Mayweather vs. McGregor: How businesses across America will cash in

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Households across the country will pay about $100 to watch boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial artist Conor McGregor face off in the ultimate ‘money fight’ this Saturday.

You can pay as little as $20 to watch in a convivial atmosphere, too. Many bars and restaurant chains are offering special deals. Even if they aren’t packed to the brim, businesses are anticipating high spend on munchies and drinks.

Bars betting on big spenders

Dave and Busters (PLAY), Hooters (HOTR), Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) and Wingstop (WING), among others, view the upcoming fight as the event of the year.

And no, these establishments aren’t paying $99.95 like viewers at home. Their fee for commercial viewing depends on maximum room occupancy. Joe Hand Promotions, the third-party event promoter that handles UFC events, tells businesses that it will cost them $30 per head.

The base plan assumes a 70-person capacity space, which would go for $2,100. The maximum that a business will have to pay is $9,000, which assumes 300 people are watching. Most establishments fall somewhere in between, catering to around 150 individuals, which would cost $4,500. It costs an additional $700 for DirecTV customers because of uplink fees.

Here are a few options

Dave and Busters is showing the fight at all 100 of its locations, and viewing options vary by store. There are two price points: $60, which comes with a spread of finger foods like boneless buffalo wings, chicken tacos and fried shrimp; and $75 if you want two premium drink tickets on top of the food.

Hooters announced that it will show the pay-per-view event at 200 — or about half — of all of its locations. The restaurant charged early birds who signed up to watch the match in advance $30, that fee included $20 toward free food on a future visit. For those who didn’t want to reserve a spot, it will cost $50 on fight night.

Buffalo Wild Wings is showing the fight at 40% of its locations, though some franchisees are still in the process of opting in so there may ultimately end up being more. The cover charge will range from $20 to $30, depending on the location. While there aren’t any food or drinks specials, there are large take-out packages, according to Heather Pribyl, director of investor relations.  

“There are fewer West Coast franchisees that signed up because it will still be during dinner time. It’s ultimately up to individual franchisees to decide whether to show the fight or not, but we hope that we attract a lot of fans,” she told Yahoo Finance.

Wingstop is anticipating a significant bump in sales this weekend. And the chicken chain doesn’t even show the fight at its restaurants.  Seventy-five percent of Wingstop’s business is take-out, according to the company’s PR director Brian Bell. While he wouldn’t quantify the expected surge in sales, he says the company is poised to handle larger orders.

Mayweather-Pacquiao set the bar high

There’s a recent precedent for a fight that came with a similar amount of hype: the 2015 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, which was so big that businesses were addressing its impact even a year later.

While we don’t have the numbers for this upcoming fight, it’s safe to say companies are bracing for a similar bump in business.

Mayweather defeated Pacquiao by unanimous decision. (John Gurzinski/AFP/Getty Images)

Wingstop CEO Charles Morrison noted during last year’s second-quarter earnings call that the company’s “strong performance in [2015] was partially due to the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.”

Specifically, Morrison said the fight boosted comparable store sales by 100 basis points.

While most Buffalo Wild Wings locations did not show the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, COO James Schmidt defended the decision at the time saying it was too much money. “I think it’s about $5,100 a restaurant and so we did not feel comfortable with the cost.”

This year, more Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees have opted in to screen the fight, hoping it will drive more customers into the restaurants.

A win for Vegas

The T-Mobile arena at MGM Resorts (MGM) can hold 20,000 people for boxing events. MGM projects that the fight will be the primary reason for a strong third quarter.

During its second-quarter conference call, CEO Jim Murren expressed his enthusiasm for the fight and projected positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

“I’m excited about how in shape Mayweather is,” he said. “I saw him in his gym a couple of nights ago, and I’m excited about what we have happening in the second half of the year.”

“This could be the second-biggest fight of all time and it will certainly drive millions of people to watch Las Vegas, watch T-Mobile, and watch Mayweather and McGregor. We intend to maximize every $0.01 of profitability opportunity there and we’re working very hard to accomplish that. I think we will be very successful,” he added.

Workers set up at T-Mobile Arena ahead of the weigh-in and bout between boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor on August 26. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Of course, marquee events usher in visitors who won’t just be spending time in the arena, but littering money all across Vegas. Casino operator Caesars Entertainment (CZR) is one such beneficiary.

“When the city, regardless of where the event is, draws a significant amount of people, it creates compression and we’re all able to raise our rates,” he said during Caesars second-quarter earnings call.

“So, I think if you were to go look at the published rates during the Mayweather-MacGregor week fight, you would see a sizable increase relative to what they were before the fight announced.”

Similarly, Boyd Gaming (BYD) CEO noted in last year’s second-quarter conference call that May 2015, in particular, was an “exceptionally strong month for visitation to Las Vegas, driven by events like the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight and the Rock in Rio festival.”

The pay-per-view reach

While total ticket sales at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena are expected to reach $70 million, that’s not where the massive business opportunity is: the cross-training matchup is anticipated to be “the most distributed fight ever in combat history.”

Ringside seats are still available and will cost you a pretty penny — starting at $1,222 on third-party seller Vivid Seats. Gambling site Bovada estimates that the fight will sell 4.99 million pay-per-views (the record belongs to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, which surpassed 4.4 million PPV buys).

If you’re looking to watch outside of your home but aren’t feeling the bar scene, movie theaters are an option. Fathom Events and Mayweather Promotions teamed up to broadcast the fight in 485 movie theaters across the country.

“The buzz that my fight against Conor McGregor is getting has been great already, so what better way to watch this larger-than-life event than on the big screen?” said Mayweather. “We brought boxing back to movie theaters eight years ago and it was a huge success, but this event is on a different level.”

The biggest winners of them all?

Showtime, which is owned by CBS (CBS), is producing and distributing the fight and it’s available on pay-per-view for $99.95. You can buy the fight through TV providers like Xfinity, DirecTV, Dish, Spectrum and Fios. (Fios is a Verizon product; Verizon is Yahoo Finance’s parent company.)

It’s the first time that CBS has made a boxing or pay-per-view event available to consumers over-the-top (OTT).

On CBS’ earnings call on Aug. 5, CEO Les Moonves specifically highlighted that the upcoming fight is an area of opportunity to grab new subscribers.

“[This] means that even if you’re not yet a Showtime subscriber, you’ll be able to purchase the fight directly from Showtime’s app or website. Anyone who does will get a free trial to Showtime OTT, which will drive new subs for us as well,” he said.

NeuLion provides the digital video broadcasting, distribution and monetization of UFC TV.

“We have distributed 63,000 live events over the last 12 months and this will be one of our biggest,” NeuLion co-founder and EVP of marketplace strategy Chris Wagner told Yahoo Finance.

The fight will rake in hundreds of millions for Mayweather and McGregor. Meanwhile many gamblers will lose—95% of all bets on the fight have been placed on McGregor given Mayweather is the favorite. But the boon for businesses across the country will be huge, and we’ll be hearing about it long after the final bell rings on fight night.

Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm

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