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Pacquiao vs Horn does big ratings on ESPN

ESPN and Top Rank are off to a good start with their new partnership.

Manny Pacquiao v Jeff Horn Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Saturday night’s fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn was the first of a new partnership between Top Rank and ESPN, and so far, so good for both parties.

Pacquiao-Horn peaked at 4.4 million viewers on the cable giant, with the broadcast averaging 3.1 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN’s streaming options.

The 4.4 million peak came in the final half hour of the main event, as you would expect.

On ESPN alone, the show averaged 2.812 million viewers and a 1.6 rating, the most-watched boxing event on cable TV since 2006, when Carlos Baldomir fought Arturo Gatti on HBO, which also earned a 1.6 rating. It was the highest rated boxing broadcast on ESPN networks since December 21, 1995, when Danell Nicholson fought Darren Hayden.

The question now is whether or not the controversy of the outcome, with Horn winning a hugely debated decision, will have a serious impact on things going forward. In all reality, it probably won’t. This isn’t boxing’s first bad decision, nor will it be the last, and generally speaking, cable ratings stay more or less static for various levels of fights. Lomachenko-Marriaga and Crawford-Indongo likely aren’t going to pull these numbers on ESPN next month, but they wouldn’t have, anyway. There’s no Manny Pacquiao in those fights.

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