HBO has aired boxing for 45 years, but 2018 will be the last year that happens as the network announced on Thursday that it will be dropping its coverage of the sport at the end of the year, reports ESPN.
Over the course of 45 years, HBO had broadcasted 1,111 fights and the very first fight to be ever broadcasted on HBO was Joe Frazier vs George Foreman which took place in Kingston, Jamaica back in Jan.22, 1973, the last HBO boxing broadcast will be IBF middleweight title showdown between Daniel Jacobs and Serhiy Derevyachenko which will take place on 27th October at the Madison Square Garden.
As per HBO press release, they said:
Boxing has been part of our heritage for decades. During that time, the sport has undergone a transformation. It is now widely available on a host of networks and streaming services. There is more boxing than ever being televised and distributed. In some cases, this programming is very good. But from an entertainment point of view, it’s not unique.
Going forward in 2019, we will be pivoting away from programming live boxing on HBO. As always, we will remain open to looking at events that fit our programming mix. This could include boxing, just not for the foreseeable future.
HBO dominance slipped throughout the years and those involved in Boxing knew this was coming. HBO was getting tough competition from DAZN, PBC on FOX, ESPN, and Showtime.
Top Rank Promotions founder Bob Arum saw this coming a long time ago and eventually in 2017, he crossed over to ESPN signing a seven years long deal.
HBO learned that when it had a hit series like “The Sopranos” or “Game of Thrones,” it could make money off merchandising and in syndication and in ways that it never could from boxing.
According to Peter Nelson of HBO, Boxing was no longer a profitable investment for HBO; last April’s Andre the Giant documentary, for example, drew about seven million viewers at a much lower cost than the $1.5 million to $3 million generally required to produce a boxing match.
“Because of our association with boxing, people forget that we’re not a sports network,” Nelson said. “We’re a storytelling platform.”
According to the Times, at its height, big HBO fights could draw 5 million viewers, or a third of the network’s total subscribers. Despite the subscriber base nearly tripling since then, HBO’s most-watched fight in 2018 drew only 1.3 million viewers.
It’s still quite unbelievable to think that HBO which had produced stars like Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Marco Antonio Barrera, Shane Mosley etc is finally out of Business.
The Current biggest star associated with HBO, Canelo Alvarez is now a free agent and all the rival networks will definitely be gunning for him and it will be interesting to see where he ends up.
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