RingTV.com spoke to Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports, regarding his perspective on Saturday night’s premiere of All Acess: Mayweagther vs, Canelo, Jhonny Gonzalez’s first-round knockout of Abner Mares, and the potential for an Adrien Broner–Marcos Maidana fight.
Espinoza defended the numbers for All Access: Mayweather vs. Canelo, which chronicles the lives of Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez going into their Sept. 14 megafight. Time Warner Cable and CBS, Showtime’s parent company, are in a dispute over rights fees, resulting in blackouts of CBS and Showtime in areas that include the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.
Golden Boy Promotions has had hopes that the anticipated Showtime Pay Per View battle could surpass the all-time record of 2.5 million pay per view buys generated by Mayweather’s victory over Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
A three-division titlewinner, Mares wants a rematch with Gonzalez, who dethroned him as WBC featherweight titleholder. But if not Gonzalez, then Mares wants his next fight to be against newly-crowned WBC junior featherweight beltholder Leo Santa Cruz.
Espinoza also gave his thoughts on a possible matchup between the hard-hitting Maidana and Broner, who dethroned Paulie Malignaggi by split-decision for the WBA’s 147-pound belt and his third title in as many divisions.
Stephen Espinoza on the Nielsen Ratings numbers attritubted to the All Access: Mayweather vs. Canelo premiere, a total of 225,000 viewers:
“We’re very happy with the viewership of All Access. Well over half a million people saw the first episode of All Access on the premiere night, which is a very good number. That number does not include the number of viewers who saw it on Univision later that night or on the CBS Sports Network the day after.
“We ran All-Access before the Gonzalez-Mares fight, and after the fight later that night. So if you include those numbers, then well over half a million — 530,000 to be exact — watched the episode on the premiere night. So what certain people fail to either recognize or appreciate is that our strategy is very different from our competitors when it comes to this type of program.
“We’re happy to share this program with a variety of outlets to give it the maximum exposure. All Access is available on Showtime’s YouTube Channel, and on the Sho.com website, and through all of our affiliates and distributors.
“It’s on the CBS Sports Network and on Univision, and in a variety of different places. So, by definition, when you spread the distribution over a variety of outlets, the numbers for any particular outlet may not be as high, but the aggregate total viewership is something that we can get very excited about.
“The number that is being reported is 225,000, and it’s being compared to the premiere of De La Hoya-Mayweather’s 24/7, which was 1.44 million viewers. But that was also six years ago, and they aired it right after the Sopranos and Entourage. That’s apples and oranges.
“There have been no other 24/7 that did 1.4 million during it’s premiere. First of all, we did well over half a million on the premiere night as it is, and that number by itself is something that we’re very happy about. On top of that, we’re sharing it with a number of other outlets, such as Univision as well.
“So, that is aggregate viewership beyond what the Nielsen ratings include. What we feel is much more relevant is how many viewers see the episode before the fight. So I think that the headline for us is that well over half a million people watched the premiere of All Access, and, as I said, that’s something that we’re very happy with.”
On the notion of a rematch between Gonzalez and Mares:
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit that Abner would immediately want the rematch or another tough fight, because that’s who Abner is. He doesn’t know how to take it easy and he doesn’t want to take it easy. It’s in his DNA to want to challenge himself.
“So, one of the reasons that the Showtime audience, our boxing fans, have fallen in love with Abner is for exactly that reason. He takes tough fights and he asks a lot of himself. He challenges himself. Up to now, he’s met every challenge.
“But this is a new challenge for him, responding to a loss. But I’m confident that he’s going to meet that challenge, just like he’s met every other challenge, and he’ll do it with dedication and persistence and with incredible commitment to his sport.
“I have not spoken to [Golden Boy CEO] Richard Schaefer. We’ve touched on it briefly. But if Abner wants a rematch, and Richard’s in agreement, well, that will make three of us who wants that fight.”
On the potential for Mares-Santa Cruz:
“That’s a fight that may be even more exciting, just given the styles of the two fighters. But I would be fine either way. If Abner wants to right back in and try to avenge his loss, then I’m up for that one as well.
“Then again, if he decides that he wants to go against Santa Cruz, then that’s certainly no disappointment and no let-down in the level of competition.”
On referee Jack Reiss’ stoppage in the Gonzalez-Mares fight:
“You know, I’ve seen the stoppage several times. I’m not a referee, and I haven’t been in the ring having to make those split-second decisions in a short amount of time, and I recognize that.
“But in retrospect, I was surprised that Abner didn’t get more of a count. He barely got a count of two, and I don’t think that the referee even got to three when the referee waved it off.
“Clearly, it must have been something that he saw, but I think that Abner — given where it was in the fight and given his past history — had earned at least more of a count it seems. That’s just my personal opinion.”
On Mares’ fan appeal:
“His fan base and his visibility within the sport and the appreciation of him took a giant leap when he beat Ponce de Leon on the Mayweather-Guerrero undercard in May. That’s a huge audience that saw him. That was perhaps his best performance today against a very big, strong opponent.
“I don’t think that anyone expected Abner to win by stoppage, and that’s what he did. He was popular before that and he had a great performance. So his fan base has grown by leaps and bounds.
“The testament to that was the crowd at The StubHub Center on Saturday night. It was one of the largest crowds in the history of that venue, which is something that he can be very proud of.”
On Broner-Maidana potentially landing as a Nov. 9 pay per view event:
“It’s still premature to really say that. There are a lot of moving pieces to the fall schedule that still need to fall into place.
“Once we get past Sept. 14, I don’t think that there’s a bigger fight that is being discussed than Broner-Maidana.
“Whether it’s going to happen on Nov. 9, or on a different date, that’s one that I think that any fan in the sport would have to be looking forward to.”
Photos by Esther Lin, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org