By: Sean Crose
“It’s a change that’s pretty common within the industry,” Showtime Sports’ honcho Stephen Espinoza says to Fight Hub in an interview released Thursday. “This is just a furtherance of what’s been happening across the industry.” Espinoza is talking here about the merger of his network with Paramount+. News of the merger has led some to wonder if boxing will no longer air on Showtime, much as HBOs long running boxing broadcasts were iced several years ago. Espinoza made it clear that nothing is changing for Showtime Boxing…at least for the moment.
“In the short term there is no change,” he says. “Where things go in the long run, who knows? It’s a difficult economy out there. But right now the company is definitely committed to the sport, committing to the sport beyond just 2023, and I haven’t heard anything that changes that.” The truth, of course, is that boxing – in the United States, at least – has been in a state of popular decline for some time now.
“Low viewership is a problem,” Espinoza admits in the interview. “It is. There’s not a network in the business that is going to continue committing to something that has low viewership.” Yet Espinoza indicates the scenario is more complex than it may appear at first blush. “What the metrics are for making that decision,” he says, “are something that’s far more complex than just look(ing) at the Nielson Ratings and saying 250,000 people watched this or saying hey we only got 200,000 people watching the Tank pay per view replay. It’s a pay per view replay. We didn’t pay for it to start with. That’s not an investment of resources.”
The times are no doubt changing. Indeed Espinoza indicates that the April superfight between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia will be marketed in a manner that’s geared towards social media (which both Davis and Garcia excel in). “This one I think even more so is going to be a social media promotion,” he says. “We don’t have to do a multi city press tour to create content…this will be the first social media boxing promotion.”
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