Ruslan Chagaev is part of tomrorow's Epix boxing main event. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The New Yorker -- yes, The New Yorker! -- weighed in on Saturday's Epix broadcast of the heavyweight double-header from Germany, featuring the Alexander Povetkin vs Ruslan Chagaev main event:
Epix, the upstart premium cable channel, has picked an unlikely tactic in its fight for new subscribers: it has devoted some of its resources to heavyweight boxing. In a different era, this might have seemed an obvious strategy, but nowadays boxing occupies a rather obscure niche within American sports...
... Epix planned to broadcast this fight on a big screen in Times Square at 5 P.M. on Saturday afternoon; in light of recent meteorology, that no longer seems like the most pleasant way to watch. Instead, homebound locals can find the fight online [at EpixHD.com], by signing up for some sort of free preview. No doubt Epix, like the persistent few who still follow boxing, is hoping for an exciting fight, though not necessarily expecting one. (These days, the main virtue that boxing teaches its fans is patience.)
What do you think about Epix's entrance into boxing this year? Thus far they've made little major impact, but I think it's fair to say that the fights they've picked up have been smart investments, and as they're not spending a ton of money on these fights, the returns are probably decent. I can honestly say I'd never heard of Epix before they picked up the Vitali Klitschko vs Odlanier Solis fight in March, and now I know who they are. I wager a good number of boxing fans fall in that boat, so now they have more people aware of their network, and possibly demanding their cable or satellite providers pick up the premium channel.
I do wish they wouldn't have hired Lennox Lewis for commentary, personally, but I also get why they did. He's well-known, he's got experience doing it, and he wears a little hat.
I would also say that as much as I do like what Epix is doing, I don't think they're going to be a seriously major player soon. They'll get fights that other American networks don't want, particularly overseas bouts, and that's great. It's a low target they can hit, and it's valuable to many boxing fans, at least potentially (like if their streams start becoming stronger and more reliable). But at the end of the day, even if they succeed further, it's just another premium network airing boxing, and a premium network fighting its own uphill battle with service providers.