Premium movie service Epix’s
March 19 live telecast of the Vitali Klitschko-
Odlanier Solis heavyweight-championship
fight could be the first of several ring-sports
events to air on the network.
The fight, to originate live
from Germany on the network
and on Epix’s broadband channel,
will be the first live boxing
telecast for the year-old service.
Epix CEO Mark Greenberg
— who presided over a number
boxing events in the
1990s while at Showtime
— said the plan
all along has been for
ring-sports events to
complement a lineup
of theatrical films
and original specials.
“In our original
business plan, we thought there
was an opportunity in ring sports —
whether it was [mixed martial arts],
wrestling or boxing,” he said. “We’ll
see what kind of reaction we get
from this and where we go beyond
this, but we thought this would be
the fun thing to do. A world heavyweight
championship fight like this
is a great opportunity to bring in the
casual sports fan.”
Showtime, too, is taking a more
aggressive play this year in the boxing
space behind premium category
leader HBO, both on the network
and via PPV. It was scheduled to distribute
the March 12 Miguel Cotto-
Ricardo Mayorga fight — its first PPV
boxing event since 2005 — as
well as the May 7 Manny Pacquiao-
Shane Mosley bout.
Greenberg said Epix will be
in its move toward ring sports
contests. While the sport lacks a
number of big marquee boxers,
its box-office appeal is cyclical
and eventually young, marketable
fighters will emerge.
“If you look at the last
five years, the category as a
whole has seen a decline of
events, but there is still an
interest in the sport,” he said.
“There aren’t any Tysons on
the horizon yet, but you never know when the
next one comes along. We want to make sure
that when it happens we’re in a position to
have those discussions.”
As the network offers more events, Greenberg
said having a broadband platform could
help attract younger audiences to the sport.
“If we do this right we have to rekindle a bigger
interest in boxing and find ways to attract a
younger audience,” he said. “Hopefully we can
help breathe some new life into the sport.”
PREMIUM TV’S BOXING CARD
(MAIN-EVENT FIGHTS LISTED)
Epix: Vitali Klitschko-Odlanier Solis, heavyweights
Showtime: Lucian Bute vs. Brian Magee, super middleweights
HBO: Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Jorge Solis, featherweights
Showtime: Marcus Johnson vs. Dyah Ali Davis, 10 rounds, super
HBO PPV: Erik Morales vs. Marcos Maidana, 12 rounds, junior
HBO: Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz, welterweights; Amir Khan vs.
Paul McCloskey, junior welterweights
Showtime PPV: Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley, welterweights
Showtime: Andre Ward vs. Arthur Abraham, super middleweights
HBO: Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins, light heavyweights
Showtime: Carl Froch vs. Glen Johnson, super middleweights
SOURCE: Epix, HBO, Showtime, ESPN
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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