Will PBC turn strategy into media rights deal?

April 24, 2017

Sports Business Journal (subscription recommended) reports on the current status of Premier Boxing Champions and its strategy of time buys across a broad landscape of networks.  The article looks at the ratings over the court of the innovative and risky experiment.

The hope was to turn the time buys into a lucrative “rights fees” deal.  This has not happened thus far.  Instead, the strategy has seemed to spread the brand thin and ratings have been sporadic.  Recently, Spike TV decided not to pick up its option for PBC stating that it would focus more on Bellator.

Per the article, there is still an opportunity for a rights fees deal but with the UFC shopping its rights package, there is some competition.  CBS might be a potential landing spot for PBC since it already has a tie-in with Showtime and has a $40 million budget for 2017.  In addition, there is the underutilized CBS Sports Network which could use additional live content.  In leadup to the last couple of PBC fights on CBS or Showtime, CBS Sports Network has shown previous fights of boxers that have upcoming fights on the networks which has served as good shoulder programming marketing the fighters.

One of the concerns for PBC is the lack of sponsors to spend consistently in the sport.  Showtime executive vice president and general manager of sports Stephen Espinoza notes that sponsors is where boxing is “living or dying.”  He believes there needs to be more education of sponsors to show that it has a valuable demo to deliver.

PBC has produced 54 cards in the last 12 months that aired across nine channels.  The highest average it has produced was 2.75 million viewers on CBS for two shows.  Its most-viewed show was a Sunday afternoon fight on NBC in August between Errol Spence-Leonard Bundu which aired immediately after the men’s basketball gold medal game.  The fight drew over 4.8 million viewers with a peak of 6.34 million.  More recently, last month’s Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia fight drew an average of 3.1 million viewers with the fight drawing 3.74 million and peaking at 5.1 million.  In February, the return of Adrien Broner on Showtime drew 779,000 of its network subscribers.

Payout Perspective:

The article notes that PBC is at a crossroads in its business model.  Based on the TV ratings, the time buy strategy has not been effective.  Despite the fact, the strategy has not produced desired results the article notes the last couple of events for PBC have produced good ratings highlighted by Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia on CBS.  We should see some decent ratings for Thurman-Andre Berto on Showtime this past Saturday.  Will PBC survive past 2017?  Better events, promoting its top fighters and maintaining a focused network strategy should help a turn around.  Of course, the networks and sponsors which would infuse PBC with an injection of money would help a business that has seeped money since the beginning.

Titan FC to air events on UFC Fight Pass

June 15, 2015

MMA Fighting reports that Titan FC has entered into a broadcasting deal with UFC Fight Pass.  The organization will air its fight on the online platform.  The first Titan FC event will air on UFC Fight Pass on July 18th.

The deal was officially announced by Jeff Aronson and Lex McMahon in an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour.  Aronson indicated that it was a long-term deal with 8-10 shows per year.  Aronson indicated that it would just be a distribution deal and not an acquisition of the company.

Prior to the deal with UFC Fight Pass, Titan FC aired on CBS Sports Network.

In addition to the new partnership with the UFC, Titan FC fighters will allow its fighters to move up to the UFC.  Also, UFC fighters may move to fight for Titan FC.

No financial terms were revealed.

Payout Perspective:

This will be a unique partnership as it will give Titan FC exposure as a company on Fight Pass although it loses its cable exposure on CBS Sports.  For the UFC, its more content for Fight Pass and it gives it a “feeder” system for up and coming fighters.  Conversely, it gives ex-UFC fighters a place to fight with hopes of returning to the UFC.  We have seen a similar situation occur with Invicta FC where it airs on Fight Pass and its fighters have the opportunity of appearing in the UFC.  We shall see if there is more to the Titan FC deal and/or if the UFC will look to more partnerships with organizations in the weeks to come.

Premier Boxing Champions signs deal with CBS Sports and Showtime

February 17, 2015

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that CBS Sports and Showtime have brokered a deal with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions to be aired on Saturday afternoons.  The sides have agreed to an 8 show deal starting April 4th featuring light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.

In addition, shoulder programming will assist in promoting the fight cards.

Prior to the announcement on Tuesday, Haymon’s PBC initiated time buys with NBC and NBC Sports Network, Spike TV and now CBS Sports and Showtime.

Payout Perspective:

It’s beginning to look a lot like everyone is an Al Haymon guy.  The boxing landscape for 2015 will have a lot of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions across multiple networks.  Certainly, this evolving strategy will be fascinating to watch as it is executed.  I am thinking that this investment will come with some blue chip sponsors that would like to advertise along some, if not all of these platforms.

Glory signs TV deal with CBS Sports Network

February 6, 2015

MMA Fighting reports that Glory kickboxing has brokered a deal with CBS Sports Network to air three shows per year.  The deal adds to the organization’s television package as it plans on nine live events per year on SpikeTV.

The CBS Sports Network deal will air Glory three times a year and will support the live event broadcasts on SpikeTV.  The CBS broadcast, “Glory Superfight Series” will feature five fights on the undercard that did not make the SpikeTV live broadcast.  Glory on CBS will be on a one-week tape delay.

Glory CEO Jon Franklin believes that this second television deal will help expand Glory’s audience base.  Franklin sees the CBS Sports deal as getting his product in front of mainstream sports fans that tune into the network as opposed to SpikeTV where the lead-in is usually Cops.

The events on CBS Sports Network will air 11pm to 1am Eastern but in prime time on the west coast.

CBS Sports Network is available to 96 million homes nationwide.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a very compelling strategy that should help Glory attempt to expand its audience.  Not only will it be on SpikeTV where the network is building out its Friday night as a “combat sports” night with MMA, Boxing and Kickboxing, it will be on a pure sports network.  MMA organization Titan FC is also on CBS Sports Network as well as boxing.  But, Glory should get some eyes from mainstream sports fans.

Titan FC signs with CBS Sports Network

January 10, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that Titan FC has signed a deal with CBS Sports Network.  The organization plans to run at least 8 shows in 2014.

The first televised event on CBS Sports Network will be on February 28th.  The event’s prelims will take place online.  The organization was recently purchased by Jeff Aronson.  Previously, Aronson ran Alchemist Management, which manages MMA fighters.  He has now purchased a majority stake in Titan FC.

Titan FC events had previously appeared on AXS TV.

Payout Perspective:

The new deal is good news for smaller fight organizations as the CBS Sports deal indicates that there is some interest in smaller organizations receiving television deals.  CBS Sports has about 30 million subscribers.  In a Sports Business Journal article, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus described the network as doing “smart deals.”  The article describes the network as having a “slow-and-steady strategy” with respect to its programming.  It will not make splashes with big deals but is trying to build smartly.  This deal gets the network into MMA and we will see where it goes from there.