Peter Nelson Named HBO Sports Chief

Brad Barket/Getty Images for HBO Latino

The former journalist replaces Ken Hershman as pay-per-view boxing continues to be a hotly contested arena between HBO and Showtime.

Peter Nelson has been named executive vp of HBO Sports, effective immediately. The announcement came Tuesday morning from programming chief Michael Lombardo, who noted in a statement that Nelson is the “ideal choice to spearhead” HBO’s sports programming initiatives and boxing programming.

Nelson joined HBO in 2011. He replaces Ken Hershman, who announced in October that he would step down at the end of the year.

Nelson has considerable expertise in boxing, which is a large chunk of HBO’s sports portfolio. A former writer, he has written a book about Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer and the subject of a 2012 HBO docuseries from Peter Berg. Of course, Pacquiao has a pay-per-view deal with HBO, where he has been a consistent revenue generator, even with his May 2 loss to Showtime’s Floyd Mayweather Jr. The historic joint pay-per-view event generated a record 4.6 million buys and $437 million in domestic revenue.

HBO and Showtime have long competed for supremacy in the PPV boxing arena. Showtime lured Mayweather from HBO in 2013 with a six-fight, $200 million deal engineered by CBS Corporation president-CEO Leslie Moonves.

At the same time, manager and promoter Al Haymon has taken his fighters to Showtime while also bringing his Premiere Boxing Champions to broadcast TV through deals with CBS and NBC.

HBO has many top fighters, including heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev and Miguel Cotto.

Nelson has been vp of programming at HBO Sports since 2013, and his promotion had been expected. In addition to boxing, his responsibilities will include Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, the network’s boxing studio shows and popular NFL series Hard Knocks.

Nelson “has a comprehensive understanding of boxing, a key programming staple for our subscribers for more than four decades," Lombardo said in a statement. "We enjoyed a terrific 2015 season and can’t wait to present the best collection of fighters in the world on our platforms in the new year.”

Added Nelson: “The quality of HBO Sports programming is mirrored in the profound talents creating it, both those who work with HBO and those who work within it, people for whom I have deep admiration and with whom I’m excited to collaborate.”

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