The stockpiling of sports rights continues for 21st Century Fox, which has reportedly just signed a four-year deal for Fox network, FS1 and pay-per-view telecasts of fights in the Premier Boxing Champions circuit.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Fox Sports 1 will carry 12 fights a year, with the Fox broadcast network airing 10.
After Disney closes its acquisition of most of Fox early next year, leaving behind the broadcast network, station group, FS1 and Fox News, the need for live sports will be dramatically greater. The company has anticipated that shift by inking long-term contracts for the NFL and WWE, shelling out billions.
Terms were not disclosed, but sources told the Journal the annual rights fees could exceed $50 million.
PBC fighters include Deontay Wilder, the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, and International Boxing Federation welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. Haymon Sports, a boxing manager, owns the circuit. It is operated by boxing manager Al Haymon, whose clients include Wilder and Spence as well as the retired champion Floyd Mayweather.
For Fox co-chiefs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, these past few months have been delicate, as they have had to continue shepherding development even as the community knows it is losing access to in-house supplier 20th Century Fox TV. Thus the post-merger game plan to have more than three-quarters of prime-time hours live sports. At TCA summer press tour, Walden spun the new era positively. “We will be the only network to be operating completely independently,” she said. “It will have the ability to pick up the best shows without any studio agenda.”
Fox joins ESPN as an ad-supported network investing in a hoped-for revival of boxing, which has endured a fallow period compared with its mid-20th Century heyday, as mixed-martial arts and pro wrestling have eclipsed it among ring sports. Showtime and HBO also continue to invest in boxing.