HBO.com Goes Inside Fight Week for Pacquiao-Margarito
This weekend’s super-welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito is expected to draw more than 60,000 fans to Cowboys Stadium plus millions more via HBO Pay-Per-View, and HBO.com will attempt to capitalize on the interest by offering live video of every prefight event throughout the week on newly launched InsideFightWeek.com.
HBO.com has offered live video feeds of prefight press conferences and weigh-ins in the past. However, this week will mark the first time HBO.com will deliver in-house–produced coverage of these events.
“In the past, the promoters have done a great job providing [press-conference and weigh-in] feeds to us and to other outlets,” says Chris Vivion, senior producer, HBO.com. “But this is the first time where we’ve taken that feed and extended into a much larger live package. This will be an HB0.com-produced show, bookending the promoter’s feed.”
Live Video and Classic Fights
HBO.com will provide live video of fighter workouts, fighter interviews, the final press conference, and the official weigh-in, as well as live analysis and predictions from HBO boxing personalities like Bert Sugar, Kieran Mulvaney, Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Emanuel Steward. In addition, InsideFightWeek.com will post classic fights — Pacquiao vs. Cotto 2009 and Cotto vs. Margarito 2008 — on Nov. 8 and the finale of HBO’s 24/7 Pacquiao/Margarito four-part reality series early on Nov. 13.
Livestream.com has been tapped to provide the streaming technology and equipment, and Space Station Media will handle the production side. In addition, Livestream will stream the live and pre-packaged video content on a branded Inside Fight Week channel on Livestream.com.
Truck in a Backpack
The production team will deploy a Livestream Livepack to produce and stream much of the video content throughout the week. Described as a “satellite truck in a backpack,” the Livepack is an all-in-one streaming system that allows a single user to plug in a DV camera via FireWire and stream live video. Six built-in 3G modems carry the video signal, and the battery lasts up to three hours. The Livepack uses H.264 encoding and streams up to 1 Mbps to the Livestream.com platform.
The system will be used for several events this week, starting with live fighter workouts and interviews on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. ET.
“All we will have on Tuesday is the cameraman wearing the Livepack, a host, a producer, and an audio person — even though we could technically just plug audio right into the Livepack,” says Vivion. “So, wherever we need to go, we can just run over [to that position] right away.”
TriCaster Captures Prefight Hype
Space Station Media and Livestream will use a NewTek TriCaster to stream HBO.com’s coverage of the final press conference on Wednesday and the weigh-in at Cowboys Stadium on Friday.
“The flexibility of [the TriCaster] is huge,” says Vivion. “Having a essentially a mobile-production truck is fantastic.”
The Webcast will feature the promoter’s feed of the actual events as well as bookend programming that includes an analysis segment featuring Sugar and Mulvaney, reporter predictions, interviews with special guests and reporters, and a roundtable with Lampley, Kellerman, and Steward.
“It won’t have the HBO Sports look and graphics,” says Vivion. “We’re pretty down and dirty since it’s our first time out with Livestream. We’ll have a little bit of lower-thirds [graphics], but it won’t necessarily be a HBO Sports-branded package, and it certainly won’t have the panache of a true HBO Sports Production. That said, we’re going to provide a lot more [in-depth live coverage] than in the past.”
Pacquiao vs. Margarito will enter the ring live on HBO Pay-Per-View on Saturday Nov. 13 at 9 p.m. ET.