SET Focuses on Upcoming Heavyweight PPV Events

Showtime Event Television is hoping that a series of June heavyweight fights telecast on its sister pay TV network will spawn at least two pay-per-view boxing events later this year.

Showtime will telecast an "unprecedented" four straight weeks of heavyweight-boxing events featuring some of the top names in the division.

The first fight, June 3, features No. 1 heavyweight contender David Tua vs. Obed Sullivan. That will be followed by a June 10 International Boxing Federation heavyweight-championship fight between Evander Holyfield and John Ruiz, a June 16 bout between contender Andrew Golota and Orlin Norris and a June 23 Mike Tyson-Lou Savarese bout.

"We have an opportunity for an unprecedented month of heavyweight boxing," Showtime sports and event-marketing senior vice president and executive producer Jay Larkin said. "Our fight lineup allows for many opportunities above and beyond ratings. [The fights] provide a platform for Showtime to promote its other sports and entertainment properties."

Along with a potential boost in ratings for the network, the fights also provide SET with an opportunity to showcase the boxers and to possibly create at least one significant PPV heavyweight event within the upcoming months.

While the opponents for each of the four heavyweight head-liners aren't strong enough to justify PPV events, Larkin said, the June fight cards could produce several future PPV shows, although he would not speculate on which matchups the company is considering.

SET has only distributed one PPV-boxing event thus far this year-a March Felix Trinidad-David Reid bout.

If all four fighters emerge victorious, a number of appealing PPV events could be created.

A Tyson-Holyfield III fight is not out of the question, especially since their first two bouts were the most lucrative PPV events ever and the two would battle for a share of the heavyweight title. A Tyson-Golota match or even a Holyfield-Tua fight could also draw interest among PPV viewers.

Either of those fights would certainly boost the PPV-event category, which has struggled thus far to generate significant revenue from the boxing genre. Many operators were disappointed in the performance of April's Lennox Lewis-Michael Grant heavyweight-title fight, which only generated around 375,000 buys.

"Ultimately, we do everything with an eye toward PPV. We're interested in growing the business, and we firmly believe that the reason why the industry has struggled in 2000 is due to the lack of strong events," Larkin said.

"Tyson and Holyfield still remain top PPV draws, so a Holyfield-Tyson III would outperform a Lewis fight against virtually everyone except maybe Tyson," he added.

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.