MBPT Spotlight: Two Sponsors Answer Bell as truTV Laces Up Friday Night Fights

TruTV will launch its first professional boxing telecast on Friday at 10 p.m. when it premieres the MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout bouts.

In addition to the title sponsor, Turner Sports has also sold a secondary sponsorship to Sony PlayStation. There are still limited sponsorship opportunities available for marketers who want to jump into the ring.

Unlike time buy deals done by Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions with NBC, CBS, ESPN/ABC and Spike TV to televise boxing matches, advertising on truTV’s Friday night boxing telecasts is being 100% sold by Turner Sports.

“We control all the advertising — TV commercial time, digital inventory and sponsorships,” says Will Funk, senior VP of sponsorship integration and business development for Turner Sports Ad Sales. “It’s one-stop shopping for marketers and we deal with all the clients directly.”

The truTV deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank includes eight boxing telecasts in 2015 — including cards on May 1, May 8 and May 15 and a fourth fight in either May or June, along with four more Friday night fight cards this fall. Top Rank also provides boxing cards for HBO, which like Turner and truTV, is part of Time Warner, so there is going to be lots of cross promotion, with the truTV Friday night fights getting plugs during HBO’s fight telecasts and vice versa.

That’s what made the sponsorship particularly appealing to MetroPCS, which has previously bought some commercial time on Turner Sports telecasts, but never before a major sponsorship.

Funk says advertiser interest has not been good, “it’s been great.” He adds that while there are still sponsorship packages available, there are lots of discussions ongoing and he says the heavy promotion for the fight telecasts by HBO and other Turner Sports platforms can help lure sports viewers.

“We began getting inquiries as soon as the deal was announced from many of the Turner Sports advertisers, even before we starting calling on them,” Funk says. “We signed up MetroPCS very quickly and then Sony PlayStation came on board.”

Funk says categories where most of the traditional 30-second spots in the telecasts have been sold include quick service restaurants, movies, beer and liquor, auto and energy drinks.

In addition to the title sponsorship, MetroPCS has signage on the mat in the center of the ring along with other ring signage, TV commercial time, digital advertising and a presence in the Bleacher Report Boxing Team Stream app. Bleacher Report is also part of the Turner family.

Sony PlayStation also has some signage on the ring mat, as well as TV commercial inventory, presence in the Boxing Team Stream and will also have customized content vignettes that air between rounds.

Sponsors also get to entertain their clients in hospitality suites inside the venues during the lives bouts in each city.

Turner is promoting the truTV boxing telecasts during its NBA playoff games with both live mentions by the announcing teams and graphics across the lower third of the screen.

Funk says MetroPCS and Sony PlayStation control about two-thirds of the ring signage, but about one-third is still available, along with camera-visible sites around the venues. He says while Turner is trying to sell sponsorship packages that include various types of ad opportunities, scatter TV commercials can also be bought for any of the fights cards. In addition to the commercial pods between rounds, there are also avails during the pre-fight and post-fight portions of the telecasts.

“We have a relationship with all of the major sports advertisers because of their participation on other Turner Sports properties, and we have been having ongoing discussions with all of them,” Funk says.

The first fight card this Friday will be televised live from The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and will feature a 12-round main event for the vacant WBO Lightweight World Championship between Takahiro Ao (27-3-1, 16 K0s) from Japan vs. Ray Beltran (29-7-1, 17 K0s) from Mexico. The undercard will feature two undefeated fighters for the NABF Welterweight Championship. Closed captioning in Spanish will be available.

The truTV telecast will feature the first-ever domestic TV use of “Spidercam” technology for a live boxing telecast. Spidercam is a suspended camera that can provide 360 degree angles of the bouts and can move left/right, forward/backward and up/down.

The May 8 telecast will be live from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J, with two other title fights.