Promoter Bob Arum has doubts whether the mega-fight between welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford can get made because of the piracy problems that exist in boxing in the form of illegal streams.
Arum points out that fans don’t want to pay the expensive price of pay-per-view, which can run as high as $80, so they turn to piracy on the Internet to watch it for free on a stream.
With the huge guarantees that Crawford and Spence will want for this fight, it puts the promoters, in this case, PBC, in a position where they’re taking a huge risk. If the fight doesn’t bring in a lot of pay-per-view buys due to the piracy problem, the promoters will take a bath and lose money.
Arum says one option to combat piracy is to lower the price of pay-per-view in theory that if they drop it to such a low number, fans won’t feel the need to watch it on an illegal stream.
Of course, if the fans still don’t purchase the fight in high numbers, the promoters are out a lot of money that they gave to the fighters in guaranteed purses. Moreover, boxing fans would then expect all pay-per-views to be at the same low price, and they’ll turn away if the price is jacked back up to 80 dollars.
Arum says that if fighters were willing to get their money from the pay-per-view upside rather than with guaranteed purses, that would help the problem.
However, Arum says the fighters know the upside won’t be there due to the PPV numbers likely not be huge, so they won’t agree to get their money by earning it through that method.
“It has tremendous interest from people who follow boxing, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue from pay-per-view, which is the biggest source because of the piracy,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to Fighthype when asked about the potential Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford fight.
“The fighters realize how big a fight it is, and they want to get paid big amounts of money,” Arum continued about Spence – Crawford. “The promoter, in this case, PBC, has to look at it and say, ‘Hey, we’ll put it on, we’ll give you nice guarantees, but you’ve got to really live from the upside,’ which the fighters realize now will not develop.
“So again, unless somebody wants to subsidize that fight, I don’t know how it gets done. One solution might be, and if you pay big guarantees to the fighters, you can’t crap around with experiments. But if you look at our friends in the UK, who still do very robust numbers on the pay-per-view.
“You say, ‘Why?’ Is it because the English fans are so honest that they won’t tap into a stream? Or is it because it’s a much smaller course to get the pay-per-view into the UK. It’s 20 pounds or 25 pounds for a really big fight.
“People then don’t bother to steal the signal. They’re willing to pay the freight. But if you start, as we do here, you have eighty-dollar pay-per-views; that’s a whole different exercise.
“The problem is, that’s a theory. If we drop the cost of the pay-per-view down to 20 or 25 dollars, which is what we started with on pay-per-view. Would people then forgo pirating the signal and pay the money to watch the fight legitimately?
“How do you experiment because if you’re wrong, for example, if you figured at the high price to get 250,000 buys at 80 dollars, and now you go to 25 dollars on a big fight, who’s to say you’re going to stay at 250,000?
“My inclination is you reduce the piracy in that way. But again, to put up hard-earned money on a hope, that’s not a good business decision,” said Arum.