On Sept. 14, the most anticipated fight of the year will take place when Floyd Mayweather faces Saul Alvarez on a pay-per-view card being distributed by Showtime. It’s expected to get in the neighborhood of two million buys and perhaps even challenge the all-time mark of 2.5 million purchases set in 2007, when Mayweather defeated Oscar De La Hoya. But in the irony of ironies, one of the entities that would benefit from such a windfall, Time Warner Cable, may not be doing much to help promote this event.
I’m a Time Warner customer, but as you’ve probably heard, the cable distributor and CBS are in a dispute that has left millions without “the Eye” and Showtime. When I turn to my various Showtimes, this is what I see.
Mayweather-Alvarez is now one month away, which means that the final and most important push to promote this event will begin shortly. And nowadays, an integral part of getting the word out to the masses is the network’s use of their various platforms to air programming (from past fights to documentaries/infomercials like “24/7” and “All Access”) that centers on the participating fighters. Showtime ran these when it distributed Mayweather’s last bout against Robert Guerrero — the first of a much ballyhooed six-fight deal that saw him go from HBO to Showtime — while “Mayweather,” a one-hour feature on the flamboyant performer, ran in prime-time on CBS.
The way the pay-per-view business works is that out of whatever revenue is generated (and for this event, the HD version of the broadcast will cost $75), about half of the proceeds go to the cable and satellite operators. So they absolutely have a vested interest in seeing these events succeed financially.
The Mayweather-Guerrero fight did well below expectations and likely resulted in a financial hit for the network, and there’s a train of thought that those sluggish results back in May were the impetus for this upcoming fight. Mayweather-Alvarez will do well regardless, but getting into the stratosphere that Showtime, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather envision means squeezing out every single buy they can. It’s vital to get the word out (the key for real pay-per-view success is attracting the general public that rarely watches the sport) — but as of right now, there are millions who simply will not hear about this promotion.
It says here that the game of corporate chicken will play out into September, when football season gets rolling (CBS airs the NFL and the SEC) and programs like “The Big Bang Theory” start up again. But by that time, a lot of disgruntled Time Warner Cable subscribers will have missed out on programming surrounding Mayweather-Alvarez. A Showtime spokesperson said via email that an announcement regarding the schedule for “All Access” and other events related to the fight would be forthcoming. For now, the two sides aren’t budging and apparently aren’t playing nice.
If Mayweather-Alvarez is anywhere near the battle of Time Warner Cable and CBS/Showtime, we just might have a great fight on our hands.