ESPN boxing boss Brian Kweder deserves props for thinking XL, for championing the concept and execution of bringing big fights to TWWL.
So I was happy for him, and happy as a boxing fan, when the main event he puchased and ESPN showed on Saturday night, between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola, delivered.
It did from an entertainment aspect, I think all agree.
But our society is (distressingly so) fixated on numbers, so there is much focus on how well it did ratings-wise…because if the fights were good, or great, but the eyeballs didn't arrive, then the quality is immaterial.
I checked in with Kweder, in the midst of his first season on the job wearing the boxing boss hat, on Wednesday late morning. Kweder told me he was pretty pumped for the fights, how well the boxers delivered action, and he said that the 0.7 (Households) US rating averaging 940,000 viewers was in line with what his people were predicting for results.
For contrast, know that a good “Friday Night Fights” card snags a .3 or so HH rating.
“Bermane and Chris delivered an outstanding fight for boxing fans and ESPN fans,” he told me. “I love it when a good plan comes together…and both fights delivered.”
At points during the show, a million persons were watching the scraps, so Kweder came away happy, especially in light of the fact that the sports landscape was damned crowded that night. The boxing chief said that the rating for ESPN for Saturday on primetime, all things being equal, were average. No, the rating wasn't on par with an NBA playoff game. But as compared to a “lesser” event, the fights scored just fine, as they competed with NBA and NHL playoffs, and Mexican league soccer.
“Also, ESPN fans and fight fans are not conditioned to tune in to bigtime boxing on ESPN on Saturday, so we have to build on that over several fights,” he said.
Ah, that's a hint I was hoping for. So, will we see more of this on ESPN proper? “We are open to listening to opportunities,” he said. “I've had several promoters call, looking to put their championship level fights on ESPN. We're not currently shopping for big events, but we are open to listening. I'm a huge boxing fan, and I want us to have more big events as much as the next guy. I'd love to see us step up, and continue to do so.”
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