HBO PPV Fight Steps Into Crowded Sports Arena

HBO will look to make some noise Saturday night during a packed sports weekend with its Sergio Martinez-Miquel  Cotto fight.

The highly anticipated fight between veteran middleweights will compete for media coverage alongside the New York Rangers-Los Angeles Kings NHL Stanley Cup finals; California Chrome’s attempt at horse racing’s triple crown during the Belmont Stakes; and intrigue over LeBron James’ status heading into Sunday’s second game of the Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals matchup.  

Martinez-Cotto is the fourth pay-per-view boxing event in as many months, following Showtime’s March 8 Canelo Alverez- Alfredo Angulo bout, HBO’s April 12 Manny Pacquio-Tim Bradley Jr. rematch and Showtime’s May 3 Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana fight.

 But while the PPV boxing category has been busy, it has yet to officially yield a fight that has surpassed the category’s gold standard 1 million PPV buy mark. Showtime has yet to release numbers from the Mayweather fight – the event most likely to draw 1 million buys due to Mayweather’s box office appeal -- but industry sources say the fight will most likely fall just short of the mark.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated between 750,000 and 800,000 buys according to the fight’s promoter Top Rank, while the Alvarez-Angulo fight drew more than 350,000 buys.

While industry observers aren’t expecting Martinez-Cotto to break the 1 million buy mark, HBO officials believe that it will draw a significant amount of fight fans. “It will be an electric environment at the highest level of the sport, and we believe the fans will respond and the fighters will deliver," said HBO Sports senior vice president Mark Taffet.

HBO is running traditional fight ads on multi-platforms around World Cup, NBA post-season and MLB programming, and it has also built an editorial and video experience around the fight via its and HBO Boxing channel respectively, according to HBO Sports vice president and general manager Tammy Ross.

Taffet added that the number of PPV fights already in the can bodes well for the remainder of the year as the category looks to drum up marquee matches for the fall. "PPV boxing fans have had a big menu to choose from so far this year.  The fights have been exciting, the fans are getting their money's worth, and we expect that to continue with Cotto-Martinez and the HBOPPV events in the second half of the year."

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.