In the build up to this weekend’s boxing clash between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor, we take a look at the online video story behind the much-hyped ‘Money fight’. Using data from Tubular Labs, we can confirm that videos featuring the pair have topped 1 Billion views on both YouTube & Facebook in the two months since the fight was announced. The Las Vegas bout is set to be the biggest sporting event for online video in 2017.

Pre-Match Hype Creates Millions of Video Views

The bulk of these views were driven by the whirlwind week long press tour hosted in LA, Toronto, New York and London. The bravado, brash insults and WWE style lines made for enticing viewing and thousands of soundbites have been viewed during and after the tour globally.

Even before a punch has been thrown, there has been more content viewed around this fight, than there were for the current biggest selling boxing match in history, Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao in May 2015. This is an unparalleled amount of coverage and received more views in July than both the Super Bowl and NBA finals received in Feb & June of this year.

Since Mayweather’s record breaking fight with Pacquiao, Conor McGregor has exploded onto the scene to take the UFC by storm and headlined his first Pay per View two months after Mayweather’s victory.

Since then he has recorded 4 of the 5 biggest selling UFC events in history and with that, has lifted the UFC to be able to match boxing for viewers. A field once dominated by boxing, UFC has had the same amount of PPVs over the past decade sell 1 million buys. Only one boxing fight has sold over 1 million Pay per views since May/Pac (Alvarez/Canelo), but Conor McGregor alone has had four!

Conor McGregor: The King of Online Video?

With this rise in PPV numbers, UFC’s online video has seen a 104% increase in views in the two years since Mayweather fought Pacquiao and a 314% increase if you include their bumper July with the May/Mac press conference tour. The UFC’s ability to drive online views may have something to do with their centralised content approach, very similar to that of the NFL & NBA. They are focusing on the UFC brand and events, rather than the content for individual boxing events that is provided by the likes of Showtime.

This is not the whole story though, as Conor McGregor fights have driven a lot of the UFC’s growth, breaking their record for online video views in a month each time he has fought. That record was just broken again in July with the May/Mac press conference tour. This isn’t surprising as 50% of all UFC/MMA press conference views over the last two years, have featured Conor McGregor.

What Makes Conor McGregor So Appealing for Digital Video?

The nature of his fights, his knockouts, his comedic lines and his press conference shenanigans means McGregor makes a great content snippet. This fits perfectly for online video content, particularly on Facebook where the optimum viewing length is between 1min 30sec & 2 mins. According to Tubular, his top demographic, Males 18-24, are also the biggest consumers of YouTube video! Many of these snippets are put together by fans to make highlight videos, like this compilation of McGregor’s Top 5 Knockouts:

But McGregor is aware of his ability to drive views so also has his own media channel, “The Mac Life” that features content around his fights and training. Since being started in October 2015, views have grown 700%!

It’s not just his own content though, he engages and makes himself available to fans which also means he has an uncanny ability to go viral.

The content that is driving the large amount of views for this main event, is of a similar nature to what has made McGregor so big in online video.

Mayweather is a social media star no doubt and he has been able to get viral video hits with the Mayweather challenge this year. But he really needs an opponent to generate video views at a large scale. His main online video hit was his fight with Pacquiao, his other main events have barely made a blip in comparison to McGregor. This could this be a reflection their audience. Mayweather fans do skew slightly older than McGregor’s. With Mayweather’s YT audience having 60% more viewers in the 35-44 segment and 70% more 45-54 bracket compared to McGregor. He also made his name when online video was not as large as it is today.

So in the online video space Conor McGregor really has won by knockout, but will this turn into ring success? We will have to wait and see on Saturday for what I’m sure will be an event to conquer online video yet again.