The premiere episode of Premier Boxing Champions did a 2.53 rating and 3.13 million viewers, giving NBC the night's highest network rating on Saturday in the coveted 18-49 demographic, according to TV By the Numbers and Nielsen.
The show was a time buy from Al Haymon, the powerful adviser who controls the careers of many of the top fighters in the United States. The main event saw Keith Thurman beat Robert Guerrero in a fight that had some late drama, with the co-feature showcasing Adrien Broner in a convincing (if dull) win over John Molina.
The 3.13 million viewers mark is dramatically higher than any fight has been on HBO or Showtime in many years, and much higher than even the biggest pay-per-view fights have ever been. Though network TV is not what it once was due to cable and satellite becoming the norm and giving viewers a much wider set of options, it's clear that a fight on network TV can do viewing numbers that a fight on premium cable like HBO or Showtime simply cannot in this day and age.
That said, the key going forward will be for Haymon and his team to sell advertising spots, and these numbers should help them do that. When you win the 18-49 for a night, you're in a really good spot. Advertisers who may have been skeptical for this show might be lining up to find a seat at the table now. The numbers also bode well for Haymon to eventually get a contractual agreement with a network. For now, he's got shows set to air on NBC, CBS, NBC Sports Network, Spike, and CBS Sports Network.
Of course, this was a well-hyped debut show, and there is little by way of sports going on in early March, so the timing was good, too. We'll have to see how the numbers eventually even out and where they fall on later shows, but this number tops recent UFC on FOX broadcasts, including the January 24 show that did 2.82 million viewers.