Boxing Still Key at HBO After Shakeup

Pay-per-view boxing will remain a vital part of Home Box Office's and TVKO's programming strategies despite several key executive changes.

HBO senior vice president and HBO Sports executive producer Ross Greenburg was named the division's president last week after Time Warner Sports president Seth Abraham resigned his post to take an executive position at Madison Square Garden.

Greenburg, who has been at HBO since 1978, will assume responsibility for planning and directing strategy for the HBO Sports franchise, which includes its popular boxing program.

But Greenburg said he doesn't expect to make any major changes to HBO Sports, which also produces such shows as Real Sports and Inside the NFL. In addition, the division is launching a late-night sports-magazine program hosted by Bob Costas in February.

"There's no change: We'll continue business as usual," Greenburg said. "Seth did a great job preparing me for this over the past 23 years-our philosophies are in sync."

Greenburg said the network's top priority is boxing, and the company will continue to develop marquee PPV-boxing events in the near future. It currently has on tap a Nov. 11 Lennox Lewis-David Tua event and a proposed December Felix Trinidad-Fernando Vargas unification bout.

"The big PPV-boxing events evolve out of our ability to make great boxing matches on World Championship Boxing," Greenburg said. "You can't manufacture big PPV events, but it becomes a snowball effect when you're able to make stars on HBO."

Additionally, four HBO Sports executives received promotions, including TVKO senior vice president of marketing and operations Mark Taffet, who will also hold the same title at HBO Sports.

Other promotions include Kery Davis to senior vice president, programming, HBO Sports; Barbara Thomas to senior vice president, finance and talent, HBO Sports; and Rick Bernstein to senior vice president and executive producer, HBO Sports.

Meanwhile, Abraham moves from HBO to become executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Cablevision Systems Corp.-owned MSG franchise beginning in mid-October, MSG CEO David Checketts said.

Abraham will be responsible for overseeing several areas of the company, including Radio City Entertainment, MSG Sports Properties, MSG Networks and corporate marketing.

"The opportunity to join Dave Checketts and his team to further amplify the successes of these hallowed buildings can't be exceeded, and I look forward to the remarkable challenges and opportunities this position presents," Abraham said in a prepared statement.

"Without question, Seth is one of the leaders of our industry," Checketts said in a prepared statement. "His career at Time Warner and Home Box Office has seen success after success.his experience and unique skills in entertainment, sports and television will play a very important role in our expected growth."

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.