Today, HBO Sports revealed to the world that they are officially leaving the boxing business. This announcement signals the end of an era in combat sports that was almost unrivaled, with the key word being "almost".
The first HBO Boxing telecast was on January 22, 1973, when Joe Frazier faced George Foreman in Kingston, Jamaica. Since then the total number of fights that have broadcast on HBO total 1,111. HBO's boxing programming really came into prominence when it was headed by industry veteran Mark Taffet.
Taffet is best-known for his work at HBO from 1991 - 2015 as the pioneer of the boxing PPV-TV medium in the United States. As founder and head of HBOPPV, Taffet presented 190 PPV events which generated $3.6 billion in revenue and over 65 million PPV buys including the biggest PPV event of all time: Mayweather vs Pacquiao. In HBO's 45 years of televising boxing it was during Taffet's years that the channel solidified its former position as a leader.
HBO Sports released a statement:
“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.
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 backstories 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.
In keeping with this mission, we’ve accelerated our commitment to storytelling. This has produced landmark shows like “Andre the Giant,” which is the most viewed sports documentary ever on HBO; the acclaimed NFL reality franchise “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns,” which delivered double-digit viewership gains from a year ago; “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” the gold standard in sports journalism on television; the powerful docu-series “Being Serena” that chronicled the comeback of tennis icon Serena Williams; and the acclaimed unfiltered talk series “The Shop” featuring LeBron James.
This fall, HBO Sports will present an edition of “24/7” highlighting the upcoming Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson match play plus engaging documentary films like “Student Athlete” and “Momentum Generation” brought to us by accomplished filmmakers. In 2019, we will have the innovative multi-part documentary presentation “What’s My Name|Muhammad Ali” from director Antoine Fuqua in conjunction with executive producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter of SpringHill Entertainment.
Other new ventures will be announced in the weeks ahead as HBO Sports continues to explore new frontiers in sports programming.”