×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

ESPN Punches Hard Into Boxing in Pact With Top Rank

ESPN said it would make a new push into the boxing ring by striking a multi-year deal with Top Rank, one of the sport’s biggest promoters.

Under terms of the pact, the Disney-owned sports-media juggernaut will have the exclusive ability to televise and stream live Top Rank fights in the U.S., as well as deliver pay-per-view events with the promoter’s matches.  ESPN intends to include Top Rank content in a new direct-to-consumer streaming service recently announced. ESPN will also air all Top Rank content in English and in French on Canadian sister networks TSN and RDS.  The next “Top Rank Boxing on ESPN” fight card is scheduled for September 22 in Tucson, Arizona, and will feature Oscar Valdez  and Gilberto Ramirez both defending their respective World Boxing Organization titles.

“We believe in a new vision for boxing that will super-serve existing boxing fans and create legions of new fans through the highest quality boxing content across multiple ESPN platforms – 365 days a year,” said  Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming & scheduling, in a prepared statement. ” Together, ESPN and Top Rank will build the superstars of tomorrow through unrivaled exposure, original content and cutting edge technology.”

ESPN has signaled its intent to step more definitively into the boxing ring in recent months. In July, it aired a bout between World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao and undefeated contender Jeff “The Hornet” Horn at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. The fight, which was also telecast on ESPN Deportes, marked the first time since 2005 that the popular Pacquaio had taken part in a fight that was not limited to pay-per-view.

“We sort of came across this opportunity to really plant a flag back in the sport of boxing in a big way,” Magnus told Variety before the fight aired. “We hope to do more.”

In recent years, more TV networks have returned to boxing, though the biggest names in the sport have moved to pay-per-view matches and premium cable outlets like Time Warner’s HBO and CBS Corp.’s Showtime. ESPN is the latest broad-audience outlet to try to make the sport more available, and does so as its business has come under more scrutiny. As its subscriber base erodes and its top-dollar rights agreements with sports leagues come under the microscope, there has been a new focus on financial discipline at ESPN. The streaming and pay-per-view rights will give it some leverage as subscribers migrate to new viewing behaviors that do not require a traditional subscription to Comcast, Charter or Cox.

Top Rank has a long association with Pacquiao, and promotes rising stars like Juan Manuel Lopez and Nonito Donaire, Jr. “Top Rank has consistently and successfully built many of their fighters into global brands, and now will benefit significantly from ESPN’s broad distribution, sales and marketing support and outstanding storytelling,” said Alan Gold, who heads CAA’s Sports Media Advisory practice, in a statement. Top Rank has retained CAA Sports to manage its official sponsorship sales efforts, working closely with ESPN, and served as Top Rank’s adviser on the deal.

In the first year of the deal, ESPN will showcase 18 main events in the U.S. on multiple platforms, including television networks, its ESPN App, the direct-to-consumer service and pay-per-view events, in both English and Spanish, and on Canada’s TSN in English and RDS in French. The deal allows ESPN to make Top Rank content – including undercards, select main events, re-airs of ESPN telecasts and pay-per-view matches, and archival material – available across its various outlets.

 

More TV

  • Hulu With Live TV Full Channel

    Hulu Hikes Price of Live-TV Bundle to $45 Monthly, Drops VOD Plan With Ads to $6

    Hulu wants to drive more customers to its ad-supported streaming package — lowering the official price from $7.99 to $5.99 per month — while it’s trying to turn a profit on the live-TV bundle with a price hike. Starting next month, Hulu With Live TV will increase by $5 per month, rising from $39.99 to [...]

  • YouTube TV

    YouTube TV Expanding to Cover Entire U.S., No International Launch Plans Right Now

    Soon, virtually anyone in the U.S. will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV, Google’s $40 monthly over-the-top internet television service aimed at cord-cutters. First launched in five cities in April 2016, YouTube TV has been available in the top 100 markets in the U.S., covering around 85% of households, for about a year. Starting [...]

  • NATPE: Turner Latin America, Dopamine Set

    NATPE: Turner Latin America, Dopamine Strike Three-Series Production Alliance (EXCLUSIVE)

    MIAMI — Turner Latin America and Mexico’s Dopamine, a Salinas Group company, have struck a production alliance to develop and produce three original series: “Tu parte del trato,” “Amarres” and “Coyatl.” The pact adds to the NATPE announcement on Monday of “Las Bravas F.C,” the first series in Turner Latin America’s five-year strategic production partnership [...]

  • Pol-ka at 25: Interview with Founder

    Pol-ka at 25: Adrian Suar Sets New Era Agenda

    MIAMI — Boldly taking on the challenges of TV’s future as it turns 25, Argentina’s Pol-ka Producciones, one of Latin America’s few historic independent TV companies, is turning to the past. Shooting from Jan. 2, but set in Buenos Aires from 1936 to 1945, “Argentina, Land of Passion and Revenge,” (“Argentina, Tierra de Amor y [...]

  • Pol-ka at 25: Highlights on its

    Pol-ka at 25: 2019’s Production Slate Highlights

    MADRID — Pol-ka’s banner titles straddle telenovelas and international-length series. Here are highlights, projects, productions and shows now screening packing one of the most ambitious slates of any Latin American company: ‘ARGENTINA, LAND OF PASSION AND REVENGE’ (Pol-ka) The big one, at least for free-to-air. A period piece, so far more expensive to shoot, so rarer [...]

  • NATPE Briefs: 'Judge Jerry' Sets EP,

    NATPE Briefs: 'Judge Jerry' Sets EP, Sony Pictures Pacts With 'Ugly Betty' Creator

    NBCUniversal’s “Judge Jerry” has set its production team and reached 90% clearance across the U.S. for its fall launch. The court show hosted by longtime talk show host Jerry Springer will be exec produced by Kerry Shannon, previously a producer on “Jerry Springer Show.” Leah Ponce and Joe Scott, alums of “Judge Judy” and other [...]

  • Tamron Hall Brings Her Truth and

    Tamron Hall Brings Her Truth and TV Training to Daytime Talk Show

    MIAMI — Tamron Hall is proud of her TV trifecta. For a few years, the former “Today” anchor could be found most weekdays airing on three networks at the same time. During her 2010-2016 tenure as a co-anchor of “Today’s” 9 a.m. hour, Hall would follow that show by switching to an anchor slot on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content