By Steve Kim
Rumors are rampant that ESPN2, like several other networks, will be doing time-buys for their boxing programming and now details are emerging on how this will be executed.
BoxingScene.com first reported the situation on February 5th, regarding Al Haymon's negotiations to bring 'Premier Boxing Champions' to ESPN. Last month, Haymon's company, Haymon Boxing, announced long-term deals with NBC and Spike TV. The debut edition of the PBC series will take place on March 7th on NBC from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, with a showdown between Robert Guerrero and Keith Thurman in the main event. PBC dates have been announced for April 11 on NBC and March 13 on Spike TV.
According to various sources in the industry, after the May 22nd broadcast (which is scheduled to be the 2015 Boxcino Finals) of 'Friday Night Fights' on ESPN2 - which has been in place since the late 90's - will cease to exist in it's current form. Instead of going weekly on Friday nights, this will now be a monthly show that will be broadcast on ESPN on Saturday evenings. It is assumed that during the college football season that they will go into hiatus, much the way 'Friday Night Fights' has in the past decade.
The emphasis will be on telecasting a higher quality of card, much like the heavyweight contest ESPN broadcast last year between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola. As for the announcing crew, it is believed that Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore, long-time stapes of the series, have long-term deals with ESPN. Whether or not they are used for the PBC series is unknown.
Besides NBC and Spike TV, Haymon will reportedly supply time-buy content to Telemundo and his company is currently negotiating with several other networks.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com.