Showtime and HBO enter the TV boxing ring together on April 29 to co-televise the Vladimir Klitschko-Anthony Joshua heavyweight championship fight – the first time the two networks have come together to televise a non-pay-per-view boxing match.
After the fight however, the two networks will retreat into their neutral corners with two distinctly different strategies on distributing live boxing matches.
Showtime, which only a few years ago was arguably the most prolific distributor of marque pay-per-view fights in the industry, is now focusing on putting its biggest and best fights via its premium service and on broadcast television through its sister broadcast network CBS.
In fact, the network’s last high-profile PPV fight was Floyd Mayweather’s fairwell fight in September 2015 against Andre Berto. That came four months after Showtime and HBO hooked up to co-distribute the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight -- the most lucrative PPV event of all time.
Since then, Showtime has offered several quality primetime fights featuring the top names in boxing today, including welterweight champion, Keith Thurman, heavyweight champs Joshua and Deontay Wilder, and former champions Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Adrien Broner.
The network recently released its upcoming fight schedule that will offer big fights featuring light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson and welterweight champion Kell Brook among others, but none that will be offered on a PPV basis.
That leaves HBO as the main distributor of PPV boxing fights. The network, which has already distributed one high-profile PPV boxing event this year – the March Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs fight drew 170,000 buys according to published reports – will return to the PPV ring next week (May 6) with the highly-anticipated Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight. Also on tap for the pay network is a June 17 Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight championship rematch and a potential July PPV fight featuring Pacquiao.
As for tonight’s Klitschko-Joshua fight, Showtime will air the fight live this afternoon at 4:15 while HBO will distribute the bout on a taped delayed basis at 11 p.m.