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SBD/March 19, 2013/Media
Connecting With A Jab: HBO Decides To Cut Ties With Golden Boy For The Time Being
Published March 19, 2013
WRITING ON THE WALL: ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reported Hershman called Schaefer yesterday morning “to inform him of the decision.” Schaefer said, “I'm hardly surprised. I cannot be surprised, and I am not surprised. The president of HBO Sports did not have any conversations with me since last November or December about anything.” Schaefer added, "It's an ill-advised strategy because the only ones that are getting hurt are the HBO subscribers, which were used to seeing the best fighters on HBO.” Sources said that HBO had “grown tired of demands from Schaefer for specific dates and matchups and constant threats to take fighters to Showtime if he did not get his way.” The relationship “hit bottom last month” when Floyd Mayweather Jr. “left career-long television home HBO and signed a multi-year deal with Showtime” (ESPN.com, 3/18). After being notified by Hershman of HBO’s stance yesterday, Schaefer phoned Espinoza to ask whether Showtime would be interested in a planned June 22 bout between Broner and Paulie Malignaggi, previously assumed to be headed to HBO. Schaefer said, "I told him what happened and his answer was brief: 'Count me in.’ There was no hesitation. If you are a network which is involved in boxing and you get the opportunity to be involved with Adrien Broner, it's like Christmas in March" (Bill King, Senior Staff Writer). An HBO official said, “We just felt it was best to align ourselves with people who share the same common goals as us. ... We are just not on the same page right now (with Golden Boy). But this is boxing, so you never say never” (Long Beach PRESS-TELEGRAM, 3/19).
GOING MANO A MANO: In N.Y., George Willis writes the situation is “a game of chicken.” HBO is “hoping its status and healthy subscriber base will hurt Golden Boy’s recruitment and marketing of fighters, who want to be seen by the largest audience.” The “last thing HBO wants is for Showtime to become the place for boxing.” But this “split gives Showtime a real shot” (N.Y. POST, 3/19). Also in N.Y., Tim Smith writes it “seems almost inconceivable that HBO, with its 32 million subscriber base and branding itself as the gold standard of boxing broadcasting, would not deal with a promoter that has one of the biggest inventories of stars in the sport” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/19). SI.com’s Chris Mannix wrote, “If this signals a shift in philosophy at HBO, well, it's about time.” For years the net “catered to” Golden Boy adviser Al Haymon, “paying millions for mismatches.” HBO “built stars before.” And with 29 million subscribers and ratings “that significantly exceed Showtime's, it can do it again” (SI.com, 3/18).