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Original Issue

Making Pay-Per-View Pay

By thinking of it as pay-per-share, the author cashed in on Holyfield-Holmes

Yeah, I watched Holyfield-Holmes last Friday night on pay-per-view—a.k.a. punch-for-profit. This time, though, I decided it was my time to cash in, just like the promoters, the cable systems and the fighters. And I didn't have to get hit or get cut or get a bet down. Rather, I simply passed along my fight-acquisition costs to other like-minded boxing fans who were eager to participate in my progressive, communal pay-per-share viewership program. In other words, I charged folks to watch the fight with me.

Granted, I'm no John Maynard Keynes, but I know this country is built on a simple premise: That guy over there makes money off this guy, and this guy makes money off me. Now, I'm pretty low on the capitalistic food chain, so I have to eke out a buck or two by cleverly taking advantage of my family and few friends.

I paid $35.95 to get the fight on TVKO and then charged invited guests $5 for general admission seats and $6.50 for preferred seating. (Preferred seating got you a spot on the couch; general admission meant you stood behind the couch.) I also ran a little cash bar—a buck for sodas, two bucks for beers. Pringle's and Combos were on the house. I considered running a craps game out of the laundry room, but I didn't want any trouble with the feds. However, I did let a couple of minors watch the bout (at $2.25 each) on the black-and-white TV upstairs, effectively creating the feel of the old Gillette Friday-night fights for these youngsters.

None of my customers complained. After all, they used to pay $35 to battle traffic to get to a closed-circuit site and share fight night with 10,000 ill-bred and indelicate people. At my in-home theater there were no long lines for concessions. My bathroom floors weren't sticky. And I didn't charge for parking. Plus—and this is a big plus for everybody but my ex-wife—my guests got my company.

The only problem was that the fight was pretty dull. I thought I saw some fans at Caesars playing Pictionary during the eighth and ninth rounds. Meanwhile in my living room, we voted 6-3 not to switch to Step by Step on ABC.

The highlight for me came in the 10th round, when TVKO's lamentable Len Berman—who was joined by the more lamentable Joe Goossen—offered: "I'm wondering if [Mike Tyson] is not watching this in Indiana tonight behind bars." Yeah, right, Len, like the state of Indiana is nationally renowned for the fine pay-per-view package it provides to all of its inmates.

If Tyson had watched, he might have heckled these palookas. Holyfield won by unanimous indecision. All of us had him ahead as well, except for one eight-year-old upstairs, who awarded the bout to Michael Buffer.

Final totals: Evander Holyfield, $16 million; Larry Holmes, $7 million; Norman Chad, Inc., $57.20. (I would've made more, but I got stiffed at the coat-check stand.) And—here's the beauty of my operation—unlike the two heavyweights, I paid no sanctioning fees to the WBA or WBC, no taxes to the IRS, and I look as good as I did before the fight.