A couple of weeks back, we took a somewhat in-depth look at the struggling ratings for Top Rank’s “Summer Series” run of boxing shows on ESPN, which generally hovered around 300,000 average viewers, give or take.
That stage of boxing’s return is over, having concluded on Tuesday night with Oscar Valdez stopping Jayson Velez in the main event. And the Valdez-Velez show did the best average viewership of any weeknight show during the run, and the best average viewership of a show actually promoted by Top Rank in Las Vegas, and not Zanfer in Mexico City.
Valdez-Velez came in at 399,000 average viewers for the night, edging out the first show back on June 9, headlined by Shakur Stevenson. Here’s a final look at what the show did for ESPN:
The top-rated show, as you can see, was the June 27 show from Mexico anchored by Miguel Berchelt, but there’s a big asterisk there, which is that it had an extremely strong lead-in from a UFC show which was the most-watched show on cable that night. Even starting at 11:43 pm ET on a Saturday, enough curious or asleep viewers stayed tuned in to make it the only show to push past a 400K average.
To be clear, none of this is really good, but it’s also hard to argue that any of the cards were really good — as I’ve mentioned before, none of this is particularly out of whack with what these kinds of fights do for boxing normally, pandemic or not, whatever night of the week, whatever the channel. The lack of star power and genuinely compelling matchups put a clear ceiling on the audience anyone could expect here, and we saw the peak pretty much right away, with the basement level not too far south.
Anyway, no big statement on this, Oscar Valdez drawing 73,000 more viewers on average than Felix Verdejo really doesn’t mean much at all, but figured we’d wrap up the SUMMER SERIES RATINGS WATCH. It didn’t go great, but it was a brutal situation, and someone had to be first out of the gate with something. Top Rank has two rather stronger main events set for Saturday nights in late August, with Eleider Alvarez vs Joe Smith Jr and Jose Ramirez vs Viktor Postol, and we also have Showtime lining up a series of meaningful PBC events, so even if it’s nothing mega-big yet, boxing is at least inching toward a return to normal matchmaking for TV.