HBO Hopes Pacquiao Fight Packs Punch

As HBO gears up for its last big pay-per-view boxing event of the year, the network is already looking ahead to what could be a strong 2015 campaign.

The network’s Nov. 22 Manny Pacquiao- Chris Algieri fight will complete what has been a relatively good year for the boxing category. Heading into Pacquiao-Algieri, the category is on pace to draw about 3.8 million buys and $242 million in revenue, according to industry sources. That compares favorably to 2013, when the category drew about 3.9 million buys and $252 million in revenue, most of which was generated by the September 2013 Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight. That event drew about 2.2 million buys and more than $150 million in revenue, a PPV-bout record.

“In general if you look at the history of PPV, the category tends to be in the 3 million to 4 million buy range and $200 million to $250 million revenue range year in and year out, with not a lot of variation within that range,” HBO Sports senior vice president Mark Taffet said. “Consumers have shown to have a consistent, overall demand for PPV boxing.”

Taffet wouldn’t predict how many buys the China- based Pacquiao-Algieri PPV fight would generate. Pacquaio’s November 2013 fight from China against Brandon Rios drew approximately 475,000 buys.

Taffet said the network’s second foray into China has been better than last year’s in terms of maximizing promotion and publicity for the fight overseas. Pacquiao’s appeal and the growing recognition of the junior New York-based welterweight champion Algieri is driving the fight’s marketing engine, he added.

Every major New York newspaper as well as other prominent media outlets including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and ESPN will have representatives in China during the week of the event.

“This fight will have media coverage that will be beamed back to the U.S. via television, newspaper and digitally well beyond what existed a year ago in China,” Taffet said.

Taffet said he’s “very encouraged” about the category going forward. He would not comment on a potential Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in 2015 but said the category is in good shape to thrive next year given the ongoing appeal of veteran fighters and the emergence of new up-and-comers.

Indeed, Mayweather is expected to fight two times in 2015 to conclude his six-fight deal with Showtime, while Pacquiao, Alvarez and Miguel Cotto could also fight multiple times on pay-per-view. In addition, up-andcoming fighters like Adrien Broner, Gennady Golovkin and Timothy Bradley could also step into the PPV ring next year.

“I think there are a number of mega-fights that would capture the public’s imagination to the tune of a million buys or more in 2015, and we’re hopeful that they’ll come to fruition,” Taffet said.

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.