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Twitter Laces Up Showtime Boxing Bouts for Free Live-Streaming Coverage

Variety logo Variety 2/17/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Twitter is getting into the ring with Showtime Networks, cutting a deal to live-stream a triple-header boxing match to users for free on Saturday, Feb. 18.

In the Showtime Championship Boxing main event, four-division world champion Adrien Broner (above left) will spar with challenger Adrian Granados. The fights will air live on the premium cable network and streaming on Twitter starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

For now, the Twitter deal with Showtime — marking the first live boxing event on the social service — is a one-night-only deal. Twitter is selling preroll advertising as well as sponsorships for highlight clips, sharing revenue with Showtime. Still, the pact furthers Twitter’s goal of bringing more live video, geared around sports, news and other events, to the platform in a bid to boost ad revenue.

Showtime, meanwhile, is looking at the Twitter deal as promotional: It wants to give fans of the sport a taste of boxing action in the hopes they’ll ultimately subscribe. In the same vein, the CBS-owned cabler is offering a free preview to some 73 million U.S. pay-TV households from Friday, Feb. 17, through Monday, Feb. 20.

“With this unprecedented live stream on Twitter, we have the opportunity to reach boxing fans and casual observers everywhere with the industry-leading boxing programming we deliver to our subscribers on a consistent basis,” Stephen Espinoza, EVP and GM of Showtime Sports, said in a statement.

Recall that two years ago, the legal teams at Showtime and HBO were steamed at Twitter over Periscope users live-streaming the pay-per-view fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao (not to mention then-CEO Dick Costolo’s tweet seeming to condone the activity) and the programmers issued dozens of takedown requests. At the time, Periscope chief Kayvon Beykpour called the issue overblown, and now Showtime is using Twitter to promote its boxing programming.

The live-stream will be available at showtimeboxing.twitter.com; in Twitter’s explore tab; on the @ShowtimeBoxing account; and via Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Xbox One devices. The video feed will be available only in the U.S. and Canada.

The Saturday fights will take place at Xavier University’s Cintas Center in Cincinnati. In co-featured bouts Saturday, WBA Welterweight Champion David Avanesyan will defend his title against former two-time champ Lamont Peterson, while 175-pound contenders Marcus Browne and Thomas Williams square off in a 10-round light heavyweight bout.

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