Sparring With New Media

HBO targets younger viewers through Web advertising

The mixed martial arts events have been gaining ground over the years. How much of that has that been at the expense of boxing?

I don’t think it’s apples-to-apples. I think that the two sports co-exist alongside each other. Mixed martial arts was doing extremely well a year and a half ago when De La Hoya fought Maywether and it did 2.5 million buys, which was the largest pay-per-view fight in history.

So it doesn’t feel like anyone said, ‘I’m not buying this boxing event because I’m buying this mixed martial arts event.’ I think the two sports can exist alongside each other and I think in some ways, maybe the popularity with mixed martial arts with young people can help bring more of them into to boxing arena because at the end of the day you’re still looking for an exciting fight between two combatants.

HBO isn’t promoting this fight via syndicated television stations and regional sports networks, but rather by Website ad banners. Can you tell me a bit about the rationale there?

Internet marketing has certainly increased in popularity, especially for younger people. We haven’t given up on traditional marketing. We’re still doing newspaper ads, we’re still doing radio. But I think having the ability to do pieces over the Internet where you can do more than just a 30 or 60 second spot or a half-page ad is beneficial. You can do various pieces – the knockouts of each fighter and one-on-one interviews with each fighter and that can all be part of your marketing and editorial campaign.

One of the things we’re trying to do is grow the next generation of boxers. We’re looking to introduce that generation of fighters to a younger audience and we’re doing that a lot through the Internet. We have something called Ring Life, which is a feature piece on young fighters that runs exclusively through And that’s our way of addressing the fact that young people are on the Internet and that’s where we have to find them.

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