Will American Fans Tune In To Major Fights In Overseas Time Zones?

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Posted on 12/22/2023

By: By Sean Crose

America has long been known as the unofficial home of high end professional boxing. With the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia offering untold amounts of money to host fights on it’s own soil, however, things may begin to change. While it’s true huge matches have long been held outside of the United States (Ali-Foreman, anyone?), it’s unclear whether contemporary American fans will sit through fight cards featuring American fighters in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, which is the time when large portions of Saudi Arabian cards have tended to take place. Most major bouts broadcast from the UK, for instance, don’t feature American fighters. They also don’t cost American fans money.

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And therein may lie the difference. Cards like Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Spectacular featuring Deontay wilder versus Joseph Parker and Anthony Joshua versus Otto Wallin – among other name ring practitioners – are wonderful for the sport. While Joshua, Wilder and Parker are former heavyweight titlists, they are still near the top – and at least any one of the three can feasibly (very feasibly) become a heavyweight titlist again. Wallin too can earn his second crack at a world title should he best Joshua. It’s easy to understand, then, why this card is relevant. What’s more, many of the fighters involved are simply fun to watch.

Yet there are two obstacles to American success being attained on Saturday. The first is that the entire event starts at eleven AM eastern time and could feasibly last up to or over eight hours. That’s a lot of boxing the Saturday before Christmas – especially when things like college football can be found. The other obstacle is the price tag. While this stacked event won’t cost a fortune, it’s still going to cost American viewers. Again, this is the Saturday before Christmas, at a time of year jam packed with other sports – and it’s going to cost money to watch.

It’s easy to imagine this card being a hit on regular network television, like a PGA tournament that can go on for hours and still attain good ratings. This is boxing, however, where name fighters bring in a ton of money – money that has to come from somewhere. Last but not least there’s the matter of changing eras. Boxing used to be extremely successful when it was broadcast during weekend afternoons on network television. Those days, however, are over. American fans now expect most major fights to be in primetime.

When taking into consideration the matter of timing, alternative options, and of course cost, it’s easy to conclude that Saturday’s card won’t draw in an inordinate amount of American fans. And that’s too bad – because man, this card is loaded.

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