WBO Welterweight Champion Terence Crawford scored an impressive 9th round TKO Saturday night in New York over Egidjius “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas to remain unbeaten and retain his title. However, the television audience on ESPN wasn’t as good, as Crawford was.
Boxingscene.com senior writer Keith idec had insight on the actual numbers, including Crawford’s Saturday night heavily promoted Top Rank main event having almost 600,000 viewers less then the exact same slot for Top Rank 52 weeks ago:
— BoxingScene.com (@boxingscene) December 17, 2019
1.48 million audience number is not terrible, but has to be a disappointment considering the lead-in of ESPN’s presentation of the college football Heisman Trophy Award program and Crawford’s perceived popularity.
As a reference, on the same night in 2018 following the same Heisman show, Vassiliy Lomachenko retained his lightweight title with a 12-round decision over Jose Pedraza in the ESPN/Top Rank main event that was seen by 2.01 mil viewers.
The cable giant has been hoping for a much bigger audience on the basis of Crawford previous fight that had run over the air on ESPN in October of 2018. That night, while fighting in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford stopped Jose Benavidez, Jr. in the 12th round with much more impressive 2.8 million watching.
ESPN and Top Rank put Crawford’s next fight on pay-per-view through ESPN+ app. There is no way to directly measure the audience for his victory in April over Amir Khan and ESPN does not reveal the audience figures for their app.
So, there’s really no other way to spin this latest title defense having half the audience from that October 2018 fight. And, that Benavidez fight was also competing directly with Saturday night college football being televised on multiple networks and cable channels just over a year ago, too.
There were no college or NFL games being televised during the Crawford fight Saturday with Kavalauskas.
Another comparison would be the non-title heavyweight Premier Boxing Champions bout between Adam Kownacki and Chris Arreola shown live on a Saturday night in August on Fox had 1.73 million viewers, which is more than 200k more than Saturday night’s Crawford fight.
One other interesting note, and not surprisingly, the initial fight between unbeaten Irish featherweight contender Michael Conlan and Vladimir Nikitin had a 1.65 million audience. And, that’s because it was the first fight immediately after QB Joe Burrow of LSU was awarded the Heisman Trophy.
This means that the Crawford fight lost over 200,000 viewers from the start of the show Saturday and perhaps, ESPN and Top Rank should consider putting the main event, if not as the first fight, then immediately next, in the future.