Floyd Mayweather's next fight might air on CBS, and it would be a huge gamble for the network
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According to a source for Lyle Fitzsimmons of CBSSports.com, Mayweather's next, and presumably final, fight could be broadcast live on CBS on September 12:
Mayweather insisted after the May 2 defeat of Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas that he'd return for a 49th and final fight in September, and an industry source told CBSSports.com on Wednesday that a short list of opponents is being pondered for a Sept. 12 event that could be broadcast live on CBS ... An announcement is possible as soon as the end of the week, the source said.
Mayweather has one fight left on his six-fight contract with Showtime, which has handled the PPV for the first five fights of the deal, sharing that privilege with HBO in the recent fight against Pacquiao. However, as Fitzsimmons notes, Showtime is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the CBS Corporation, so moving a fight to broadcast television was always considered a possibility.
CBS recently brought live boxing back to the network with "Premier Boxing Champions" a program scheduled to air eight live boxing matches in 2015. Adding a Mayweather bout to that package would be a huge step toward getting the program on the national radar, and it just so happens that CBS has no college football games scheduled for that night.
There is also the Les Moonves factor. It was the CBS chairman who helped seal the deal on the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight when it was still up in the air.
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Still, putting the fight on free TV would almost certainly be a huge financial gamble for the network.
With the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight generating more than $550 million in revenue and with Mayweather's share somewhere in the neighborhood of $210 million, he is still going to want a big pay day as if the fight were being shown on PPV. Even if Mayweather's next fight is against a lesser opponent, it can be argued that any Mayweather fight would still be one of the top 5-10 PPV fights of all time due to the momentum of the MayPac fight alone.
With a PPV fight, the boxers get a percentage of the revenue after-the-fact. With a fight on broadcast TV, CBS will have to commit to a payment for Mayweather based on what they expect in ad revenue.
Will CBS be willing to commit $50 million to Mayweather based on the sales of commercials?
While the Super Bowl can sell a 30-second TV ad for $4.2 million, most of the top sporting events charge somewhere in the $400,000-750,000 range per 30 seconds. That is a lot of commercials that would need to be sold just to cover Mayweather's share of the proceeds.
Of course, CBS could also go into this knowing they are going to take a loss hoping that the publicity will make up for it with higher revenues later on. But that is a huge gamble on a sport that has seen more misses than hits in the last 20 years.
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