By Rick Reeno
BoxingScene.com spoke with Top Rank's CEO, Bob Arum, to get a better idea on why his company selected HBO as the network to distribute the pay-per-view for the upcoming trilogy bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, which takes place on November 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
For the last few years, Pacquaio's pay-per-view showcases were distributed exclusively by HBO Pay-Per-View. Earlier this year, Showtime was able to snatch away Pacquiao's May showdown with Shane Mosley. Showtime had a serious advantage by involving their parent company, CBS. With the involvement of CBS, Arum's company had the ability to promote the pay-per-view to 115 million homes compared to HBO's 28 million homes. CBS aired episodes of the pre-fight reality series "Pacquiao/Mosley: Fight Camp 360."
Top Rank's collaboration with Showtime was a big success, generating between 1.3 to 1.4 million pay-per-view purchases. The buyrate figure opened up a lot of eyes, because it showcased Showtime's ability to fuel a successful pay-per-view. HBO, feeling an obvious threat from their competitor, did everything possible to secure Pacquiao's next fight.
The biggest factor in selecting HBO was the involvement of their parent company, Time Warner, who brought their stable of channels to the bargaining table. And Arum was very impressed with the new leadership structure in HBO, which came together after [HBO Sports President] Ross Greenburg's departure from the company.
"The deals proposed by HBO and Showtime were unbelievable. And we felt, in this case, HBO, under their new leadership, were really behind this 100%. We were very, very impressed with the leadership, [HBO co-presidents] Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo," Arum told BoxingScene.com.
"I think as far as HBO is concerned, they now have the entire Time Warner company working on this fight and giving us their assets. We wanted to encourage that. I thought that it's going to be great for boxing by getting all of the Time Warner entities behind boxing, like TNT and TBS. I think we did a great thing for boxing by going to CBS and Showtime. And now I think we're doing another great thing for boxing by doing this fight with a new reorganized HBO and Time Warner."
The involvement of TNN and TBS is only the icing on the cake. CNN is going to be heavily involved in the promotion of Pacquiao-Marquez. Arum and Pacquiao will appear on CNN’s popular program - "Piers Morgan Tonight" - and the network plans to replay episodes of HBO's reality series Pacquiao-Marquez 24/7.
"We have commitments from CNN, with Piers Moragan, we'll be on. Delays of 24/7 will be shown on CNN, which is something that is absolutely great. There will be a lot of stuff shown on TBS and TNT. [Basketball legends] Charles Barkely and Reggie Miller will be enlisted in the promotion for that fight. There will be a lot of great, great things," Arum said.