SBD/September 12, 2012/Media

HBO, ESPN Ink Multiyear Boxing Deal Centered On PPV Fights

HBO and ESPN have reached a boxing programming and marketing agreement
HBO and ESPN yesterday announced a multiyear boxing programming and marketing agreement. The deal includes coordinated support for major PPV events, including sharing programming content, cross-promotion elements and highlight packages across ESPN and HBO platforms. Per the deal, ESPN and ESPN Deportes’ news and information platforms, including “SportsCenter," will have access to content from HBO PPV boxing events. In addition, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3 will carry live fighter weigh-ins and pre- and post-fight press conferences for HBO PPV events. ESPN and ESPN Deportes also will air the HBO series “24/7” leading up to HBO PPV fights (HBO). The two networks' partnership will begin with Saturday's Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez bout in Las Vegas (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 9/11). DAILY VARIETY's Stuart Levine wrote the two nets are “combining efforts because boxing has seen a sharp decline in popularity in recent years," and both "believe each can help the other drum up support for the sport” (VARIETY.com, 9/11).

GLOVES ARE OFF: In L.A., Lance Pugmire notes the two "most popular Mexican fighters will headline opposing cards in Las Vegas" Saturday, as rival promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy "continue to duke it out.” HBO PPV will air Top Rank's Chavez-Martinez bout, while Showtime will televise the Saul "Canelo" Alvarez-Josesito Lopez fight. Bob Goodman, a former matchmaker for Don King, said, "It's the greatest sport in the world, but the lousiest business because we're trying to kill each other. It makes no sense to be chesty and try to make it a point when it's going to cost everyone involved a lot of money.” Pugmire notes promoters typically like "to place big fights on dates free of both internal competition and obvious conflicts with important events in the sports world." There also are weekends "boxing believes it owns, with Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day weekend at the top." Top Rank Chair Bob Arum said that studies have found 33% of PPV fights in the U.S. "are purchased by Latinos between the ages of 18-29, with 60% of those audiences consisting of Latinos.” Boxing promoter Lou DiBella, who promotes Martinez, said, "Showtime's first response should not be to the sport. Their primary consideration is their network, their subscribers. That said, there's a lot of self-destructiveness that happens in this sport. Saturday night will be a great night of boxing. But there has to be more cooperation" (L.A. TIMES, 9/12).
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