THERE appears to pockets of resentment towards promoters Matchroom and Sky Sports for making their December 12 show – headlined by a vacant British heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte – available only on a pay-per-view basis. But a brief look at the viewing figures for boxing on ‘regular’ Sky Sports explains exactly why this has been judged a good business move.
Of Joshua’s four fights in 2015 so far, one was on the stacked Rule Britannia Sky Sports Box Office (PPV) card in May, while the other three generated impressive viewing figures. His April match with Jason Gavern drew 139,000, while the May 9 match versus Raphael Zumbano Love reached 124,000. Most notably, and arguably the catalyst for Joshua’s elevation to ppv main-eventer status, was the startling 336,000 who tuned in to watch him destroy Gary Cornish, despite his opponent being considered by most observers as a huge underdog, and the lack of big names on the undercard. This was ‘regular’ Sky Sports’ biggest boxing audience of the year and more than triple the amount of people who watched the superb world title double-header of Darleys Perez-Anthony Crolla and Scott Quigg-Kiko Martinez.
That Joshua winning the vacant Commonwealth title against Cornish can draw a much larger audience than two world title contests is telling, and the fact that his bout with Whyte appears to involve a genuine grudge, a more potent threat than his last foe and a vastly superior undercard, should see the December 12 show make a comfortable profit on PPV.