Showtime Touts Holyfield-Ruiz to Latinos

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Looking to attract Hispanic viewers, Showtime Event Television will devote a significant amount of its marketing resources for the March 3 Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz fight toward Latino-targeted media.

SET also hopes the controversy that surrounded Holyfield's controversial win over Ruiz last August will help drive buys for 2001's first major pay-per-view boxing event.

Ruiz also is gunning for Holyfield's World Boxing Association title, so the programmer intends to position the fight as one that could crown the first Latino heavyweight champion, said SET senior marketing consultant Suzan Couch.

And the strong Hispanic undercard-which features World Boxing Council lightweight champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez-could provide a potent one-two Latino marketing punch.

SET will spend heavily on Hispanic radio, television and print advertising. It will run radio spots in 18 top Latino markets through the Westwood One radio network, along with print ads in the top 20 Hispanic markets, Couch said.

The pay-per-view programmer will also run spot ads on Hispanic-targeted networks Univision, Telemundo, Fox Sports Español and Galavision, she added.

On March 3, a mock "Valentine's Day" ad-in which Ruiz told Holyfield he'll "kiss his belt goodbye"-ran in several national newspapers.

"The public-relations effort is much deeper in a number of markets than it was in the first fight," Couch said. "Also, the fighters are traveling to more cities to promote the fight than before."

SET will also take advantage of the slowing mainstream ad-sales market and run spots for the event on several broadcast networks, including CBS, Fox, NBC, UPN and The WB.

In addition, CBS-which, like SET, is owned by Viacom Inc.-will run a one-hour replay of the first Holyfield-Ruiz fight on its affiliate stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.

The special will also appear on Cablevision Systems Corp.'s New York-area MetroChannel, Fox Sports Net and DirecTV Inc.

SET will also run spots on basic-cable networks Black Entertainment Television, ESPN, ESPN2, Comedy Central, Fox Sports Net, Turner Network Television and TBS Superstation, though not as aggressively as for prior fights.

Given the paucity of PPV fights this year-and the controversy that surrounded the first matchup-Couch believes the $45.95 event should perform well.

"This is a win-win for the category, and it could lead to a revitalization of the heavyweight division if Ruiz wins," Couch said.

Cable operators are also cautiously optimistic the fight will generate a decent number of PPV buys.

Cablevision will heavily target both Hispanic media and traditional boxing fans with fight promotions, said MSO vice president of PPV and enhanced video products Sherry Brennan.

"The fight provides a nice opportunity for us to reach out to Hispanic viewers as well as to our core boxing fans," she said. "We're hopeful that we can do pretty good business on PPV with the event."

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