HBO is ‘pivoting away’ from professional boxing, 45 years after broadcasting its first match

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  • HBO will be “pivoting away” from broadcasting live professional boxing this year, 45 years after its first televised match, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
  • “Our audience research informs us that boxing is no longer a determinant factor for subscribing to HBO,” Peter Nelson, the executive vice president of HBO Sports, told The New York Times.
  • The network reportedly has no fights scheduled after a middleweight title fight that is set to take place on October 27, according to The Times.

 

HBO announced on Thursday that it will be “pivoting away” from its live broadcasting of professional boxing matches, 45 years after the cable network televised its first fight.

Peter Nelson, the executive vice president of HBO Sports, made the announcement in a meeting with the HBO Boxing staff on Thursday, according to The New York Times, which first reported the news.

“This is not a subjective decision,” Nelson told The Times. “Our audience research informs us that boxing is no longer a determinant factor for subscribing to HBO.”

“Going forward in 2019, we will be pivoting away from programming live boxing on HBO,” HBO said in a statement to CBS Sports. “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 broadcasted its first fight in 1973 with George Foreman’s iconic knockout of Joe Frazier. According to The Times, the network has no fights scheduled after a middleweight title fight that is set to take place on October 27 at Madison Square Garden. 

The Times reported a Nielsen measurement that said HBO boxing matches averaged about 820,000 viewers in 2018, or only about 2 percent of the network’s subscriber base of 40 million viewers. This figure is down significantly from when major fights on HBO attracted as much as one-third of the network’s domestic subscriber base in the 1980s and ’90s, according to The Times.

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