In one of my other lives I am involved in live theatre. That’s the experience you get when you turn up at a very fancy building with dim lights and a burlesque style front to sit in the dark hoping that what you see will entertain you and not make you feel stupid. I teach my students who come to study how to make that experience a more fulfilling one that they should go to a sport – any sport and experience it live.
I recommend the study of wrestling and the students return with stories of great vigor and understanding that the event has whetted their appetite for more. The smell of the event becomes wrapped up in the excitement, the sounds grab the attention of all around who want to see a conclusion for their favored performer and their views colored by their own excitement.
The live experience cannot be replicated. For me it is simple. Your senses tingle when you go and see sport without being caged at home. The major benefit it has is the atmosphere. There is nothing like the group becoming the mob or the collective becoming one in their desire to will and support their chosen champion on to victory.
In the UK, and in another one of my lives, my passion is soccer. Soccer has grown from being the sport of the poor working men who left work on a Saturday at lunchtime to stand in the pouring rain and watch their home town team. There were no comforts.
Now it has grown into a multi Billion pound/dollar industry that has Michelin Star Chefs fighting over which glass fronted box they have to view the action from. The poor have found themselves relegated from the live action to watching it on television.
Thing is there’s plenty of television for the poor to tune into.
Paying for your television is quite a new concept in the UK! We can get the best of world soccer at the touch of a button and the payment of an annual subscription. In football there are regular matches.
Weekly you can get a fix of the best. There is plenty of product. You should see how hard they work to sell the “special” games. It is wall to wall adverts.
Boxing has less to sell. Rather than make this harder to sell in some ways it is a lot easier to sell. The merchandise becomes far more special. Take the big fights within the UK. The last big experience was Audley Harrison versus WBA Heavyweight Champion David Haye.
It may have hardly merited much of a mention in the US but in the UK it was huge.
People talked, blogged and posted views on what the outcome would be. The hype generated so many sales in the PPV market that with live ticket sales sold out in hours the £15 seemed to be a good bargain. Three rounds of pawing at each other and £15 seemed like being robbed.
PPV however has a huge effect in boxing sales. Whilst soccer has suffered because people will sit at home rather than go to old and rickety football stadiums to watch the live event.
The cost of getting ringside seats has become so expensive that the only way to get close to the action is pay the HBO/SKY levy, sit back at home, relax and enjoy!
Without PPV the industry misses a tranche of money that finds its way into the purse, the marketing and the appeal of the sport.
Where it becomes a major issue is with the negotiations. The idea that you get two guys in a room, ask them if they want to fight and when they nod fix a date and get it on is gone. Television schedules and the power they wield means that matches are made when they nod their head rather than anyone else in the room!
The connection with the customer has to be solid, after all the sell is all and if they don’t find the whole thing attractive the sport dies.
Already, however we are seeing an increasing number of matches being mis-made because there are a few fixers in the TV industry who know better than the industry professionals who can make a good fight.
That fight has to be taken up. The Devon Alexander – Timothy Bradley fight was certainly one that caught our attention and made good sales but the next step – Amir Khan, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, JR., – whoever is going to be tricky.
Just look at the Heavyweights…
The Klitschkos have ruled with an iron fist whilst German TV has ruled the venues and the dates meaning Haye won’t get his shot. They think that Chisora will suffice instead.
Time will obviously tell…