Saturday’s heavyweight title clash between Deontay Wilder and defending WBC heavyweight titlist Bermane Stiverne set the bar high for what could be a shaky 2015 for Showtime Boxing.
Drawing in an average of 1.24 million viewers and 3.2 share, Wilder-Stiverne became the highest rated boxing show for the network since Miguel Cotto-Austin Trout in 2012 and pushed it into a virtual tie with HBO’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Brian Vera (which attracted slightly more viewers, but drew a lower share) as the highest rated fight of the past year. More impressive was the fact that Showtime drew these numbers while having approximately five million fewer subscribers than HBO.
While Wilder becoming the first American heavyweight champ since Shannon Briggs in 2007 is a big deal for the sport, Showtime, itself, faces a great degree of insecurity in the coming year. Golden Boy stars Saul Alvarez and Bernard Hopkins have chosen to take their services to HBO and powerful adviser Al Haymon has siphoned off talent such as Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner, and Keith Thurman for his own NBC show. Superstar figurehead, Floyd Mayweather, is in the last year of his exclusive contract with the network, but has yet to find a suitable opponent for his proposed May 2 date.