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Stephen Espinoza responds to questions about Showtime’s future in boxing

The Showtime executive says talks of his company getting out of the boxing business after their recent merger isn’t in the plans.

Stephen Espinoza talks about Showtime’s place in boxing and what the deal is with Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence.
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza caught up with Marcos Villegas of Fight Hub TV to talk about the on and off negotiations between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence, his company’s role in those talks, and why recent suggestions of Showtime getting out of boxing is just silly. Check out some excerpts of what Espinoza had to say below.

Espinoza on if Crawford’s free agent status hindered making a fight with Spence

“I don’t think it was a lack or presence of a promoter (for Crawford) that caused it to break down the first time...I think it was just different expectations and not being able to get to the same page. And then at a certain point Crawford went in a different direction.”

On if he’s re-engaged Crawford in talks for a Spence fight

“This is one where you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. And so, look, I want to insert myself where we can be helpful, but I’m not demanding a role in this. This is largely a conversation between Crawford and PBC and TGB as it should be because they’re sort of negotiating the terms of the fight and the business.

“So where I can be helpful and provide some information or explain sort of how a deal like this works, I’ll explain that. But until someone tags me in and says ‘we can really use the network to mediate’ or do something like that, I’ll sit back because the last thing we need is too many cooks in the kitchen.”

On Showtime’s impending merger with Paramount+ and what that will mean for their boxing programming going forward

“It’s a change that’s pretty common in the industry. If you look at what Disney as done, and has done really well in terms of integrating multiple programming services within one app — there’s a certain efficiency there. Warner Brothers is going to go the same way with HBO and Discovery at some point, they’re going to put them both on one app and one service.

“So from a purely financial and business standpoint, once we re-merged with Viacom and became eventually Paramount it doesn’t make sense to have two different streaming organizations within the one, you’ve got multiple apps within the same company. So I think there’s a super-competitive streaming environment out there and it’s better to compete as one combined entity than to try to sink or swim on our own.

“So this is just in furtherance of what’s happening across the industry: trying to provide the strongest offering in a super-competitive streaming environment. Now in terms of what it does for boxing — look, in the short term there is no change. We are probably a few days away from announcing a really ambitious schedule, a really robust active schedule. Some of it has start to leak out but a lot of that has not. So there is no change going forward.”

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