May 2, 2015, is gearing up to be one of the biggest days in sports thanks to three marquee events, two playoffs and a historical rivalry all taking place on the same day. May 2 will be packed with the third day of the NFL Draft, the second 2015 series between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, the Kentucky Derby, the NBA and NHL conference semifinals, and the long-awaited Mayweather vs. Pacquiao bout.
Though each event targets different viewers, the high stakes and conflicting TV rights means scheduling will be tight, and could conceivably cut into the ratings of some of the events. The day kicks off at noon ET with rounds 4 through 7 of the NFL Draft. Though the final day of the draft is primarily popular only with NFL diehard fans, it will still be aired on one of ESPN’s channels as well as the NFL Network. The nationally televised Yankees-Red Sox matchup (1:30 p.m. ET) will most likely end up on Fox, and though both teams are recovering from disappointing 2014 campaigns, the marquee MLB rivalry should remain a ratings winner.
The TV schedule becomes really interesting in the late afternoon and evening. The Kentucky Derby will be aired on NBC at 6:30 p.m. ET while Mayweather-Pacquiao is set to air on PPV at 11 p.m. ET. These will be the biggest events of the year for their respective sports. The Derby gets consistent TV ratings, and Mayweather-Pacquiao could break PPV buys and revenue records, especially if the rumored record-setting $100 price tag is confirmed. Meanwhile, the NHL and NBA conference semifinals should be in full swing by then; the NBA has even marked May 2 as a contingency date if the quarterfinals end early. NBA games will most likely bump the NFL draft to one of ESPN’s secondary channels unless the NBA game is on ABC. The NHL will most likely be aired on NBCSN or MSNBC.
The day will provide sponsors with a unique opportunity to develop multi-event activations. It’s not unreasonable to expect some luxury brand to straddle the Kentucky Derby and the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, or for a company to play off the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry as well as any NHL or NBA playoff rivalries that might occur. LeBron vs. Wade? How about Coke vs. Pepsi? Las Vegas will also benefit from the increased sports betting action, especially in horse racing and boxing.
May 2 seems like a win-win for everyone involved. The talent will enjoy nice paydays and exposure, and the major networks will have marquee events with multiple activation opportunities while fans sit back, relax and be entertained all day long.
Michael Colangelo is Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Senior Editor of The Fields of Green.