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Boxingscene.com

Showtime's Espinoza: Streaming Services Must Show Quality Fights

By Keith Idec

Stephen Espinoza welcomes the competition from the streaming services now offering boxing.

Theoretically, if ESPN+ and DAZN can create new boxing fans through those expansive platforms, that should benefit traditional television networks that broadcast the sport. Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ president, has reservations, however, about the quality of fights the aforementioned streaming services will be able to provide on a consistent basis.

ESPN+, which costs $4.99 per month, mostly streams fights that feature boxers promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., ESPN’s partner. DAZN, available for $9.99 per month, has a huge boxing budget, yet is slowly expanding its roster of fighters through its partnership with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.

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“I think there are sort of two things that concern me about all these different platforms,” Espinoza told BoxingScene.com in a wide-ranging interview this week. “One is you don’t want the sport to become so watered down that you lose fans. So the advantage of being a big platform, like ESPN, or having a big marketing budget like a streaming service does, is great. You might be able to attract new people. But when you bring in new fans into the sport and you’ve got watered-down product, and it’s not the best product, you’re doing the sport a disservice.

“Bringing in new fans to the sport is only a good thing if you’re bringing them in and showing something which is gonna make them enthusiastic about the sport. You bring ‘em in and show ‘em a mismatch, you show ‘em second- and third-tier fights, it’s not gonna be good for the health of the sport. So I think everyone coming into the sport and becoming more active is great, as long as they’re doing quality fights, which lead to more fans.”

In its first month, DAZN will stream cards headlined by the Anthony Joshua-Alexander Povetkin heavyweight title fight (September 22) and the Billy Joe Saunders-Demetrius Andrade middleweight championship match (October 20).

The biggest fight streamed thus far on ESPN+ has been the Terence Crawford-Jeff Horn welterweight title fight June 9.

Showtime, meanwhile, has televised Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz, Jarrett Hurd-Erislandy Lara, Adrien Broner-Jessie Vargas, Adonis Stevenson-Badou Jack, the Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares rematch and Mikey Garcia’s victories over Sergey Lipinets and Robert Easter Jr. as its main events in recent months.

“It doesn’t really change what we do,” Espinoza said of the emerging competition from streaming services. “Our goal is always to put on the best fights and provide the best programming. We welcome competition. There’s always gonna be competition. I don’t think it would be healthy for the sport for Showtime to be the only network that’s doing it. That wouldn’t be good, either.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by TexasCowBoy on 08-02-2018

I love Capitalism.....let the markets decided what will work and what won't...it has forced Espinosa to produce better quality ......

Comment by Dr.Cool on 08-02-2018

espn+ better show some better fights if they want to make any $$$ off it. Sorry, but a mismatch like Bummed-Horn isn't worth crap. That is as good and interesting a fight as Spence-Ocampo. DAZN actually offers some decent fights.…

Comment by lizard_man on 08-01-2018

You can't beat the showtime app for $8.99. Now only if they let you purchase ppv fights through the app

Comment by Butch.McRae on 08-01-2018

"In its first month, DAZN will stream cards headlined by the Anthony Joshua-Alexander Povetkin heavyweight title fight (September 22) and the Billy Joe Saunders-Demetrius Andrade middleweight championship match (October 20). The biggest fight streamed thus far on ESPN+ has been…

Comment by rolshans on 08-01-2018

Competition's good! Except for HBO, who seem to be glad to walk away.

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