He was a new age Nostradamus when he came on Everlast “Talkbox” and talked about HBO not being long for the boxing world.
Two months later, the plug was pulled on the HBO boxing program.
Bob Arum is no fool, not even slightly, and his sagacity hasn’t dimmed noticeably though he turns 87 on December 8. That’s why ears perked when he went on the Randy Gordon and Gerry Cooney Sirius show Monday, and aimed his laser sights at Showtime’s boxing program.
”Both HBO and Showtime are competing for viewers with Netflix,” said Arum, taking a bow for the Saturday effort by Terence Crawford on ESPN.
”So every dollar that they have has to go into what they’re really great at — providing entertainment. HBO certainly has done it. They have really, really good, good programming. And so does Showtime.
“So I’m predicting also that within the next year Showtime will be exiting from boxing because, as great as they’ve been for boxing, they don’t belong. Does FOX belong in boxing? Of course they do. They’re a regular network that has a lot of sports. ESPN is perfect for boxing. That’s where it’s going. The world never stays the same. It always changes. Their time has now passed.”
Now, critics of that critique will note that the writing was on the wall at HBO, and the Showtime program doesn’t seem to be on the wane. So, time will tell if Arum’s prediction record gets bolstered — or the Bobfather’s acumen on this occasion wasn’t A-grade.
My three cents: I myself think that I’d have to see signs of slippage or some behind the scenes movement to see that same down the line arc for the SHO crew and their boxing brand as HBO’s. SHO gave fight fans more live boxing than any other entity in 2018, and they promised to do more in 2019, when they announced that new three-year deal with PBC. They showed 26 world title fights across 12 events in 2018. They did gangbusters on live streaming of international fights on YouTube and Facebook, and they will have televised some 70+ fights in 2018. I feel like I got my money’s worth as a subscriber. SHO boxing boss Stephen Espinoza told Boxing Scene recently, “As a general comment, I don’t think [Arum] understands our business as well as he thinks he does. Boxing is an important and valuable part of Showtime’s business. Our subscribers respond positively to it and it definitely drives business for us. We’ve been in this sport for over 30 years and, arguably, the last few years have been the strongest period in that entire history.” And, he said, the budget will be higher in 2019 than 2018, and that bodes for the immediate future.