HBO Sports announced Thursday it is getting out of the boxing ring.
The network began televising live boxing in 1973 and has aired some of the most memorable fights of the past five decades, including George Foreman’s upset of heavyweight champ Joe Frazier that year and Buster Douglas’ stunning KO of Mike Tyson in 1990.
HBO will televise its final fight on Oct. 27 when it airs a middleweight title bout between Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko from Madison Square Garden. It has aired more than 1,000 fights.
“Our mission at HBO Sports is to elevate the brand,” read HBO’s statement announcing the decision, in part. “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.”
Several organizations have entered the business, too. ESPN signed a seven-year deal with promoter Top Rank in August. Streaming platform DAZN Canada signed an eight-year content deal with boxing promoter Matchroom Boxing USA this week. And Premier Boxing Champions this month partnered with Fox Sports in a four-year deal.
This decision made business sense to HBO, one network executive said.
“This is not a subjective decision,” Peter Nelson, the executive vice president of HBO Sports, told The New York Times, which was the first to report the news. “Our audience research informs us that boxing is no longer a determinant factor for subscribing to HBO.”
—Field Level Media