Showtime boxing boss jabs HBO for counter-programming Saturday
Showtime boxing chief Stephen Espinoza portrayed HBO’s decision to schedule a 24/7 marketing program on Gennady Golovkin’s middleweight championship with Danny Jacobs on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. as unusual.
The promotional vehicle will go up against Danny Garcia’s highly anticipated welterweight unification bout with Keith Thurman at Barclays Center on CBS, which is the parent company of Showtime. The first bout of the CBS card will air at 9 p.m., with the main event likely overlapping the HBO program.
“It struck me as a little peculiar,” Espinoza said on Thursday to a small group of reporters before the final press conference for Thurman-Garcia. “I’m not sure what their thinking was. There is a lot that goes into programming decisions, not the least of which are available slots in programming. What looks like a strange decision competitively and counter-programming wise can often just be the result of what available slots are on the network. Having said that, I don’t think it would be an optimal slot if I was trying to program something.”
An HBO spokesman said it made sense to schedule such linear shoulder programming on Saturday, two weeks before a major pay-per-view bout, which Golovkin-Jacobs will be on March 18. Moreover, HBO long ago identified March 4 as an ideal launch date for 24/7, especially since HBO Sports was offered the 10:30 p.m. slot, immediately following the premiere of the film, “X-Men Apocalypse,” HBO spokesman Ray Stallone said in an email. While there may be some overlap at 10:30 in the Eastern time zone, he said, 24/7 does not air on the west coast until 10:30 PT, and there should be no overlap in the Pacific time zone since the live boxing is at 6 pm, he said.