Bob Arum: “Would Fans Still Pirate Fights If Pay-Per-View Was $25?”

Bob Arum Offers Suggestion on Making Spence v Crawford Fight

Bob Arum suggests lower pay-per-view price to make Spence v Crawford
(clockwise from left), Bob Arum, Errol Spence Jr, Terence Crawford | Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank, Ryan Hafey

Bob Arum Flirting with Idea of Lower Pay-Per-View Prices


For the past four years, the boxing public has clamored for a showdown between WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (38-0, 29 KO’s) and unified 147-pound champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr (29-0, 22 KO’s). The two talented boxers have both expressed interest in the match and, at the moment, they seem to be closer than ever to putting the fight together.

Naturally, the fans remain antsy and want to know when the negotiations will be completed. Bob Arum, Top Rank Promotions founder and head honcho, believes that finances are the true culprit holding up production. Crawford fought under the Top Rank banner from 2011 until 2021. Bud would ultimately part ways however, due to feeling that the promotional powerhouse was in breach of contract and for racial bias.

“It’s the same problem, yeah it’s a big fight. 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.”

TIME FOR A CHANGE?

Despite no longer representing Crawford, Arum still offered his two cents when providing an interview to Fight Hype. More interesting than his opinion on why the fight was having trouble getting made however was a potential cure to a grander problem with the sport.

In order to pay the hefty tab of the two fighters’ pay checks, the promoter feels that the match must be staged on pay-per-view. Yet with the massive price of modern-day boxing PPVs, which average about just under $100 in the US, many fans choose to either skip the bout or pirate it on a stream. In order to bypass this loss in viewership and revenue, Arum has begun tinkering with a potentially great adjustment.

“One solution might be, 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 pay-per-view, and 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 in the UK. 20 pounds or 25 pounds for a really big fight and then people don’t bother to steal the signal.

They are willing to pay the freight. But if you start, as we do here, you have $80 pay-per-views, that’s a whole different exercise. The problem is it’s a theory! If we drop the cost of the pay-per-view down to $20 or $25, which is what we started with on pay-per-view, would people then forgo pirating the signal and pay that money to watch the fight legitimately?” (1:50 min)

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By: Bakari Simpson

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Bakari is a Senior Writer for 3kingsboxing.com. Visit cheetahhead.com to view more of his literary work.