By Lem Satterfield
The networks are in a frenzy to secure the pay-per-view rights to Manny Pacquiao's next fight. The Filipino WBO welterweight champion will return on November 12 in a long-awaited trilogy match with Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez.
Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, is in the process of receiving very lucrative proposals from both Time Warner/HBO and CBS/Showtime. Pacquiao's last pay-per-view performance, a twelve round unanimous decision over Shane Mosley in May, generated his highest pay-per-view buyrate figures to date. Pacquiao-Mosley is estimated to have received between 1.3 to 1.4 million pay-per-view purchases.
Additionally, Pacquiao's last pay-per-view was handled by HBO's rival, Showtime, who used their parent company CBS to secure a deal with Top Rank. CBS aired promotional spots for the event, and episodes of the Pacquiao/Mosley Fight Camp 360 reality series.
To prevent another Showtime coup, HBO is bringing out the heavy guns by involving their parent company Time Warner.
"We are in the process of getting our proposals from HBO's Time Warner and CBS/Showtime, and I must say, that there is a frenzy. It's unbelievable. They're offering for the promotion an incredible amount of support. Like I've never seen before. We estimate that CBS, that their support was worth about $10 million on the open market for the last fight [Pacquiao-Mosley.] And both HBO and CBS/Showtime are way above that now," Arum told BoxingScene.com.
This time around, Arum believes the proposals will be worth around $15 million - based on early estimations.
"[Media expert] Mary Kleka is pricing it out right now, but based on looking at it, it looks to me to be close to $15 million, but I won't have an actual number until the end of the day as to what the real value is. These things have a value based on what they can be bought in the market place for," Arum said.
"I know what Showtime's numbers were last time, and they were over $10 million after Mary priced it out. We're dealing with CBS/Showtime together. Last time, we did it in the spring, and this time, we're in the fall, which is right in the heart of football. And CBS has all of the big college football games on Saturdays, and CBS has a channel of college sports that runs the smaller games throughout the day, and they have Sunday football, so those spots are extraordinarily expensive."
Top Rank will receive the proposal from Time Warner/HBO shortly, and Arum expects to have the proposal from CBS/Showtime by next week.
"We will have the HBO/Time Warner proposal first, and go to CBS/Showtime to get their proposal, which we will have next week," Arum said. "This will be the most incredible marketing plan and publicity plan ever for an event in history. Any event. The estimate of the $15 million that is being analyzed by media experts as we speak. God knows what number this can be. We're really excited on this one."
The 79-year-old promoter admits to being blown away by the high paced pursuit by both networks to secure the next Pacquiao pay-per-view.
"It's unprecedented. CBS/Showtime has not been finalized yet, but with HBO/Time Warner coming in, I tell you that they're making everything that came before look very small," Arum said.
"We're in the process now of making a decision within the next week. HBO blew us over last night with its proposal. We're not dealing with the sports department. We're dealing directly with the chief executives. I never believed that they would come up with anything like this."