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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Boxing: are the BBC part of the hype or part of the coverage?

I don't follow boxing but couldn't escape knowing there was a big fight last night between Klitschko and Fury. The hype was all over BBC Five Live all day Friday and Saturday, pointing listeners to their Saturday night coverage.

Fury won the fight, which was unexpected. On Sportsweek this morning Garry Richardson spoke to the boxer David Haye about Fury's habit of saying outrageous things in the build-up to a fight. Haye said it was all about selling tickets. But surely, said Richardson, there's more to life than selling tickets. Well, said Haye, this is pay-per-view and there are lots of boxers who suffered brain damage and didn't even get compensated for it. The more that people like you talk about it the more tickets they sell and the better they do.

Haye's got a point. It's one the BBC should think about. Their beating of the drum before a fight drives more people to sign up for pay-per-view than it does to listen to their coverage on the radio. I would guess the BBC coverage is an important part of the hype for the people selling pay-per-view.

It's not just about boxing. The BBC face the same dilemma around the release of the Adele album or the latest James Bond movie. They could cover it after it's happened but that never seems to be enough; they also seem to want to make it happen. They need to decide whether they're providing coverage or playing their part in the marketing mix.