Anyone who's read this blog in the past knows that I'm a big boxing fan. I listen to boxing news & talk all week, rent boxing documentaries from Netflix, research the upcoming fights, make my picks through a free boxing pool/challenge, and watch the bouts intently each weekend. While I love the sport, I must say I hate the business.
NBC, CBS, & FOX have sports channels which are trying to gain a seat at the boxing table, but ESPN2, HBO, & Showtime dominate a typical televised boxing weekend. The weekend begins on Friday evening with ESPN2's Friday Night Fights, which mostly features minor bouts with up and coming fighters looking to make a name for themselves. Occasionally, Friday night will also see an episode of Showtime's ShoBox featuring "the next generation" of boxers. Saturday evening is the big boxing night though, when HBO and/or Showtime show the big fights featuring well known fighters.
My gripe is that HBO and Showtime save the best fights (Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley 2, Cotto vs. Martinez, etc...) for expensive pay per view cards.
According to ESPN, the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez generated $150 million in revenue from 2.2 million Showtime pay-per-view buys. Since then, the April 12th rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley brought in between 775,000 to 800,000, approximately $49 million, pay-per-view buys on HBO and the May 3 fight between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana generated an estimated 900,000 pay per view buys earning around $60 million.
I have no problem with boxers trying to make as much money as possible while in their prime. My problem is with networks and promoters hitting fans with a double whammy. People, in my circle anyway, can't afford $65 each month, on top of their cable bill, to watch fights, no matter how key those fights are.
Granted, I could pay a low $20 to watch the fight at my local movie theater. If I want something to sip & snack on though, I'd have to buy their food and soda, no beer allowed, at the marked up theater prices. It's a better option than spending $65 to watch it at home, but it's still inconvenient.
Boxing is the only sport that nickels and dimes its fans to this extent. In the fall, you don't see the NFL saving Seahawks games for pay per views because their the Super Bowl champs. Fans don't have to pay through the nose to watch Basketball's Final Four, The World Series, The Indie 500, or The Masters on TV. Even the joke sport WWE gives fans free access to pay per views if they already subscribe to the network.
There's no reason HBO & Showtime couldn't give free fight access to their subscribers and sell individual fights to non-subscribers. They'd make a few million per fight, but the be ensuring the survival of an ongoing fan base. If common people have to shell out top dollar, in order to watch headlining fighters on TV, they're going to lose interest in the sport.
Below is a comprehensive list of sports that survived after losing their fan base.
Whoops, nothing's there.