Showtime will soon be done with combat sports.
In an internal memo issued Tuesday, Showtime president and CEO Chris McCarthy informed employees the network will end its boxing and MMA content at the end of 2023 in an effort to “dedicate a larger percentage of (its) resources toward premium scripted series that drive subscribers.”
Bellator was not explicitly mentioned in the memo. A person close to the situation told MMA Junkie on Tuesday they believe a sale will occur in the near future, which has been rumored for months. Showtime’s announcement to its employees was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
Bellator president Scott Coker confirmed in June that business discussions between the promotion and rival PFL were ongoing, but he’s largely remained mum on further updates since then. He spoke at length after Bellator 300 but didn’t offer much.
PFL founder Donn Davis and president Ray Sefo have teased a potential absorption, although they, too, haven’t offered any details.
Check out the full memo from McCarthy below, which MMA Junkie has acquired.
“As we continue to dedicate a larger percentage of our resources toward premium scripted series that drive subscribers for us in both Pay TV and SVOD, SHOWTIME will not be moving forward with boxing or other content produced by the SHOWTIME Sports and Event Programming Team. The company’s decision isn’t a reflection of the work the team and our partners have done, rather a reality of the world evolving and our shifting content priorities.
“For nearly 40 years, Stephen Espinoza and his team have created and delivered premium storytelling, thoughtful analysis and outstanding live production including the biggest combat sports events in history. We are deeply grateful to Stephen and the entire team whose collective contributions have helped establish SHOWTIME as the premium brand it is today.
“Under Stephen’s leadership, they have done a terrific job establishing SHOWTIME as the #1 destination for boxing around the world televising nearly 750 live boxing events and 2,000 bouts. Boxing and SHOWTIME have often been synonymous, and we are grateful for their hard work and dedication.
“While I’ve only had a few months to get to know and work with Stephen, I can easily say he is one of the most creative, strategic thinkers who deeply cares about his team, the brand, and the sports he champions. I am very thankful to him and the entire group as they have very dutifully helped us navigate this difficult transition.
“Stephen and the team will be here through December to oversee the remaining events on the 2023 boxing slate as we honor all our obligations through the end of the year.
“Please join me in thanking them.”
Questions have arisen about the scheduled Bellator 301 event Nov. 17 in Chicago, but there has been increasing confidence the event will go on as planned.
The card is headlined by welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov (27-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) vs. Jason Jackson (16-4 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) and bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis (23-5 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) vs. interim titleholder Patchy Mix (18-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA).