With a date and site firmly in hand, Home Box Office Sports and Showtime Event Television now have to work out an industry carriage contract for the highly anticipated June 8 Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight.
Two months after the infamous Jan. 22 press-conference brawl that sent event plans spiraling, fight co-promoters SET and HBO Sports announced an 11th-hour deal last week that set the potentially lucrative heavyweight championship fight in Memphis, Tenn.
Cable pay-per-view executives applauded the agreement, which could put as much as $100 million into the PPV industry's coffers. Negotiations between SET and HBO and PPV distributor In Demand L.L.C. began late last week, but neither side would comment specifically on the talks.
HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg would not reveal rate-card parameters, but said the deal would be structured much like previous PPV mega-fight agreements. Typically with mega-fights, operators are able to derive a higher percentage of PPV revenues contingent upon their level of marketing participation
"We're not going to reinvent the wheel [with the fight's PPV-licensing terms]," Greenburg said. "But this is an event that will draw a significant amount of noise and revenue, and I hope that In Demand and the cable operators recognize that and get behind the event."
In Demand executives expressed optimism that a deal will be reached quickly.
One of the key issues surrounds the fight's suggested retail price. While many observers initially believed the fight could fetch as much as $55 to $60, the controversy surrounding the event could keep the price at the traditional $50 level.
But Greenburg feels the fight will build momentum as the date nears. "I've never been a big proponent of controversy helping or hurting an event," said Greenburg. He did add, though, that Lewis and Tyson would not cross paths until the actual event.