Peter Nelson, the head of HBO Sports, denies the circulating claims that declining ratings and bad matchups were determining factors behind the network's decision to drop boxing after 45 years of televising live fights.
HBO officially announced on Thursday, that live boxing was no longer going to be showcased in the future.
Over the last few years, HBO has faced very stiff competition from Showtime and their expanding stable of quality fighters. Top Rank has made their mark after leaving HBO, and signing a multi-year content deal with ESPN. And international promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, left both HBO and Showtime, and began an eight year content deal with streaming service DAZN. And Premier Boxing Champions signed content deals with Showtime and FOX.
HBO's ratings, for boxing, have been declining in recent years. With their Super Fly 3 card, which took place earlier this month, generating one of the lowest ratings figures in the network's history.
According to Nelson, the network made their decision based on a single factor - the incoming audience was no longer subscribing on the basis of their boxing content.
“This decision has been a shift, not a result of where we stand in other places in boxing, but directionally where we feel the direction is in HBO Sports,” said Nelson to the Los Angeles Times.
“We had the fight of the year -- the No. 1 pay-per-view event, eight of the top 10 highest rated premium-cable fights. You could say our vibrancy in the sport is as strong as ever.”
Nelson expects boxing to continue forward in a very strong way, with so many options sprouting up for fighters.
“We’re proud of our legacy in boxing. The sport is in a better place because of HBO’s presence in it. We have a tremendous heritage to point to in regard to the road map we provided on how to humanize these fighters and their communities … that aspect of storytelling is one we look to continue,” Nelson said.
“There’s more ample opportunity for fighters across different platforms than ever before. As a fan of the sport, I think that’s great.”