will be on general numbers taking into consideration total viewership combined with the expected percentage coming from pay per view.
Top 5 Sports with the Most PPV Buys
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Boxing is undoubtedly the sport with the most PPV buys. While HBO, DAZN, and others do show fights, the top-drawing events are almost exclusively pay per view. Fights generate billions of dollars in revenue, with the biggest names in the sport including the always well-paid Floyd Mayweather, Tyson Fury, Canelo Alvarez, and Anthony Joshua to name a few drawing even better. The highest-grossing boxing PPV event of all time was the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight in 2015, which generated a record-breaking 4.6 million PPV buys. Mayweather also had the second highest in his fight with Conor McGregor in 2017.
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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is another sport that has seen a significant increase in PPV buys over the years. The UFC is the biggest MMA organization in the world of course, with its PPV events generating many millions of dollars in revenue at each event. The most-watched MMA event was the UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor fight in 2018, which drew in 2.4 million PPV buys.
Wrestling is not just a sport, it’s also entertainment. The WWE, the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, has been successful in generating significant PPV revenue from its events. WrestleMania, the biggest event on the WWE calendar, has seen a steady increase in PPV buys over the years. The most-watched WrestleMania event was WrestleMania 32 in 2016, which drew in 1.82 million PPV buys.
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and the NBA has capitalized on its popularity by offering PPV packages for its games. The NBA Finals, the pinnacle of the basketball season, is the most-watched basketball event on PPV. The 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat drew in an average of 7.45 million viewers per game. Not to be outdone, the NCAA college basketball tournament is hugely followed with a ton of buys. Fans tune in to make their college basketball picks as an annual event.
Soccer, or football, is the most-watched sport globally. The UEFA Champions League is the most-watched soccer event on PPV, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch the best teams in Europe compete for the trophy. The 2011 Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona drew in a record-breaking 300 million viewers worldwide.
In conclusion, PPV has become a major source of revenue for sports events worldwide. Boxing, MMA, wrestling, basketball, and soccer are the top 5 sports with the most PPV buys, with events generating millions of dollars in revenue. With the rise of streaming services and the increasing demand for live sports content, PPV is set to become an even more important revenue stream for sports events in the future.