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Old 09-16-2016, 10:13 PM #1
Motorcity Cobra Motorcity Cobra is offline
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Default HBO's boxing business shows signs of fatigue

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When Mexican fighter Canelo Alvarez and Britain’s Liam “Beefy” Smith step into the ring Saturday, the crowds in Dallas’ AT&T Stadium are expected to roar.

But the match won’t deliver a knock out punch for HBO.

The premium pay-TV channel helped build boxing into a television heavyweight, dating to the 1973 championship bout between George Foreman and Joe Frazier. Now HBO is grappling with fewer competitive match-ups, slumping ratings and a behind-the-scenes sparring match with a key promoter who has groused that the network has reduced its commitment to boxing by offering smaller fees for fights.

The challenges come as boxing’s TV business model is experiencing fatigue and rising competition from the upstart sport of mixed martial arts, which can whip crowds into a frenzy. HBO also must contend with an aggressive rival in Showtime Networks, which has landed prominent fights in the last few years.

“Boxing isn’t as relevant as it once was, and there is more competition than ever,” said Peter J. Titlebaum, a professor of sports management at the University of Dayton. “It’s not the only game in town anymore.”

That’s potentially worrisome to HBO, which over the years has relied on boxing to lure subscribers to its premium service. The waning interest in boxing comes at a time when the network is under pressure to cut costs while also competing for viewers with Netflix and others by producing big-budget original shows.

Though HBO does not break out financial figures, there are signs of stress. Ratings for its regular boxing telecasts are down 10% this year, according to Nielsen. HBO has televised 19 fight cards this year, down slightly from this time last year when it had produced 20 fight cards. A few years ago, however, HBO was televising nearly 20% more.

And just one fight in 2016 has drawn more than 1 million viewers. By comparison, there were seven fights last year that scored more than 1 million viewers.

Adding to the ratings pain, some of this year’s fights have been staged in Europe and run in the afternoon, when U.S. audiences are not as plentiful or pumped for action.

A big part of the problem, according to industry insiders, is that the fights just haven’t been as competitive. And the class of heavyweights — which over the years was dominated by such stars as Muhammad Ali, Foreman and Mike Tyson — has not produced a household name. Currently there are three heavyweight champions: Deontay Wilder of Alabama and two from Britain, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, who dethroned Wladimir Klitschko last year.

“The network has been cutting back because there are fewer new bankable stars,” said a former HBO executive who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to comment, “Without big marquee names, the economics are terrible.”

The struggle is magnified because mixed martial arts has become increasingly popular in the U.S., particularly among younger audiences who enjoy the sport because it can be more violent and faster-paced, which makes it well suited for TV.

“This younger generation has a shorter attention span,” Titlebaum said. “There will always be people who love boxing, but this isn’t about love — it’s about economics, and demand and creating a passion for the sport.”

Complicating the picture is that there are two categories of TV broadcasts, which sometime pit promoters against the network. The pay-per-view events, such as Saturday night’s contest in Dallas, cost fans about $60 to watch the fight live. Then there are the Saturday night fights that run on HBO’s main channels and available to all HBO subscribers.

Promoters often prefer staging pay-per-view events because the paydays for them and their fighters can be larger. In those cases, several entities share the revenue -- including the fighter, the promoter, a collection of pay-TV distributors, including DirecTV and Charter Spectrum, and HBO, which also produces the telecast.

HBO’s three pay-per-view fights this year have drawn an estimated 850,000 purchases -- well below the 930,000 purchases to watch Alvarez’s November 2015 middleweight-title victory over Puerto Rico’s former four-division champion, Miguel Cotto.....[Link View Has Been Removed. Click Here To Unlock This Content.]
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Old 09-16-2016, 10:40 PM #2
Sugar Adam Ali Sugar Adam Ali is offline
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No shocker,, I have said for years that boxing was going down the tubes in America for years.
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