Multi-media company Triller is throwing its hat back into the pay-per-view event ring Saturday, working with PPV event purveyor In Demand to distribute via traditional linear TV a boxing and music event headlined by YouTube personality Jake Paul’s boxing match against former mixed martial arts fighter Ben Askren. The event, which retails at a suggested price of $49.95, also features musical performances from such artists as Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, Doja Cat, Snoop Dog and Ice Cube.
The event follows Triller’s successful Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. PPV fight/entertainment event this past November, which drew a reported 1.6 million PPV buys. Triller also recently announced a June 5 PPV fight card which will feature the return of former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield to the ring against Kevin McBride, as well as a lightweight title fight between champion Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr.
I recently spoke to In Demand senior VP, programming and marketing Mark Boccardi about Triller’s influence within the PPV event category and how the company’s new boxing/entertainment strategy will affect traditional PPV boxing events going forward. Here’s an edited excerpt from our conversation.
Picture This: What is your take on Triller’s approach to pay-per-view boxing events?
Mark Boccardi: Boxing promoters have been forced to look at events differently, and that's a good thing. There is a tried and true way of doing things that still works, but I think when you look at the mix of sports and entertainment that Triller is doing, they are featuring legitimate pro boxers along with retired athletes and social media stars, as well as major music acts including Snoop Dog. That’s not to say that the traditional boxing way doesn't work, but when you have some opportunistic entrepreneurs who mix boxing and entertainment, it’s a combination that really does work. So when we look at this weekend, it’s a great way for us to leverage our decades of pay-per-view expertise and experience with what Triller brings to the table and grow an even broader fan base for the sport.
PT: You mention broadening the fan base -- are the viewers purchasing Triller events a new generation of PPV boxing consumers?
MB: Absolutely. We saw that with the Tyson event back in November. What we had was a huge pay-per-view number -- it was the eighth best pay-per-view event of all time. It was a remarkable number that wasn’t just made up of your traditional boxing fan base, nor was it just a young, new fan base who wanted to watch the Jake Paul fight; it was a combination of the two. It was a perfect storm of attractiveness that turned it into a mega event. So with respect to this weekend and what Triller is doing, they are absolutely tapping into a new fan base, but I wouldn't say that they're not picking up the older fan base. I definitely think that there's widespread appeal for it, but bringing in the new audience is really such a key point here.
PT: Can this event generate a million PPV buys without the added appeal of a Mike Tyson or another marquee boxer?
MB: We’ll see -- there are a number of boxing matches, and they have some big name musical acts from Justin Bieber to Snoop Dog to Doja Cat. I think that helps draw in a different fan base that would otherwise not be interested in a boxing event. We have everything aligning on our end in terms of distributor marketing support, Triller marketing support and social media support. The whole marketing machine is cranking.
PT: Do events like this diminish the value and appeal of traditional PPV boxing events that don’t feature musical entertainment or social media celebrities?
MB: No, not at all. I really do believe that both scenarios can work. We’ve been busy over the last few months planning multiple pay-per-view events this year with several major fighters including Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Errol Spence and Gervonta Davis. These are the names that represent the future of boxing. I think we’re going to have a really busy summer and fall for boxing, and we really feel good about the future of PPV boxing. There’s a lot of pent up demand because there hasn’t been a lot of those big events lately.
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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.