The ratings are in for Friday night’s World Light Heavyweight unification fight won by Russian Artur Beterbiew over Ukranian Oleksandr Gvozdyk by 10th round TKO tand they were expectedly low.
Boxingscene.com got access to ESPN’s numbers, which showed the fight had just over 600,000 viewers in the 10 p.m. – Midnight Eastern time window:
— BoxingScene.com (@boxingscene) October 21, 2019
And, while that is up in audience from the live August 17th ESPN show which had 471,000 viewers, it still isn’t very significant.
Consider also that the pedestrian ACC football game between Pitt and Syracuse that ran as the lead in immediately before the Top Rank Boxing show had 1.1 million viewers. So, that wasn’t the issue.
However, in baseball on TV the Yankees defeating the Astros in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series was on Fox Sports 1 cable head to head with the title fight. And, that had over 4 million viewers Friday night.
A couple of other key points are: that Beterbiev and Gvozdyk are not Americans and there wasn’t a tremendous amount of buzz outside of hardcore boxing fans for this fight, even though it was in Philadelphia. Beterbiev improved to 16-0 with 16 KOs with the Friday night 10th round stoppage for Gvozdyk and took his WBC title at 175 lbs. in the process.
Consider further, that when big stars like American Terence Crawford have fought in the past on ESPN, it has registered over 1 million viewers for ESPN.
So, not coincidentally, Crawford, the WBO World Welterweight champ, will headline a December 14th show on ESPN from Madison Square Garden. The fight that night will follow the excellent lead in of the college football Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN.
ESPN also has a multi-fight deal with heavyweight contender Tyson Fury, however they put both of his bouts in June and September on their ESPN+ monthly subscription app. The network doesn’t release audience numbers from their events televised on the streaming service. Still, it’s would be hard to believe that either Fury fight against a “no-name” European heavyweight garnered more than a few hundred thousand views.
ESPN still plans to televise at least one fight card every other month live on their biggest network, as part of their deal with Top Rank.