Reports the Paulie Malignaggi vs. Artem Lobov bare knuckle boxing match on June 22 did better numbers than UFC did on many of its pay-per-view shows appear to be greatly exaggerated.
Based on industry estimates, the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships look to have done in the range of 18,000 buys on traditional television pay-per-view. Digital numbers for FITE TV are unavailable, but it is extremely rare that a pay-per-view event that airs on television does nearly the same number on digital. The BKFC show is believed to have done well based on the standards of a FITE TV broadcast, but unless it’s a giant UFC or boxing event, doing even 25,000 buys on Internet pay-per-view is a rarity.
Generally, for events that air on television pay-per-view, doing 15 percent additional on digital is normal, and 25 percent, like happened in October for the Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight, is unusually high. The exception this year was the May 25 All Elite Wrestling Double or Nothing show, which did almost as many buys on B/R Live as it did on television pay-per-view in the United States.
Promoter David Feldman got a lot of publicity when telling MMA Junkie this past week that, “We got our digital numbers right away. In April, we did a certain amount, and in June, we did six times that digitally. It’s given us a gauge that we’re gong to end up at the 200,000 line.”
Of those 18,000 pay-per-view buys, roughly 37.5 percent of them came from UFC fans who had ordered UFC 235, the Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith headlined event from Las Vegas, which was the last major UFC event on television pay-per-view via television. Roughly 22.6 percent of the BKFC buyers had ordered the second Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin fight, the last major boxing event, via television. The crossover with pro wrestling was minimal, has only 1.2 percent ordered AEW Double or Nothing and 0.3 percent ordered WWE Stomping Grounds. However, the WWE television pay-per-view audience is greatly down because the events air on the WWE’s steaming network at a much lower price.
BKFC did 200,000 Google searches, beating the UFC Fight Night event that same night in Greenville, S.C. Google searches are a good predictor of pay-per-view numbers, but not perfect. Most UFC events that last year did more than 150,000 buys topped 500,000 searches, and that topped 300,000 buys did in excess of 1 million searches.