UK broadcasters are in a bidding war to show Mayweather v McGregor — and it could break box office records

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There is widespread interest in Mayweather and McGregor’s fight in August.
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Mike Lawrie / Getty Images

British broadcasters are battling it out for the right to show the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor super fight next month, with some predicting it could shatter pay-per-view (PPV) records.

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who looks after fighters like Anthony Joshua, speculated on Tuesday that Sky Sports, BT Sport/Box Nation, and ITV want to air the Las Vegas showdown on August 26.

Business Insider contacted IMG, which own the rights to the fight, to ask whether a bidding war had broken out. “There has been active widespread interest and we are in advanced stages of discussions with several parties,” a spokesman told us.

Hearn, who has an exclusive arrangement to show and promote his fights on Sky Sports, said IMG should wrap up a deal as early this week so that the winning broadcaster can get on with promoting the fight.

“I have had conversations with IMG and I would think Sky have bid, BT Sport/Box Nation have bid, and ITV have bid,” Hearn told IFL TV on Tuesday. “All the broadcasters have put their bids in but there’s been no decision yet.”

BI contacted ITV Box Office and Box Nation for comment, but has yet to get a response. Sky told us they had no comment at this time.

Fight could be worth more than £20 million

Mayweather and Filipino opponent Manny Pacquiao set the PPV record when their 2015 bout was bought by 4.4 million households in the US.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao

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Mayweather v Pacquiao is the biggest-selling fight of all time.
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Al Bello / Getty Images

The fight attracted so much global publicity that it was also a PPV success in other territories, particularly the UK. Despite a 5 a.m start, Sky Sports managed to sell the event to 1 million households.

This means that, because the event carried a £19.95 price point, the PPV would have generated approximately £20 million from consumers alone (advertisement slots and event sponsorship would have brought in even more revenue).

Hearn thinks Mayweather v McGregor will top this. “It is a huge event, it will create a huge revenue and it is going to break box office records,” he told GQ last month.

How much will the pay-per-view cost UK fight fans?

Because of the interest in the fight, there has even been speculation that the August 26 PPV could be far costlier than previous events. According to Hearn, “Mayweather wants the price to be £100.”

Hearn, though, has allayed fears that Sky would drastically increase its pricing point.

“The price will be within the same realms as it always has,” he said. “I don’t set the price, but my gut feeling is £19.95. If it went to £24.95… I can’t see it, it wouldn’t be my decision. Sky won’t want to go beyond £19.95. That is their price point.”

Eddie Hearn

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Eddie Hearn has a proven history of delivering PPV shows on Sky Sports.
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Dan Mullan / Getty Images

“If they [IMG] want to deliver the biggest PPV numbers in the UK they know where to come. Mayweather did over 1 million PPV buys against Pacquiao at five in the morning on Sky. He knows where the dough is at.”

Hearn is hopeful Sky will win its bid but wants the announcement to be made quickly, so the broadcaster can begin promoting the show.

“They [IMG] must make a decision this week otherwise the value diminishes for both sides [IMG and the chosen UK broadcaster]. If you don’t have the build-up time to push the PPV, you’re not going to hit the buys you hope to hit,” he explained.