SBJ/September 12-18, 2011/Media

Time Warner outlets unite for Mayweather’s HBO pay-per-view

HBO is committing an unprecedented amount of sister media assets from Time Warner to promote Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz welterweight title bout, allaying long-term objections from fight promoters.

For years, promoters have sought to have HBO, long the dominant pay-per-view entity in boxing, use Time Warner’s deep stable of TV networks, magazines and websites to tout big fights in the hopes of boosting PPV sales. The high-profile move earlier this year of Manny Pacquiao to rival Showtime, which heavily promoted his May 7 bout against Shane Mosley on sister network CBS, represented a call to arms for HBO.

“Everybody in this business is very competitive,” said Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions, co-promoter of the Mayweather-Ortiz fight. “Once Showtime re-entered the pay-per-view game [with Pacquiao], it put everybody on their toes, and the competitive juices flowed.”

In addition to the fight, CNN will reair all four episodes of the HBO Sports “24/7” series chronicling the run-up to Mayweather-Ortiz. Oscar De La Hoya — former boxing great, Golden Boy president and Ortiz’s promoter — appeared with Ortiz on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.” Promotions for the fight have run frequently during TBS’s Sunday afternoon coverage of Major League Baseball and several other high-profile CNN shows such as “Anderson Cooper 360,” as well as on Time.com, SI.com, CNNMoney.com and Forbes.com. SI.com also has extensive editorial coverage of the fight, as well as online streams of “24/7.” And Mayweather will appear tonight on TBS’s “Conan.”

“This is something very good for the sport and developing the next generation of fans,” said Mark Taffet, senior vice president of HBO PPV. The Pacquiao move “clearly brought to the forefront the importance of expanding the base of the sport.”

HBO will also expand its overall coverage of the fight, running a one-hour “24/7 Overtime Live” segment from Las Vegas on Friday, previewing the event immediately after the finale of “24/7.” On Saturday, HBO will precede the fight itself with a six-hour block of boxing programming on HBO Zone with repeats of “24/7,” classic bouts and other material.

With Mayweather’s popularity and the increased Time Warner promotion, Golden Boy is gunning to break the sport’s PPV record, established with a 2007 Mayweather-De La Hoya fight that generated 2.4 million buys.

“My goal is to break the record,” Schaefer said. “All the stars are aligned here. All signs are pushing in one direction. It’s clearly the biggest fight of the year. We’re definitely going over 2 million, and from there, I’m after 2.5 million.”

Taffet was more cautious in his outlook.

“I’m not getting into the prediction game, but this is clearly what we define as a megafight, and there is incredible pent-up demand for Mayweather,” Taffet said.

Senior writer Bill King contributed to this report.


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