HBO has named Peter Nelson as their replacement for Ken Hershman who resigned from his post in October. Nelson started as director of programming in 2011, now resides as the executive vice president for HBO Sports and, according to Kevin Iole of Yahoo, Nelson maintains all of the power associated with the top spot, just without the title of president.
Nelson has been the president of programming for HBO Sports, but he will take on many new responsibilities, including those associated with HBO Boxing. Things are certainly changing at HBO with another resignation last week from Mark Taffet and the rumors that at least one more is expected. Most in the know don’t expect any new hiring right away, but the landscape of HBO Sports could look very different this time next year.
So, what does this mean for boxing fans, specifically those subscribed to HBO? Well, nothing will likely change immediately and business will continue as normal for the most part.
There have been conspiracy theorists that suggest the change marks Al Haymon’s inevitable arrival at HBO. But there is no concrete evidence that supports that. However, with Nelson in charge at least HBO has someone that can start a clean slate with Haymon if that is a direction they want or are willing to go.
I will say, if rumors are true and PBC is hemorrhaging money, even if it was to be expected, it could help to have access to HBO’s superior spending cap for boxing. But that is where it gets tricky. If Haymon works with HBO then it won’t be with the PBC brand, but instead HBO would buy fights in a manner that they always have. That is good for fighters under PBC’s banner and it would give a slight ease to Haymon’s own PBC budget.
However, HBO would only buy significant fights, the kind of significant fights that PBC needs to showcase on free TV if boxing is ever to find its way back into the hearts of American fight fans, specifically the casual fans that wouldn’t pay for Thurman-Porter.
In the Yahoo story, Nelson spoke briefly with Kevin Iole regarding a matchup between HBO fighter Sergey Kovalev and Haymon fighter Adonis Stevenson. However, Nelson’s comments suggested nothing more than what has already been done in terms of making the fight a reality. In fact, his comments were similar to things that Hershman said.
It would as though this chance will bring no dramatic effect to speak of, but I believe that Nelson will eventually bring on a significant change. With the current climate of boxing, HBO execs know that something has to give and perhaps Nelson has been put in place so that pieces can begin to move.