On Tuesday, TV ratings for last Saturday’s HBO Boxing After Dark telecast were released to “friendly” media sources and then filtered through the hands of the second tier roster of useful media idiots.
It was a stat lauded as “good” and “surprisingly good” by many a boxing “expert.” Take into consideration, though, that most of these guys would describe anal warts as “good” if issued a pro-anal warts press release.
Managing Editor of Boxingscene, Jake Donovan, hailed the ratings performance, insisting that “Sergey Kovalev came up big in his debut as an HBO main event fighter…”
To put things into perspective, though, Kovalev-Agnew drew fewer viewers than HBO’s 2013 bouts: Sakio Bika vs. Nikola Sjekloca, Terence Crawford vs. Alejandro Sanabria, and Terence Crawford vs. Andrey Klimov.
Obviously, HBO’s plans for the hard-punching and compelling Kovalev don’t involve him fighting to overcome Sakio Bika and Terence Crawford on the Nielsen Ratings chart.
To be fair, Kovalev was burdened with an unknown opponent in Agnew and the fairly uninteresting undercard lead-in of Thomas Dulorme vs. Karim Mayfield. But, still, a star draws and Kovalev did not generate any interest above and beyond the usual million or so that tune in for every bout on HBO.
Most likely, Kovalev could’ve kicked his spit bucket around the ring while playing Plants vs. Zombies on his phone and still generate similar numbers. At this point, there’s a built-in base of about a million fans no matter what.
Ratings talk in boxing is a fairly new distraction and one which, under the current business structure of boxing on TV, makes little to no sense since the game is now about subscriptions, not actual live viewers.
Numbers will show that just about every boxing broadcast and every bout on HBO and Showtime will bring in anywhere from 1 million to 1.4 million viewers (or about 3.4% to 6% of all available premium channel subscribers). These are consistent numbers that have held up for the last several years.
A recent uptick in boxing ratings matches the recent uptick in premium cable subscriptions. This means that the sport’s viewership numbers, at least on premium cable, have held absolutely steady throughout recent years and through all sorts of promoter vs. promoter/network vs. network drama.
This is not good for boxing. It’s indicative of the fact that boxing’s promoters are not really promoting and that boxing’s television hosts are content with preaching to the choir instead of trying to bring new viewers to the sport. It seems that nobody, really, is doing much to bring in new fans.
The status quo is fine for those in power right now. Why take on the tough fight of expanding the base, when there’s enough money to be had in merely selling to the already sold? It’s not like anyone is going to mention, or even notice, your lack of vision.
Kovalev’s ratings “win” shows why the status quo in boxing is so hard to ditch.
Everybody in power knows that all you need to do to cover your ass is come up with the right spin and issue the right press release. From there, the lapdog media does the rest.