Kudos to Showtime for making the decision to live stream this Saturday’s Adrien Broner-Adrian Granados card via Twitter.
It’s not exactly a supreme magnanimous gesture by the premium cable network, since the three-fight card was going to be part of their free preview weekend, anyway. But, still, in this odd period in boxing’s history– where “die-hards” seem eager to NOT expose the sport to the largest available audience and boxing business-types have all but given up on expanding the fan base– it’s refreshing to see someone, somewhere scheming to get the product to the masses.
Making boxing easier to access and more affordable to the casual-curious fan is the key to keeping the business alive in the U.S. and this Showtime/Twitter stream will, literally, bring the fight to the hands of millions of potential new fans.
While Showtime competitor HBO is adding a thicker paywall between the consumer and any fighter fans actually may want to see (via wave after wave of PPV events), there ARE efforts being made to get boxing to the masses.
Unfortunately, there has been an odd backlash to these efforts to mainstream the sport. Spearheaded by old guard promoters who fear a change in the sport’s power structure and acted upon by lapdog media shills who earn a living by hiring themselves out to these same old guard promoters, new media models and ideas tend to be shot down before being allowed to take root. Only the standard premium cable model is allowed to chug along without facing the slings and arrows of a dismissive media. Even some fans have, for some strange reason, decided that it is in their best interest to not support business models that make boxing more affordable and more accessible to the public.
Nobody can ever deny that boxing is often its own worst enemy. But the harsh reality is that the sport has to do something to broaden its fan base or it’s in for some dark days ahead.
There are many theories as to how to reinvigorate the sport within the U.S., but wringing the last bit of loose change from the pockets of its most loyal fans is most definitely NOT the answer.
Now is the time to explore different business models and experiment with other means of monetization. Taking high-end fights to places such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube will bring boxing back into the hands of young people and allow for the sport to reach those who wouldn’t normally be open to seeing a fight under the current business structure. Some work has been done in recent years to bring boxing undercards and archived fights to social media and video sites, but the real step forward will come when the main events find their way to these online outlets.
There’s a lot of work to do in translating, for example, a potential one billion Facebook users into cold, hard cash for the boxing industry. But where there’s a will, there’s a way and, to be honest, there may soon come a day where there’s no other alternative but to try new business models. Broner-Granados on Twitter is definitely a step in the right direction in taking boxing to new places.
The three-fight Showtime-televised card (Broner-Granados, Lamont Peterson-David Avanesyan, and Marcus Browne-Thomas Williams Jr.) will be available for free on Twitter in the U.S. and Canada and can be seen at: showtimeboxing.twitter.com. It can also be accessed via Twitter’s explore tab and on @ShowtimeBoxing. The card kicks off at 9 p.m. ET.