By AJ Johnson
Showtime has televised 748 live boxing shows, and around 2,000 bouts
For almost 4 decades, “Showtime Championship Boxing” has televised some of the biggest fights in the sport, but Showtime will end boxing programming at the end of 2023, the network’s parent company Paramount Global announced in a statement Tuesday.
Showtime has televised 748 live boxing shows, and around 2,000 bouts. The first Showtime boxing event was on March 10, 1986, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas between world middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler and John “The Beast” Mugabi
On Tuesday, Paramount president/CEO Chris McCarthy sent a letter to employes companywide that Showtime would not longer produce boxing or Bellator MMA on the network. “As we continue to dedicate a larger percentage of our resources toward premium scripted series that drive subscribers for us in both Pay TV and SVOD, SHOWTIME will not be moving forward with boxing or other content produced by the SHOWTIME Sports and Event Program Team. The company’s decision isn’t a reflection of the work the team and our partners have done, rather a reality of the world evolving and our shifting content priorities.”
Al Haymon’s PBC has an exclusive deal with Showtime and has been the main provider of fights on the network since 2013. That included the sport’s top star at the time, Floyd Mayweather.
PBC did not comment on the matter.
President of Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza released a statement that stated: “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.
“For over 37 years, Showtime Sports and Event Programming has occupied an important position in the sports media ecosystem, delivering premium storytelling, bold and provocative documentaries, thoughtful analysis and discussion, and, of course, outstanding live production of the biggest combat sports events in history. 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.
“While today’s news is certainly difficult and disappointing, it is entirely out of our control. So, as we have done when faced with similar challenges in the past, we will control the things that we can control. We will continue to deliver on our promise to subscribers and our content partners for the remainder of the year; namely, to continue to deliver the highest quality, industry-leading boxing programming that has established us as the unequivocal No. 1 destination for the sport worldwide and to finish what we started in 2023, perhaps the best year in our department’s history.
“From Emmy Award-winning documentaries to the three highest-grossing pay-per-view events in television history, I am extremely proud of our content and our events – but I am far more proud of our people. Your diligence, dedication and passion have inspired me every day, and it is those qualities that will be the enduring legacy of Showtime Sports.”
“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.”
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, according to sources .
It’s been a huge year for PBC and Showtime. In April, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia faced off in a superfight. Then in July, PBC and Showtime delivered the long-awaited undisputed welterweight championship fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.
Showtime prepares to exit the sport five years after its competitor, HBO, ceased boxing programming after 45 years. When Showtime landed Mayweather in 2013, it was a major coup for the network. Mayweather went on to fight seven times on Showtime pay-per-view, including the 2015 bout with Manny Pacquiao that shattered revenue records (a joint pay-per-view with HBO).
Showtime also landed Mike Tyson in the ’90s and televised his historic fights with Evander Holyfield, including the infamous “Bite Fight” rematch.