Sparring Holds Up PPV Megafight Deal

The parties involved in negotiations for the proposed May 2 Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view boxing match have recently thrown more jabs and counter punches at each other, which could help KO the fight altogether if a deal isn’t reached soon.

The latest tit for tat revolved around Showtime and HBO’s negotiations to co-distribute the fight. Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum was quoted by on Feb 5 as saying a deal had been reached between Showtime (which has two fights left on a six-fight deal with Mayweather) and HBO (which televises all of Pacquiao’s fights) on such points as announcers and which network would get rights to the fight replay.

The two premium powers have worked together in the past, having co-distributed the 2002 Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight. But Showtime Sports executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza refuted Arum’s claim of a compromise, saying the two premium programmers were still negotiating.

“There are still a few significant issues on the networks’ side and the fighters’ side,” Espinoza said. “While we’re optimistic, it’s still premature to say the network deal is done.”

HBO officials would not comment on negotiations between the two parties. The network earlier in the week said in a statement that it was not impeding negotiations for the fight after published reports intimated that HBO has less incentive to make the fight than Showtime.

Despite the gamesmanship between the two networks and the boxers’ camps, the Mayweather- Pacquiao fight — which could set all-time PPV buy and revenue records — has yet to be signed. Industry observers said the later the negotiations go, the less likely it is the fight will happen, given the time needed for promotion and for the boxers to train.

HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said it would benefit all parties to wrap up the talks.

“For us, the sooner the better to get this done and move on because we have a lot of other fights on the runway that we want to start moving along,” he said during an HBO press conference last Wednesday for the network’s April 25 Wladimir Klitschko-Bryant Jennings heavyweight championship fight telecast from Madison Square Garden.

“This is an important step, and we hope it gets resolved as soon as possible,” Hershman added.

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.