Outside of the US the UK is the second biggest market for the sport of boxing in the world.
Back in the nineties, the early nineties and before that the eighties, the pay per view model hadn’t reached the UK for boxing just yet.
Boxing used to reach tens of millions of people for some fights on free television — largely funded by advertising and rights fees that were subsequently available because of the huge interest in the sport back then.
An interest that has now apparently returned from the masses for boxing.
American Al Haymon who is known as a powerful boxing manager and the founder of the Premier Boxing Champions in the US has now entered the UK market with his deal with powerhouse network ITV.
Many had speculated that all the fights would be on pay per view but this has not proven to be the case.
The upcoming Manny Pacquiao vs Adrien Broner fight will actually be on free TV on ITV 4 come January 19th which will be one of the biggest fights in years on free TV in the UK.
The news has been officially confirmed by the broadcaster:
This is a very tangible, legitimate move from Haymon to possibly challenge the pay per view model in boxing in the UK.
Will he put on some pay per view fights on ITV as well?
Probably but a lot could hinge on the numbers of the free fight on January 19th.
After reporting on Haymon over the last six years or so, one thing I do know about him is he doesn’t really like to get tied into hard / exclusive contracts with anyone.
January 19th could very well be a water tester in terms of will the free view model or pay per view model be adopted in the UK as part of his three year deal with ITV.
But, and it’s a big but, if big fights were also continued to be mixed in with this potential pay per view offering for free to fans — there is no telling of what kind of numbers the fights might do again and grow the sport even further in the UK.
If ITV were to pull big numbers come January 19th a lot could change in theory.