CBS, Time Warner dispute won’t affect Mayweather-Alvarez PPV sales, but All Access off to rocky start

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts BlogAugust 27, 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Expectations are soaring for the results of the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez pay-per-view boxing match, which will held Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden.

There has been some speculation in the media that the fight could surpass the all-time PPV sales record of 2.5 million set in 2007 by Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya, though not even Showtime's Stephen Espinoza is willing to go that far. I have predicted that Mayweather-Alvarez will do approximately 1.75 million sales, which is far off the record but would be one of the 10 greatest PPV shows ever.

Showtime, though, has a difficult road ahead to get that kind of number, for many reasons.

To start, the premiere edition of All Access Saturday on Showtime attracted 225,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. That does not compare favorably to the debut episode of "24/7: De La Hoya-Mayweather" on HBO in 2007 that did 1.44 million viewers.

HBO had the benefit of coming directly after the hit series "The Sopranos" and "Entourage," so it had the best possible lead-in.

And promotion of the Mayweather-Alvarez fight is being hurt badly by the dispute between CBS, and Time Warner Cable. CBS and Time Warner Cable are in a beef over rights fees, and Time Warner has yanked CBS and Showtime off the air until it's resolved. The result is that customers in three of the country's biggest cities, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, aren't able to view any of the fight's promotional shows on television.

The good news, contrary to numerous incorrect media reports, is that even if the dispute is not settled, Time Warner Cable customers will be able to purchase the Mayweather-Alvarez pay-per-view, Susan Leepson, a spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable told Yahoo! Sports.

To counter the lack of programming available on television, Showtime is going to put All Access and any other shows about the fight it airs online immediately after they're shown on television. They'll be available at Showtime's website and on its YouTube Channel.

The CBS/Time Warner dispute is bound to hurt the PPV performance of the fight, even if it is settled soon, because fans in three major cities are missing out on the constant promotional drumbeat that builds awareness among the casual fans.

Alvarez is massive in Southern California and Texas, so the CBS-Time Warner dispute will hurt there. And while Mayweather is big all across the country, he's very strong in the major cities on the East Coast. A less-than-expected performance in New York will also be very problematic for the show as it attempts to reach the record.