SAN DIEGO, March 18, 2015 – The Al Haymon boxing empire invaded two more TV nations today. Haymon Boxing announced Wednesday ESPN would begin televising the “Premier Boxing Champions” series starting in July in a multi-year agreement.
PBC on ESPN will offer 12 two-hour live telecasts, starting on July 11 at 9 p.m. ET. The ESPN shows will air live in primetime. In addition, boxing returns to ABC on Saturday afternoons, although there were no specific details provided yet.
ESPN Deportes, the Spanish language network, will also air the PBC on ESPN cards as part of its “Noche de Combates” series.
Options for live online viewing will include WatchESPN, smartphone and table streaming, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecase, Roku, Xbox 360 and (whew) Xbox One. You couldn’t miss this stuff if you tried.
What does this mean for ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights”? Wave goodbye. After 17 years on the air, FNF will air its last event on May 22 with the finals of its Boxcino tournament.
When Haymon Boxing announced it would be televising Friday cards on a regular basis, observers wondered what kind of impact the richer resources PBC could offer would mean to the long running Friday series on ESPN. FNF is the minor leagues of boxing, admittedly and proudly so. Would the casual viewer still tune in when bigger names would be offered down the dial at the same time?
In a written statement, ESPN president John Skipper said, “ESPN has a long history of carrying world-class boxing events and the new Premier Boxing Champions series continues our commitment to the sport with premier-level primetime fights previously only available on premium cable networks.”
PBC on ESPN shows will be produced by ESPN. The good news (or the bad, depending on your point of view): the announcing team of Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will move over to the PBC on ESPN to call the fights ringside on Saturdays.
ESPN3 will present non-televised undercard bouts and weigh-ins live leading up to the fights. Stories about the fighters and the fights will also be featured on ESPN.com and on SportsCenter.
What type of fights will fans get to see in this new era for ESPN? PBC on ESPN will have access to all of Al Haymon’s stable of 100-plus boxers. Don’t expect to see Floyd Mayweather or even someone like Keith Thurman, but you could see quality competitors who lack general name ID like Danny Garcia or Deontay Wilder. The guys from the dry cleaners who sometimes ended up on FNF should be a thing of the past.
Nevertheless, it is the end of an era for fight fans. At a time when the only other options were attending live, or premium cable, ESPN stuck with boxing. It began televising boxing its first year on the air, in 1980. Boxing had not been aired on a weekly basis on TV since 1964. ESPN’s Friday Night Fights gave the public the first look at some rising stars of boxing. Bouts could be a treasure hunt with some hits and more misses, but it never failed to produce action for the fans week in and week out.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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