IB Opinion Boxing on the Box, the TV debate

Jonny Stapleton reveals why he believes the boxing community should stop moaning about a lack of boxing on TV and work together to get boxing on the box.


The lack of Boxing on terrestrial  TV has been vilified by boxing fans of late but Televisions companies decision to leave boxing off the box  is in some degree a justified decision.

Before you jump on me like Mike Tyson would an injured foe, let me state no one wants boxing to broadcast on our national airwaves more than this journalist. Not just because I have and love and passion for the sport, but because the more mainstream it becomes, the more newspaper coverage it gets and the more income I make.

Also let me point out that as our Public Service Broadcaster I think RTE have a duty to give the fight game its place on the airwaves, visual, audio and indeed online.

However, I think constant fan bemoaning of the lack of coverage isn’t the route to take and I do understand why no terrestrial TV station or indeed the only Irish based sports TV station has no interest in broadcasting live boxing.

Broadcasting live professional fights is just too expensive in comparison to broadcasting sports, which if we like it or not guarantee a much larger audience.

To broadcast a live fight night costs the station in the region of €50,000 to €70,000.

I am sure compromises’ could be made that could reduce that figure, but  that is the figure quoted to promoters who approach TV stations in Ireland.

If you consider €15,000 was the cost for the rights to an ENTIRE season of Magners League rugby last year and compare that to the cost of showing boxing- it is a business no brainier.

20 odd matches and highlight shows for a sport which statistics show is consumed more and appeals across the board for a fraction of the cost of ONE fight night?

The figures speak for themselves!

We might not like it, but we have to remember and accept that TV Stations are companies and businesses at heart. RTE aside, their only loyalty is to profit and not to any one sport. The have no obligation to boxing or duty to the sport.

If boxing was consumed by as many people as GAA, Soccer and Rugby not only would they be showing fight nights they would be on their knees cheque in hand to Irish promoters.

It is also widely know in Media circles that sports like Rugby, Golf and GAA are hugely attractive to advertisers. Because of the market they reach  advertisers pay more to be associated with such sports- baffling to me, but if you were making more profit selling red sweets than black which colour would you sell?

Again I have to agree as our Public State Broadcaster RTE have a responsibility to minority sports and they should have some boxing content beyond just the National Finals.

RTE claim sever cuts have prevented them from a return to Bernard Dunne style programming. I am not sure why people don’t believe that reasoning considering the financial state of the country at present. Even worse RTE bosses will ask why they should fork out €50,000 plus, of cash they say they haven’t got, to air boxing shows  when they were paid to air Willie Casey’s world title fight last March.

TV3 received over €25,000 to show Tommy Egan Promotion’s fight night a number of years ago and argue a similar point when approached by promoters.

Boxing isn’t helped by laws that state certain International sporting occasions have to be available on terrestrial  TV. Meaning the Six Nations and competitive soccer internationals have to be shown on the stations your aerial can pick up without been boosted by tinfoil. As a result there is no major bidding war for their content and they are attainable on the cheap.

Putting boxing on the box costs more and draws less revenue than the power four of GAA, Rugby, Soccer and Golf. So if your not obliged to air them in favour of other sports you won’t. That’s not a slight at boxing it’s a fact. TV stations owe nothing to boxing and again aside from RTE none have any duty to the game we love.

What the boxing community the IABA and the BUI need to do is make boxing appealing to TV stations instead of feeling pity and playing the hard done by card.

How do we do that- well it seems simple in principle! Make more people watch it and make it cheaper to air.

Promoters the IABA and the BUI should work together to promote the game nation wide. Leinster have upgraded from playing in front to 400 trench coat wearing, D4 fans in Donnybrook to competing in front of an Aviva Stadium full of people from every walk of life. How? Grass roots marketing.

The boxing community should work to achieve something similar. They should also make a deliberate effort to make themselves more attractive to TV. Deck the National Stadium out with cameras and all that is needed to broadcast an event. Take the cost of the TV companies. The BUI should produce their own magazine shows and give it to TV stations for free. That would in turn  establish and prove there is a TV audience for the sport.

Fight nights have to be made exciting and appealing. Look at other sports the top teams and stars will always collide. Feder will play Nadal, Leinster will clash with Munster, Bohs battle Rovers and Dublin share the field with Kerry. Promoters need 50/50 appealing fights and for the big names to meet.

This website will try and do its bit and  submit its readership figures to prove there is appetite for the game to all TV stations on a monthly basis. We will also offer its services in helping record any magazine show if needs be.

I will agree boxing does not feature like it should in news reels across Irish TV land. The lack of air time given to Ireland’s greatest athlete at present, Katie Taylor is a disgrace.

As Paddy Appleton points out here:


I won’t defend any decision to ignore boxing by news rooms, but I will point out the boxing community could do more to force the issue.

I will reveal as a boxing journalist for international magazines, a national newspaper, Ireland’s biggest boxing website and Ireland’s only boxing radio show  I get more press releases from other sports than I do boxing.

In fact I have more soccer, rugby, swimming and hockey news sources vying for my attention than the boxing people I can give so much publicity too. I get a rugby team sheet each week with footnotes trying to tie selection to boxing. ‘number 15 once trained in St Saviours’, ‘12 once did a white collar show’ ‘2’ mothers sisters husbands adopt niece once meet Katie Taylor.’ A massive effort is made to ensure press coverage.

Again I am not defending TV stations choice to leave the fight game from their sports bulletins, but the boxing community can do a lot more.

Indeed I  received ten press releases from a British promoters last week describing how certain fighters opened a shop, visited the toilet or trained for two hours . Yet not one press release re the first Irish show of the year in Belfast landed in my inbox.

That is not a slight at a great Emerald Show and we worked in conjunction with the new promotional team to give what was a very successful first show online and national newspaper exposure.

However, if boxing people don’t believe their shows are worthy of press then why should any news outlet.

Believe me as a PRO of the Year winner, press is not a difficult thing to attain. Any media outlet would lap up a decent story and especially a free one. It is just a matter of bombarding the media outlets.

Again myself and this website are committed to seeing more boxing on TV in all forms, but I think we have to work toward that goal rather than conjure a conspiracy theory that others have a vendetta against the game.



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