May 05, 2015

5 lessons an event organiser can learn from Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquaio

After 6 years of Floyd’s ducking, dodging, bobbing and weaving, we finally witnessed the ‘Fight of the Century’. The anticipation for the encounter transcended sports and became a global media event. The predicted Pay Per View (PPV) numbers for the show is 3 million buys, shattering all previous PPV buyrate records set by Floyd, as well as those set by Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Lennox Lewis and Manny Pacquaio. The revenue generated from tickets alone was eye-popping at between $70-84m, which is astounding considering it was held at the MGM Grand Garden – a venue with capacity of a little over 16,000 – and attendees included celebrities like Denzel Washington, Jay Z & Beyonce, Sting and Donald Trump. Let’s not forget the average ticket price being over $6,000 with secondary ticket market selling for up to $250,000.

It sounds like the perfect event right? On the surface yes. While it was a financial goldmine for the organisers and Las Vegas, the event had problems which caused issues and may have limited their overall revenue for the event. The issues include the handling of the press, PPV difficulties, customer service, the date of the event as well as the delay of the main event. Let’s look further into this.

The ‘Fight of the Century’ in Vegas was not only the Mecca for sports fans but global media. The event was so big that the press were reporting on the press leading into the event. Getting into the media tents was as mayhem as getting into the assembly hall at the UN or the Olympics (some said).

Mistakes were made in press invitations which led to some very influential sports media outlets and personalities getting the cold shoulder by security at the entrance of the media/press tent, more specifically by Mayweather’s camp. Michelle Beadle of ESPN & Rachel Nichols, anchor for CNN Sports, took to social media to illustrate their unhappiness of being declined entry to the media tent.

Lessons learnt: Floyd Mayweather’s lack of attention to detail when it came to the invited press and the subsequent miscommunication will undoubtedly gain negative press as a result. While it didn’t affected the PPV buyrate for this event, it could very well affect future fights he is involved in – that’s why it’s important to keep the media/press you invite at your event happy and satisfied to minimise bad publicity.

PPV problems / Customer service
While the magnitude of the event is undeniable, the question in the lead up to the fight was how many PPV buyrates will it take in. There were unhappy customers throughout America who were unable to purchase the PPV due to delays from PPV providers such as Time Warner, with some being left on hold for a long while due to the expected volume of callers, especially at the last minute.

There were also issues with the quality of pictures transmitted to some buyers, with refunds not being given. This will leave a bad taste in the mouth of the buyer.

Lessons learnt: For sports events, it’s difficult to determine the buyrates it can generate. As an organiser it’s a good idea to see what carriers are doing to ensure customers are satisfied. It’s entirely possible all carriers maximised their efforts for the ‘Fight of the Century’, however it’s worth going the extra mile and hiring temporary staff for event. This is a tip any event organiser could take on board.

Delayed main event

Due to the volume of the last-minute PPV buyers who believed this is too great of an event to miss, word spread to officials at both HBO and Showtime in America. To accommodate the last-minute buyers, the main event was delayed for up to forty-five minutes. With the fight not starting until 5am GMT/ Midnight ET, with the original schedule stating 4am GMT.

Lessons learnt:
Nobody likes a delayed performance. Sure, there can be exceptions, however, dragging an event on isn’t positive, especially if the entertainment factor in the main event is questionable.

Timing of the event
In the preparation to the fight, discussions were held at a different date due to other events taking place. The event took place over Cinco de Mayo weekend (Mexican national holiday), as well the Kentucky Derby and game 7 of NBA playoffs between San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers (Clippers won 109-111).

Lessons learnt: Always check for other events taking place on the same day as you’d like your event. It can take attention and possible revenue away from your event.

MGM Grand Garden is the home of Combat Sports (Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts) and regularly hosts events there. While the MGM is more than capable of hosting events with no transmission issues, there are venues out there which allow a lower rate of possible problems due to the updated technology it provides. For example in North California, the new Levi’s Stadium has wifi hubs located throughout the stadium providing attendees with an extremely reliable and fast connect to the internet (as we all know wifi can be a bit of a headache at events). For more info on finding the perfect venue, click here.

Lessons learnt: Research venues. With so many venues popping up everywhere with fantastic technologies and advancements to offer, you may find them more feasible and provide a better experience for your attendees.

Raj Jilka