For nearly four decades, the Showtime brand has been synonymous with professional boxing, airing some of the most-sought after pay-per-view bouts in history.
By the end of the year, that chapter in Showtime’s history will come to a close.
On Tuesday, officials at Paramount Global affirmed it will shut down the Showtime Sports brand, a move that will come with an untold number of layoffs as the company shifts its strategy toward its general entertainment products.
“As we evolve our strategy to more efficiently allocate resources and align our content offering across the business, we’ve made the difficult decision not to move forward with boxing and other content produced by the Showtime sports team,” a spokesperson for Paramount said in a statement. “Showtime will continue to air and support the remaining 2023 boxing slate and honor obligations through the end of the year.”
The decision to close down the Showtime Sports brand comes several months after Paramount affirmed plans to merge the Showtime and Paramount Plus brands into a super-streamer that marries the content library of the multiplex movie network with the back catalog of Paramount shows and films.
Sports is a cornerstone of the new Paramount Plus with Showtime: The streaming service offers live events from the National Football League (NFL), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and several overseas professional soccer leagues.
But sports on Showtime has largely been limited to boxing and some mixed martial arts tournaments, and executives feel those events are better served at a new home.
“The company’s decision is not a reflection of the work we have done in recent years, nor of our long and proud history,” Stephen Espinoza, the president of Showtime Sports — who expects to be laid off as part of the move — said in a statement to Showtime staffers that was first obtained by the Sports Business Journal. “Unfortunately, in a rapidly evolving media marketplace, the company has had to make difficult choices in allocating resources, resetting priorities and reshaping its content offering. While today’s news is certainly difficult and disappointing, it is entirely out of our control.”
Ariel Helwani, a sports journalist who was hired by Paramount earlier this year, said a planned event called “Bellator 301” will continue as schedule. The Bellator MMA brand has been operated as a Paramount subsidiary since it launched in 2008.
“[Bellator 301] will all but likely be the final event under the [Paramount] umbrella and their last event of the year,” Helwani said in a social media post, adding that the decision to shutter Showtime Sports was “an unfortunate turn of events.”