Mayweather vs. McGregor: Millions expected to watch in US; where to view in Tahoe
Conor McGregor’s improbable challenge of Floyd Mayweather Jr. could be seen by a staggering 50 million people in the United States as fans and the curious gather in small and large parties.
On Saturday, Aug. 26, the undefeated 11-time, five-division professional boxing world champion Mayweather and current UFC lightweight champion McGregor will go face-to-face at 6 p.m.
The fight Saturday night threatens the pay-per-view revenue record set by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao two years ago and could dwarf it in viewership as people use the event as a reason to have friends and family over for a little escapism and controlled violence.
“It’s a cultural event that crosses all demographics and all social and economic factors,” said Mark Taffet, who formerly ran pay-per-view for HBO. “People are getting together to have a great time and we surely need an excuse to have a great time.”
Taffet said that while an average of 5-6 people normally watches a pay-per-view, he wouldn’t be surprised if the fight averages 10 people a household. If it sells 5 million pay-per-views as widely anticipated, the fight could be watched by nearly one in six Americans.
The fight will also be seen by millions more worldwide, with promoters claiming it will be available either online or on a TV screen to more than 1 billion homes in 200 different countries.
Though ticket sales have been slow in Las Vegas — largely because of astronomical prices — the fight is shaping up as must-see TV at a price of $99.95. People are expected to buy the fight in record numbers, with many sharing the cost of the telecast with friends and family they invite over.
Taffet said people will treat it much like a Super Bowl by getting together in larger numbers than usual.
“I think this is first and foremost a television event,” said Taffet, who oversaw 190 pay-per-views in his career at HBO. “The success of this fight in the financial record books of history will be made on pay-per-view. And I believe it’s going to deliver.”
Industry observers say it’s hard to judge how many homes will buy a pay-per-view until the day of the fight many times, as people often buy late. But the anecdotal evidence — primarily the chatter on social media — indicates a good likelihood of it smashing the 4.6 million record of pay-per-view sales set by the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
That’s largely because the matchup will likely cross over from being just a sporting event to a party night.
“We have definitely seen massive general market interest in addition to the sports fan,” said Stephen Espinoza, who heads sports for Showtime, which will televise the fight. “These general market viewers are often not part of the audience for even the biggest combat sports event. So the ceiling is pretty high.”
Espinoza said the very nature of the fight — a matchup between a UFC star who has never boxed as a pro against one of the greatest fighters of his time — will drive the pay-per-view sales.
“We believe this is an unprecedented event, quite frankly no one knows what to expect,” he said. “The element of these two outspoken personalities in one unprecedented event is compelling.”
An early indication of interest in the fight is the massive betting both in Nevada and in other places where it is legal. Bookmakers say it will be the biggest bet fight ever, with an overwhelming number of the early tickets on McGregor to pull an upset.
So you’re in Tahoe for the big fight — from large screens to drinks and food, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the North or South Shore: The following places will provide. Guests must be at least 21 years of age to attend each event.
MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa
Doors open at 5 p.m. for the fight at this Stateline venue, which according to its site is hosting “Tahoe’s only VIP viewing party” inside Blu Nightclub. MontBleu’s party is standing room with limited seating, and VIP booth and bottle service is available (call 775-450-5210 to reserve).
Tickets are $60 in advance and include access to high definition multi-screen viewing and a stadium-style buffet. They can be purchased at http://www.montbleuresort.com.
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Also found in Stateline, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino hosts a viewing party for The Money Fight, which costs $65 to attend (fee includes two drinks and entry to an after-party in Vinyl).
The event takes place in the Graceland Ballroom, where food is available for purchase. Call 775-443-7008 to reserve table service. Learn more at http://www.hardrockcasinolaketahoe.com.
Harveys Lake Tahoe
Watch the Mayweather-McGregor matchup under the stars at Harveys’ Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena (also in Stateline). Admission is $40 for those with a rewards card and $50 for guests without.
Call Harveys Lake Tahoe at 775-588-6611 or visit http://www.harveystahoe.com for more information.
Crystal Bay Casino
On the North Shore, Crystal Bay will open the doors to its Crown Room at 6 p.m. for the fight. Tickets for the seated event cost $40 plus fees. Additional details can be found online at http://www.crystalbaycasino.com.
Associated Press Boxing Writer Tim Dahlberg contributed to this report.