Showtime, Premier Boxing Champions agree to 3-year contract extension

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Deontay Wilder (L) defeated Luis Ortiz on March 3, 2018, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York live on Showtime. (Getty Images)

The relationship between Showtime Sports and the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), which for several years has put several compelling bouts on the network, was formalized Thursday in a three-year contract extension.

It will provide for what the companies call “a significant expansion” of live boxing programming beginning in 2019.

Showtime has become a market leader, wresting that away from long-time rival HBO, with an aggressive strategy that brought many of the most compelling bouts of the last five years to the network.

Competition in boxing programming is as steep as it has been in years. ESPN has a long-term deal with Top Rank to air its fight cards, and will also stream a large number of shows each year on its ESPN+ platform for $4.99 a month. DAZN is a streaming service that will debut in the U.S. on Sept. 22 for $9.99 a month with a card headlined by heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defending against Alexander Povetkin.

HBO remains in the game, though how much of a commitment the network will have to anything but pay-per-view remains to be seen after its acquisition by AT&T.

The PBC attempted to blanket the networks with its boxing coverage beginning in 2015, but buying air time was expensive and it turned out to be a money-losing proposition.

Showtime has worked closely with the PBC over the last several years and they’ve put on several classic bouts, including Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia, Thurman vs. Shawn Porter and Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz.

“Over the past seven-plus years, Showtime has developed the most comprehensive slate of boxing programming in the world,” said Stephen Espinoza, the president of sports and event programming for Showtime. “We have consistently been recognized for making the most significant contributions to the sport of boxing, both financially and editorially. Building off our industry-leading live event schedule, this long-term deal with Premier Boxing Champions ensures that Showtime will remain the No. 1 destination for the world’s greatest fighters and their passionate and diverse fans.”

Showtime also announced it would substantially increase the amount of shoulder programming it devotes to boxing.

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