SBJ/May 28-June 3, 2012/Media

Top Rank punches up digital with BAM deal

Top Rank Boxing has signed a deal with MLB Advanced Media in which baseball’s interactive arm will host the boxing promoter’s live online streaming, help develop subscription digital content and create mobile applications.

The deal represents a move by Top Rank Boxing to better monetize its digital content and create a more prominent fan-facing presence to supplement its major fight cards on pay-per-view television.

“We’re pushing to get boxing back into the mainstream and we were looking to partner with somebody that owns their own content and understands exactly what we’re experiencing and trying to do,” said Lucia McKelvey, Top Rank Boxing executive vice president.

MLBAM and Top Rank Boxing will participate in an undisclosed revenue-sharing agreement on the partnership. A new website at toprank.com, developed in part by New York-based Web design firm Blue Fountain Media and featuring the MLBAM-built video assets, was slated to soft-launch last week. Top Rank previously worked with Plainview, N.Y.-based NeuLion on its online efforts.

A series of apps for the Apple iOS and Android mobile platforms and several other connected devices is also under development.

The first major Top Rank Boxing event to feature the new digital presence will be the June 9 welterweight championship fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr. from Las Vegas. MLBAM will power a high-definition live stream of the fight, to be sold separately from the traditional pay-per-view telecast for a price of $54.95. The telecast will run $54.95 for standard definition and $64.95 for HD.

Top Rank Boxing, as it has in the past, will stream a variety of related event content, including weigh-ins and undercard bouts.

For MLBAM, the Top Rank Boxing alignment represents further expansion of its white-label digital work. Other clients include ESPN, Turner Sports and in-flight entertainment company Row 44 Inc.

“This one is a little more soup-to-nuts given that we’re doing the video, developing the subscription products, handling the billing for that, and so forth,” said Kenny Gersh, MLBAM senior vice president of business development. “But fundamentally, it really leverages our expertise, particularly in video.”

Top Rank Boxing for the Pacquiao-Bradley fight has also struck several affiliate partnerships, including ones with Yahoo Sports and Ustream in which they will gain access to some fight-related content, serving in part as a marketing vehicle for premium, subscription-based material being developed with MLBAM.

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