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Pulling No PPV Punches

Cable operators are
hoping new fighters will
keep the boxing category
from suffering a major payper-
view revenue knockout
next year, after a strong finish
to 2010.

While industry executives
still hope that pay-perview
boxing champions
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd
Mayweather finally meet in
2011 in what could be a record-
breaking bout, potential
fights featuring both
fighters as well as crop of
up-and-coming pugilists
should fuel the category.

The PPV boxing category
— driven mostly by HBO Sports-distributed fights — will
end the year generating nearly 4 million buys and more
than $200 million in PPV revenue. That surpassed 3.1 million
buys and $167 million in revenue generated last year,
according to HBO.

It also comes as a relief to operators, who worried
whether the category could continue its strong yearly
pace without a Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-fight.
That bout was put on hold after the combatants could
not agree on pre-fight drug testing.

“Overall, it turned out to be a pretty good year — we
had some questions going into the year, in terms of whom
would be is fighting whom, so I think we’re pleased with
the results,” said Mark Boccardi, vice president, programming
and product development for PPV content aggregator
In Demand.

Still, the lion’s share of the category’s 2010 revenue take
was generated by fights featuring either Mayweather or
Pacquiao — the May 1 Mayweather-Shane Mosely, bout,
the Nov. 13 Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight and the
March 13 Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey matchup, which combined
to garner 3.1 million buys and more than $150 million
in revenue.

Boccardi said Mayweather and Pacquiao would most
likely again pace the category in 2011, although no fights
have been scheduled thus far.
“Heading into 2011, we have some of the same questions
that we did at this point last year, but we were very pleased
with where we ended up this year, so I have confidence
that we’ll be in a similar position next year,” he said.
Boccardi pointed to the fact that Pacquiao recently announced
his intentions to fight for another three years,
which should net cable operators several major PPV events
in the near future. Mayweather’s immediate future is less
clear: the undefeated fighter is dealing with legal issues
and has not fought since May.

“There’s certainly some question about Mayweather and
what he has going on in his personal life, so we’re waiting
to see how that shakes out,” Boccardi said.

Other up-and-coming fighters may step in the PPV ring
in 2011, including current middleweight champion Sergio
Martinez, junior-middleweight champion Miguel
Cotto, welterweight champion Andre Berto and juniorwelterweight
champs Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander
and Amir Khan.

Mark Taffet, senior vice president of sports operations
for HBO said the company is confident that it will be able
to match or surpass 2010’s performance during the upcoming

“We are very excited about boxing’s prospects for 2011,”
he said. “We expect continued strong performance from
the PPV megafights, and believe the momentum generated
by a great string of fights in the fourth quarter on HBO
will continue into the new year.”

R. Thomas Umstead
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.