HBO, SET Slate $20M to Push Fight

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Showtime Event Television and Home Box Office Pay-Per-View, with significant financial contributions from cable operators, will back the June 8 Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson heavyweight championship PPV event with marketing support valued at some $20 million.

The promotional campaign will feature ads with the event's specific day and date on broadcast TV networks CBS and UPN — an industry first — said SET senior marketing consultant Suzan Couch. The campaign also will include an unprecedented Internet marketing push, executives from both networks said.

Historically, broadcast networks have aired generic PPV event ads so as not to promote competitive programming. But Viacom Inc.-owned SET is tapping corporate synergies with its sister broadcast networks for the unprecedented broadcast acknowledgment of the event.

Spots are also slated to run on several cable channels, including many regional sports networks, as well as on ESPN, TBS Superstation baseball telecasts and ESPN2's Friday Night Fights
series, Couch said.

And SET and HBO PPV will create and distribute a 30-minute preview show in both English and Spanish.

The bout — the first big PPV fight since the middleweight championship match between Bernard Hopkins and Felix Trinidad last September — is also being supported by national radio promotion on such syndicated fare as Imus in the Morning,Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, The Tom Joyner Show, The Jim Rome Show
and The G. Gordon Liddy Show.

Couch said The Howard Stern Show
will also air fight promotions, as well as a fight stunt in which boxing announcer Michael Buffer will appear on the radiocast to promote the event.

WEB PROMOS

In one of the most ambitious Internet applications behind a PPV event, SET and HBO PPV have set up a dedicated online site for the event, www.LewisTysonIsOn.com.

The site contains news headlines, links to stories written about the fight, video clips of the boxers, photo galleries and training diaries, said HBO PPV executive vice president and general manager Tammy Ross. The site also features online sweepstakes and merchandise contests.

Launched on May 13, the site has already received heavy traffic with visitors staying for more than four minutes per visit, Ross said.

The fight also will have a major presence on www.CBSsportsline.com
via a sweepstakes contest. And CBSsportsline.com will e-mail a Lewis-Tyson newsletter to its more than 1 million subscribers.

AOL will offer a mini-Web site within its online services to tout the event. The online giant — which, along with HBO PPV, is owned by AOL Time Warner — will promote the site on several other AOL-created areas such as AOL Men, AOL Sports and AOL Lifestyles.

"It clearly is the most aggressive Web promotion that's been created for a major PPV event," Couch said.

On the national print side, SET and HBO PPV will run a four-color, two-page ad in USA Today
the day before the fight.

OP OPPORTUNITIES

On the local level, SET and HBO PPV are working with cable operators to develop aggressive marketing campaigns for the fight.

Couch said 80 percent of operators are opting to take one of the two marketing options outlined in the fight's rate card. Operators can also earn a 45 percent split if they run a record 600 cross-channel spots, and five approved marketing tactics.

Operators will garner a 40 percent split by executing four marketing tactics, along with 350 cross-channel spots. They will only receive a 25 percent split if they do no marketing at all.

Of the 80 percent, Ross said that 70 percent are taking the most aggressive marketing option. "It's a greater show of support than we expected," she said.

In other Lewis-Tyson news, the undercard will feature two Hispanic-targeted fights. International Boxing Federation (IBF) Junior Featherweight Champion Manny Pacquiao will defend his title against former bantamweight champion Jorge Eliecer Julio, while former jr. lightweight champion Joel Casamayor will fight Juan Jose Arias.

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