It’s Fight Night for HBO’s High-Def Channel


Hoping to pack a stronger punch, Home Box Office plans to air all future boxing events in HDTV and will place millions of marketing dollars and media value behind its Sept. 18 Oscar De La Hoya-Bernard Hopkins pay-per-view event.

HBO will air World Championship Boxing HD telecasts on its standalone high-definition channel, beginning with light heavyweights Roy Jones Jr. and Glen Johnson on Sept. 25.

HBO PPV also hopes extensive marketing of the De La Hoya-Hopkins event will help break marks for a non-heavyweight fight, set in 1999 with De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad. That event drew 1.4 million buys and generated more than $62 million in revenue.

De La Hoya’s quest for Hopkins’s undisputed middleweight championship has already set one dubious PPV mark: the suggested retail price of $54.95 is the most ever for a non-heavyweight fight, matching only Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis in 2002.

Operators will have to run 500 cross-channel spots and an additional four marketing tactics to garner a 55-45 revenue split, according to HBO PPV vice president and general manager Tammy Ross.

Operators posting a 4.2% buy-rate for the fight will split revenues evenly with HBO, while systems opting not to meet marketing or buy-rate minimums will receive a 30% split.

Despite the lofty requirements, Ross said 92% of operators have chosen the marketing-based rate card.

“People are really supporting this fight and being aggressive,” she said.

Budweiser will be the title sponsor and was expected to run spots in numerous college football telecasts this past weekend. Budweiser was also expected to promote the fight on National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing driver Dale Ernhardt Jr.’s car during last weekend’s Chevy Rock and Roll 400 Nextel Cup race.

Cadbury/Schweppes PLC’s Dr Pepper soft drink will promote the fight via an in-store sponsorship through Wal-Mart Stores and other retail outlets — point-of-purchase displays, poster giveaways and a number of trips to the fight via a sweepstakes.

HBO will use the fight to launch a new Web site (, a Spanish-language companion site to And AOL Latino will offer exclusive features throughout the week.

AOL will also dedicate a special boxing channel (keyword: HBOPPV) to the fight, with exclusive video, photo galleries and Q&A sessions with the fighters.

Along with traditional sports-oriented networks like ESPN and the FSN regional services, Ross said HBO advised operators run cross-channel spots on MSNBC, Fox News Channel and The Weather Channel to take advantage of viewer interest in the upcoming presidential election and hurricanes.