A minor change in the undercard won't slow down the
push for Showtime Event Television's highly anticipated Jan. 16 Mike Tyson-Frans
Botha pay-per-view event.
Due to illness, World Boxing Council featherweight champion
Luisito Espinosa pulled out of his scheduled bout against No. 1 contender Ceasar Soto on
the rare, two-fight Tyson-Botha undercard. Instead, former WBC featherweight champion Goyo
Vargas will fight lightweight Ben Tackie for the WBC Continental Americas lightweight
title, SET said.
The other bout features International Boxing Federation
junior lightweight champion Roberto Garcia against former junior lightweight champ Juan
SET will look to promote the Hispanic-oriented undercard
though an aggressive Hispanic national radio and print campaign, the company said. In
addition, SET will run 30-second spots extensively on such Spanish-language television
outlets as Fox Sports Américas, The Univision Network and Telemundo.
Overall, the fight -- the first for Tyson since June 1997
-- will have about "$25 million worth of promotional noise" in the marketplace,
said Susan Couch, senior marketing consultant for SET.
On a national-sponsorship level, Anheuser-Busch Inc.'s
Budweiser Beer will contribute about $400,000 in media to the event. SET is also getting
support from cable operators: Couch said they are kicking in an unprecedented amount of
local-market promotional dollars.
Systems will kick in 50 percent of national spot promotions
for the fight in the top 30 markets, she added.
"The cable operators are really stepping up to the
plate for this one," Couch said.
SET will run its syndicated preview show in 80 percent to
85 percent of major markets, Couch said. In addition, the company is offering a 24-hour
barker channel leading up to the event.
In an effort to reach both hard-core and non-boxing fans,
SET has developed two separate television commercials. The first highlights Tyson's
dedication to training, and it is projected to run on male-oriented and sports networks
such as ESPN, ESPN Classic, Discovery Channel and Black Entertainment Television.
The second spot, targeted toward more casual fans --
featuring a more reflective and redemptive Tyson -- is expected to run on more mainstream
networks such as A&E Network, Cable News Network, USA Network, Turner Network
Television, CNBC and Nick at Nite, Couch said.
The hope is to lure viewers who were upset and disgusted
with Tyson after he bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear in 1997. Tyson was
subsequently suspended until October.
SET feels that its national promotional efforts -- coupled
with the support from operators in local markets -- will provide a significant amount of
promotion for the event, despite the short, three-week window.
Some operators were concerned that there wouldn't be
enough time to effectively reach the marketing requirements to generate a near 50 percent
return in PPV revenues.
"We knew that we were going to have the event well
enough in advance to have everything ready to go before it was finalized," Couch
said. "Whatever concerns there are, it's more about doing the best job possible,
rather than the actual involvement."