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HBO Puts Marketing Muscle to Work

9/05/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

HBO PPV will distribute pay-per-view boxing events featuring the sport’s two biggest
attractions in Floyd Mayweather Jr., who will fi ght Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17, and Manny
Pacquiao, who faces Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12. To help promote both fights,
HBO will partner with sister Time Warner Inc. networks, including Turner Broadcasting
System’s CNN, TNT and TBS, to provide unprecedented cross-promotional marketing
opportunities. CNN is re-airing HBO’s 24/7: Mayweather-Ortiz documentary series leading up to the
Sept. 17 event. HBO Sports senior vice president Mark Taffet told Multichannel News programming
editor R. Thomas Umstead about HBO’s marketing efforts, fall PPV boxing plans and how Fox Sports’
recent deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship may affect televised boxing.


MCN: How important is it for HBO and for the sport
of boxing to be able to call on the network and digital
assets at Turner to promote and market the Mayweather-
Ortiz and Pacquiao-Marquez fights?

Mark Taffet: The Turner networks are among the most
widely distributed and most-watched networks anywhere.
It is a tremendous win-win situation for the sport, for the
fans and for affiliates to have some of the Turner networks
involved in the Sept. 17 Mayweather-Ortiz and the Nov. 12
Pacquiao-Marquez fights, whether from a programming
or advertising perspective. We are very proud of the association
and know it will benefit the sport and the events.

MCN: It looks like the partnership is beginning early,
with CNN set to air HBO’s 24/7: Mayweather/Ortiz
series. Will any other Turner or Time Warner assets be
used for the marketing of the Sept. 17 Mayweather-Ortiz
fight?

MT: For the Sept. 17 Mayweather-Ortiz fight, we have a
number of innovative and impactful new initiatives at
HBO and at a number of Time Warner divisions. HBO will
debut four episodes of 24/7 [each Saturday beginning on
Aug. 27]. HBO will also be televising a new program, 24/7
Overtime Live
, on Sept. 16 live from [fight venue] MGM
Grand in Las Vegas immediately following the premiere
of the final episode of 24/7. CNN will replay all four episodes
of 24/7 in the weeks leading up to the fight. There
will be advertising in [Time Warner-owned] Fortune, Essence
and Sports Illustrated magazines and on a number
of entertainment and news programs on TNT, TBS and
CNN. There will be advertising on websites like Time.com, SI.com, CNNMoney.com and Fortune.com and on
Major League Baseball telecasts on
TBS, as well as fight-related video assets
on CNN.com, SI.com, PeopleEnEspanol.com, HBO.com, HBO On Demand, and
the HBO Go platform.

MCN: How much could the exposure
of PPV boxing on such highly rated
and fully distributed cable networks as
TNT, TBS and CNN help potential PPV
buys but also build new audiences for
the sport?

MT: Whether through programming or
advertising, the exposure of boxing to
the quality and breadth of audiences
and distribution at the Turner networks
and the Time Warner magazines and
digital outlets is a great win for the sport
and affiliates. Mayweather-Ortiz is a
legitimate PPV mega-fight, with broad
appeal across a number of demographic
bases, and the advertising which will
take place on the various Time Warner
outlets will expose it to broader audiences
and we are excited about that.
We are also thrilled to have HBO’s 24/7
series reaching new audiences, and we
believe there will be the same connection
established between the viewers
and the athletes as we have seen when
airing the program on HBO. If there is
also an impact on the PPV buys then that
will be welcome news to our affiliates,
the promoters and the fighters.


MCN: With at least three PPV fights
scheduled over the next three months,
do you think HBO can come close to
the PPV boxing revenues the company
has been able to average over the
past five years?


MT:
Many times over the years, I have
said to judge our annual performance
in December, not in April or June. I believe
strongly that with the PPV fights we currently have
scheduled — Mayweather-Ortiz on Sept. 17, [Bernard]
Hopkins-[Chad] Dawson on Oct. 15, and Pacquiao-
Marquez on Nov. 12 — we will generate a few million
buys and will once again reach the kind of PPV revenue
levels that this industry has come to consistently expect
from HBO PPV. With the kind of programming and marketing
support across HBO and Time Warner we will put
behind the Mayweather-Ortiz and Pacquiao-Marquez
mega-fights and with the outstanding support levels we
are seeing from affiliates across the country, we believe
the fans will respond.

MCN: What was your reaction to Fox Sports’ multiyear
deal with the UFC to offer the mixed-martial-arts
company’s fights on the Fox broadcast network? Does
that added TV exposure for the UFC give it a leg up on
boxing, in terms of drawing new viewers and fans to
the sport?


MT:
I didn’t really have a reaction. In today’s television,
entertainment and sports marketplace, consumers regularly
have a multitude of choices every night of the week
all throughout the year. We have regularly and successfully
televised PPV mega-fights in this environment, and we are
excited about and committed to continuing to generate
these results for many years to come. We are bullish on the
future of boxing.

September