Wednesday, June 7, 2023

With Little Buzz: BLK Prime Finally Debuts Tuesday Night Fights Series

In December of last year, digital subscription general entertainment network BLK Prime entered the sport of Boxing by being the broadcaster and promoter for WBO Welterweight world champion Terence Crawford's title defense against David Avanesyan in the champion's hometown of Omaha, NE. The event, which was broadcast on the BLK Prime app on pay-per-view as well as carried by traditional cable/satellite providers, was generally considered a success as it signaled the arrival of potentially another major broadcast platform for the sport. 

Credit: Beau Denison 

As some may remember however, since that event, things have been touch and go as far as the network's involvement in the sport. Some may recall the highly publicized signing of former four-division world champion Adrien Broner, who was to return to the ring under the BLK Prime platform earlier this year. Unfortunately for both Broner and BLK Prime, struggles with securing an opponent for the former world champion ultimately resulting in a third scheduled opponent being forced to withdraw from the bout due to suffering a broken jaw in sparring, led to the disillusion of the agreement between Broner and the network. Adrien Broner will finally return to the ring this coming Friday after a two year absence in the main event of a Don King promoted pay-per-view card.

Following the fall out between Broner and the network, BLK Prime aired one Boxing card on its platform from Costa Rica that was barely promoted and subsequently received little coverage from those of us in Boxing media. The network seemed to change its focus as it was announced in March that thry would debut a weekly Tuesday night Boxing series on it's platform for subscribers. For me this stirred memories of my youth.

Those of a certain age likely remember the weekly Tuesday night Boxing series on the USA cable network here in the United States. This observer can remember that the series actually bounced around different days of the week, primarily on Thursday and Friday nights before finally settling into the Tuesday night time slot at 9PM ET in the late 1980's  that the series would ultimately become known. To take it a step further, the ESPN sports network, which remains a major player in the sport to this day, often aired Boxing cards on Thursday nights on a weekly basis during the same time period.

The idea of a weekly Boxing series in the new age of subscription-based streaming frankly excites me. Not only because it obviously, gives an opportunity for me to further cover the sport I love, but along with another digital streaming network Probox TV, which airs Boxing cards on a bi-weekly basis, probides vital opportunity for young fighters seeking exposure as they begin their careers. As someone who is always looking out for what is in the best interest of Boxing as s sport, this was something I viewed as a win for Boxing.

Unlike Probox TV's series, the BLK Prime series, which was to debut in May got postponed twice, each time with no announcement or statement to those of us in the media as to why. Given the lack of promotion from the network, it was hard not to become skeptical that the series would eventually get off the ground. As the weeks went by with still no communication from the network and as the premiere date for what supposedly will be a weekly series, I became doubtful even as BLK Prime's app displayed a countdown clock for an event scheduled for June 6th, but wilth no information about the card beyond the simple clock that similar to the latter weeks of May seemed as though it would be reset for yet another date.

Despite not receiving any communication from the network, nor seeing any other media outlet offering any coverage of said event, I kept a close eye on the BLK Prime app and the countdown clock to see if there were any changes or any information that frankly would have helped as someone who would have covered the event. Despite also not seeing any upcoming events advertised on the Boxing record book databases, which again would have been helpful to yours truly, I was surprised to see wn actual feed of an event somewhere in Costa Rica go live when the countdown clock struck zero.

Even though I feel the term "Somewhere in Costa Rica"  is vague, non-descriptive,  and borderline unprofessional, unfortunately it is all I have to go on, but I do apologize to readers who expect more detail as this is something that I would not consider to be normal circumstances. Equally as unfortunate, the broadcast of this event had several technical problems and I was unable to get any information that instead of covering the event as I would have wanted to do, has subsequently resulted in my writing this column.

While it is important to remember that BLK Prime is still a newcomer in the sport, there are two obvious questions that come to mind here. One, why was there no promotion for this event from the network and why was no information made available on the respective Boxing record databases including BoxRec for example that regularly list upcoming events for every level of the sport on a daily basis throughout the world? Perhaps the more crucial question is what now for BLK Prime and their Tuesday night Boxing series? 

This observer obviously cannot answer that question, but any Boxing event needs promotion and information to be made available to the public if it hopes to be successful. Although it is not my intention to attack BLK Prime as any platform involved or wanting to be involved in Boxing should be viewed as an asset especially if they have the interest of the Boxing fan in mind and are not overly reliant on the outdated, overpriced, and undervalued model that is pay-per-view, if there is no promotion for your events and no communication with those who will gladly cover them if they have the appropriate information to do so, I cannot see how any series can be successful if it is done in anonymity, even if the concept of a weekly series does bring back fond memories of a great time for Boxing.

"And That's The Boxing Truth."

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