News that Sky and BT went toe-to-toe for the rights to screen Conor McGregor’s upcoming fight against Floyd Mayweather later this month should not come as a surprise – the sport is clearly enjoying a major renaissance here in the UK.
Sky Sports has long brought fans major fights thanks to its exclusive tie-up with Matchroom.
Renewed in 2015 and running until at least 2021, the partnership promises Sky viewers up to 120 nights of live boxing over its lifetime, as well exclusive exclusive interviews, social media content, blogs and podcasts with top name fighters.
As announced last week, the McGregor/Mayweather fight will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office where it’ll cost £19.95 in the UK and €24.95 for Republic of Ireland.
Fans baulking at those prices might fancy placing a bet in the hope of recouping the fee, as well as making a profit on the night.
Sky customers who are boxing fans, as well as those of TalkTalk and Virgin Media, can also subscribe to Frank Warren’s Boxnation which has recently enjoyed a major boost thanks to its own partnership with BT Sport.
The tie-up gives BT TV customers – who pay as little as £3.50 per month for their package – access to the channel without the need to pay a further subscription.
But the deal goes much further than just a carriage agreement, BT’s investment has seen it take over and rebrand the major Boxnation Saturday night fights which are now simulcast on both Boxnation and BT Sport under the ‘BT Sport Fight Night Live’ banner.
In addition to offering Fight Night events in both Standard and High Definition, BT is also showcasing the bouts on its exclusive 4K channel, making it the first broadcaster of UHD boxing in the world .
Warren’s BT deal has also coincided with a major change of heart about women’s boxing, something he previously dismissed but is now embracing and championing through the signing of Nicola Adams, who joined his roster of fighters earlier this year and made her professional debut on BT Sport back in April.
But it’s not just pay-TV customers who are getting to enjoy top-tier boxing.
Last year multi-channel broadcaster UKTV won the exclusive rights to David Haye’s long-awaited comeback fight against Australia’s Mark De Mori which it screened on its Freeview channel, Dave.
The fight drew a peak audience of over three million viewers, a new record for the channel.
That success helped persuade both Haye and UKTV to sign agree a three year deal which will see Dave air a series of fights promoted by Hayemaker Boxing, David Haye’s promotions company, and world renowned promoter Richard Schaefer.
Announced last month, the deal will bring fans five fight nights each year, “taking the sport back to the masses where it belongs,” in the words of Schaefer.
With three major broadcasters each boasting their own exclusive tie-ups and at prices to suit all household budgets, British boxing fans and the sport are enjoying a new golden age.