HBO is no longer in the boxing business.
A report by the New York Times states that HBO, the premium cable company that has been in the United States for several decades, is leaving the boxing broadcast business after 45 years and more than 1,000 fights shown on the network.
The report states declining ratings as a key factor in the network no longer carrying boxing as well as the lack of return on investments on the boxing programs compared to other programming who have generated far bigger rewards and ratings with a smaller budget. One such example is the documentary on WWF legend Andre The Giant, which drew about than seven million viewers.
Gone are the days of boxing being an important component of the network as HBO had been slowly decreasing the amount of live boxing broadcasts per year. Its latest live boxing card, the September 8 card titled “SuperFly 3,” drew some of the lowest ratings in the history of the network when it came to live boxing.
The only live boxing card HBO has scheduled is the October 27 world title doubleheader from Madison Square Garden. In the main event, Daniel Jacobs will fight Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the vacant IBF middleweight title while Alberto Machado defends his WBA “regular” super featherweight title.
HBO shutting down its boxing division also means a number of prominent boxers will look for new television homes. Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, who recently headlined the September 15 HBO pay-per-view from Las Vegas, are free agents, but now, other boxers such as Jacobs, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and former world champion Roman Gonzalez, among many more, will be looking for television homes for their next fights. Those boxers will now likely be getting offers from the likes of ESPN, Showtime and the DAZN streaming service.
Peter Nelson, the 37-year-old executive vice president of HBO Sports, did say in the New York Times article that the network could be tempted to return to televise select boxing fights if those fights is big enough to attract HBO's attention.