NBC is pouring a lot of resources into making the Premier Boxing Champions a success and resurrecting the sport on the national scene.  Not only resources in money and airtime, but resources in announcers as well.  The peacock assembled an all-star roster of Al Michaels, Marv Albert, and Sugar Ray Leonard for the broadcasts.  Needless to say, NBC was betting big on boxing, which considering how the sport has drifted away from the mainstream, is a significant risk.

The PBC on NBC made its primetime debut on Saturday night and the preliminary numbers have to be encouraging for the network.  The card headlined by Keith Thurman vs Robert Guerrero and Adrian Broner vs John Molina Jr registered a 2.5 overnight rating.

To put that 2.5 overnight number in perspective, the NHL scored just a 1.0 overnight rating a couple weeks ago in a rare NBC primetime appearance.  So in that respect, it could be worse for NBC.  Of course, that’s not a rating that’s going to set the world alight, but it’s an ok start considering boxing has been absent from network television primetime for so long.

NBC cites a victory in the 18-49 demo, which is where UFC has also found success on network television with Fox.  However, the network never rose above #3 in the half hour splits throughout Saturday night according to TV Media Insights in terms of total viewership.  Boxing was bested by 20/20, 48 Hours, Battle Creek, and CSI Cyber as NBC was firmly behind ABC and CBS.

The sweet science isn’t suddenly going to become a major sport in just a day.  If NBC is truly invested in Premier Boxing Champions, they are going to have to be incredibly patient.  The debut was a start, but it’ll be interesting to see whether or not NBC can actually grow an audience here, or if boxing continues to drift off into the margins.

UPDATE: NBC says the program averaged 3.4 million viewers, the most watched boxing program on television since 1998.

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