ITV is stepping up its sports offerings with a new Pay Per View (PPV) platform that will launch with the exclusive UK broadcast rights to Chris Eubank Jnr’s next world title fight.
The broadcaster has acquired the rights to Eubank Jnr’s IBO world super middleweight title bout with Renold Quinlan on 4 February 2017 and will show the event on the newly created ITV Box Office.
Boxing in the UK has undergone something of a populist revival recently thanks to the likes of Anthony Joshua, Ricky Burns and Chris Eubank Jnr and now ITV is looking to capitalise on the upsurge.
The move suggests that broadcaster is mounting a challenge for boxing rights to Sky Box Office and the BoxNation subscription channel by tapping into its large terrestrial audience and showcasing an exciting fighter with audience pulling potential.
Several years have passed since ITV has shown a boxing event of this scale with Carl Frampton's world title fights being the last to feature on its regular free-to-air channels.
“Live coverage of this world title fight featuring one of Britain’s most exciting young boxers is an event we hope will appeal to sports fans across the country,” said ITV’s director of sport Niall Sloane.
He added: “Many people will recall watching Chris Eubank Jnr’s father in action in some of his most memorable fights on ITV, so it feels fitting for the Eubank name to feature in the first broadcast on our new channel.”
Paddy Hobbs, head of sport at Pretty Green, said he found the execution of ITV's announcement "suprising"
"Made with very little fanfare, no specific date or pricing details and on the eve on Sky Sports’ huge Wembley press conference for Joshua vs Klitschko, it’s certainly at odds with the usual model adopted to declare such a deal," Hobbs.
He added: "In a sport where selling hype is as important as the quality of the fight itself, ITV don’t appear to have either in place yet. It will be very interesting to see how they approach the build up to their first Box Office offering in the weeks and months to come and utilise the huge reach available through their own platforms to ultimately drive sales."
ITV has revealed that its ITV4 channel will show a full evening of live boxing ahead of the main card which would be widely available to viewers on television and online.
It has promised that details of how to register to view the fight, as well as prices, will be revealed well in advance of the event.