50 million could watch Mayweather-McGregor fight in the US alone

Conor McGregor trains during a media workout Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Las Vegas. McGregor is scheduled to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Conor McGregor trains during a media workout Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Las Vegas. McGregor is scheduled to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAS VEGAS — 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.

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.

“If you are in Manhattan or you are on a desert island somewhere, if you have Wi-Fi, you can buy this fight,” promoter Dana White said.

Each pay-per-view sale means more money in the wallets of both fighters. Though estimates vary widely, Mayweather is expected to make some $200 million, while McGregor will likely pocket at least $100 million.

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.”