ESPN and Top Rank, the world’s premier boxing promotional company, today announced the most comprehensive, exclusive rights agreement in the history of boxing.
This new seven-year deal runs from 2018 to 2025 and includes 54 events per year, as well as a full offering of exclusive shoulder programming, classic fights and studio content.
Top Rank on ESPN content will air on ESPN linear networks or stream on ESPN+ — the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.
This new agreement is the result of the huge success of the first year of Top Rank on ESPN. It will allow for a comprehensive alliance between Top Rank and ESPN’s leading networks and platforms to showcase even more Top Rank content, including live events, additional original programming and library content.
Highlights from the first year of Top Rank on ESPN include:
1. Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn (July 1, 2017) – The “Battle of Brisbane” had an average viewership of 3.1 million viewers and a peak of 4.4 million viewers, making it the highest-rated boxing telecast on cable since 2006 and ESPN’s highest-rated boxing telecast since 1995. Horn defeated Pacquiao by unanimous decision in a thrilling match.
2. Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux (Dec. 9, 2017) – Second most-watched cable boxing telecast of 2017, averaging 1.85 million viewers. It was the first boxing match in history to feature two two-time Olympic gold medalists.
3. Terence Crawford vs. Jeff Horn (June 9, 2018) and Manny Pacquiao vs. Lucas Matthysse (July 14, 2018) – Pound-for-pound elite Crawford won the WBO welterweight title over Horn in an event that drove subscriptions and was streamed live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+, ESPN’s new and innovative direct-to-consumer streaming service. The only eight-division champion in boxing history, Pacquiao headlined a second sensational fight on ESPN+, winning the WBA “regular” world welterweight title in a seventh-round TKO of Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
4. Terence Crawford vs. Julius Indongo (Aug. 19, 2017) – Crawford unified all four 140-pound titles with a third-round TKO over Indongo, becoming the first undisputed champion in boxing (in any weight class) since 2005.
5. Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares (May 12, 2018) – Thus far, it is the most-watched cable boxing broadcast of 2018. Lomachenko dethroned Linares to win the WBA lightweight title, becoming the fastest fighter to win world titles in three weight classes. Lomachenko accomplished that feat in 12 fights, breaking the previous record held by Jeff Fenech, who did it in 20 professional fights.
In the new deal, the 54 live events provide fans with a consistent boxing destination that showcases not only the finest of U.S. and international championship matchups, but also comprehensive coverage of up-and-coming prospects and contenders.
The exclusive live event breakdown per year is as follows:
– 18 events on ESPN
– 12 exclusive, prime time events on ESPN+
– 24 premium international events on ESPN+
– Undercard coverage of all 54 events on ESPN+
Subscribers to ESPN+ will also have access to a variety of new and existing boxing content throughout the year, including:
· The Boxing Beat with Dan Rafael (Tuesdays)
· In this Corner (twice monthly)
· Camp Life
· The unmatched, on-demand treasure chest of the greatest fights of all time, including hundreds of fights from the ESPN Big Fights Library and the Top Rank archive, including Ali vs. Frazier I-III, Ali vs. Foreman, Leonard vs. Duran I-III, Hagler vs. Hearns and Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, among many more
· Re-airs of all Top Rank on ESPN and Top Rank on ESPN PPV bouts
· Weigh-ins, post-fight interviews, and press conferences
Boxing news, information, and opinion will also appear across ESPN platforms and new programs will be developed and announced at a later date.
Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks, said: ESPN is thrilled with this new long-term agreement with Top Rank, which represents the most innovative and comprehensive relationship in the world of boxing today. By creating and distributing significantly more Top Rank events and boxing content, ESPN and Top Rank will jointly cultivate upcoming fighters and fights, creating the stars of tomorrow while providing fans with the sport’s best content in a more personalized manner.”
Todd duBoef, President of Top Rank, said: “This partnership will continue to bring the biggest events and best fighters from around the world to ESPN networks. Our collective ability to integrate live events, classic fights, studio shows, and behind-the-scenes features will raise the long-term profile of the sport of boxing and the athletes.”
Added Kevin Mayer, Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International, The Walt Disney Company, “This expanded relationship with Top Rank increases the ability of ESPN+ to serve boxing fans better than ever and allows us to continue to build more direct relationships with this incredibly passionate audience.”
Launched in April, ESPN+ is an integrated part of a completely redesigned ESPN App. Already the leading sports app, the new ESPN App is the premier all-in-one digital sports platform for fans and highlights the company’s culture of innovation. With a richer, increasingly more personalized experience, the new ESPN App curates all of ESPN’s incredible content into an experience unique to each fan’s individual tastes. ESPN+ is also available through ESPN.com.
The deal with ESPN was brokered by Creative Artists Agency (CAA) on behalf of its client, Top Rank.