The HBO Sports executive vice president, Peter Nelson, announced on Thursday that it would stop covering boxing at the end of 2018. The 45-year run of HBO supporting the boxing franchise will end with 1,111 fights aired on the network.
HBO released a statement citing why they are deciding to distance themselves from boxing.
“Our mission at HBO Sports is to elevate the brand. We look for television projects that are high-profile, high-access, and highly ambitious in the stories they seek to tell and the quality of production in telling them… 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.”
Showtime and ESPN outlets have taken over much of the business of promoting and airing matches, and HBO has simply fallen behind. As ESPN formed a deal with Top Rank and moved away from working with HBO. The results of HBO’s lack of interest in promoting the sport really showed when they aired the Juan Francisco Estrada-Felipe Orucuta fight in early September, also known as “Superfly 3”. This fight recorded the lowest amount of HBO viewers for fights.
The final fight could be a double-feature on October 27th between Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Derevyanchenko to square up for the middleweight world title and then Alberto Machado defending his world junior lightweight title from Yuandale Evans. The fight will happen at Madison Square Garden in New York. There may be others in November and December, but they have not been finalized yet.
HBO plans to take a bit of a new route with their sports commentary and producing:
“We are a storytelling platform. The future will see unscripted series, long-form documentary films, reality programming, sports journalism, event specials and more unique standout content from HBO Sports. We are constantly evaluating our programming to determine what resonates with our subscribers. Our audience research clearly shows the type of programming our subscribers embrace. For HBO Sports, it’s programming that viewers can’t find elsewhere.”
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons