ESPN has been consistently losing subscribers on a monthly basis and with $24 billion wrapped up in television rights contracts for the next few years the worldwide leader needed a boost. Fights like Vasyl Lomachenko’s win over Guillermo Rigondeaux that beat out UFC programming on FS1 in the younger demographics is exactly what the broadcast company needed.
TopRank boxing and ESPN are four months into their four year contract and ESPN is currently paying more for a single Monday Night Football game than they are for the entire partnership with Top Rank, according to Kevin Draper with the New York Times.
The Creative Arts Agency (CAA) is managing the sales for advertisers and sponsorships. Creating revenue through advertisers and sponsors will be essential to make up for missing out on PPV revenue if the biggest fights and fighters are to remain on basic cable.
There are a few important takeaways from this article. First, it seems that Top Rank has learned from the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) mistake. The PBC sought to buy air time on sports networks and sell the rights themselves, then after a few years sell the rights for the events back to the networks they had previously bought air time from. However, those results have likely not come to fruition the way the PBC thought and the partnership between Top Rank and ESPN may be a better route to go. Networks will promote much more often if they have some skin in the game. One example that Draper points out is that NHL coverage on ESPN dropped after the network was no longer pay the rights fees to broadcast the league.