PBC, Fox finalize multi-year deal; network will provide large budget
When Al Haymon formed Premier Boxing Champions in early 2015, his vision was simple: buy television time on major networks, and in a few years, flip the model and receive license fees in return.
As PBC’s deal with ESPN and NBC expired, with nothing to show for it, it appeared Haymon’s ambitious plan abjectly failed. Not so fast.
Haymon maintained a relationship with Fox, a network he made time-buys with, and his strategy worked.
PBC and Fox have finalized a long-term deal for fights to appear on both Fox and FS1 with an annual boxing budget that eclipses $60 million, multiple sources told The Ring. The deal, which will be announced Tuesday, will kick off in December; the agreement calls for 10 championship-level fights on Fox, with at least another 12 shows on FS1. That’s to be added to Showtime’s existing budget, also estimated at over $60 million.
Meanwhile, Eddie Hearn, who runs U.K.-based promotional company Matchroom and recently announced a wide-sweeping deal with online streaming service DAZN, is estimated to have an annual budget of $125 million.
“Between Showtime and Fox, PBC will have a bigger pool of budget money than any other promoter in boxing, including Eddie Hearn with DAZN,” an industry source who was not authorized to speak publicly told The Ring.
It was only last week that Showtime announced a new three-year deal with PBC, Haymon’s stable of fighters which totals over 160. It’s not just the biggest group of fighters in the sport, but the best, with two boxers on The Ring’s pound-for-pound list and at least 20 at the elite level of the sport.
Showtime announced plans for expanded coverage in 2019 and beyond, including monthly shows. A major criticism of PBC has long been the inactivity of some its best fighters, but that should no longer be an issue.
Between Showtime and Fox, there figures to be around 20 top-flight telecasts involving A-level fighters. A trickier problem will be how each network shares the best talent.
“As much as we would like to, we know there is a limit to what we can do here,” President of Sports and Event Programming for Showtime Steven Espinoza told The Ring last week. “There’s a limit at every network at every platform. It does take a collection of networks and platforms for the sport to be healthy.”
It’s likely Showtime will retain rights to certain weight classes they’ve invested heavily in, like welterweight, with other divisions heading over to Fox. Haymon’s roster is deepest at featherweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and light heavyweight, but there are budding stars at other weights, too.
Heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder is signed to PBC; Jermall Charlo is a middleweight; Mikey Garcia, perhaps his best fighter, competes at lightweight for the time being.
It’s an arms race in boxing: Hearn’s alliance with DAZN begins later this month; Top Rank revised its agreement with ESPN last month, and the deal now runs for seven years and calls for 54 live events per year.
HBO is still in the mix — at least for now — and boasts the biggest stars in the sport in Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
But it’s Haymon and PBC who once again lead the way.