Haymon adds ABC/ESPN to his list of networks
It had been rumored for a few months now that ESPN(2) – which has televised some form of boxing since the early 1980s – would be the latest network entity to enter a time-buy with Al Haymon, who has already secured deals with CBS, NBC and Spike TV this year.
On Wednesday morning, the following press release made it official:
“March 18, 2015 – ESPN will televise Premier Boxing Champions, a series created for television by Haymon Boxing, featuring top-level fights between many of boxing’s biggest names. The multi-year agreement was announced today. The first of 12 two-hour annual live Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN (PBC on ESPN) telecasts is scheduled for Saturday, July 11, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
“ESPN telecasts will air live in prime time. ABC broadcasts will air on Saturday afternoon, with further details to be announced at a later date. ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s Spanish-language network, will also televise all PBC on ESPN fights as part of its Noche de Combates series.
“Live coverage will also be available through WatchESPN on computers, smart phones, tablets, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One via an affiliated video provider. The agreement also includes worldwide rights via ESPN International.
Card details of the first PBC on ESPN telecast and subsequent shows will be announced at a later date. ESPN’s long-standing Friday Night Fights will celebrate its last show Friday, May 22 with the finals of the Boxcino 2015 tournament.
“ESPN has a long history of carrying world-class boxing events and the new Premier Boxing Champions series continues our commitment to the sport with premier-level prime time fights previously only available on premium cable networks,” said John Skipper, ESPN president.
“PBC on ESPN telecasts will be produced by ESPN. Blow-by-blow commentator Joe Tessitore and analyst Teddy Atlas, both recipients of the prestigious Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism presented by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), will call the fights ringside on ESPN and ABC. Additional on-air commentators will be announced at a later date.
“ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network,will present non-televised undercard bouts and PBC on ESPN weigh-ins live leading up to the fights. Stories about the fighters and the fights will also be featured on ESPN.com and on SportsCenter.”
So as of now, an overwhelming majority of boxing that is televised in the United States is under Al Haymon’s PBC banner. Ironically, it seems like Showtime is the only network actually paying a license fee for fights involving Haymon’s clients, with cards on March 28 and April 18. HBO – which effectively jettisoned Haymon in 2013 – is doing business with other promoters (mainly Top Rank Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions) and outlets like UniMas (which has a long-standing relationship with Top Rank) and Univision are still doing boxing broadcasts. CBS Sports Network is now doing shows with Greg Cohen Promotions; FOX Sports 1 has a contract with Golden Boy and it’s been rumored that Top Rank will be announcing a deal shortly with TruTV that will kick off on May 1.
It seems like Top Rank and Golden Boy are insulating themselves to a certain degree from Haymon’s blitzkrieg. What’s not so certain is how some of the smaller outfits like Main Events, Banner Promotions, Star Boxing, Gary Shaw Productions or even Roc Nation Sports, among others, will adapt and survive in this changing climate.
The “Friday Night Fights” series was often forgettable and certainly wasn’t one that turned a huge profit – if any at all – for the promoters but they did provide a platform for young up-and-comers to develop their skills before they went on to the next plateau of their careers.
This no longer exists. The question is: How much longer can these companies survive without such outlets?
MARCH MADNESS FLURRIES
A press release says over 2,500 tickets were sold on the first day for the May 16 event featuring Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif…Meanwhile, I’ve been informed that the StubHub Center is personally calling prospective ticket buyers in hopes of luring them to the April 18 bout between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andrzej Fonfara…So how much is each meal costing Floyd Mayweather this camp?!…I can’t believe it actually rained on Wednesday out here in Los Angeles…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.