When is a draw a knockout?
It might have been just that for this weekend’s online spectacle between KSI and Logan Paul (along with the undercard featuring their brothers). The flood of resulting online attention and revenues were a knockout not just for the two pairs of sibling pugilist/influencers, but also for an entire constellation of pre-fight hype videos, reaction pieces, predictions, post-fight commentators, pirates and more.
The fight, more a wild-swinging brawl than a boxing match and no winner in terms of achievement in the sweet science, nonetheless generated millions of dollars in pay-per-view revenues, sponsorships, in-person ticket sales, advertising, publicity for the fighters’ other ventures and more.
As much as it over-hyped and under-delivered, the fight showed the reach and punching power of the web for a tune-in event that could attract a huge young audience that hasn’t watched much boxing since UFC and WWE showed up in sports bars and streaming services.
The event, fought to a draw on Saturday evening at Manchester Arena in England, attracted 21,000 attendees, paying $103 to $634 each for tickets. That generated somewhere between $6 million and $8 million in box office, plus hefty sponsorship fees from a number of companies.
But the real action was online, appropriate for two online influencers with more than 18 million YouTube subscribers each.
The fight’s official YouTube stream attracted 5 million viewers, according to data from Tubular Labs, which tracks 4 billion online videos and millions of influencers. As many as 778,000 people were simultaneously chatting about the fight as it unspooled. And the fight pulled those big numbers despite starting at 9:30 AM on the U.S. West Coast, and 12:30 pm on the East Coast.
After his undercard fight with KSI’s younger brother Deji, Logan Paul’s brother Jake unveiled a new merchandise line, RNBO, featuring gear he wore in the fight. The fight’s impact on the various fighters’ merchandise lines is impossible to know, but within a couple of days, RNBO’s Instagram site already had 626,000 followers.
And arguably the impact was far broader than just those directly involved in the fight, according to Tubular. In the two days around the fight, more than 5,600 accounts uploaded 7,440 videos with the search terms “KSI” and “Logan Paul.”
The top 23 videos on Tubular’s list already have attracted more than 1 million views each, part of more than 104 million YouTube views of fight-related videos posted in that period.
Chief among those ancillary beneficiaries might be YouTube heavyweight PewDiePie, he of 65 million YouTube subscribers and himself a veteran of plenty of online hype and controversy.
In a video PewDiePie shot on fight day, he declared that fans should get a “REEEEEEEFUND” given the inconclusive decision. That video already has garnered 11.7 million views, more than double the fight itself, according to Tubular.
Back in July, another PewDiePie rant about the fight grabbed 12 million more views. Remember, though he never came close to the boxing ring, PewDiePie will ring up a hefty share of ad revenues tied to those videos.
And that second video shows the extended punching power of the pre-fight online conversation, which had been bubbling along through months of often awkward and hype-filled news conferences, the pre-fight weigh-in, and other excuses to make noise.
Even after the fight, a Seconds Out video from Logan Paul’s dressing room attracted 6.3 million views. Influencer Caspar Lee, who starred in a low-budget film in 2016 with KSI, did a similar post-fight video with KSI and grabbed another 1.9 million views.
The reactions to the hype videos became their own thing for many creators. Miniminter, for instance, did a reaction video to “Goodbye, KSI,” a “diss” music track that Logan Paul recorded and released a few days before the fight. The reaction video has received almost 3.8 million views.
And it’s important to remember that KSI and Logan Paul, their brothers and others pushing out videos for months are laughing all the way to the bank. They’ll grab ad revenues for all of that, along with all the other ways they’re attracting fan interest and money.
So, will there be a rematch? You can bet a big chunk of money that a big chunk of the Internet hopes so. It was a hit for just about everyone, even as a draw.