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U.S. TV deal for Joshua-Klitschko still not settled

Joshua-Klitschko is less than three weeks away and the US television rights still haven’t been settled.

Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko Press Conference Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Settling the U.S. television rights for the big fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko has proven to be more difficult than putting the actual fight together itself. Joshua and Klitschko are scheduled to fight on April 29, but with less than three weeks away from fight night there still hasn’t been any announcement about how the fight will air Stateside.

According to an ESPN report, the is currently a $3M+ offer on the table from both HBO and Showtime who have struck deals with Joshua’s Matchroom Boxing and Klitschko’s K2 Promotions. But the snag appears to be the fact that Showtime has Joshua under contract while HBO has Klitschko, and neither network is eager to concede their rights.

Because of this, both networks have been trying to find a way to work out the logistics since the Joshua-Klitschko fight won’t be pay-per-view here in the States - meaning that both networks can’t just split the revenue like they have in the past with fights such as Mayweather-Pacquiao.

But according to ESPN’s sources, the networks have come to an understanding on the most critical aspect of a deal: Showtime airing the fight live in the late afternoon and HBO broadcasting a tape-delay version during prime time. This would mean that Showtime would pay significantly more money for the fight as they’d get the live coverage.

However since Joshua and Klitschko have a two-fight deal on the table, these costs are expected to even out as the networks would flip the arrangement for the contracted rematch -- with HBO airing the sequel live and Showtime airing the tape delay broadcast. But then again, there is no guarantee that a rematch will take place at all. Lots of things can happen in this sport and should Klitschko lose, he may just decide to hang up the gloves.

That aside, the networks have also reportedly agreed to send both of their production teams to Wembley Stadium to set up their respective telecasts, rather than do it from their studios in the States. And with all that said, it would seem that the deal between HBO and Showtime is basically finished, but at least one source says that things still haven’t been finalized because “there are games being played on both sides.”

A lot of this has to do with jockeying for position to get an edge in their respective promotions. A source says that HBO had wanted to make their announcement for the Joshua-Klitschko telecast during the Lomachenko-Sosa card this past weekend but that Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza pushed back because it would’ve given HBO a head start. These competing interests have lead to one source telling ESPN:

“There’s a lot of gamesmanship going on on the part of both networks. Who knows what they’re going to do or if they’re even willing to go with the deal they’ve negotiated at this point.”

HBO is also reported to be highly concerned about what Showtime is planning to in the four-hour window between the end of their live broadcast in the afternoon and the start of HBO’s tape-delay broadcast during prime time. HBO wants to ensure that Showtime won’t release any footage of the fight, publicize the results, nor do anything to help spread the word about the results (which would presumably be a reference to social media postings).

With the Joshua-Klitschko fight just around the corner, the two major networks will have to come to a resolution soon. The longer they take to announce their plans for televising the fight in the U.S., the more it hurts the promotion for each network.

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