Home >Industry >Indians witness ‘fight of the century’ for free

It had been touted as “the fight of the century". The showdown between American boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr (who went on to win the bout) and the Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao was one of the most keenly awaited matches in boxing history, not to mention one of the richest—with close to $400 million riding on the bout. And Indian boxing fans managed to get a taste of this on Sunday, thanks to a last-minute deal which Multi Screen Media (MSM)’s sports channel, Sony Six, clinched with US-based Fight Sports Network—which had the broadcast rights to the match in certain regions.

Fight Sports Network is part of CSI Sports, which syndicates and distributes fight sports programming to sports networks internationally. According to the company website, it reaches over 50 channels in over 100 countries.

Prasana Krishnan, executive vice-president and business head, Sony Six, said, “We have had a working relationship with Fight Sports Network in the past, since we showcase this genre of sports on our channel as well. We’ve been trying to build a differentiated offering with Sony Six, and boxing is a natural fit. We felt this match would only add to our product offering." The channel announced the telecast through a tweet on Saturday, saying fans could watch the keenly awaited boxing bout between the two champions.

Krishnan said that since the deal was last-minute, the channel could not monetize it too well. Yet, it managed to rope in three to four advertisers, including online retailers Amazon and Snapdeal as well as telecom firm Idea Cellular. It also got on board Vini Cosmetics for its deodorant brand Fogg. Amazon and Snapdeal declined to comment on how much they paid.

A total of three-four minutes of ad inventory was available in the first 10 rounds of the near-40-minute match. The last two rounds had no ad breaks.

Krishnan explained that, across the world, boxing isn’t very advertising-driven. Most such properties and matches are sold on a pay-per-view basis. While boxing fans in India got to watch the bout free, those in the UK paid close to £19.95. In the US, viewers had to pay around $100 to watch the fight on pay-per-view. “We also wanted to do this more as a viewer experience, even though we weren’t going to be able to really monetize it," he said, but declined to comment on the size of the deal with Fight Sports Network.

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