Pacquiao vs Margarito bannerSubscription-based cable companies have been among the most reluctant to “go digital,” both with their marketing campaigns and with their content. Keeping expensive TV shows and pay-per-view (PPV) events behind paywalls makes sense, but neglecting to promote that content via digital channels (running a few banner ads doesn’t count) is inexcusable.

Analysis of HBO Sports’ digital campaign to market the upcoming boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, however, shows the companies are becoming wiser.

"In the PPV world, it's the satellite, telco or cable company that talks to the fan, but we're now looking for ways to talk directly to fans," Tammy Ross, VP and GM of HBO Sports, tells Multichannel News. So far, HBO Sports’ efforts to be more direct have generated over 100 million digital impressions.

Make offline ads work harder by supplementing them online 

TV ads can be among the most expensive components in a media mix, but advertisers covet the reach they can deliver. Piggyback on that reach by re-targeting the TV audience.

To reach sports fans, HBO ran TV spots for the fight during NFL games broadcast by CBS and Fox. It followed up with banner ads on the networks’ NFL-based websites. To reach “mainstream” viewers, HBO ran ads during shows on CNBC and Fox Business Network, and followed up with and, respectively.

Spread content with social media 

Sometimes marketers want to drive conversation about their products and services, not just be part of it. Content can do just that by giving the target audience something they can consume, comment on,  then forward to their friends.

For HBO, that includes video clips of fighter interviews and press conferences on Facebook, with notes about new posts, polls and other content updated on Twitter.

HBO Boxing Facebook page

Both Twitter and Facebook also point fans to the InsideFightWeek blog, a first for HBO, that will offer live streams of fan reactions, celebrity interviews and other content on the day of the fight. (The actual battle will be behind a paywall.)

Tameka Kee

Published 8 November, 2010 by Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee has been covering digital media with a focus on online advertising, social media and gaming since 2007. Find her at or follow her on Twitter

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Comments (2)

Lawrence Ladomery

Lawrence Ladomery, Founder at automatico

Can you write up a follow article post-event to comment on how successful or not their efforts have been? Also, what happens to campaign-specific social media stuff once campaigns are done with? Sure, they can just float around in cyberspace but I'm wondering if anyone is being more clever than that.

over 7 years ago

Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee, Writer/Analyst at Econsultancy

Hi Lawrence: I'll definitely try to get some stats from HBO on how many subscribers they get for the PPV event vs. the last fight they promoted. The biggest question will be whether the digital efforts they put forth with this campaign actually helped increase subscriber numbers. I am not sure if they'll be willing/able to answer that, though.

over 7 years ago

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