Las Vegas — Conor McGregor’s improbable challenge of Floyd Mayweather Jr. could be seen by a staggering 50 million people in the United States as fans and the curious gather in small and large parties.
The fight Saturday night threatens the pay-per-view revenue record set by Mayweather, a Grand Rapids native, and Manny Pacquiao two years ago and could dwarf it in viewership as people use the event as a reason to have friends and family over for escapism and controlled violence.
“It’s a cultural event that crosses all demographics and all social and economic factors,” said Mark Taffet, who formerly ran pay-per-view for HBO. “People are getting together to have a great time and we surely need an excuse to have a great time.”
Taffet said that while an average of five to six people normally watches a pay-per-view, he wouldn’t be surprised if the fight averages 10 people a household. If it sells 5 million pay-per-views as widely anticipated, the fight could be watched by nearly one in six Americans.
The fight also will be seen by millions more worldwide, with promoters claiming it will be available either online or on a TV screen to more than 1 billion homes in 200 different countries.
“If you are in Manhattan or you are on a desert island somewhere, if you have Wi-Fi, you can buy this fight,” promoter Dana White said.
Each pay-per-view sale means more money in the wallets of both fighters. Though estimates vary widely, Mayweather is expected to make some $200 million, while McGregor likely will pocket at least $100 million.
Though ticket sales have been slow in Las Vegas — largely because of astronomical prices — the fight is shaping up as must-see TV at $99.95. People are expected to buy the fight in record numbers, with many sharing the cost of the telecast with friends and family they invite over.
Taffet said people will treat it much like a Super Bowl by getting together in large numbers.
“I think this is first and foremost a television event,” said Taffet, who oversaw 190 pay-per-views in his career at HBO. “The success of this fight in the financial record books of history will be made on pay-per-view. And I believe it’s going to deliver.”
Te anecdotal evidence — primarily the chatter on social media — indicates there’s a strong likelihood of this fight smashing the 4.6 million record of pay-per-view sales set by the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
What: Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. UFC champion Conor McGregor in a 12-round, non-title junior middleweight bout (154-pound limit)
Where: T-Mobile Arena,
TV: Showtime pay-per-view.