Stephen Espinoza serves as Executive Vice President, General Manager, Showtime Sports and Event Programming, reporting directly to Showtime Networks Inc. Chairman and CEO Matthew C. Blank. As head of SHOWTIME Sports, Espinoza is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the sports and event group, including developing and executing the overall strategy of the group and its pay-per-view unit, managing the network’s relationships with distributors, talent and suppliers, and the acquisition and licensing of SHOWTIME and pay-per-view sports and event programming. The network’s current hard-hitting sports programming includes SHOWTIME Championship Boxing®, ShoBox: The New Generation, Jim Rome on SHOWTIME, 60 Minutes Sports, and the Emmy® Award-winning INSIDE THE NFL.
The Mayweather-McGregor fight has the potential to be the biggest event in boxing or MMA history, surpassing the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, which sold an estimated 4.4 million buys and about $600 million in 2015. A fight in which Pacquiao grossed over $125 million for his 36 minutes in the ring to Mayweather ’s $240 million. Altough the fight made both these men much wealthier, it did not live up to its expectation. It turned out to be a lackluster boxing match and the fans were not happy. This happens in the sport of boxing, sometimes fights and the fighters themselves are unpredictable. You can witness a breathtaking match or one that you can’t wait for it to finish, this goes with the sport aka “the sweet science” and “the hurt business”.
One thing is certain in any fight, one punch can change everything. There is a correlation between boxing and life in which one more thought, one more attempt, one more try can change a person’s life, just like, one punch a fighter throws can change not only the outcome of the fight but their whole life as well, it’s one of the reasons boxing can be so dramatic and one of the reasons why many love the sport of boxing, myself included. It’s also the reason why Hollywood has a love affair with boxing (with so many great boxing films), it’s not so much the actual boxing, it’s the human spirit, the will to survive and the will to win or not, which is very transparent in that ring, fighters have no place to hide. Boxers can’t take a break if their hurt, tired and beaten, they can’t go sit in the dugout or be benched by the coach to be brought back in later in the game. They don’t have their team mates to fill in for them, they are all alone, with their fists but more importantly with their heart and soul, ready to face victory, defeat, hospitalization and even death. There’s an honor in that.
Many insiders and industry experts are predicting that the Mayweather-McGregor fight may sell as much as 10 million pay per view buys and sell upwards of $1 Billion dollars! This is how big this event can potentially be; according to Yahoo sports, the Super Bowl is annually the biggest betting event of the year in the U.S. This year, though, it may be eclipsed by a the Mayweather-McGregor fight on August 26. Kevin Bradley, the sports book manager of Bovada.lv, said betting on Mayweather-McGregor has been massive already.
Forbes has stated that the biggest single day event in sports history was last year’s super bowl, which set a record for U.S. TV audience of 106.5 million with a brand value of $420 million. So, in terms of money (sales) the 2015 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was by-far, the biggest event in sports history with $600 million, not the super bowl and the upcoming May-Mac fight could surpass it. Both events had Espinoza’s signature on it. With all the hype surrounding May-Mac event, I don’t see enough being written or covered on the person who was instrumental in making both these deals happen, and that is Mr. Stephen Espinoza and Showtime, the company that employees him and believed in his vision and expertise as an executive in the business of boxing and in sports in general. We want to highlight this and give credit where credit is due, as this event will be historic, in terms of business success, and hopefully will turn out to be an exciting fight, we’ll see. It was also, Espinoza who initially singed Mayweather to the richest contract in boxing history in 2013 when they agreed on a six fight deal with a guarantee of $200 million and with pay per view revenues could surpass $250 million, this negotiation is also historic in terms of the revenue generated and paid to a single athlete for six performances.
The boxing fans and are not too thrilled about the upcoming May-Mac fight because they believe that it will not be competitive, as McGregor has never put on boxing gloves or fought in a boxing ring. Most believe it will be an easy night for Mayweather, and that all McGregor has is a punchers chance. Some say that this event is good for boxing and combat sports because it is generating excitement and will possibly bring in new fans to the sport, as it is generating interest from casual and non-fight fans. One thing is for sure, it does have entertainment value. The global 4 city tour, which were held in LA, NY, Canada and London where full to capacity, and that’s just for the press-event conferences with both Mayweather and McGregor talking more trash then a Times Square hustler during the Christmas season.
More on Stephen Espinoza
Prior to joining SHOWTIME, Espinoza was a partner in the firm of Ziffren Brittenham LLP. At the firm, he specialized in representing athletes and sports personalities, including professional boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson, who generated a total of over $500 million in pay-per-view revenues under his representation. Espinoza has served as lead counsel for De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions since the formation of the company. Through his representation of Tyson, De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, Espinoza has been directly involved in several of the highest-grossing pay-per-view boxing events in the history of the sport. Other notable former sports clients include former NFL star and current broadcaster Michael Strahan and mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano.
During his tenure at Ziffren Brittenham, Espinoza also represented a variety of established and emerging performers and filmmakers, including actors Keanu Reeves, James Spader, Vanessa Hudgens and Kevin McHale, musical artists Alicia Keys, Eminem, Shakira and Snoop Dogg, writer/directors Tyler Perry and Matthew Vaughn, director Barry Sonnenfeld, and producers Scott Rudin and Gavin Polone, among many others.
Espinoza has extensive experience in structuring and negotiating distribution, financing, debt and equity arrangements for independent television and motion picture companies. He was personally responsible for closing over $100 million in debt and equity deals from 2009 to 2010. Some of his deals included Tyler Perry Studios in connection with the television series “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns,” Revolution and Cubevision in connection with the television series “Are We There Yet,” and Everest Entertainment in connection with the motion pictures “127 Hours” and “Win-Win.”
He began his legal career in the entertainment department of Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger, where he was directly responsible for many of the firm’s highest-profile accounts, including Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Joel Silver and Playboy TV International. Espinoza previously worked at the Law Offices of Steinberg & Moorad, one of the nation’s preeminent sports law firms.
Espinoza earned a B.A. in Communication from Stanford University and received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law. An active community volunteer, he previously served as the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Echo Park Boys and Girls Club, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA). He is based in Showtime Networks’ New York offices.