by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao didn't know about the switch to Showtime from HBO Sports when news of the deal first broke.
In an interview with BoxingScene.com, The Inquirer and ABS-CBN at his congress office earlier this week, Pacquiao was surprised when asked for his reaction on the move to the larger CBS Network organization, which has an audience reach of 115 million homes.
It got to the point where Pacquiao's adviser, Michael Koncz, had to brief him on the switch and basically had to explain the advantages of moving to CBS which owns Showtime and would help enhance his image as a crossover star while also giving his wife Jinkee a chance to appear on CBS shows.
Pacquiao's immediate reaction after the briefing by Koncz was "that's good" noting that HBO Sports had a base of only 26 million.
In a joint official announcement in New York,
Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said the Showtime Networks Inc. and CBS have joined forces with Top Rank, Inc. to promote, produce and distribute the biggest boxing event of the year, the showdown between pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 7.
The agreement effectively brings together Pacquiao, the top athlete and personality in the sport, with SHOWTIME, the fastest growing premium television network in the U.S., and its parent company CBS Corporation whose programming and media assets span network and local television, pay and basic cable, radio, outdoor and online.
The announcement said the campaign will include the SHOWTIME Sports documentary series FIGHT CAMP 360° in preview of Pacquiao vs. Mosley which would replace HBO's 24/7 series. The top rated CBS Television Network will participate by broadcasting a primetime special of the show in April.
Pacquiao who appeared on the top-rated CBS show "60 Minutes" prior to the fight against Antonio Margarito which also featured US President Barack Obama proved to be a hit.
"The arrangement with CBS and Showtime regarding the promotion and distribution of the Pacquiao vs. Mosley championship event represents a new opportunity for the sport of boxing. It enables boxing to reach millions more people in the United States given the reach of CBS, the most watched television network in the country. This development will not only benefit Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley but all of the young men participating in the sport of boxing," said Arum.
Hershman said, "We look forward to combining Showtime Sports’ production and distribution expertise with Top Rank's promotional power and the amazing programming and marketing resources available to us across CBS to present the biggest boxing event of 2011."
On May 7, Pacquiao will fight under the SHOWTIME PPV banner for the first time, bringing it the highest profile and biggest revenue generating athlete in boxing whose fights over the past two years have garnered nearly 4 million pay per view buys and unrivaled box office receipts. The event marks the first SHOWTIME PPV event since 2005’s Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo II.
“Pay per view has been an opportunistic play for SHOWTIME Sports in recent years,” Hershman continued. “In Pacquiao, we have a global celebrity and unquestionably the most popular boxer of this era attempting to continue his dominance in the ring against Shane Mosley, one of the most talented and recognizable fighters of today not named Manny Pacquiao. With this marquee match up, Pacquiao’s proven track record in pay per view and CBS’s participation, this is the perfect opportunity for Showtime to be back in the pay per view business and in a big way.”
Showtime has a long history of success in pay per view dating back to the 1990s. In 1997, the SHOWTIME PPV presentation of Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield II garnered the most pay per view buys for any sport or entertainment event in history. The 1.99 million buys stood as the industry benchmark for nearly 10 years, until being surpassed in May 2007.