ESPN (DIS) has reached an agreement with boxing promotor Top Rank, that gives the network exclusive rights to air the promotions’ fights on their TV networks, the ESPN app, their DTC streaming service and on PPV. The partnership likely means the end of the long-standing PPV relationship between Top Rank and HBO (TWX). ESPN will air 18 Top Rank main events in the first year of the deal, with the first coming on September 22nd, featuring Oscar Valdez and Gilberto Ramirez. Financial terms of the deal have not been released, but the agreement is expected to run for 4 years.
Howie Long-Short: While financial terms haven’t been released, you can use the existing UFC/Fox Sports (FOXA) deal as a frame of reference. Fox Sports currently pays the UFC $115 million/year for its broadcast rights. It has been rumored that when the UFC/Fox Sports contract expires in 2018, the UFC will be seeking upwards of $450 million/year under the terms of a new deal.
Fan Marino: 2017 has shown if you put high quality fights on network/cable television, people will tune in. July’s Pacquiao/Jeff Horn fight did 4.4 million viewers, the most for a fight on cable television since 1995; while the March ‘17 Keith Thurman/Danny Garcia bout peaked at 5.1 million viewers, the most for a fight on network TV since 1998.