Sports

Gearing Up for a Pay-Per-View KO

Mayweather-McGregor fight in Las Vegas on Aug. 26 could set new category marks 8/21/2017 8:00 AM Eastern
Former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (l.) and mixed martial arts champ Conor McGregor meet in Las Vegas in an Aug. 26 PPV event to be distributed by Showtime and UFC.

Promoters and distributors involved with the Saturday, Aug. 26, Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing event in Las Vegas are gearing up for a potentially knockout pay-per-view performance.

The Showtime and UFC-distributed fight — pitting the unretired and undefeated former boxing champion Mayweather against UFC mixed-martial-arts champion McGregor — is expected to match or surpass the record 4.6 million PPV buys and more than $450 million revenue performance of the 2015 fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Showtime Sports and Event Programming executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza said it’s difficult to project whether or not the fight will surpass either PPV record. He is encouraged by the early buys for Mayweather-McGregor, though he would not disclose specifics.

More Than Boxing Fans
Another variable: how many UFC, MMA and McGregor fans who will be inclined to buy the fight, along with Mayweather and boxing devotees.

“I love the position that we’re in,” Espinoza said. “We see numbers and we’re happy with them, but we don’t know what they mean quite yet.”

The fight will have the widest distribution ever for a PPV event, on pay TV and digital outlets.

Along with pay TV providers — most charging $99.99 for the HD feed — Mayweather-McGregor will also be offered for the first time on the ShowtimePPV.com website and the Showtime PPV app for Apple devices, and on the UFC.tv website.

Virtual MVPD Sling TV also is offering the fight to new and existing customers in both English and Spanish.

“We set out to implement a strategy that would result in the widest distribution for a PPV event ever, and we’ve achieved that,” Espinoza said. “There’s no excuse for not watching this fight because it will be available just about everywhere and anywhere the consumer wants it.”

Espinoza said he doesn’t believe the digital offerings for the fight will hurt linear PPV buys. “From all the research that we’ve seen the digital PPV is additive and not a cannibalizing factor,” he said. “As we know, there is a growing audience of streamers who are getting their content without traditional satellite and telcos, and on past PPV boxing events we’ve haven’t been reaching those viewers — they did not have access to the event other than going to a movie theatre or a bar and restaurant that was showing it.”

Backing the fight is a massive marketing and promotional campaign: the first TV ad, “Two Kings Collide,” began airing last week.

Along with what it calls the greatest number of promotional spots ever created for a PPV event, In Demand — which licensed the fight for cable distributors — will offer affiliates 15 hours of free on-demand content leading up to the fight.

Exclusive Promo Content
Specials include long and short form pieces like Showtime’s All Access: Mayweather vs. McGregor documentary series plus exclusive In Demand-produced content featuring fight analysis, workout footage and career highlights, according to the company.

“Operators are providing a comparable level of marketing to what they provided for Mayweather-Pacquiao and they are duplicating those same kinds of efforts for Mayweather-McGregor,” In Demand senior vice president of programming and business development Mark Boccardi told Multichannel News.

As for what will happen when McGregor squares off against Mayweather on the boxer’s familiar turf, Brett Okamoto, the ESPN MMA expert, thinks the situation favors Mayweather.

“I think it will start off slow,” Okamoto said. “Many believe McGregor should go right after Mayweather from the opening bell, but I don’t see him doing that. Later in the fight, I do, but not right at the start. I think they’ll both take time figuring each other out. Mayweather’s skills will frustrate McGregor over time. He’ll be missing with many of his punches, which will wear him out. Eventually, he will go for broke, which will provide Mayweather the opportunity to either dance around him and go the distance or possibly knock him out.”

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