Paramount To Shut Down Showtime Sports

Leading streaming services continue to hone their live sports strategies in an effort to attract advertisers at premium rates, as well as become less dependent on blockbuster originals to maintain viewership levels.

Following Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max launch last month of its $9.99-per-month Bleacher Report Sports Add-On for all of its tiers, with all sports simulcast on TNT, TBS and TruTV, Netflix has just thrown its programming hat into the ring with a sponsored livestreamed celebrity golf match of its own making.

Now, advertisers will lose one familiar sports programming option: Showtime Sports. 

Paramount, which lost $299 million in this year’s second quarter despite a 40% year-over-year increase in streaming revenue, is shuffling isports strategy with an eye to cost control.

The 37-year-old Showtime Sports brand — known for its live boxing and mixed martial arts programming through the Paramount-owned Bellator brand, basketball coverage and longform sports documentaries — will be shuttered by year-end.

While it is unclear what sports programming, if any, will be carried by Showtime going forward, whatever there is would be presumably be produced by Paramount’s CBS Sports division, whose live coverage includes college football and basketball. CBS Sports is now expected to assume oversight for all Paramount sports programming.

Earlier this year, Paramount merged Paramount+ with Showtime. The company announced that it would put increased focus on supporting key entertainment franchises such as "Billions," "Yellowjackets," "The Chi" and "Dexter," diverting investment away from any underperforming areas that account for less than 10% of views.

“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,” 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 shutdown will result in an as yet unknown number of layoffs. Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza, who has run the division since 2011, will be among them.

Espinoza released his own statement. “The company’s decision is not a reflection of the work we have done in recent years, nor of our long and proud history…,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, in a rapidly evolving media marketplace, the company has had to make difficult choices 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." 

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