What's going on at HBO sports? By almost all accounts the network has had a great year, but Mark Taffet is the second top executive at the network to hand in his walking papers, following HBO Sports President Ken Hershman. Taffet's resignation will take effect on Dec. 31st, when his contract with the network expires.
The 52-year-old Taffet spent 32 years with HBO Sports, and oversaw the launch of HBO PPV along with Lou DiBella back in 1991. Taffet reflects on how that all came together:
"I recognized early on that boxing had a unique characteristic which would lead to success on pay-per-view," Taffet told ESPN.com. "The opportunity to watch a big fight in the comfort of your living room was a significant improvement over the then-existing big-fight experience of having to drive to an arena or racetrack [to watch on closed circuit], where picture quality and sound were poor at best and the possibility of having food and beverage being tossed through the air was great."
During Taffet's long campaign at HBO, he oversaw more than 190 PPV events, generating 65 million buys and $3.6 billion in PPV revenue. But Taffet didn't just run the PPV events, he also was largely involved in all other aspects of HBO sports - marketing, programming, and negotiations for contracts with promoters.
Unfortunately, despite Taffets lengthy and robust experience at the network, it became clear that he was not going to be promoted to succeed Ken Hershman, just as he was passed over four years ago when Ross Greenburg was forced to resign from the position. Taffet could've stayed in his current position at the network, but says he didn't want to endure another change in administration, and opted to walk away instead.
So now Taffet expects to remain in boxing, at least in some capacity, functioning as a consultant to fighters and promoters.
"My intention is to work with the fighters, promoters and entities that will be most directly involved in the formation of the next great era of boxing," he said. "That also includes sites, sponsors and foreign broadcasters, all the key players necessary. Most likely I'm going to speak with people who HBO is already involved with, but I will be on the other side.
"I have the passion to want to be part of it. I feel the best way to do that at this point is not with HBO but with entities on the other side of the playing field. It will give me tremendous fulfillment. I have no intention of leaving boxing."
When commenting on his most rewarding experience at the network, Taffet say it was bringing the little guys into the spotlight to earn good money.
"Of all the things I've done over the past 25 years, the most rewarding was being able to provide a television platform with significant earning capability for scores of incredibly talented fighters in lighter weight classes who were previously underappreciated in a heavyweight-dominated environment. It was the [Michael] Carbajal-[Chiquita] Gonzalez [junior flyweight title] fight in 1993, where each fighter earned $1 million, which opened the door for a future which included great fights of Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez."
With the impending depature of both Hershman and now Taffet, HBO looks like it has to big shoes to fill. I guess it might be time for me to dust off the ol' resume...