The trickle of sports content airing on ABC has picked up over the last year, and while the announcement that Saturday’s Bayern Munich-Borussia Dortmund match will air on the network has received most of the attention online, another piece of archival content will air on ABC this weekend.
ESPN announced that ABC would air the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight on Sunday at 2 PM ET, a day shy of the 50th anniversary of the fight. Furthermore, the fight itself has been completely remastered.
Fans will be thrilled to see the results ESPN’s boxing production team achieved in Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier 50th Anniversary Special through the intricate digital remastering of every second of both the original footage of the entire fight and the original ABC Wide World of Sports broadcast. For the fight, this process included some 461 shots in which graininess was removed, color was corrected and enhanced, and images were sharpened.
The two-hour broadcast window also includes various stories and features about the fight, and reairs on ESPN at 6 PM Sunday.
To me, this is academic, and something ESPN and other leagues and networks should do with archival footage. Is a significant anniversary coming up for a prominent event? Good, try to get that old footage cleaned up, create some bumper content, and give it some extra love over studio programming or reruns. Sure, a sport like boxing is easier to do that with, given that we’re talking about 15 three-minute rounds (in the event of a decision) as opposed a three-plus hour game, but it’s not as if fans would need to see every inning or possession, especially if nothing interesting happens.