SBD/Issue 36/Sports Media

Larkin Prepares For First IFL Event While Working Boxing Match

Larkin To Start In New
IFL Role On Saturday
Jay Larkin will start his career as President and COO of the IFL on Saturday in Cardiff, Wales. The funny thing is that he will be starting it while working a boxing match in Wales at the same time the mixed martial arts league airs its first live event on broadcast TV from Chicago. “I will be on my cell phone all night,” Larkin said. Larkin will be fulfilling a commitment that he made to boxing promoter Frank Warren for the Joe Calzaghe/Mikkel Kessler super middleweight bout that HBO will air at 9:00pm ET. On the same night, IFL will debut its live primetime broadcast on MyNetwork TV, part of its three-year deal with the News Corp.-owned broadcaster. By his own admission, he will not have a lot of responsibilities in Wales, describing his role as a “troubleshooter." Larkin: "I’m there to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible with the U.S. and U.K. productions.” HBO holds the U.S. rights, while Sports Network holds the British rights.

MAIN FOCUS ON IFL EVENT: Larkin’s main focus will be thousands of miles away on the IFL event, featuring three fights directed by veteran Craig Janoff. Larkin, the former Senior VP/Sports & Events Programming at Showtime, is one of the most accomplished boxing executives, yet he is dipping his toe in the MMA arena because of the growth potential he sees. He is particularly excited about the Saturday night slot the IFL has had on MyNetwork TV since March. All previous shows have been tape-delayed, and while Saturday's matches will be the first live broadcast, the series is planning for most of its '08 slate to be live. “Broadcast is where stars are built,” Larkin said. “They are not built on cable or pay-per-view.” While he acknowledges that MMA needs better TV deals and sponsorships if it wants to continue to grow, he says live events will help. "Everybody’s talking about MMA like it’s the new real estate with an endless stream of money,” Larkin said. “What’s lagging behind is the revenue.”

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