By Lee Bates
Hardcore boxing fans take to ESPN2′s “Friday Night Fights” as pro football fans do to the NFL’s Monday Night Football series. Over the years, the long-running Friday Night Fights series has offered a steady stream of prospects, contenders and world champions. Director of ESPN Programming and Acquisitions Doug Loughrey is key in making the final decisions on approving the televised fights on the series. Loughrey spoke on his role with Friday night fights, the ESPN network airing live its first heavyweight world title in network history, and ESPN’s simulcast with ESPN Deportes.
What does your job entail as director of programming?
At ESPN, my responsibilities are focused on the acquisition, scheduling and planning of contact and soccer programming. This is a multi-faceted job and one of my objectives is to incorporate content across all of ESPN’s multimedia platforms to best serve the fan.
What goes into your final decision-making on what fights are acceptable to be televised?
There is no one dominating factor. The goal is to work to present the fan with the best fight possible by taking into consideration fighter skill levels, venue locations, company priorities and fiscal responsibility.
How did the Vitali Klitschko-Juan Carlos Gomez world heavyweight title fight end up on ESPN?
Sometimes things align. We were able to make it work with our ESPN platform schedule for March 21 at 5pm Eastern on both ESPN and ESPN360.com. We are excited to continue the momentum with another top notch heavyweights fight on Friday March 27th on ESPN2 when Eddie Chambers will fight Sam Peter LIVE on FNF from the Nokia Theater.
Is it the first live heavyweight title fight aired in ESPN’s history?
Yes the first time we have had a LIVE world heavyweight title fight telecast.
Are more fights in the works for this year that will be aired out of the U.S.?
Right now no, but we are always interested in potential fights if it makes sound business sense.
Approximately how many viewers tune in weekly to watch Friday Night Fights?
This year between ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes approximately 4 million viewers on average have tuned into the telecast.
Explain the simulcast on ESPN deportes with ESPN?
ESPN Deportes, as of March 3rd has simulcast two of FNF telecast and will consistently do so through April. One of FNF and ESPN’s priorities is to intensify our efforts to serve the Hispanic sports fan and delivering boxing content through Deportes is a step in the right direction. In an effort to better service the boxing viewer, ESPN Deportes produces its’ own LIVE studio segments with in the FNF telecast.