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Apr 21, 2015

Comments

1.

My pure guess, from an outsider who just has experience doing esports events and watching that industry grow is pay-per-view.

At some points there was a decision made to go to pay-per-view. At the time it was probably a great one, because the ROI was huge. Boxing's organization and lack of a true league to look out for long term interests probably helped this. Since no league stepped in and said, no this is a bad idea. Individual promoters took the chance to cash in with big pay-days to do pay-per-view.

The long term impact is that Boxing didn't join NFL, NBA, MLB in the explosion of TV in the 80s-90s. As you said on Twitter, the 70s we really the height of boxing.

2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay-per-view

"Boxing was first introduced to pay-per-view with the "Thrilla In Manila" fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in September 1975 (which was also transmitted through HBO); there was also another major title fight aired on pay-per-view in 1980, when Roberto Duran defeated Sugar Ray Leonard. Cable companies offered the match for $10, and about 155,000 customers paid to watch the fight."

Timing fits perfectly. Introduction of Pay-per-view around the early 1980s.

3.

For some reason popular sentiment lost touch with boxing. I can't put my finger on why exactly. I feel that it may be a combination of the rise of polarity of other sports and a general tide of sentiment against the direct combat nature of boxing.

Through the centuries boxing was a rather singular spectacle other things that competed with it at fairs most likely included cock fighting and the like - things we now see as outrageously cruel. So boxing took on a place in society and through that and the participants took on a more representational place. Boxers were noble, boxing made a man of you (though historically women also boxed). We must also remember that this was long before the codification of sports such as football, so as an 'organised' event (thought it's relationship with the law was dubious for many years) it was exceptional.

TV came along and made it bigger and bigger. But it also built up other sports - Football (soccer) in the UK and around the globe, and more national niche sports such as American and Australian rules football.

So I think in part because of our general attitude to violence in such a pure form and easy access to other sports boxing lost it's pre-eminent position. When it lost this, we stopped loading cultural meaning into it and so it slid still further.

Did pay-per-view have an impact? Possibly, but not as much as general feeling and competition I think.

What I feel eSports needs to become as big, as meaningful, is to understand what eSports tells us about ourselves. What values does it embody and are those ones we aspire to?

I'd say yes - eSports is global. The influence of Asian on it is palpable. The global community with Europeans, Americans and the East all competing is global politics on a small screen. It also embodies everything you need to succeed in today works, you have to be physically and mentally sharp, adapt to games that constantly change. Combine split second action with long term tactics and medium term strategy.

An eSports star is the very embodiment of this century - now if only it could be a bit (LOT) more diverse as a sport and industry.

4.

I guess i have a hard time not seeing pay-per-view as the key reason boxing lost "popular sentiment". It's hard to popular when they only way to watch it is when you have to pay to watch it.

Basically pay-per-view robbed boxing of new generations of people who would have joined the audience to nationally televised matches.

5.

The change in sentiment was global.

The pay-per-view I think was only in the US. In the UK boxing was on free to air TV for another decade.

Having said that, I think that the last household names in boxing did probably end as the sport moved over to paid TV.

So it could simply be that if boxing's not just on, it falls out of favour. It would be interesting to understand what happened in other countries.

6.

Ok last comment on Pay-per-view hopefully;

I think you under represent the impact of the media on sports. First let me focus on the Global aspect. American media really drives interest. Look at American elections, it's always a Global story. CNN with its international channels also has shown that. But even before back to the early TV days American mainstream TV was early adapters and really pushed content to Global partners.

The other part your missing is the lack of incentive for media. What I mean is, by going to pay-per-view but more importantly removing ABC, CBS and NBC from Boxing you also removed their media promotion. I know I'm guilt of forgetting a time before Cable, but back in the 70s there was very little TV choice. It was ABC, NBC and CBS. By being an early adopter of Pay-per-view and early doing so exclusively it starved boxing of wider exposure AND more importantly the media support of NBC, CBS and ABC promoting their broadcast of boxing.

I think this starving can been seen now to a lesser degree with ESPN. If ESPN chooses not to cover a sport it can really hurt that sport badly. And the numbers have shown that ESPN has the power to really control how much interest there is in different sporting events. I feel like the NFL did the opposite of boxing. Instead of restricting everything to pay-per-view, they got everyone involved. They created more and more content packages to the point now every major network owns a piece of NFL league content.

This is where boxing failed. They took the quick money of pay-per-view at the cost of viewership and long term interest suffered and took away most of the casual audience who would tune into it.

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