By Brian Webber: PBC is looking for another broadcast deal for their fighters, with Showtime rumored to be leading boxing after 2024, says Dan Rafael.
Rafael states that PBC’s contract with Showtime runs through 2024, and it’s not expected to be renewed. It’s believed that the boxing events that Showtime puts on their network in 2024 will be PPV only, which limits fans’ choices.
Rafael says Al Haymon of PBC is already searching for a new broadcast deal. Just where that will be is unclear.
DAZN has Golden Boy & Matchroom Boxing on their network, and whether they can afford to take on PBC with their huge stable of big-name fighters is unknown without them trimming the fat by eliminating one of those two if they’re underperforming.
“This was an even hotter topic than the fight between Canelo & Charlo because that’s a one-night stand, Canelo & Charlo, but Showtime has been in the business for over 30 years,” said Dan Rafael to Big Fight Weekend.
“The rumors are at the end of the year that they are out of the business, at least in terms of Showtime Championship Boxing and ShowBox. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’ve heard it from so many people who are tuned in from all walks of the industry.
“Not just boxing people, mind you. This are other people in television who know this type of situation. That will be the end of it at the end of the year. I hope that’s not true.
“There is the thought that Showtime, at least for the next year for 2024, because of my understanding, the PBC agreement that they had with them is supposed to be over by the end of 2024. I mean, the end of 2023 in terms of Showtime Championship Boxing and 2024 for other boxing, meaning pay-per-view.
“Again, my understanding is the PBC agreement with Showtime runs through the end of 2024. But at the end of 2023, and this is all related to Paramount, their parent company, doing lots of things to shake things up because they’re bleeding money, and they’ve sold Simon & Schuster, the book publisher. They have their network BET on the for-sale block, and Showtime is being integrated into the Paramount streaming service.
“So, there’s a lot of questions that surround the whole company, and Showtime Boxing is one small aspect of a smaller aspect, which is Showtime in general among their entire portfolio while they work through to decide what they’re going to do with their business.
“They’ve been cutting things that were losing money, cutting things that were making a small amount of money, and cutting things that were breaking even. It’s like nothing is sacred, frankly. So, I don’t take this personally as a boxing man if it’s true.
“If the PBC deal is expiring at the end of 2024, one scenario I have heard is they will pay a buyout to PBC for x number of dollars, and there won’t be live boxing on the network. There will be, however, a handful of pay-per-views because they do have the inventory to do big pay-per-views.
“Canelo has two fights with PBC, Tank Davis is going to be on pay-per-view, and perhaps a couple of Benavidez fights and something else could come up. So, they can get through the next year and still have a nice pay-per-view schedule, just like they did in 2023.
‘The thing is, the downside is the way you get guys to go to become pay-per-view attractions is you built them on the Showtime Championship shows on your network so the fans get to see them in other fights, and you’re not automatically paying for them.
“They can ride these guys for the time being, but what happens when Tank Davis isn’t a top fighter, or Canelo is no longer a top figure, and Benavidez is no longer a top fighter? Who is replacing them? And Showtime has been the breeding ground to bring those guys along in the same way HBO did for years.
“Obviously, Top Rank & ESPN are trying to do that. But I will tell you this that is my 100% belief that it is always the darkest before the dawn. So, if Showtime does go out like the rumors strongly suggest and, they would not directly address it when I talked to people.
“Because This is the way it’s always been, someone will come in and fill that void. It may not be the same; it may not be as good; it may not be exactly what we expect. But as an example, when HBO left in 2018, there were a few months earlier, in September of 2018 is when launched.
“Is there some issues with things that they do? Absolutely, but in large measure in activities at the championship level, they basically replaced HBO in that respect. So, I do believe that if Showtime calls it a day, if they do go forward with a handful of pay-per-views in the coming year, there will be another entity that will show up and do it.
“By the way, one other thing. It’s common knowledge in the business and not just in boxing but in the television industry that Al Haymon [of PBC] is out there talking to other places like Amazon, for example, to try and construct some kind of deal. That’s not to say that they’re going to make a deal.
“But the point is, he’s out there trying to draw something up. He knows that even if Showtime stays in business, he has such a big inventory of fighters, he needs a second outlet. That’s why, for a while, he had FOX & Showtime. When FOX went out, that was one of the reasons why these guys were so inactive.
“By the way, the final year of the FOX deal was only pay-per-views, and the only fights that appeared live on the FOX networks, either the sports or the main network, was on the night of the pay-per-views, where they would show some of the preliminary fights to try and direct people to go by the pay-per-view.
“I think Paramount Plus may not want to spend money on boxing programming. That they would rather spend their money on some kind of other programming for whatever reasons are, and they’re entitled; they’re the buyers.
“They don’t see it as the best investment for what they use their resources for, and they would be better off going and buying a golf thing, auto racing thing, or a tennis thing.
“Showtime has been part of the fixture for boxing for decades. They started in 1986 and has done some of the biggest fights in the history of sport. They’ve been part of the biggest PPVs of all time. They did all the huge Mayweather fights.
“Showtime is doing the Tim Tszyu fight in October in a couple of weeks. They are doing this November 25th ShowtimePPV event that is supposed to be Beneanvidez against Andrade. It seems obvious to me that ShoBox is a goner.
“I’ve had people at Showtime tell me that they are looking for a job because they don’t believe this is going to happen. There are people in Showtime Sports, around 30 or 40 people, looking around boxing for other gigs,”said Rafael.