Rare day-and-date spot ads on two broadcast networks highlight Showtime Event Television's extensive marketing plan for the Oct. 4 Evander Holyfield-James Toney pay-per-view fight.
Viacom Inc.-owned SET was scheduled last Saturday to begin airing day, date and time-specific promo spots for the heavyweight elimination bout in seven of the top 10 television markets, on 11 stations owned and operated by sister broadcast networks UPN and CBS, Showtime Sports and Event Programming director of marketing Sheila Larkin Mills said.
The spots were set to run during high-profile CBS Sports events, including National Football League and college football telecasts, as well as during UPN's top primetime shows.
Normally, broadcasters have shunned day-and-date ads because they could draw viewers away from their own networks. Mills said the difference here, of course, is that SET can draw from the Viacom synergy bank.
"You can't put a price on the [day-and-date] ads," Mills added.
During fight week, the same UPN and CBS stations will air a 30-minute preview show in late fringe. It also will be offered free to video-on-demand subscribers in Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems Corp. systems, Mills said.
Fight ads will appear on several cable networks, including ESPN, which will run spots during early fringe and late-night SportsCenter
shows and during its Oct. 3 Friday Night Fights
Mills said cable systems in the 30 top markets will conduct various promotions, including a sweepstakes awarding winners a free trip to the fight.
The fight will also have a major presence online. SET created a fight-specific site for the event [Holyfieldtoney.com], which features in-depth profiles on both fighters, viewer polls and articles about the fight from various newspapers.
The Web site also includes yet another sweepstakes, featuring a grand prize of free tickets and a stay at the fight's hotel site, Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas.
Mills said runner-up prizes include a 46-inch Sony HDTV television and $150 to pay for the PPV event and refreshments.
SET also teamed with DirecTV Inc. to create video promos for the fight for households utilizing DirecTV TiVo boxes. "We have three [video] segments that are prominently featured in the 'showcase' section of the [DirecTV/TiVo] service," Mills said.
Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser is the national sponsor for the event, and its logo will be prominently featured on ringposts and the ring canvas.
The fight, with a suggested retail price of $44.95, will begin an hour earlier than the usual 9 p.m. (ET) PPV event start time, as not to conflict with an HBO PPV fight card at midnight featuring featherweight champ Erik Morales.