HBO Sports is taking its marketing swings behind the Nov. 13 Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito pay-per-view boxing match in the digital media ring to engage social media savvy consumers.
The network is utilizing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to interact with younger viewers, while running traditional on-air spots in National Football League broadcast telecasts to reach mainstream sports fans, according to Tammy Ross, HBO Sports vice president and general manager.
HBO Sports has targeted several non-traditional sports web sites such as male-targeted entertainment site Craveonline.com to generate greater impressions among young audiences, Ross said. Also as part of its digital approach, the network has put fighter interviews, press conferences and other promotional activities on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to keep boxing fans constantly abreast of the events and stories leading up to the bout, which will take place at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"In the PPV world, it's the satellite, telco or cable company that talks to the fan, but we're now looking for ways to talk directly to fans," said Ross. She added HBO has already generated more than 100 million impressions in the digital space, which is comparable to the total of impressions usually generated by fight time.
For the final week's push, HBO.com for the first time will create a dedicated fight page -- insidefightweek.com -- that will offer live streams from the venue. Each day, the site will feature a block of live content, including coverage of the final fight press conference, the fighters' weigh-in event, conversations with celebrities and fan impressions, she said.
Fans visiting the site will also be able to follow twitter feeds surrounding the fight.
"We want to create an experience where people will regularly check into on how other people are feeling about the fight," Ross said. "It's the fan's ticket to what's going on during fight week."
In an effort to better reach the Hispanic audience, the network has produced all of its promotional video and print content in Spanish instead of just placing Spanish language subtitles over its English-based content. As a result, the network has been able to generate greater fight awareness through Hispanic-targeted media such as AOL Latino, ESPN Deportes, Fox Sports and Espanol, as well as with cable operators who are looking for Spanish language interstitials for their targeted digital services.
"We've tripled our Spanish language impressions from where we were before," she said. "It's as concerted effort on the HBO side to present our product to all sports fans, regardless of what language they speak."
While HBO has used digital media to reach targeted audiences, it has run fight spots in several CBS and Fox National Football League telecasts over the past three Sundays -- as well as a financial news-targeted like CNBC and Fox Business Network - to reach mainstream viewers.
Along with the on-air media buys, Ross said HBO has also placed ads on the broadcast networks' NFL-based web site pages, as well as on CNBC.com, Foxnews.com and CNN.com.
"For cable, we've really embraced cross channel spots for the MSOs and systems, so that allowed us to target more national broadcast outlets," she said.
HBO is also taking advantage of the Nov. 7 60 Minutes profile of Pacquiao -- considered by boxing observers as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the sport -- to run digital banner ads on CBS.com's 60 Minutes page.
Ross would not project the PPV performance of Pacquiao-Margarito, but she expects the fight will approach the 1 million buy mark. Pacquiao's last four fights have averaged 1 million buys.