As Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield prepare for their heavyweight championship boxing rematch Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada, fans are turning to the Web to read all about it, enter contests, cast their votes, and chat to their heart's content.
But the pay-per-view event, expected to gross in the neighborhood of $100 million on Showtime Event Television, will not be Webcast.
"We're certainly not looking to offer an alternative to purchasing pay-per-view," said Jeff Morris, senior vice president of new media at Showtime Networks.
Showtime's official Web site for the event is intended to publicize the fight, added Morris, as well as offer news and other content for those who have already ordered it.
The pay-per-view price is $49.95 when purchased before 7 p.m. PT today, and $54.95 after that time. The promotional online offering is part of a trend of Web sites accompanying high-profile athletic events, like the NFL's Super Bowl site. Launched two weeks ago, the site for the fight features a threaded discussion area and access to Prodigy chat rooms, which are being opened for the first time to non-Prodigy users. Prodigy will also present chat interviews with unspecified celebrities at a prefight party Saturday night.
WebTV is cosponsoring online scoring so that viewers can score each round along with announcers and judges. Viewer scoring tallies will be announced ringside.
Morris cited Showtime research that found in nearly half of surveyed households with both a television and a personal computer, the two appliances are in the same room. "We are consciously targeting that group," he said.
The site also features illustrated chronologies from the two boxers' careers, a voting page for this and other fights, a sweepstakes contest, and odds on the fight, which are updated daily.
Other unofficial sites include Boxing.com's, which posts a reader poll. The tally currently favors Tyson by two percentage points.
A Las Vegas Sun site includes news, statistics on both boxers, a diagram of the boxing ring, daily updates of the betting lines on the fights, and round-by-round fight updates and photos to be posted on Saturday night.