Darts: Fringe Sport Debuts on American Television, Described as Fubol X Poker X Wrestling

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“Mighty Mike” van Gerwen (Premier League champion) and Rob “Voltage” Cross (World Champion) are among 10 professional darts stars who will compete in the 2018 Premier League season, Britain’s biggest indoor sporting event (to get a feel for pro darts, watch this funny or die video). Elite players will compete head-to-head over the course of a 16-week season, with the Top 4 advancing to a play-off in May. BBC America will air the action (known as Thursday Night Darts: Premier League 2018) on American television for the first time this evening at 10p EST, with BBCAmerica.com airing the competition live at 2p EST. BBCA President Sarah Barnett explains professional darts as “a fringe sport like no other – it appeals to the obsessive soccer fan, requires the skill of poker and has some of the high entertainment quota of wrestling.”

Howie Long-Short: BBC America is jointly owned by BBC Worldwide (a subsidiary of BBC, a British public service broadcaster and AMC Networks (AMCX). AMCX reported Q3 ’17 operating income (+31% to $153 million), net income (+34% to $87 million) and subscribers (+15 million) all grew significantly YOY; as revenue increased 2% (to $648 million). Concerns about AMC’s The Walking Dead franchise exist, as ratings have declined over the last several seasons; but CEO Josh Sapan says those fears are overblown, as the show remains as “creatively vibrant as ever and incredibly vital to an enormous and very loyal audience.” Shareholders better hope he’s right, the company is planning a spinoff series, gaming properties and VR apps related to the franchise.

Fan Marino: BBC America acquired the rights to the 2018 Premier League Season from Matchroom Sports, a company founded by the English promoter Barry Hearn and currently run by his son Eddie. If you’re a boxing fan, you’ve heard their names before; IBF & WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is in their stable of fighters. Joshua has a fight scheduled with WBO champion Joseph Parker for March 31st; while WBC champion Deontay Wilder is scheduled to fight Luis Ortiz on March 3rd. Wilder is openly rooting for Joshua, he’d like to unify the division (and set-up a massive payday) should both win.

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MAYWEATHER/MCGREGOR CONTRIBUTES TO THE WORST BOX OFFICE WEEKEND IN 15 YEARS

While August has been a predictably slow month for movie theatres, not since 2001 have U.S. weekend box office revenues been this low; with revenues totaling just $65 million. Lionsgate’s (LGF.A) “Hitman’s Bodyguard” finished #1, earning a mere $10.1 million. While hurricane Harvey may have contributed to the low figures coming out of Texas, it was Saturday night’s Mayweather/McGregor fight that likely had the bigger impact. The fight generated more than $600 million in revenue, one of the highest grossing PPV events in history. Fathom Events (AMC, CNK, RGC) which showed the fight in theatres across the country, had a big night. The one-night closed-circuit event would have placed in the Top 10 for weekend movies, earning $2.6 million.

U.S. Box Office Had its Worst Weekend in More Than 15 Years

Howie Long-Short: $65 million equates to roughly 7 million tickets sold. You must reach all the way back to WWII to match the low attendance figures. Theatres had more viewers in the weekends following the Kennedy assassination and 9/11.

Fan Marino: Had the fight even through 6 rounds. Far from the sham many were predicting.

FATHOM EVENTS BRINGING MAYWEATHER/MCGREGOR MEGA-FIGHT TO MOVIE THEATRES NATIONWIDE

Smart enough not to spend $100 on Mayweather/McGregor, but still want to watch the fight live? Fathom Events, owned by AMC Entertainment (AMC), Cinemark Holdings (CNK) and Regal Entertainment Group (RGC), will be showing the fight (and undercard) at movie theatres across the country on Saturday August 26th. The theatre broadcast will be identical to the Showtime PPV telecast (CBS). Ticket prices will vary, as they are determined by the theatre, but are expected to be roughly $40.

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Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor tilt headed to movie theaters

Howie Long-Short opines: The theatre exhibitors have been talking up the potential of non-film content from time to time for ages, with minimal impact on the bottom line. Including boxing, though this one intrigues me. But without beer? I don’t know.

Fan Marino says: I’m a few years too young to remember, but in the 70s & 80s before PPV, boxing was regularly broadcast in movie theatres and arenas. I always thought that atmosphere would be more fun than watching with 3 dudes on a couch. I’m in for the $40!