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Showtime and HBO split U.S. rights to Joshua-Klitschko

Photo courtesy of Sky Sports.
17
Apr

For the past several months, ever since the heavyweight championship between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko was finalized, Showtime’s boxing head Stephen Espinoza would smile sheepishly at reporters who approached to ask if the network was any closer to announcing the U.S. television rights for the bout.

Not yet, we’re getting closer, it’s complicated, became common buzzwords for Espinoza, who finally won’t have to go into detail about the thorny negotiations of making a deal for the April 29 bout any longer. On Monday, it was announced that Showtime will produce its own broadcast of the London bout, live at 4:15 p.m. ET, while HBO will televise the bout tape-delayed at 10:45 p.m. ET the same day, allowing both networks to split the rights for the bout. The negotiations took so long and became a storyline unto itself because Showtime has Joshua under contract while HBO owns the U.S. rights to Klitschko. Neither would surrender such an attractive bout that could change the complexion of the heavyweight division for years to come.

Joshua (18-0, 18 knockouts) is set to defend his IBF title against former champion Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London in front of 90,000. The vacant WBA itle is also on the line after Tyson Fury vacated his belts for personal reasons. Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn suggested an option was simply not to air the fight in the U.S. with the HBO-Showtime hurdle muddying prospects for a deal, which was announced nearly 10 days before the fight.

“With the obstacles in place, it would have been any easy resolution to not air the fight in the States,” Hearn said in a press release. “But I want to thank HBO and Showtime for their perseverance and allowing America to see one hell of a fight at our national stadium in front on 90,000 passionate fans.” Espinoza said the fight could serve as a “changing of the guard” for the division “as (Joshua) attempts to establish his legacy against the legendary” Klitschko.

Peter Nelson, HBO’s boxing decision-maker, lauded the networks for finding a way to resolve their differences. “Both promoters and both networks have found a solution that enables boxing fans in the U.S. to watch the world heavyweight championship,” he said in the release. “This agreement ensures that our subscribers have access to same-day primetime coverage of the fight. It will mark Wladimir Klitschko’s 22nd appearance on HBO and the first for Anthony Joshua.”

  • Koninbeor

    Showtime: We get it!
    HBO: No, we get it!
    Hearn: Play nice or neither of you get it.
    Showtime and HBO: Okay…

    90,000 live fans at Wembley Stadium. That’s amazing. I really hope this fight delivers. I’m glad Showtime and HBO were able to come to an agreement.

  • Michel Desgrottes

    Replay? Smmfh HBO failed

    • D Johnson

      Pbc! pbc! pbc! Smdhsfh!!

    • Koninbeor

      Since HBO almost didn’t get to air the fight at all, I’d say that a delayed broadcast is a win.

    • wayne reid

      It’s a win win for both networks But i bet HBO gets more viewers than Showtime @ the 10:45pm replay time slot

      • Michel Desgrottes

        HBO will usually get more viewers off subscribers alone

        • wayne reid

          Well according to your logic how did HBO fail?because they don’t get to show the fight Live in the afternoon? Lol HBO gets more viewers & a prime time slot sounds like a win to me

          • Michel Desgrottes

            But they don’t get it live so their product is already told smmfh plus they wanted the live so they failed in their pursuit of the live, BOOM

          • wayne reid

            Only one Network can get it “Live” if HBO failed as you say we’ll soon see how many fans watch it live or later that night Then you’ll know who the real winner…. is Boom urself!

          • Michel Desgrottes

            So you’re saying HBO rather not have the live??? Lmfao

          • wayne reid

            I guess next week we’ll find out which Network will be Lmfao

          • Michel Desgrottes

            Actually the week after

  • Mark Schoeman

    I think HBO and Showtime are in the boxing bubble…this fight is not playing beyond the hardcore boxing audience and will only have bigger ramifications if Joshua destroys him. If it’s a boring fight, regardless of who wins, it won’t matter in the US. Taking this long to resolve is goofy.

    • Wade Wilson

      I would say a short, good fight with Joshua winning would be the best thing for the sport. The old champion passing it on to the new (even if you feel he’s not the best out there) in a blaze of glory would be remembered. Not counting on it with Klitschoko’s survival instincts but one can dream right?

    • Sidewinder

      A k.o. win for either fighter will be good for the division. If its a competitive 12 rounds well I wont complain either.

  • Matt Shepherd

    2 American networks, fighting over airing 2 non American heavyweights being shown infront of a 90 thousand sell out crowd that isn’t in America. Of course boxing is dead.

    • wayne reid

      If the boxers were American would it mean Boxing is alive & well?

      • Matt Shepherd

        Oh I was being sarcastic, I think it’s wonderful to see.

  • Reggie Woodard

    90,000?! Mad kudos to the Brits for knowing how to throw a party….

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