Sparring With New Media

HBO targets younger viewers through Web advertising

0429_kerydavisKery Davis, senior vice president of programming at HBO Sports, is responsible for overseeing negotiations and program planning for the network’s major boxing series “World Championship Boxing” and “Boxing After Dark,” as well assisting with the HBO Pay-Per-View series. Named to Black Enterprise’s “50 Most powerful African Americans in Sports” in March 2005, he was part of the HBO management team that negotiated the television contract for the 2007 showdown between superstars Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, which raked in a reported 2.4 million buys.

BlackEnterprise.com sat down with Davis to discuss HBO’s sports marketing strategies, how the business is adjusting in light of this economy, as well as the May 2 pay-per-view event between Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Ricky “Hitman” Hatton. Here’s what he had to say:

BlackEnterprise.com: With the economy where it is, why should consumers shell out their hard-earned money for a Pay-Per-View event?

Kery Davis: I think boxing is an event-oriented sport. It’s not like baseball where there are 162 games a year or basketball where there are 82. The best fighters in the world only fight 2-3 times a year so each time when they fight it’s a special event. And this is two of the best fighters in the world, two of the most popular fighters in the world. It’ll have the kind of electric atmosphere that fans watching a boxing event want to see.

Is HBO reducing its number of pay-per-view events in light of the bad economy?

We have made a very conscious effort to do fewer pay-per-views and do bigger fights live on HBO. And what has happened – and I will confess that this is partly due to the economy – is that two years ago, a lot of the smaller pay-per-view fights, we simply couldn’t afford. If a fight was going to do 300,000 buys for example on pay-per-view and that might be a fight that we’d like for HBO, the equivalent price for us would be over $6 million, so it just wasn’t cost beneficial for us. But now that there are less pay-per-view fights that are expected to result in that range, that gives us an opportunity to afford bigger fights for live on HBO and we’ve [made] a conscious effort do that this year.

Is there a minimum threshold with regards to determining if the Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton fight is a success?

I think the promoters may have different targets. For me, I think at least 500,000 buys. Now whether or not the promoters will be happy with that, you’d have to ask them. But I would think that financially, that would be successful for everyone involved. And I think this will exceed that significantly.

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