Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Boxing: Joseph Parker pay-per-view price set to go sky high

Pay-TV prices are being lined up to increase for New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker's world title fight next month. Photo: www.photosport.co.nz
Pay-TV prices are being lined up to increase for New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker's world title fight next month. Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

Pay-per-view prices for Joseph Parker's heavyweight world title fight are set to go sky high, with punters and pubs expected to cop the fallout from Auckland Council's refusal on ratepayer funding.

The Herald on Sunday understands from a well-placed source that the pay-TV price for Parker's fight against Andy Ruiz Jr next month could now be set between $70 and $100.

That's could be more than twice the price punters will pay to see global star Manny Pacquiao take on Jessie Vargas today, and a significant increase on the $39.95 fans were charged to watch Parker's last fight against Alexander Dimitrenko a month ago.

It would also be way above the $49.95 some forked out to watch Parker face Carlos Takam in May - the fight which triggered public backlash over pay-TV prices being too high and controversy over illegal online streaming, as irritated fans tried to dodge costs.

And it doesn't stop there. In what would outrage Kiwi sports fans, pubs and bars might have to resort to entry fees in order to try and claw back the inflated charges they could face to publicly screen the event. It's understood those costs could rise from around $1400 to $2000-$2500.

Owner of The Fox sports bar in Auckland's viaduct, Brett MacLean, said the price to screen Parker's last fight already jumped significantly. Further costs would mean he'd have to consider charging at the door.

"They used to be about $600-$700 for a big event, but with the previous Parker fight they put a loading on it and it went to around $1400," MacLean said.

"As a business owner it's a double-edged sword. It cuts out all the little guys... But once you go beyond that it gets to the point where we would have to start looking at charging people to come in.

"You've got no idea how reluctant New Zealanders are to pay to go into a pub to watch something on TV.

"We would probably reluctantly pay the fee and have free entry, but I'd have to have a look at the numbers."

The expected pay-TV spike comes after Auckland Council's events and economic development arm, Ateed, threw in the towel on funding the fight with ratepayer money.

Two weeks after chief Brett O'Riley said Ateed would be committing "hundreds of thousands" to help make the highly-anticipated bout happen, O'Riley confirmed a U-turn on Friday night, saying: "Ateed will not be providing financial sponsorship to Duco to stage the Parker/Ruiz fight."

New Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who was elected last month, was approached for comment yesterday, but an office spokesman said "the mayor is unavailable for comment and likely to remain so."

Council's late call has rocked the fight's promoter Duco, which is running out of time to fill the financial void - with the bout pencilled in for 35 days' time. Duco's Dean Lonergan was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Sky TV boss John Fellet said his organisation has no control over the event's pay-per-view pricing, because Duco holds the rights, but does have some concerns about a tipping point when it comes to high one-off prices.

"It's entirely their call [Duco]," Fellet said from the Cook Islands. "A lot of people think Sky set the pricing, but Duco pick the price they want to sell it at. Presumably it could cost more than normal, but Duco will have to answer that question.

"Going up to that amount [$70-plus] you'd probably get less revenue than if you did it lower. The Duco guys are pretty smart, they'll know how to do it to maximise the revenue."

- Herald on Sunday

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