The Meaning of Fury-Wilder II's Pay-Per-View Sales

Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury pay-per-view sales.
Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury pay-per-view sales. / Al Bello/Getty Images

The Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder super fight sequel generated around 800,000 to 850,000 pay-per-view buys in North America, per Mike Coppinger.

This number is less than the 1.3 million I predicted. With the late hype that came in, ads on the Super Bowl, and dual network promotion — eclipsing a million seemed well in play. Around 1 million was the area officials had hoped for coming in, as reported by Chris Mannix. 

Conor McGregor's return to the UFC last month drew over a million pay-per-view buys while exclusively offered through ESPN+. The lack of traditional offering reportedly cost the fight nearly a million views. Wilder-Fury II felt bigger than Canelo-GGG, which was bought by 1.3 million consumers.

There are a few factors to consider. The indication is neither Fury nor Wilder came into the fight with massive mainstream drawing power, at least compared to Canelo and McGregor. Perhaps, the win, the singing, the domination, and the licking of the blood can propel Fury into that class. But the reported number shows he wasn't there as of Saturday night.

It's fun to compare these numbers to previous boxing matches of equal magnitude. Here's the issue: it's not apples-to-apples. It's become increasingly easy and effective to find expensive pay-per-views online for free. The experiences are bragged about across social media. The growth of smart TVs has made it to where viewers can watch these expensive fights for free on their massive, high-definition televisions. The change in what is found on the web now compared to even 2017 — when the first Canelo-GGG fight took place — is drastic. Seemingly, every fight that occurred before 2020 would sell less in the present day. Thus I remain pessimistic on the future of pay-per-views.

Falling short of a million buys doesn't mean these numbers are quote-unquote disappointing, however. It's the best performance for a heavyweight fight since Tyson-Lewis all the way back in 2002. Part II's number is up substantially up over the 325,000 the first bout drew. It set up a trilogy, it took over the conversation, and Fury elevated into a superstar. All of this bodes well for the future. The spectacle that it was inclined the many who showed up to a fight party this past weekend to buy into the third installment -- or, if nothing else, follow these two fighters and the sport. (Remember, around 800,000 fights were sold; many more watched).

This past Saturday was a win for ESPN, FOX, Top Rank, PBC, Wilder, and Fury. The sales are just one component of that conclusion.