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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

HBO banks on Pacquiao, Hatton to draw younger viewers to boxing

MANILA, Philippines – Premium television programming giant HBO is banking on the huge popularity and appeal of both Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton to attract younger viewers to the sport as it unveils its Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 preview series.

Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 is a four-part series that will extensively chronicle the respective training of Filipino pound for pound king Pacquiao and British bomber Hatton for their May 2 pay-per-view fight in Las Vegas.

According to HBO senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet, HBO looks at Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 as a tool to draw 18- to 49-year-old males to a sport whose median viewing age skews over 35.

Towards this end, HBO has launched a multiplatform marketing and promotional campaign highlighted by a Web-based sweepstakes offering a behind-the-scenes experience right at the MGM Grand.

“The goal of 24/7 is not only to provide an all access look at the sport's biggest events, but also to reach out to the next generation of boxing fans and to engage them with a compelling program which speaks their language," Taffet said in an article posted at

Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 is the fifth installment of the acclaimed HBO sports series, which debuted in 2006 in the leadup to the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather, Jr. megafight. The first four installments have averaged 2.5 million viewers, according to HBO.

But given the two fighters’ tremendous draw among young fans, HBO is putting up promos that the target market can relate to, including the internet-based sweepstakes.

Up for grabs in the sweepstakes is a free trip to Las Vegas for the three days leading up to the fight. The sweepstakes runs from March 30 through April 22 on

The winner and a guest will enjoy access to fight activities such as the weigh in and the pre-fight party, and attend the live event. A daily video journal will be posted on Facebook and HBO's YouTube site, according to Taffet. The winner also can have his or her photo on

Leaving no stone unturned for the Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 sweepstakes promo, HBO will do media buys on sports outlets including, and and also place postcards in college campuses, sports bars, bowling alleys, and boxing and sports gyms in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Miami.

Complementing these is a "significant" presence on Facebook, HBO's YouTube page and as well as ads on, CBS SportsLine, Fox,, and More ads will run on ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, Versus, Fox Sports Net, YES Network and Spike TV, and in mixed-martial-arts-related programming and magazines and sports radio stations in the top 11 markets.

Pacquiao, the only boxer in the running for a spot in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world for 2009, and Hatton, the International Boxing Organization junior welterweight champion, mix it up in a showdown many foresee as a potential fight of the year owing to the two’s aggressive, explosive styles. –GMANews.TV


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