In 2006 HBO generated 3,700,000 pay-per-view buys with $177,000,000 in gross sales. The only year with more buys previously, 1999, had a total of 4,000,000. However, the record fell in 2007 when HBO sold 4,800,000 PPV buys with $255,000,000 in sales.
But 1999 differed radically from 2006. 1999 saw De La Hoya-Trinidad (1,400,000 buys), Holyfield-Lewis I (1,200,000), Holyfield-Lewis II (850,000), and De La Hoya-Quartey (570,000). By contrast, only one pay-per-view mega-fight took place in 2006: De La Hoya-Mayorga (925,000 buys). Rahman-Maskaev bombed with under 50,000. The other eight PPV cards last year all fell in the 325,000–450,000 range. Pay-per-view fights in that range almost always generate more money for the promoter and fighters than HBO wants to pay for an HBO World Championship Boxing license-fee.
In May 2007, the super-welterweight boxing match between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on HBO PPV became the biggest-selling non-heavyweight title fight, with a little more than 2.5 million buyers. The fight itself generated roughly $134.4 million dollars in domestic PPV revenue, making it the most lucrative prizefight of all time.
The leading PPV attraction, Oscar De La Hoya, has "sold" approximately 12.8 million units in total, giving $612 million in domestic television receipts. In third place in buys, Evander Holyfield has achieved 12.6 million units ($543 million); and in second, Mike Tyson has reached 12.4 million units ($545 million). Floyd "Money" Mayweather has generated 9,6 million buys and $543 million in revenue
HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg calls the expansion of pay-per-view "the biggest economic issue in boxing" and says:
"I can't tell you that pay-per-view helps the sport because it doesn't. It hurts the sport because it narrows our audience, but it's a fact of life. Every time we try to make an HBO World Championship Boxing fight, we're up against mythical pay-per-view numbers. HBO doesn't make a lot of money from pay-per-view. There's usually a cap on what we can make. But the promoters and fighters insist on pay-per-view because that's where their greatest profits lie."
"It's a big problem," Greenburg continues. "It's getting harder and harder to put fighters like Manny Pacquiao on HBO World Championship Boxing. If Floyd Mayweather beats Oscar, he might never fight on HBO World Championship Boxing again. But if HBO stopped doing pay-per-view, the promoters would simply do it on their own or find someone else who will do it for them."
Former HBO Sports President Seth Abraham concurs, saying, "I think, if Lou (DiBella) and I were still at HBO, we'd be in the same pickle as far as the exodus of fights to pay-per-view is concerned."
Select HBO PPV boxing buyrates between 1991 and 2012 include:
|01991-04-19Apr 19, 1991||Evander Holyfield vs. George Foreman||Holyfield wins by UD (116-111, 117–110, 115–112)||1,400,000|
|01991-06-28Jun 28, 1991||Mike Tyson vs. Donovan Ruddock 2||Tyson wins by UD (113-109, 114–108, 114–108)||1,250,000|
|01995-08-19Aug 19, 1995||Mike Tyson vs. Peter McNeeley||Tyson wins by DQ in the 1st round||1,550,000|
|01996-03-16Mar 16, 1996||Mike Tyson vs. Frank Bruno 2||Tyson wins by TKO in the 3rd round||1,370,000|
|01996-11-09Nov 9, 1996||Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield 1||Holyfield wins by TKO in the 11th round||1,590,000|
|01997-04-12Apr 12, 1997||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Pernell Whitaker||De La Hoya wins by UD (115-111, 116–110, 116–110)||720,000|
|01997-06-28Jun 28, 1997||Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield 2||Holyfield wins by DQ in the 3rd round||1,990,000|
|01999-03-13Mar 13, 1999||Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis 1||Draw||1,200,000|
|01999-09-18Sep 18, 1999||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Félix Trinidad||Trinidad wins by MD (115-113, 115–114, 114–114)||1,400,000|
|01999-11-13Nov 13, 1999||Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis 2||Lewis wins by UD (116-112, 117–111, 115–113)||850,000|
|02002-06-08Jun 8, 2002||Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson||Lewis wins by KO in the 8th round||1,970,000|
|02002-09-14Sep 14, 2002||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Fernando Vargas||De La Hoya wins by TKO in the 11th round||935,000|
|02003-09-13Sep 13, 2003||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Shane Mosley 2||Mosley wins by UD (113–115, 113–115, 113–115)||950,000|
|02004-09-18Sep 18, 2004||Bernard Hopkins vs. Oscar De La Hoya||Hopkins wins by KO in the 9th round||1,000,000|
|02006-05-06May 6, 2006||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Ricardo Mayorga||De La Hoya wins by TKO in the 6th round||925,000|
|02007-05-05May 5, 2007||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather||Mayweather wins by SD (116-112, 115–113, 113–115)||2,500,000|
|02007-12-08Dec 8, 2007||Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton||Mayweather wins by TKO in the 10th round||920,000|
|02008-12-06Dec 6, 2008||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao||Pacquiao wins by RTD in the 8th round||1,250,000|
|02009-05-02May 2, 2009||Ricky Hatton vs. Manny Pacquiao||Pacquiao wins by KO in the 2nd round||850,000|
|02009-09-19Sep 19, 2009||Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Márquez||Mayweather wins by UD (120-107, 119–108, 118–109)||1,050,000|
|02009-11-14Nov 14, 2009||Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto||Pacquiao wins by TKO in the 12th round||1,200,000|
|02010-03-13Mar 13, 2010||Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey||Pacquiao wins by UD (119-109, 119–109, 120–108)||700,000|
|02010-05-01May 1, 2010||Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley||Mayweather wins by UD (119-109, 118–110, 119–109)||1,400,000|
|02010-11-13Nov 13, 2010||Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito||Pacquiao wins by UD (120-108, 118–110, 119–109)||1,150,000|
|02011-05-07May 7, 2011||Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley||Pacquiao wins by UD (119-108, 120–108, 120–107)||1,340,000|
|02011-09-17Sep 17, 2011||Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz||Mayweather wins by KO in the 4th round||1,250,000|
|02011-11-13Nov 13, 2011||Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez||Pacquiao wins by MD (115-113, 114–114, 116–112)||1,450,000|
|02012-05-05May 5, 2012||Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto||Mayweather wins by UD (117-111, 117–111, 118–110)||1,500,000|
|02012-06-09June 9, 2012||Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley||Bradley wins by SD (115–113, 115–113, 115–113)||700,000|