Showtime Punches Up Marketing Efforts for Errol Spence-Yordenis Ugás PPV Boxing Event

(Image credit: Showtime)

Showtime hopes to give a big promotional punch to Saturday’s Errol Spence Jr.-Yordenis Ugás welterweight championship pay-per-view fight by showcasing a live fight card on the premium channel and on YouTube leading into the PPV event. 

The premium network enters the pay-per-view boxing ring for the first time this year with its Spence-Ugás event, which will retail at a suggested price of $79.99. The fight, a unification of three welterweight titles, pits arguably the sport’s pound-for-pound champion in Spence against Ugás, who defeated Manny Pacquiao last August. Spence was initially scheduled to fight Pacquiao, but had to pull out of the fight with an eye injury. 

Showtime Sports & Event Programming President Stephen Espinoza said Spence is also among the sport’s biggest PPV draws, having pulled in nearly 500,000 buys for his last fight, a 2020 win against Danny Garcia. His return to the ring after the eye injury should drive boxing fans’ interest in the fight. 

“We have a long history with Spence going back to his pro debut, and this matchup falls right within our wheelhouse of us trying to provide elite matchups at the highest level of the sport,” he said.

Showtime will support the fight with a live, two-fight boxing event that will air on the premium service Saturday night prior to the PPV event. Espinoza said the fight card -- which features the Radzhab Butaev-Eimantas Stanionis welterweight bout as well as the Brandun Lee-Zachary Ochoa super lightweight match -- is also one of the main highlights of the network’s current subscriber acquisition campaign offering Showtime free to non-subscribers for 30-days. The Showtime fight card will also be offered for free on the network’s YouTube page. 

“There’s a lot of value in this offering,” Espinoza said. “We’re trying to make it as easy for subscribers and non-subscribers to enjoy a great day of boxing as possible.”

Espinoza wouldn’t predict how many buys Spence-Ugás would generate, but he did say that he expects the fight to do very well. “This is as tough of a fight as Errol has had arguably in his career, and with the stakes of three championship belts on the line, there’s a lot to attract the boxing fan," he said. "Errol has a pretty well established track record of over 300,000 pay-per-view buys in his past fights – we certainly see that as a floor with the potential for more than that.”

Spence-Ugás is the first of at least four PPV boxing events Showtime is planning to distribute in 2022. The network already has scheduled a May 28 Gervonta “Tank” Davis-Rolando Romero PPV fight. Espinoza said Showtime will use the PPV platform only for big PPV events featuring the top fighters in the sport.

“Pay-per-view is a useful tool to help finance fights that wouldn’t otherwise happen without the pay-per-view revenue mechanism,” he said. “Our core business remains programming for Showtime – we have the deepest and highest profile schedule of any network in the sport – but occasionally we have to use that mechanism to allow fights to happen.” ■

R. Thomas Umstead

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.