Dan Rafael: Sky

Sky, Matchroom extend UK TV deal

October, 4, 2013
In a major boxing television deal announced Friday, Great Britain’s Sky Sports, a subscription sports network that has been involved in boxing for many years, extended its deal with promoter Matchroom Sport.

Matchroom Sport has been the exclusive provider of fights cards to the network for the past few years and will continue to be for the next two years -- and 40 shows -- under the terms of the deal. The extension commences in June, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced.

“I'm delighted to announce a new two-year extension to our existing contract with Sky Sports, which will see us as the principle promoter on the channel to summer 2016,” Hearn said in a statement. “We have developed one of the strongest stables ever seen in world boxing and the extension gives us the perfect platform to grow our team and provide them all with the ultimate opportunity to achieve within the sport.

“Sky shares our passion and vision for the sport and is a perfect partner as we look to grow boxing significantly over the next few years. It’s exciting times for an exciting sport and we have some mouth-watering plans to share with Sky Sports viewers.”

Because Hearn has the exclusivity of the Sky platform, it has allowed him to sign many top fighters and put on the bulk of Britain’s major fights over the past few years, including those involving Carl Froch, Ricky Burns, Darren Barker, Scot Quigg, Tony Bellew and Kell Brook. It has also been a key reason he has been able to sign top prospects seeking the necessary exposure to become known to the public, including Olympic gold medalists Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell.

Said Adam Smith, executive producer of boxing, “We are confident fight fans will continue to enjoy the very best quality, innovation and excitement on Sky Sports.”

The deal also allows Hearn to make deals to secure international fights, including some of the major United States fights, such as next week’s Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez bout, Mike Alvarado-Ruslan Provodnikov on Oct. 19 and the Nov. 2 fight between Gennady Golovkin and Curtis Stevens.

Sky’s only real competition in the boxing market comes from all-boxing subscription network BoxNation, although it is in far fewer homes than Sky.

Blue Sky for British boxing

August, 28, 2012
Tony BellewDean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty ImagesTony Bellew will headline the first card in a Matchroom Sport-Sky Sports deal on Sept. 8.
Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn and Sky Sports made official on Tuesday what has been an open secret in boxing circles for months: that Matchroom will now be the principal promoter supplying the British subscription channel with its fights.

It's a big deal because Sky has for years been the main network for British boxing, like HBO and Showtime in the United States.

Matchroom and Sky announced a two-year deal for 20 cards per year, with the first show taking place when the new season kicks off on Sept. 8 in London with light heavyweight Tony Bellew headlining against Edison Miranda.

The second show of the deal will feature junior featherweight prospect Carl Frampton defending his Commonwealth title against former world titleholder Steve Molitor on Sept. 22 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Another show on the books will feature welterweight contender Kell Brook against Hector Saldivia in a title eliminator on Oct. 20 in Sheffield, England, Brook's hometown. The winner will be the mandatory challenger for the title held by Randall Bailey.

Matchroom is also responsible for the popular "Prizefighter" cards that Sky has been airing for the past few years. They feature eight fighters in the same weight class in a one-night tournament format of three-round bouts that have proven popular with viewers and gamblers.

The No. 1 fighter in the Matchroom stable is super middleweight titlist Carl Froch, whose first defense against Yusaf Mack on Nov. 17 in his hometown of Nottingham, England is also part of the deal.

Other fighters in the Matchroom stable who will appear on the shows include former middleweight title challenger Darren Barker and former junior welterweight titlist Gavin Rees.

The deal is great for Matchroom, of course, but it cuts out other British promoters who also had been doing business with Sky -- Ricky Hatton's Hatton Promotions, Frank Warren and Frank Maloney.

Warren's business is now mainly on the all-boxing subscription network that he has a stake in, BoxNation, while Maloney recently did a deal with BoxNation to feature some of his top fighters, such as heavyweight prospect David Price. Hatton's company remains without a British TV deal.