HBO parent company Time Warner announced last week that CNN will air the Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz themed series of their award winning pre-fight documentary series 24/7.
Similarly after announcing that Manny Pacquiao’s trilogy fight against Juan Manuel Marquez would air on HBO, Top Rank boss Bob Arum said the same, in addition to talk show appearances for himself and his charge and support from TBS and TNT in some form.
Mayweather’s last fight against Shane Mosley generated 1.4 million pay per view buys on HBO, with little other mainstream advertising than the standard 24/7 series.
Against what most consider to be a more interesting opponent in Victor Ortiz, and with the backing of both HBO and Time Warner, Mayweather could be on course to achieve even bigger pay per view numbers.
Throw fast rising WBC light middleweight champion Saul Alvarez into the mix, who will share the HBO bill via a split event feed, and Erik Morales’ bid for a fourth title in a fourth weight class against Argentine puncher Lucas Matthysse, and the numbers will be even bigger.
And then there is the as yet unprecedented support from Time Warner, sure to push the pay per views yet higher. But how much higher?
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The catalyst for Time Warner’s involvement in proceedings was Top Rank boss Bob Arum who took his star attraction Manny Pacquiao to rivals Showtime for his last pay per view, in part because Showtime were offering the backing of parent company CBS.
Pacquiao’s fight with Mosley achieved somewhere around 1.3 million pay per view sales, a good portion of which likely came from the fact that the fight was advertised on CBS.
Mosley’s last fight prior to this against Sergio Mora sold less than 100,000 pay per views. Pacquiao’s March 2010 bout with drawing non entity Joshua Clottey sold around 700,00 pay per views.
Obviously there were other factors involved in all cases but at using this admittedly very rough example network television could add somewhere in the region of several hundred thousand pay per view buys to a given event.
Floyd Mayweather likely won’t benefit from the extra exposure quite as much as Pacquiao did with Showtime due to the fact that he is more well known in the United States already.
With a strong undercard however, Mayweather looks likely to eclipse the numbers he achieved against Shane Mosley.
Manny Pacquiao meanwhile is somewhat harder to predict, partly because of the fact that his undercard has yet to be finalized.
Adding to this is the fact that while anticipation of long term fans to see Marquez and Pacquiao fight as third time is palpable, the interest of casual fans is harder to gauge, particularly as Marquez lost to Floyd Mayweather in 2009.
If a strong undercard is put together however, perhaps with Top Rank following Golden Boy’s example and making fast rising Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr part of the event, there isn’t any reason why Pacquiao shouldn’t sell more than he did against Mosley in December.
Whether Pacquiao vs. Marquez or Mayweather vs. Ortiz eventually wins the pay per view battle will remain to be seen, although fans of either should probably hope that their numbers are reasonably close, lest any sizable disparity create yet another impediment to the pair fighting in the future.
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