The fight everyone is talking about takes place Sept 14, when Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr steps into the ring with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez—and MVPDs are going above and beyond to promote the Showtime PPV match-up. We talk with Showtime Sports evp, gm Stephen Espinoza about the fight ($64.95 SD, $74.95 HD price tag), including how Time Warner Cable-CBS’ contract dispute affected things.
Has Showtime’s documentary series “All Access” helped with marketing the event or is it just some extra sprinkles on the cake?
Espinoza: We’ve studied that very closely. The first time that was done for any major sporting event was 2007 for the De La Hoya-Mayweather fight. It certainly has become the norm to see these kinds of productions. When we were structuring this promotion, we didn’t want to go down the road of just doing things because they’ve always been done before. We evaluated and came to the conclusion that this is still by far the most effective tool to marketing the fight. The NFL can survive on the strength of its brand year to year. College football survives on strength of team loyalties. Boxing is really dependent on stars and match-ups. People, especially casual fans, get interested in a fight when they care about the storyline.
Did the dispute with Time Warner Cable, which caused TWC and Bright House subs to lose Showtime for one month as well as CBS in NYC, L.A. and Dallas, cause any impact to momentum then?
Espinoza: It was definitely a concern, especially since Showtime and CBS are 2 of the more prominent outlets we’re using to market these events. Having said that, the bulk of our marketing campaign really focuses on the last 2 weeks of the fight, Aug 31-Sept 14 [CBS and TWC resolved their dispute on Sept 2]. From that perspective, we really didn’t miss much—a day or two. Would I have preferred the dispute didn’t happen? I think everybody involved would have preferred that.
What are distributors doing to help promote the PPV?
Espinoza: What we have here is a combination of the biggest advertising push for any PPV event in history. Each distributor is marketing and promoting through their own assets—digital pipes, on demand programming assets, cross channel spots on air. And on top of that we have the biggest actual marketing spend by our affiliates that we’re aware of. Not only are they using their own assets, but they’re actually partnering with us on a market by market basis and actually spending money with us to go outside and get additional marketing. Sometimes that’s radio, outdoor. We’re seeing an outpouring of enthusiasm that we’ve never really seen before, even for prior Mayweather fights.
Do you ever see UFC reaching the level of a fight like this?
Espinoza: It’s possible. It would take a perfect storm. If you look at the recent stars of boxing—Oscar De La Hoya. He was a good-looking, young kid who had an amazing story during the Olympics and he became popular during the boom of the Hispanic population. If you look at Mike Tyson, he was a larger-than-life character with larger-than-life talents. Floyd Mayweather, again, larger-than-life personality and incredible skills. It’s these unique personalities that come together once every so often that lift boxing back into the mainstream. There are some stars that approach that in MMA, but I think right now, they don’t have the stars and the reach to quite get to the levels of a big boxing match.
Explain a little bit about what’s different about this boxing match?
Espinoza: This fight reaches a couple different demographics that not all fights reach. The first is women. Floyd Mayweather does attract a higher proportion of the female demographic than a typical boxer, and I think that’s multiplied by Canelo’s presence. He’s a very good looking, charismatic guy. He has a young daughter. He’s a humble guy that looks like a movie star. So, you have an interesting contrast of personalities. We’re also seeing a young demographic for this fight, which is often the case for Mayweather, who has stayed relevant, particularly in the urban demographics. And because of Canelo’s age, he attracts a younger demographic as well. Beyond male sports fans, we’re bringing in a younger demographic and more females than is typical.