HBO Boxing Falls to the Mat
September 28, 2018 8:43 AM   Subscribe

In January 1973, new cable channel Home Box Office broadcast the heavyweight championship boxing match between Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Over the next 45 years, many of the most memorable ring moments of the last half-century came to American homes via HBO, including the Rumble in the Jungle, Buster Douglas's upset of Mike Tyson, and Manny Pacquiao taking the torch from Oscar De La Hoya. But as of next month, HBO will no longer regularly air boxing. HBO Executive Vice President Peter Nelson says "audience research informs us that boxing is no longer a determinant factor for subscribing to HBO."
posted by Etrigan (16 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder if it's because the HBO subscriber is now looking for Game of Thrones or because the bloodsport need is satisfied by MMA now?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:26 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I remember HBO airing NCAA basketball in the late 70s. But through cursory research never found evidence of this.
posted by PHINC at 9:30 AM on September 28, 2018

because the bloodsport need is satisfied by MMA now?

HBO the usurper of traditional networks has itself been usurped by cable PPV and internet-based PPV for speciality sports. WWE has one of the biggest online subscriber bases after Netflix. I don't really know about the relative popularity of boxing vs MMA but there are a ton more fighting sport options now and no one bothers getting them via HBO.
posted by GuyZero at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Any chance Bill Maher can be next?
posted by Keith Talent at 9:40 AM on September 28, 2018 [17 favorites]

well at least we skipped the phase where they tried to make boxing more appealing by adding dragons, boobs, and James Franco
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:40 AM on September 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

Haven't the biggest-selling recent fights all been Mayweather fights? And haven't all of those fights been on Showtime instead of HBO?
posted by clawsoon at 9:40 AM on September 28, 2018

Sort of interesting poll recap from the WaPo last year re: boxing vs. MMA in terms of popularity.

Interesting to me because my supposition going in was that if there were any major demographic differences, they'd be in age: I thought older people would generally skew toward boxing. The poll showed the biggest differences came down to ethnicity: African American and Hispanic respondents were much less interested in MMA than they were boxing. White respondents skewed only comparatively slightly to MMA.

Maybe some of the answer is in there.
posted by mph at 10:02 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Any other gen x folks forget that HBO even showed sports and PPV stuff at all? I haven't lived somewhere with cable TV since about 2003.
posted by loquacious at 10:04 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

By moving almost entirely to pay per vue and cable add on channels they killed off their ability to grow their audience. It's quite hard to become a boxing fan now without dropping stupid money.

If I want to watch brain damage being manufactured there is the NFL which still has local games on broadcast TV for free.
posted by srboisvert at 11:33 AM on September 28, 2018

When I actually subscribed to HBO, I hated boxing events because they usually happened at the time and day when the newest big movie premiered. I also never cared for boxing outside of Mike Tyson's Knock Out because I was staying with a friend who's family decided we should stay and watch (ironically, Mike Tyson) boxing rather than go mini-golfing. WTF, ALWAYS CHOOSE MINI-GOLF.
posted by Atreides at 11:52 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:57 AM on September 28, 2018

I'm pretty sure this will lose them my dad as a subscriber. He was already mad at them for wasting his time with Justice League and Pitch Perfect 3.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:01 PM on September 28, 2018

When I'm gone, boxing will be nothing again. The fans with the cigars and the hats turned down'll be there, but no more housewives and little men in the street and foreign presidents. It's goin' to be back to the fighter who comes to town, smells a flower, visits a hospital, blows a horn and says he's in shape. Old hat. I was the onliest boxer in history people asked questions like a senator.

-- Muhammad Ali
posted by suetanvil at 6:04 PM on September 28, 2018 [8 favorites]

Ali may have played his part in a different way. Tough to say concussions don't matter, after seeing him in his later years. (See also the NFL.)
posted by aurelian at 7:30 PM on September 28, 2018

See also: Ali had Parkinson's...
posted by Windopaene at 9:50 PM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

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