HBO has found their successor to the departed Ross Greenburg as the head of HBO Sports, and it's a name familiar to boxing fans: Ken Hershman, the executive vice president and GM of Showtime Sports. From Broadcasting & Cable:
Showtime Thursday confirmed that sports chief Ken Hershman has left the company, and sources say HBO Sports is expected to formally name him to replace Ross Greenburg.
A Showtime spokesperson released the following statement to B&C: "Sports has been an important part of our content lineup at Showtime for many years. We have a great team and great programming in place and our commitment to sports remains strong. We have no announcement about a successor at this time, when we do we will let everyone know."
Hershman has been at Showtime since 1992, and his move to HBO is huge stuff in the boxing world, at least as far as U.S. televised boxing is concerned. Hershman has been widely credited with finding innovative and creative ways to keep Showtime relatively competitive with HBO in the boxing department, most notably the Super Six World Boxing Classic, which wraps up in December after a rocky but overall successful two-year run, and he was instrumental in what almost everyone believes was the nail in Greenburg's coffin at HBO, poaching Manny Pacquiao from HBO in a shock move earlier this year. It was just a one-fight stint for Manny at Showtime, but Hershman and Co. helped get boxing a brief presence on network TV again with that fight.
And he did all of that at Showtime. Imagine what he might be able to do with HBO's bigger money, bigger subscriber base, and bigger ability to land and keep the top fighters in the world.
HBO has already shown improvement in the second half of 2011, so Hershman coming on board should keep that momentum rolling. It's worth wondering what he's like with a major budget, though. There is a legitimate worry that he might get lazy with everything being that much easier. Things like the Super Six didn't come easy, and took a lot of work on his part. But doing something similar at HBO would, in theory, be far easier. This could be both a good and bad thing.
Showtime has no successor in place for Hershman, and I wouldn't expect them to name anyone to a long-term position until 2012. As a boxing fan, without being corny, I'd like to tip my hat to what Hershman did at Showtime, and I feel good for him that his hard work has rewarded him with this opportunity. It's not about HBO being better at Showtime, but facts are facts, and HBO is the bigger fish. Hershman was absolutely, 100%, without question the man most qualified for the job at HBO Sports, and it's good to see that guy get it. Hopefully the move is good for everyone.