Boxing on TV, what’s the model moving forward?

I don’t have an answer.  It’s just something that’s been on my mind and try to dive into this time.  This one’s less newsletter-y and more blog-ish.  Buckle up.

Tonight

At Los Angeles (Estrella TV): This is no longer on RingTV.com*, you can still watch it on Spanish Estrella TV if you live in LA…

  • Christian Gonzalez vs. Gamaliel Diaz, 8 rounds, lightweights
  • Edgar Valerio vs. Martin Cardona, 8 rounds, featherweights
  • Ferdinand Kerobyan vs. Cesar Soriano, 6 rounds, junior middleweights
  • Jousce Gonzalez vs. Ricardo Fernandez, 6 rounds, lightweights

*the company has spun off a new business called “Ringside Ticket” which is a monthly subscription service to watch Golden Boy’s LA Fight Club cards like this one and select HBO undercards by GB. 

I think this is a bad move. Seeing Golden Boy’s young talent pool on their bi-monthly LA Fight Club was cool, but it is by no means a $9.99 a month fight quality. Before this you were doing the company a favor if you tuned in to watch their young signees fight their grossly overmatched opponents in the LA Fight Club series.  

Now that it’s a pay service I hope the market responds, the service dies out, and Golden Boy takes the hint to provide higher quality if they are in fact going to expect people to pay out of pocket for this kind of content.

That also brings to mind another discussion point I’ve wanted to write about and that’s the distribution model of professional boxing. Over the last few decades PPV has without a doubt had a cannibalistic effect on the industry. Richer paydays but fewer fights the supporters pocket and the calendar can support.

What is the more appropriate model moving forward?

With the advent of Al Haymon’s multi-network “Premier Boxing Champions” programing and recent responses by both Golden Boy and later Top Rank, who both brought some boxing back to cable with deals with ESPN, we have seen something of a shift to bring boxing back to the older distribution model.

This movement felt promising for the near future of the sport, but I think with an over saturation of PBC programming (at one point you could find PBC cards on TV 4 nights a week!) and bad, unpredicted moments (Pacquiao-Horn) where top quality boxers had the spotlight and attention of the precious eyeballs that ESPN owns.

The free TV model is fantastic and we love it but there are two major problems:

1. Inundating a fresh sports fan with too many fights, while they have yet to acquire the ability to discern quality from trash. Remember the average person only knows a few names in boxing. That’s how they’ve been trained with media coverage across all other sports. And it works for the entertainment purposes of those leagues, teams, networks, etc.

2. When the fresh sports fan gets the chance to see a name they feel they know, the sport lets them down.

The element that is consistent in both these problem examples is when it comes to boxing, the only thing that will matter for the average sports fan is seeing two dudes destroy each other. That fan has no patience to watch a prospect who is building his career in step up fights, they weren’t trained from prior media consumption to respond to that. For instance, they don’t watch Cody Bellinger for 3 years in the minors, they just see him drill home runs today. A new potential boxing fan will expect the same.

Also, I don’t think the average sports fan has the same allowance for a bad night/ a slump/ a comeback story for a boxer as they do for a sportsball team. You are willing to watch a couple of 3-and-out series from your favorite football team and are probably pleased if you squeeze out a win.  You’ll still watch ’em next week. But if the sport of boxing delivers a boring fight on the one night where you do your annual check up then it’s “boxing is dead!” and we’ve lost you forever. Maybe this is a topic for another blog post though…

Finally how about some news…

  • The WBC, the organization I’ve been making fun of for all their recent ridiculous special one off belts, came out of their annual convention and said they’re going to take an extra focus on preventing mismatches.  Sure,  ….sure. These are the guys that put their face in front of May-Mac in a desperate attention grab. Remember the money belt?
  • Last week I mentioned how the fight between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz was off. When the news broke it was a PED issue. Now it’s a health concern. Sure,  …sure.  And guess who’s backing him up? WBC. Not dropped from the rankings. Fight will happen when he’s 100% healthy supposedly. Deontay Wilder has already been set up to fight Bermane Stiverne. They fought once in 2015. Wilder won.
  • WBC orders fight between Jorge Linares and Mikey Garcia. This is good. A matchup the lightweight division needs.

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