It is undeniable that the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight last Saturday was the most hyped and anticipated boxing match to grace the world in a long time. Arguably, even Mayweather vs. Pacquiao which took years to finally make, wasn't as polarizing as this fight where opinions spewed from the most casual fans and actually created fans in the process.
But did the hype translate into the record breaking numbers that everyone has been expecting? The verdict isn't out yet but from the facts that we do have, it's not likely.
The T-Mobile Arena had an attendance of 14,623 according to Swanson Communications, Mayweather Promotions' contracted publicity arm. They put out the attendance during the early morning of August 27th during the post-fight press conference. The T-Mobile Arena holds 20,000 people and I can say for a fact that there were definitely some empty seats in the house.
The Money Fight as it was reported that 14,623 were in attendance for Mayweather-McGregor. https://t.co/YyPyUOt3Nn #mma #feedly
That fact was probably driven by astronomical ticket prices for this fight going into the high thousands of dollars. Even though many fans came globally to Las Vegas for the fight and undoubtedly the MGM Resorts corporation purchased many for the gambling high rollers, the event still didn't have a true sell out crowd feel until the main event actually was in the ring and even then there were some scattered empties throughout the building.
Then, of course, there is the double edged sword of technology. The same vehicle which can make a financial windfall for an event can also be its biggest source of discontent. During the fight, many fans couldn't purchase the fight due to the increased demand and overburdened broadcast systems that were delivering the video feed. It was so bad that during the event Showtime Sports was forced to issue this statement to the media:
Due to high demand, we have reports of scattered outages from various cable and satellite provides and the online offering. We will delay the start of the main event slightly to allow for systems to get on track. We do not expect a lengthy delay.
Then there's the millennial issue of increased piracy due to in-venue social live feeds such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram Live and illegal streaming services. According to Yahoo Sports' Kevin lole up to 100 million people illegally viewed Floyd Mayweather’s 10th round knockout of UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor on Saturday, potentially making “The Money Fight” the most pirated event in history.
Millions lost from Mayweather-McGregor fight due to pirated streams https://t.co/PIse3rcrKa
Wayne Lonstein, the CEO of VFT Solutions, talked to Yahoo Sports and said that early numbers indicate there were up to 100 million viewers of illegal streams. VFT provides content protection, IP litigation, and cybersecurity and technology services to clients. Lonstein identified what he called “nano-piracy” as the main culprit.
Lonstein told Yahoo Sports that "nano-piracy is using or taking either live or recorded proprietary content and capturing it using a connected device, like a phone, a tablet or a computer, and then using a live-stream app such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope and a number of other ones, to stream either peer-to-peer, one-to-one, or peer to millions,” Lonstein said.
During the post-fight press conference Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, and UFC President Dana White dodged questions surrounding the attendance, ticket price gouging and pay-per-view projections. Each were extremely optimistic and presented a unified front regarding their expectation of the eventual financial outcome.
Pay-per-view numbers will come in later this week or early next week and only time will tell if it will break the record sales number of 4.6 million set in 2015 by the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout. EIther way, if success is to be judged by the level of interest and expectation, then it is certain that the fight has already proved to be a captivating success.