According to an article in the New York Times, HBO is officially leaving boxing after 45 years.
HBO Sports Executive Vice President Peter Nelson made the announcement that HBO was dropping boxing Thursday morning in a meeting with the HBO Boxing production staff.
“This is not a subjective decision,” Nelson said to the New York Times. “Our audience research informs us that boxing is no longer a determinant factor for subscribing to HBO.”
HBO has faced stiff competition with Top Rank leaving the network for an exclusive long term deal with ESPN.
When Top Rank left, the network lost rising fighters like Terence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko and numerous others.
And Showtime significantly expanded their boxing coverage, with top fighters like Deontay Wilder, Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia making SHO their home.
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom has also arrived with new streaming service DAZN, and nearly every boxer is his stable – including several that were featured on HBO – will be exclusively featured on the network.
Premier Boxing Champions, which boasts a massive stable of over 100 contracted fighters, also signed multi-year deals with FOX and Showtime to provide boxing content on a regular basis.
HBO has also faced declining ratings over the last few years. Their recent Super Fly 3 tripleheader – which took place on September 8 – peaked at 349,000 viewers, making it one of the lowest-rated live televised event in the network’s history.
Nelson left the door open for a potential “special” one-time event – if the fight was big enough.
“There’s plenty of boxing out there,” Nelson said. “But what we have not seen is a lot of signature destination fights.”
“Because of our association with boxing, people forget that we’re not a sports network. We’re a storytelling platform.”
“I’m still a fan of boxing. If there is a destination event, absolutely we’re in that conversation.”