With less than one month of promotional lead time, Showtime Event Television last week jump-started an aggressive marketing plan for its Oct. 20 Mike Tyson-Andrew Golota bout that exploits all available media outlets, including the Internet.
SET is positioning the fight as a full card with several co-features, rather than promoting just the Tyson-Golota matchup.
Because this is Tyson's first pay-per-view appearance since January of 1999-and due to his propensity for quick knockouts-Golota and the event's undercard bouts are featured prominently in marketing materials, SET senior marketing consultant Suzan Couch said.
Also slated for Oct. 20 are International Boxing Federation junior-welterweight champion Zab Judah, female boxer Laila Ali-the daughter of Muhammad Ali-and junior-welterweight contender Hector "El Canonero" Quiroz.
"Our communications challenge is to assure the public that they will get a good fight out of Golota, and get a night of boxing overall," Couch said.
The PPV programmer faces a crowded, price-inflated advertising marketplace, thanks to the recent Summer Olympics and upcoming presidential election.
As a result, SET has limited its broadcast spot buys to the Fox Television Network's National Football League coverage.
SET will instead schedule a heavy ad run on such cable networks as Black Entertainment Television, Comedy Central, ESPN and Fox Sports Net and its regional affiliates, Couch said. The programmer will also run a rare day-and-date spot for the fight on ESPN's Oct. 15Sunday Night Footballtelecast, she added.
SET will saturate the radio waves with spots for the card, including live mentions on Howard Stern's morning-drive show during fight week.
Ads will also run on such radio networks as Westwood One, Sportsfan Network, One on One Sports Inc. and American Urban Network.
All of the networks will provide on-site coverage of the event, Couch said.
The fight will also have a major Internet presence. Along with a dedicated area on Showtime's Web site (www.sho.com), SET will run a two-week banner ad on NFL.com, with an option allowing users to download its 30-second commercial. So far, 100,000 e-mails have been requested, Couch said.
"The Internet deal is a targeted, low-cost way of reaching sports fans," Couch said.
Couch also commended cable operators for developing aggressive local promotional plans for the event.
"The enthusiasm level from operators is super," she said. "They're delighted to have Tyson back on PPV and fighting what they perceive to be a very credible opponent in Golota."
In Demand will assist SET by developing local radio promotions in several key markets. The promotions, which include on-air giveaways, complement the national media coverage SET will provide, said In Demand vice president of marketing Gregg Rothberg.
SET and In Demand reached a distribution deal for this fight quickly, boosting SET's promotional efforts. The two parties had fought over licensing fees for Tyson's June fight against Lou Savarese, which eventually was pulled from PPV and telecast on Showtime.
For this fight, the two parties reached a deal in which operators must run 500 cross-channel spots and five optional tactics to be eligible for a 50-percent split, sources close to the situation said.
To earn half the revenue from the $49.95 event, an individual system must generate a 5.75 percent buy-rate. MSOs must generate a cumulative buy-rate of 5.75 percent. A 5 percent buy rate translates to five of every 100 homes where the event is available.
"Tyson-Golota is expected to be the biggest PPV event of the year, and In Demand and our affiliates will embrace it and promote it as such," In Demand senior vice president of programming and development Dan York said. "We still expect it to be a major PPV success."