Michael Conlan versus Vladimir Nikitin was the most watched fight broadcast on US cable this year.
The Belfast fighter rematched with his infamous Russian Rio rival at Madison Square Garden on Saturday and a massive audience watched on as he secured redemption.
Indeed more people took in Conlan’s ESPN broadcast bout that those than the top of the bill world title fight between pound for pound star Terrence Crawford and Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas or the eagerly anticipated IBF lightweight clash between Teofimo Lopez and Richard Comey.
1.65 million people watched Conlan outpoint Nikitin over 10 rounds from American homes. 1.48 million tuned in to watch the main event, a drop of nearly 200,000.
The massive audience is huge for Conlan and his profile Stateside, to put it into context 275,000 people tuned in the watch Jermall Charlo and Dennis Hogan’s middleweight world title fight the week previous.
Visiting so many homes around the States in such a narrative friendly fight can only help in terms of growing a fan base and becoming a household name.
However, it has to be noted the figures were not Conlan’s doing alone. Although he is a big draw, particularly on the East Coast, the 2020 world title hopeful hasn’t become a bigger name than Crawford and the like in such a short space of time.
Conlan’s fight came on ESPN directly after the Heisman presentation was broadcast. The Heisman Trophy is awarded is awarded annually to the outstanding player in NCAA football and is one of the most watched sports shows on American television .
Conlan benefited from the overflow in a similar way Bernard Dunne did when breaking records on RTÉ. Dunne, who did numbers in excess of 750,000 in his reign as Dublin’s number 1 son, was often put on after Six Nations games. Indeed he world title win over Ricardo Cordoba came after Ireland won the Grand Slam with victory in Cardiff.
It also has to be pointed out the figures relate only to cable television, the equivalent to our subscription channels. Conlan’s clash was the most watched on cable TV and hasn’t been compared to PPV fights or fights broadcast on terrestrial channels such as the PBC on Fox.