In combat sports, fans and media determine the success of pay-per-view events by the number of buys they generate. That seems obvious, but it's often the only factor people consider. In the case of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight, there will be a litany of monetary records broken, the biggest of which being the PPV buys record. That is currently at 2.4 million for the Mayweather/Oscar De La Hoya fight in 2007. For a lot more info on the records that will be set, check out this piece by our own Fraser Coffeen.
But how many buys could Mayweather vs. Pacquiao actually do? Three million? Four million? Well, according to Forbes, the number could come in lower than some expectations due to piracy, the high price of the PPV, and competition.
Betting sites are offering prop bets on what the buyrate will be. Some are setting the marker as high as 3.8 million. The lowest is 3.15 million. Analysts told Forbes that even hitting the 3.15 million mark will be tough:
What (Zack) Jones is largely referring to is the potential for widespread illegal streaming of the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. It is a serious concern for sporting event operators, who acknowledge the existence of illegal streaming services that violate copyrights and serve as a major threat to an event's bottom line. However, Jones notes that this population is Internet savvy and many people know where to find live streams. That, in addition to a steep $100 asking price on Pay Per View, may lead to a number of PPV buys lower than what is currently being anticipated.
It will be a struggle for the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight to reach more than 3.15 million PPV buys even without the threat of illegal streaming services. May 2 is being referred to as the biggest day in sports history and Sports Armageddon. It includes the NFL Draft, New York Yankees at the Boston Red Sox, the Kentucky Derby, and ends with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Jones believes there will be a large group of people will simply do not feel the need to spend $100 to watch the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight after such a long, tolling day of tremendous sporting events.
They do have a very solid point overall. While I don't think the free-TV sporting events are going to cause major damage to the buyrate of a fight this important, the price point of the PPV definitely will. 100 bucks is a lot of money to a lot of folks. That will lead more people that usual to using illegal methods to watch. So while the fight is likely to break the record and make truckloads of cash, it might not even come close to an inflated number like 4 million buys. That's just the reality of PPV these days.