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Volume 26 No. 207
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ESPN, Fox Working Together To Promote Wilder-Fury II

ESPN and Fox Sports are jointly producing Saturday's Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury PPV, and both nets are "blanketing the airwaves this week like never before in a effort to get people to dig into their pockets" and buy the highly anticipated rematch, according to Tim Dahlberg of the AP. The pre-fight press conference on Wednesday aired on both ESPN2 and FS1, and they "will also both air Friday's weigh-in, the press conference in the ring after the fight, and a portion of the undercard itself." Top Rank Chair Bob Arum said, "There's never been a fight ever that's been publicized like this. I mean we even had two Super Bowl commercials, when did that happen?" Dahlberg noted the "constant drumbeat of programming by both networks in the days leading up to the fight ... should make both fighters more well known outside of the sport." Neither ESPN nor Fox is "willing to predict just how many households the fight will do," but it will likely be the biggest boxing PPV since the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight in '15 sold a record 4.6 million. Arum said that he is "hoping to get near 2 million buys" for Wilder-Fury II (AP, 2/19). In L.A., Norm Frauenheim noted the fact that two rival networks "are cooperating on one fight is a sure sign that a big audience is expected." Selling more than 1 million PPVs "is probably a success" for ESPN and Fox (L.A. TIMES, 2/19).

A TRUE PARTNERSHIP: Fox Sports Exec VP and Head of Programming & Scheduling Bill Wanger indicated that Fox has produced "more than 10 hours of original programming around the fight, including a four-part docuseries ... and a fight countdown show currently in rotation on ESPN and Fox Sports platforms." BROADCASTING & CABLE's R. Thomas Umstead noted ESPN also created "several originals" around the fight. Wanger said, "It's really an unprecedented amount of promotion and level of cooperation among the two main media sports companies." A "combined ESPN and Fox Sports on-air crew will describe the action." ESPN's Joe Tessitore, Lennox Lewis and Andre Ward will provide "ringside commentary," while Fox' Timothy Bradley and Shawn Porter will join Max Kellerman (ESPN) and Brian Kenny (Fox) for "live analysis" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 2/17 issue).