Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 20 No. 42
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Showtime bout already breaking records

Earlier in his career as an attorney representing athletes and entertainers, Showtime Sports head Stephen Espinoza worked behind the scenes for two of boxing’s mega-stars, Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson. Even he has been struck by the clamor surrounding the network’s Saturday pay-per-view headlined by Floyd Mayweather against Canelo Alvarez.

Gate, promotions, sponsorship all at record levels for Mayweather-Canelo.
“If we could convert that enthusiasm into pay-per-view buys we’d be doing 12 million pay-per-view buys,” said Espinoza, executive vice president of sports and event programming for Showtime. “It will be an interesting experiment to see how it converts. The assumption is that there’s got to be some correlation when you have this amount of fervor. But we’ll see.”

Though evolutions in technology and viewing habits make it unlikely that any fight will break the pay-per-view record of 2.4 million set by Mayweather and De La Hoya in 2007, Mayweather-Alvarez has a chance to eclipse that bout as the most lucrative PPV ever ($132 million) and is on pace to make boxing history in most other categories.

The live gate for the sold-out fight at the MGM Grand will be the largest ever at $19,905,000, said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, beating the $18,419,200 set by Mayweather-De La Hoya. The fight also will set new Golden Boy highs for closed-circuit sales, sponsorship sales and activation levels, and promotional support by networks and distributors.

“We’re not just breaking the records,” Schaefer said. “We’re shattering them.”

CBS, Showtime and various television distributors will combine to deliver $80 million to $100 million in promotional value through commercials plugging the fight, an increase of about 40 percent over the most they had spent previously on a Golden Boy promotion, Schaefer said.

Sponsorship revenue totals more than $2 million, up from the previous high of $1.25 million and more than double the $800,000 generated by Mayweather-De La Hoya, and sponsors will shift $15 million to $20 million of their media spending to promote the PPV.

Corona distributor Crown Imports is backing the fight with its largest retail activation in sports, with point-of-purchase displays in 15,000 retail outlets across 32 states. The brand cut its own commercial spot promoting the fight, as did another sponsor, AT&T. Corona will devote about $6 million worth of on-air media, airing spots during sports programming on NBC, ESPN, Fox and the NFL Network. AT&T will devote $1.6 million.

Adopting a popular promotion that has been a staple for boxing sponsor Tecate, Valvoline is offering fans a $35 rebate if they purchase the pay-per-view and five quarts of motor oil. O’Reilly Auto Parts, presenting sponsor of the fight at theaters, will promote the bout through a sweepstakes at its 3,800 locations.

The fight also brings a first in televised boxing: Live, five-camera coverage of the fight-week press conference and weigh-in, along with a fully produced, live post-fight show, all of which will air on CBS Sports Network. The weigh-in airs live on Showtime and most U.S. sports networks.

“Our approach is that these are interesting events and they deserve coverage to the full extent of our capabilities,” Espinoza said. “You see [a postgame show] for the Super Bowl. The Final Four. The World Series. This fight is that level of event and it merits continuing coverage after the Showtime PPV goes off the air. We’re trying to extend the engagement the fan has with the event and make the most of the live event itself. … That’s the direction the sports industry is going and there is no reason boxing should be any different.”

Showtime will get unprecedented promotional support from CBS, which will devote $15 million to $20 million worth of spots during sporting events and in prime time. The network promoted Mayweather’s last fight during its Final Four coverage, but that was a month ahead of the event. This fight will get mentioned during CBS’s telecast of Alabama vs. Texas A&M, hours before the pay-per-view.

While promotion in front of a large college football audience could boost the fight, the fact that it comes during football season also could be a hindrance. Of the five most watched PPVs, only Evander Holyfield-Tyson came in the fall.