From Screens Big And Small, Boxing Looks To KO A New Audience, Starting With The Latino Fan

What: Boxing has experienced a rebirth of sorts in the American sports landscape, in part driven by Latinos’ continued affinity for the sport.
Why it matters: Brands, not just those most associated with fight sports, are more invested in boxing than ever, evidenced by mainstream marketers’ connection with network bouts and boxing-based TV shows and films.

“People have been saying boxing is dead for years, it’s an easy target. Yet every time there is a big fight where do the eyes and the dollars go? If it were dying, why would media companies and networks now doing streaming like ESPN and the others be spending and showing more? It’s because it is good content, and it’s not going anywhere.”

Those words by the retired undefeated champion, now commentator and entrepreneur, Andre Ward on “The Rich Eisen Show” (@RichEisenShowlast week are ringing truer than an opening round bell these days, as boxing more than any other fight sport, is really taking center stage again.

In recent weeks we have continued to see a flood of big networks, from NBC (@nbcto FOX (@FOXTVto ESPN (@espn), up the ante in the fight game on the content side, both for traditional broadcast on the streaming side. Then you have the massive input of DAZN (@DAZN_USA) and its boxing-first entry into the market which is already leading to other sports rights relevance, along with the ever-present push of Showtime (@ShowtimeBoxing) and any series of both English and Spanish language niche platforms dedicated to both boxing and all sorts of fight sports, and the craze for growth seems pretty solid. The only hiccups are a longstanding boxing stalwart, HBO (@HBO), exiting the fight game at year end, and the real question of who the audience is. Also let’s not forget another nice boost for boxing comes next week with the release of CREED II (@creedmovie), right on the heels of EPIX relaunching “The Contender” (@TheContenderwith a live finale a week ago Friday.

Speaking of CREED II, the film, which had its premiere last week in New York, certainly won’t be lost in the mix to engage both the boxing and Latino audience, and help lift the sport and the brands looking to engage. Nike (@Nikeand ironically Jersey Mike’s (@jerseymikeshave a heavy presence in the film, and the marketing team went into the field to have not just college and professional teams like the New York Knicks (@nyknicksand Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakersand Rams (@RamsNFL) get a first look, they also worked with some elite boxers like the team at Brooklyn Boxing (@Brooklyn_Boxingand rising star and former super middleweight champion Caleb Truax to host screenings with inner-city kids as well.

The Portada Los Angeles Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

“The audience for this film is very wide, but there is no doubt that it will resonate with young Latinos, not just because of the fight scenes and the stars but because of the personal life struggles that the characters go through,” said director Steven Caple Jr. (@stevencapleJR), whose family has Mexican roots as well. “I learned a lot about boxing and the power the sport has in the Latino community today still, and we think this can really help the sport keep growing.”

On the brand side, those looking to engage in the marketplace, be it stalwarts like Modelo (@ModeloUSAand Tecate (@tecateshould get another boost from the resonance of the ring and all the places bouts big and small will be shown on every device in the coming months, but it also represents a lower cost and high impact opportunity for brands to toe dip into the marriage of Latinos and sports, a trip inside that is only matched or sometimes eclipsed by soccer with that audience.

Promising young Latino boxers like Mexicans Alex Saucedo, whose bout against WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker in Oklahoma City was live on ESPN last Friday, and Eduardo Hernandez from Mexico and Mario Barrios from San Antonio among a strong crop of up-and-comers keep interest high in the Hispanic community.

“Boxing’s big fights will always draw a crowd, we know that,” added veteran marketer and Columbia professor Chris Lencheski. “However what we are seeing is great content that plays to every screen and appeals to a very strong niche audience, both younger and older Latinos, that is readily available and very shareable. Maybe we missed that aspect of boxing content and thought it was old school. However one thing is clear, everyone likes a good fight, and if the platforms showing boxing can tell stories and build those fighters into larger than life heroes with a following, that’s great news for all.”

And great news even more importantly, for those involved in the fight game, be it the fictional kind on the big screen or real life on a smaller one streamed to millions.

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Cover Image: Brooklyn Boxing