By Keith Idec
Premier Boxing Champions’ partnership with Spike has ended.
According to a report by ESPN.com on Wednesday, decision-makers for the basic-cable channel have decided against continuing to televise fights featuring PBC boxers on a regular basis. Spike was the only basic-cable or network television partner to commit to paying for PBC content when Al Haymon’s organization launched two years ago.
When “PBC on Spike,” which debuted in March 2015, was announced, the series was supposed to include 33 shows – nine in 2015 and 12 apiece in 2016 and 2017. Spike ultimately televised 17 PBC cards as part of a two-year agreement.
The license fees for those “PBC on Spike” cards usually were in the low six-figures. PBC otherwise has bought air time to televise its cards on CBS, ESPN, FOX, FS1, NBC and NBC Sports Network.
Showtime, a premium cable network, continues to pay license fees in excess of seven figures to televise fights featuring PBC boxers. Those are “Showtime Championship Boxing” broadcasts, though, not PBC-branded shows.
The last “PBC on Spike” card aired January 13 and included two mismatches. Erislandy Lara, the WBA world super welterweight champion, stopped faded former champion Yuri Foreman in the fourth round of the main event that night.
PBC previously provided entertaining content at times for Spike – most notably Krzysztof Glowacki’s knockout of Marco Huck in their cruiserweight title fight in August 2015.
Spike spokesman David Schwarz disputed the portion of the ESPN.com story that stated Spike executives were unhappy with the quality of fights PBC offered as part of the series.
“Spike and the PBC have enjoyed a very successful relationship with great fights, featuring high production values,” Schwarz said in a statement released to BoxingScene.com. “The network was very satisfied with the quality of fights that produced strong ratings and many memorable moments. Any inference to the contrary is inaccurate. Now that our 2-year deal is complete, we are having ongoing discussions to potentially air future events that make sense for both parties.”
Schwarz also said the network wants to televise more Bellator MMA cards. Bellator is owned by Viacom, also Spike’s parent company.
“We have a great relationship and running dialogue with Al and the PBC,” Schwarz told ESPN.com. “Our focus is on Bellator right now, but if the right fight arises we are all ears.”
Spike soon will be renamed The Paramount Network as part of a rebranding initiative by Viacom and will focus more on scripted entertainment than in the past.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.