Former Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza took some time to discuss PBC’s upcoming debut on Amazon Prime under their new deal, and how he’s been helping to facilitate the change as PBC must not build out their infrastructure to produce all of their own shows. Here’s some of what he had to say below.
Stephen Espinoza on his current role with PBC and Amazon Prime
“Right now it’s unofficial, to be honest...right now I’ve got a lot of close friends and have done a lot of business with PBC — they’re in a transition period into like a phenomenal opportunity, an opportunity I think can change the trajectory of the sport and really bring the sport in front of a lot of people that it really hasn’t been in front of.
“So whether I’m officially involved or not officially involved, I have love for the sport, I have love for these people. I want to make sure they’re good. So if I can help and contribute to a transition, you know, it’s a big change. You’re going from a network that has been in for almost 40 years, assumed a lot of things from PR to marketing to social media, and now you’ve got to build that entire structure.
“So I’m helping them do that. We’ll see what the future holds but for the time being I’m just part of the team that’s making sure that this event (Thurman vs Tszyu) comes off as smoothly as it can.”
On how much authority he has at this point, and in his current role
“I’m not president of anything, anymore. I don’t have a department working with me. It’s more of a collaboration because, again, I didn’t do everything and determine everything in my old role. I think people saw me as the head of an organization but clearly there’s a lot of talented people who deserve more credit than me.
“But now it’s a team of people and we’re putting together a new team. Because one of the things, the network was producing these fights for the last 37 years, now the way Amazon is working — the PPV deal and not the PPV deal — PBC is producing. So you have to put together a team: a social media team, a marketing team, a production team. That’s what I’m helping do: identify good people, good opportunities, help structure the telecast so it looks like something fresh and new and something we can all be proud of going forward.”
On how PBC’s deal with Amazon Prime differs from the NFL
“It’s a little bit of a hybrid on Thursday Night (Football). Thursday Night is actually produced by NBC, the game itself. So Amazon does like pre and post-game. It’s all branded Amazon Prime.
“There’s a lot of people that produce football, college football, NFL. There’s a much smaller group of people — it’s a specialty to produce combat sports, and boxing particular. So I think from (Amazon’s) perspective they said, ‘look, you guys know more about this than we do, you put together the team.’ They’re certainly having input, there’s conversation going back and forth, ‘who’s going to be the on-air talent, what is the look gonna feel like, what technology is being used?’
“So there’s a lot of conversations but ultimately in terms of actually producing it, it’s going to be PBC, which is sort of the wave of the future. If we look at Apple with MLS, MLS is doing the production. So we’re seeing a lot of trends like that in the sport where the league is actually handling the production rather than the network.”