NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) Boxing is facing an end of an era with HBO announcing it will end live boxing programming at the end of this year.
HBO launched its first live boxing broadcast in 1973, covering George Foreman’s victory over Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica for the world heavyweight title. Through the years, it was the place to watch fights by boxing greats like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Oscar de La Hoya, Sugar Ray Lenoard, Floyd Mayweather and, recently Roy Jones Jr.
However, that was then and, in the age of UFC and after decades of controversial decisions, plus increased competition from Showtime and ESPN, HBO Sports Sept. 8 broadcast of “Superfly 3” card between Juan Francisco Estrada-Felipe Orucuta junior bantamweight title eliminator drew 298,00 viewers, one of the lowest-viewed fights in HBO history.
“Our mission at HBO Sports is to elevate the brand. We look for television projects that are high-profile, high-access, and highly ambitious in the stories they seek to tell and the quality of production in telling them,” HBO Sports said in a statement. “Boxing has been part of our heritage for decades. During that time, the sport has undergone a transformation. It is now widely available on a host of networks and streaming services. There is more boxing than ever being televised and distributed. In some cases, this programming is very good. But from an entertainment point of view, it’s not unique.
“Going forward in 2019, we will be pivoting away from programming live boxing on HBO. 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. We’re deeply indebted to the many courageous fighters whose careers we were privileged to cover.
“There have been hundreds of dedicated and remarkably creative men and women who have delivered the best in television production for HBO’s coverage of boxing and we are so grateful for their contributions. It has been a wonderful journey chronicling the careers and back stories of so many spectacularly talented prizefighters.
“We are a storytelling platform. The future will see unscripted series, long-form documentary films, reality programming, sports journalism, event specials and more unique standout content from HBO Sports. We are constantly evaluating our programming to determine what resonates with our subscribers. Our audience research clearly shows the type of programming our subscribers embrace. For HBO Sports, it’s programming that viewers can’t find elsewhere.”
HBO has a “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader, hosted by the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, on the books for Oct. 27. The main event is a vacant middlewight world title fight between Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Derevyanchenko.