By Keith Idec
ESPN clearly is pleased with what Top Rank has delivered during the first year of the partnership between those companies.
The cable giant and Bob Arum’s promotional company announced Thursday that the companies have reached an agreement on a new seven year contract. The deal extends the partnership to 2025 and will include 54 events per year, in addition to offering exclusive shoulder programming, a library of classic fights and studio content.
Through this deal, Top Rank will continue to provide live boxing content on ESPN and through ESPN+, the streaming service the network launched in April for $4.99 per month.
It’ll include 18 live events each year on ESPN, 12 prime-time events on ESPN+, 24 international events on ESPN+ and undercard coverage of all 54 events on ESPN+. The streaming service also offers a weekly show – “The Boxing Beat with Dan Rafael” – the twice-monthly “In This Corner” program that features broadcasters, fighters, reporters and trainers, and “Camp Life,” which offers viewers an inside look at fighters during training camp.
“This partnership will continue will continue to bring the biggest events and best fighters from around the world to ESPN networks,” Top Rank president Todd duBoef said in a press release. “Our collective ability to integrate live events, classic fights, studio shows and behind-the-scenes features will raise the long-term profile of the sport of boxing and the athletes.”
ESPN and Top Rank struck a four-year deal in June 2017, which began with the network’s live telecast of Manny Pacquiao’s upset loss to Jeff Horn last July 2 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. That 12-round welterweight title fight drew a huge peak audience of 4.4 million viewers.
The biggest fight ESPN and Top Rank have streamed thus far on ESPN+ was undefeated Terence Crawford’s ninth-round stoppage of Horn in their welterweight title fight June 9 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The next ESPN+ offering is scheduled for Friday, when the network will stream the IBF super featherweight title bout between Philadelphia’s Tevin Farmer (25-4-1, 5 KOs, 1 NC) and Australia’s Billy Dib (43-4, 24 KOs, 1 NC) from Redfern, Australia. The 12-round, 130-pound championship bout between Farmer and Dib will start no earlier than 7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.