Espinoza Believes There’s Too Much Boxing On TV
For the past several years there has been an arms race in the sport of boxing, as television networks and digital platforms have been battling for the biggest names in the sport.
At the advent of 2019, HBO, one of the biggest platforms for the sport decided to walk away from the sport after nearly five decades. Now their biggest competitor feels that the sport is too exposed.
“Look, candidly, I think there’s too much boxing on TV, too much boxing available,” Showtime Sports head Stephen Espinoza told a group of reporters recently at MGM Grand. “And when you are doing the number of fights that are being done across the market, it’s hard to enforce a standard of quality. There’s a tremendous amount of noise in the marketplace. Unless you’re the hardest of hardcore fans, it’s tough to figure out which are the big fights, which are the medium fights, which are prospect fights. You tune in not really knowing what to expect. It’s hard for all of us to sort of remember what platform, what fights, where, what they mean.”
“I have concerns that this is a business opportunity,” Espinoza said of competitive digital services such as DAZN. “And what I mean by that is when you launch a streaming service, you need content and you need tonnage. You need hours and hours of content. And there have been others in this market who have been very open that they’re getting into sports streaming and using boxing as a steppingstone. So that doesn’t speak well to their treatment of the sport or their long-term commitment to the sport, if you’re saying it’s a stepping stone to get into other sports.
“OK, what’s gonna happen? You’re gonna leave by a trail of expectations and everyone else cleans up the mess when these people are gone? And I think across it all, that’s why I think the commitment to the sport and understanding the sport, and wanting to present it this way, the best way, is key. I mean, we all loving being able to see boxing every weekend. But, you know, is that what’s best for the market? I don’t think so.”
“I think that multiple platforms can be served,” Espinoza summated.
“I don’t know that we can support 200 fight dates a year, or wherever we are with that. I made the analogy before of it’s as if we’re televising every minor-league baseball game on a national basis. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s just, look, there are regional fights, there are national fights. And part of the problem is you’re tuning in, you’re not sure exactly what you’re getting. And when a viewer tunes in and expects to see something the quality of a Badou Jack or a ‘Tank’ Davis fight, and they’re getting something very different, [it’s] doubtful that they’re gonna come back and try it a second time.”
Quotes: Boxing Scene