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July 10, 2023
By: Kirk Jackson
Some things do not last forever.
Rumors have circulated for weeks, regarding Showtime’s upcoming exit from broadcasting Boxing and MMA.
For 37 years, “Showtime Championship Boxing” has televised some of the biggest fights in the sport, starting with Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. John “The Beast” Mugabi, but Showtime will exit boxing programming at the end of 2023, the network’s parent company Paramount Global announced in a statement Tuesday.
“As we evolve our strategy to more efficiently allocate resources and align our content offering across the business, we’ve made the difficult decision not to move forward with boxing and other content produced by the SHOWTIME sports team,” the company said.
“SHOWTIME will continue to air and support the remaining 2023 boxing slate and honor obligations through the end of the year. We want to express our deepest gratitude to our employees who have contributed to this award-winning sports programming over multiple decades.”
This comes as a huge blow to boxing, as Premier Boxing Champions headed by Al Haymon, held an exclusive deal with Showtime and has been the main provider of fights on the network since 2013.
That particular package deal included the sport’s top star at the time, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
PBC has yet to comment on this breaking news.
Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza released a statement regarding Showtime’s departure from boxing.
“It is with profound disappointment that I shared this morning’s news that the company has decided to shut down Showtime Sports at the end of this year,” Espinoza said in an email to employees obtained by Front Office Sports.
“We have helped illuminate the intersection of sports, culture and society, and we have boldly and unapologetically explored stories and themes that others couldn’t or wouldn’t. And we have done it all with the highest standards of care and quality.
“The company’s decision is not a reflection of the work we have done in recent years, nor of our long and proud history. It is not an indictment on the value we have delivered to this network for 37 years, nor, in particular, in 2023. Unfortunately, in a rapidly evolving media marketplace, the company has had to make difficult choices allocating resources, resetting priorities and reshaping its content offering.”
“A lot of people don’t get on with people in boxing, but you’ve also got to look at the bigger picture,” Matchroom Boxing Promoter Eddie Hearn said. “It’s not great news for boxing. It’s just a sign of the future and the sign that the way that content is being distributed and delivered to fight fans, and that is by streaming.”
“We saw that a couple of years ago, we made our own move to build those partnerships and those relationships, but boxing will be worse off without Showtime, as it was worse off without HBO.”
“Ironically the news comes probably one of their best years in terms of bigger fights, but it’s just the future of a traditional broadcaster doesn’t lend itself, in my opinion, to the audience anymore.”
To Hearn’s point, it’s been a successful year for PBC and Showtime.
In April, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia met in a super fight. In July, PBC and Showtime delivered the long-awaited undisputed welterweight championship fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo was a big ppv event for Showtime. Caleb Plant vs. David Benavidez featured the best fighters in their respective division on Showtime, and Benavidez vs. Demtrius Andrade next month aims to do the same.
Australian star Tim Tszyu retained his junior middleweight title on Showtime over this past weekend as part of the subscription service.
The PBC stable has the largest collection of stars in boxing. Aside from Canelo Alvarez, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, Errol Spence Jr., the Charlo twins, David Benavidez, Caleb Plant, Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, many others are all with PBC.
So even though the network is severing ties, this is not the end of boxing.
PBC is exploring broadcast deals with Amazon Prime Video and DAZN, which has a partnership with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, sources told ESPN.
However, with the merger of Paramount, this recent announcement and action of the elimination of a genre of programming from the network isn’t surprising news.
Budget cuts are apparent across the board for many companies, various sports properties and programs, and this trend may continue to affect all sports.