The Changing Landscape of Boxing: Free Televised Fights and the Future of the Sport

In the era of pay-per-view (PPV) boxing, where viewers have grown accustomed to paying for every fight, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when boxing matches were televised for free. As the sport experienced a resurgence in the 1970s and 1980s, it relied on free television exposure to promote itself before moving to PPV. However, the landscape has changed significantly since then, with fewer opportunities to watch fights without a fee. Even cable television, which requires a subscription, has joined the trend of paid broadcasts. While this shift may seem to make sense from a business perspective, it raises questions about the long-term impact on the sport.

The Democratization of Paid Viewership

While the trend towards paid broadcasts may limit accessibility for fans, it does offer smaller promoters a chance to participate in paid viewership. For many of these promoters, paid broadcasts represent their only option for reaching a wider audience. However, this raises concerns about whether this approach truly benefits the sport and the business of boxing. If the goal is to attract new fans and retain existing ones, relying on paid broadcasts may not effectively address this objective. Most telecasts only manage to attract a few hundred viewers, creating a dilemma for the sport and its stakeholders.

A New Approach: Free Boxing Shows on YouTube

Larry Goldberg, the founder of Boxing Insider Promotions, understands the importance of accessibility for the growth of boxing. In an effort to bring the sport to a wider audience, Goldberg has made his shows at Sony Hall available for free on his organization’s YouTube channel. Unlike typical streaming services, these broadcasts are not second-rate productions. Viewers who are unable to attend the live event at Sony Hall can still enjoy the action in real-time through the YouTube live stream. Additionally, those who miss the live broadcast can watch the edited version on demand, with each fight available individually.

This approach represents a departure from the prevailing direct-to-consumer (DTC) revenue model in boxing. Instead, Goldberg embraces an advertiser-supported model, similar to what is seen on over-the-air network television or certain non-subscription movie streamers. By disrupting the current marketplace in boxing, Goldberg aims to make the sport more accessible to the public.

Looking ahead, Goldberg’s vision includes creating a streaming channel dedicated to boxing. This channel would not only feature live fights but also podcasts, video shows, and other related programming. As the busiest New York-based boxing promoter, Goldberg’s organization is excited about the possibilities this streaming channel could bring.

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