Golden Boy Boxing and ESPN have partnered together to create “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.” The program will begin in March.
According to ESPN:
The series, sponsored by Tecate, will air on ESPN2 and will be simulcast in Spanish on ESPN Deportes as well as streamed on ESPN3. A few of the 2-hour cards, which will generally take place twice per month, will not be available on ESPN2, however, because of scheduling conflicts.
The deal includes 18 cards in 2017 (which will air either on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays) and 24 more in 2018. ESPN has an option for a third year of the series.
ESPN Exectuvie VP of Programming and Scheduling Burke Magnus said:
“We are excited to announce this new agreement with Golden Boy Promotions, one of the world’s top promoters… ESPN and ESPN Deportes look forward to featuring a new series of exciting world-class matches, along with a deep and wide variety of studio and digital content, in this multi-year, exclusive, live fight package.”
Golden Boy Boxing owner Oscar De La Hoy cited ESPN’s reach as a big selling point in entering into the partnership. The promotional company will rely on sponsors to pay the fees for air time instead of relying on licensing fees from ESPN.
We will be seeing a lot more boxing on cable television in 2017. Oscar De La Hoya is using the ESPN platform to help promote new fighters. This idea makes sense because the barrier to entry is minimal for casual sports fans to find boxers that they like. The fighters that perform well and get a large enough following will then make the jump to HBO and PPV fights. Currently, there is simply too much money to be made through the PPV medium to drop it in favor of network television. If boxing becomes one of the most popular sports again then network television stations may be willing to pay the licensing fee but at this time that seems unlikely.
ESPN has already partnered with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) for fights in 2017 and 2018. When the PBC made a settlement with Top Rank Boxing last year that eliminated the exclusivity part of their contract with ESPN, ESPN became able to enter into an agreement with Golden Boy Boxing. Golden Boy Boxing and Oscar De La Hoya are currently suing Al Haymon and the PBC for $300 million in an anti-trust lawsuit.