SBJ/April 23-29, 2012/Media

New Fox Sports-Golden Boy deal gives Fox Deportes, Fuel at least one live event a month

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Fox Sports continues to get in the fight game in signing a multiyear, six-figure deal with boxing promoter Golden Boy Promotions that will see Fox Deportes and Fuel carry at least one live event each month. Fox Sports Net also is expected to pick up some programming from the deal.

Coming on the heels of its UFC deal last year, this new deal shows a commitment to boxing and mixed martial arts programming on Fox’s smaller cable channels.

“This is a real opportunity for us to diversify our portfolio,” said Vincent Cordero, executive vice president and general manager of Fox Deportes. “This is a big-time feather in our cap.”

The Univision-owned Telefutura network still holds many U.S. rights to Golden Boy programming, including the U.S. rights to the popular series “Solo Boxeo.” Fox picked up rights to the “Solo Boxeo” series in Mexico, Central America, and territories in South America and the Caribbean. HBO and Showtime also hold U.S. rights to marquee events, though Fox Sports Brazil picked up the rights to HBO, Showtime and ShoBox events produced by Golden Boy as part of the deal.

One of the key U.S. programming aspects will see Fox Deportes carry 44 live events in the deal’s first year. The contract officially kicks off with a May 4 event in Las Vegas on Fox Deportes (Daniel Ponce De Leon against Eduardo Lazcano).

Negotiations started late last year, and while terms were not disclosed, sources said Fox will pay a six-figure rights fee to Golden Boy for the events. The deal is significant for boxing, as it shows that the sport still can command a rights fee. Not too long ago, the only way boxing would appear on basic cable would be to forgo the rights fee, said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.

“This shows a renewed interest in the sport of boxing. It’s a step in the right direction,” Schaefer said. “Boxing is, maybe, the last great deal networks can cut when it comes to sports content.”

The deal runs for 15 months, with mutual options to extend it multiple years, Schaefer said.

Golden Boy has deals with premium channels HBO and Showtime, which still will carry the marquee bouts. But Schaefer said he is particularly excited to bring its matches to potentially bigger audiences. While there are no plans to carry fights on Fox’s broadcast channel, Schaefer said he hopes that remains an option.

“This allows us to build up and showcase the next generation of superstars,” he said.

The Golden Boy deal includes archive footage that the Fox networks can use for shoulder programming.

Fox Deportes’ Cordero said his network carried a Golden Boy event March 31 (Jorge Linares against Sergio Thompson from Cancun, Mexico) that drew 40,000 viewers, which was a significant increase from a year earlier. From March 26 to April 15, Golden Boy programming averaged 67,000 viewers on Fox Deportes, up 31 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The deal also has an international component, giving Fox rights to U.S.-produced fights in Latin America, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. It has rights to Mexico-produced fights in most of South America, the Caribbean and Europe.

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