Showtime to Air Mixed-Martial-Arts Card on Pay TV, PPV

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Showtime will look to raise the profile of its mixed-martial-arts franchise with a June 2 hybrid pay television/pay-per-view event card.

The Showtime pay TV service will air two fights from the eight-bout event, beginning at 9 p.m., with three other live matches available via PPV for $34.95 one hour later.

In addition, the network launched a four-part weekly reality series aimed at generating awareness for the card, according to Ken Hershman, senior vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports and Event.

“We want to build the audience for this event, whether people watch the Showtime event and buy the PPV, just buy the PPV or just watch Showtime,” Hershman added. “We want to give them as many possible options as we can to watch as many fights and build this franchise.”

It’s the first time Showtime has offered split coverage of the same fight card on both premium and PPV. The event is the second mixed-martial-arts fight card under Showtime’s partnership with Pro Elite. Hershman said its Feb. 10 combat-sports event drew more than 1 million households between the premiere and the replays.

“We were very happy … that was a tremendous start for us,” he added.

Hershman would not project how well the event would perform on Showtime, but he hopes to generate at least 100,000 buys. PPV events from mixed-martial-arts genre-leader Ultimate Fighting Championship typically average 300,000-500,000 buys per month.

To help create exposure for the event, Showtime this past Monday began airing a four-part series dubbed Countdown to Dynamite!!!.Much like HBO’s De La Hoya-Mayweather 24/7 reality series, Countdown to Dynamite!!! profiles the fighters on the card while detailing the matchups, according to Hershman.

“This is a good introduction again in developing the knowledge base of what the sport is about and what you’ll see on June 2,” he added.

Although the network is currently engaged with mixed martial arts, Hershman said it hasn’t stepped out of the squared circle. The network will continue to offer its monthly Showtime Championship Boxing series, as well as its Showbox franchise featuring up-and-coming fighters.

But the network has no plans to offer a PPV-boxing event in the near future, he said, adding, “We are always looking [for boxing events].”

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