TVKO Ponies Up for Holyfield-Lewis

Hoping to strike pay-per-view gold again, TVKO hasdeveloped an extensive marketing and promotional campaign for its Nov. 13 EvanderHolyfield-Lennox Lewis pay-per-view heavyweight-unification rematch event.

The first fight between the two champions in Marchgenerated more than 1.2 million buys and more than $61 million in PPV revenue. But theevent was also mired in controversy, with Holyfield gaining a draw in a fight mostobservers believe Lewis won.

The decision spurred several local and federalinvestigations involving the possibility of fight fixing and judge tampering.

Rather than emphasizing the first event and potentiallyconjuring up bad memories, TVKO's marketing plan instead focuses on the two fighters'desire to hold the unified heavyweight crown.

"Everyone wants to see the resolution of theheavyweight championship of the world," TVKO senior vice president Mark Taffet said."As a result, the focus is on Holyfield and Lewis and their quest to determine who isthe champion. Our marketing plan is as extensive a promotion as Holyfield-Lewis I."

The company was able to attract several major sponsors forthe event, which will retail at a suggested price of $49.95.

Internet company Excite@Home Corp. is on board as officialonline sponsor for the event, TVKO vice president and general manager Dan York said.Excite will launch a Web site specific to the fight, which will provide up-to-dateinformation, fight-camp reports and live Webcasts of the weigh-in ceremonies and prefightand postfight press conferences.

Consumer-electronics retailer Best Buy will run replays ofthe first Holyfield-Lewis fight on its high-definition television displays within its 326stores, York said. The programming will be tagged with local information about orderingthe rematch.

Anheuser-Busch Inc.'s Budweiser beer will provide"very extensive" national cable- and broadcast-TV fight advertising, includingspots during National Football League games and broader network programs.

On the national media side, USA Today and TheNew York Times' national edition will run large ads promoting the fight during theweek of the event, York said. TVKO will run print and radio ads in 60 major markets, aswell as ads in national Spanish-language media.

National radio syndicator Westwood One Inc. will broadcastfight spots across a number of its highly rated programs beginning next week, includingits NFL and college-football games and The Howard Stern Show, York said.

TVKO will tie in with several of its sister mediaproperties to promote the event, as well. Home Box Office will develop a 30-minute previewevent that will run one week before the fight. In addition, it will promote the eventduring its Nov. 6 live heavyweight-boxing card.

HBO Entertainment News will run features on the fightleading up to the event.

And Sports Illustrated is expected to run a featurestory on Lewis prior to the event, York said.

TVKO will also produce a 30-minute preview show foroperators to run on barker and local channels, York said. In addition, it will provideoperators with a two-day countdown show, which systems can run on barker channels and useas a marketing tactic against the rate card, he added.

The company is also distributing more than 2 million mailpieces to operators for the event.

With the financial success of the first fight, coupled withan already record-breaking revenue year for PPV boxing, Taffet believes this bout has thepotential to match or surpass the performance of the first event.

"We expect this fight to be one of thehighest-grossing PPV events of all time and to further contribute to the record-breakingperformance of boxing for both the category and for TVKO," he said.