The big mistake the promoters of the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight made that you shouldn’t.

I fell for the hype.

You all know about my rule of three.

If three people go out of their way to tell me about something, then I listen.  That rule applies to recommended books, people to talk to, or even notes about my shows.

And last week, three separate people said, “Are you watching the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight?”

As primal as it sounds, I always liked a good boxing match.  I came of age in the 80s, when Mike Tyson was dominating the sport (before his prison stint, and before he started on his diet of ears), and even though I’ve never been in an actual fight myself, I liked watching those big guys go at it.

So, when three people asked me about watching Mayweather/Pacquiao, I plunked down the $99.99 pay-per-view fee, made some popcorn, and sat back to be entertained by two dudes in shiny shorts punching the crap out of each other.

And I wasn’t the only one to fall for the hype.

The promoters went crazy with this match up, selling it as a fight ten years in the making, and saying it was the event that would save the sport.  And all that promo worked.

The number of pay-per-view buys hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s predicted to set a new revenue record. And the revenue for the actual seats in the arena also broke a record.  The box office take was so much that it was expected that Mayweather alone was going to make $200 million!  $200 mill!!!

And, as you’ve probably heard, the fight was a dud.

Like a boring, “why-the-heck-am-I-watching-this-instead-of-Shark-Tank?” dud.

And then an angry, “wait-I-paid-$100-for-this???” dud.

And I wasn’t the only one peeved.  There has already been at least one lawsuit from guys like me saying that the reason the fight was a dud was because Paquiao had a shoulder injury that wasn’t revealed, etc., etc.  The lawsuits are BS of course, but they’ll cost the boxers and the promoters some legal fees and frustration for sure.

But more importantly . . . the next time the promoters have a big fight that they want me and so many others to tune in to?  Well, don’t expect record numbers for that one.

And did this fight save the sport?

It actually may have done more damage to the sport than anything.

Sure, maybe it did reawaken the interest of some of us occasional boxing fans, but now, well, that interest is going waaaaay dormant again.  And it would take Tyson fighting a resurrected Joe Louis to get me to pay $100 for one fight ever again.

The promoters saw short term gain in the build up for this event, when they didn’t know what the actual outcome would be.  And there’s a fine line between making sure you make every dollar you can, and over hyping an event until it backfires in your face.

If you’ve got a show that you’re opening that has big potential, sometimes it’s best to lay back, rather than over press it.  Unlike boxing, we’ve got the benefit of having more than a one-night run, so I’m a fan of letting my audience hype it on their own once they’ve seen it, rather than proclaiming, “This is the event of the season/decade/Broadway history!”

Because sure, super amounts of hype may drop more bucks into your first week or so of previews, but if you don’t deliver, your word of mouth will be harsher than ever, thanks to the audience’s high expectations.

And you may find yourself knocked out in round three instead of going the distance.

And next time you produce a show?  Well, you’ll have to work even harder to get people in the door in the first place.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.