Showtime wants back in MMA, eyeing Invicta

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Showtime lost all MMA programming with the demise of Strikeforce, but wants to get back into the cage, potentially with Invicta FC.

Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza recently appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour and said that the biggest goal left on his checklist would be “figuring a way back into MMA.”

“I definitely want it back,” said Espinoza. “I think we, as a company, want it back.”

“We’re going to be very careful because, being completely candid, there’s a lot of MMA programming out there already. And the real question for us is, if we’re going to get back into it on the programming side, what is going to be the compelling reason for us to do so? What’s going to be different about the organization that we’re involved in, as the way we present the sport? Because if we’re just going out there to put more hours of MMA television on the air, I don’t think it makes sense.”

“If there was an obvious choice or a clear choice about getting back into MMA, we would’ve done it already. But I agree that, probably the highest visibility, probably the most noteworthy promotion that’s distinguished itself out there, other than the ones aligned with TV networks, is probably Invicta.

“The UFC relationship (with Invicta FC) is absolutely not a problem, whatsoever. I still run into those guys, from the Fertitta’s, to part of their management, from Lawrence Epstein to Peter Dropick, and it’s friendly. It was a situation that didn’t work out, but bygones are bygones. It was a strange situation that no one really created in and of themselves, so you move on and look for the next opportunity.”

“We have looked at some of the international promotions, and there’s a lot of talent there. It would be something new and different. But there’s challenges with marketing non-English speakers, in particular. There’s additional costs with doing non-U.S. events. So there’s a lot to consider, but we still want in and we’re still looking around very carefully.”

“Look, there’s always new talent. We always keep an eye out for amassing more boxing talent, but I liked having a well-rounded combat sports program. I think there’s a lot to be said about being able to market, promote both audiences at the same time, with both types of combat sports.

“Certainly the summer is out of the question. That doesn’t give anyone sufficient time to really ramp up. So it would either be late this year or in 2014, unless lightning struck and a deal fell into our laps that made sense immediately. I think more likely it’s late 2013 or 2014.”

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