Facebook-Golden Boy Deal Could Be Big Step Forward for Boxing
By: Charles Jay
They aren’t the first organization to do it. And they certainly won’t be the last. But Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions intends to be the outfit that makes the greatest strides in developing the ability to capitalize on presenting professional boxing over the internet.
They have announced a partnership with Facebook in which they will present a series of live fight cards, free of charge, through Facebook Watch, the branded live streaming mechanism the mammoth social network has. It all begins on August 11 with a WBA featherweight title fight between Jesus Rojas and JoJo Diaz, taking place in Hollywood, CA. They will also go the next week from the Sands in Bethlehem, PA. And from there it will continue.
There has been a traditional business model for years in boxing, with slight variations. You sell tickets or try to get a casino to pay for the show, and then you see if you can make a deal to go on cable TV. If it’s sufficiently big enough, then pay-per-view (PPV) becomes a possibility. But you probably knew all that already.
Well, casino rights fees have dried up considerably from what they used to be. Television money isn’t spread around as much either, and with Al Haymon having taken a significant position through time buys instead of selling the product itself, you have to wonder how anxious some of these non-premium networks are going to be about giving up money in the future, outside of a couple of vendors.
We’ve seen some trips “out of the box” that might just stick. ESPN Plus is making some fights available through a paid app (also available through other platforms); DAZN is doing live streaming and has a deal in place with Eddie Hearn, the promoter of Anthony Joshua. In one conversation with me a while back, Top Rank’s Bob Arum envisioned that the Chinese, with a billion or so cell phones on hand, might pay a small fee for an attractive product (preferably including one of their countrymen) and that would add up to huge money. Twitter showed a championship fight a couple of years ago, through it was more of an experiment than anything else. There are services in operation right now that show boxing on a pay-per-view basis online, although I’m not sure what their numbers are. Certainly the direct-to-consumer model (“over the top,” as they say) is at some point going to be a major staple of what HBO or Showtime PPV does. It would appear inevitable.
Not everything is going to work. The point, though, is that different methods of distributing the programming are being explored.
And even though Facebook has done live events, like baseball games, what Golden Boy is doing represents the exploration of a legitimate frontier in this particular sport. It can be a winner. Like television, it offers the chance for the same outlet to market and exhibit boxing programming, provided of course they can cultivate an audience. But you see, over the social media channels, there is that built-in mechanism as well. And what is incorporated in this is the ability to get immediate fan feedback and interaction. So in a sense, a lot of this is self-contained. And obviously, the programs are adaptable to mobile devices, which is where the audience is going. Remember, people are moving away from cable, and toward other services. You have to get out front and go where the eyeballs are.
Golden Boy will not only have live fights, but also original programming in support of it; “shoulder” programming, if you will. You can bet that they will be promoting their pay-per-view telecasts as well, and this first fight comes just in time to push the Canelo-GGG fight on September 15. And in order to do this, they don’t have to get TV time cleared, or buy it, as Haymon has.
As part of the deal, Golden Boy is establishing a partnership-within-a-partnership, with Main Events (the New Jersey-based promoter) coming on board, and the CEO of that company, Kathy Duva, hit on something very important when she said, “For too long, promotional companies have been at odds over a limited number of television dates. We look now to a future with Facebook with unlimited opportunity, where promoters can work together to best serve the interests of the fighters and fans all over the world.”
Yes, in time things like this are going to flip the field.
Putting the product online in creative ways can be a great enabler for any number of promotional organizations. That’s because it is the most democratic distribution channel that has come along. Sure, not everybody is going to have a “partnership” with an entity such as Facebook, like Golden Boy has. But anyone has the capability to stream with Facebook Live, and then it just comes down to how many people can be driven to the “telecast.”
Years ago, when putting together a sponsorship proposal, we used to say that a cable channel, or combination of channels, got into X-million homes. Of course, that didn’t mean that X-million homes were going to tune in; it just meant the show had the capability to reach that many. Well, as long as you want to get theoretical about it, an online broadcast has the ability to reach almost every home on earth, or at least the vast majority, right?
That doesn’t mean there is a potential bonanza out there, naturally, but the doors can indeed be unlocked. The real opportunity for small and mid-level promoters probably doesn’t lie in online pay-per-view, truth be told, although I guess that if someone is going to produce a telecast anyway, it could fall into the category of “found money.” But this is more likely a play for enhanced sponsorship, using something similar to the over-the-air TV model (and the one Golden Boy is using), where the fights are free to viewers. If you can get a lot of targeted eyeballs to a piece of content, there should be a way to monetize that. It all depends how creative one wants to be.
Those who can somehow command a presence online, with regard to the actual presentation of the product, should be able to get a leg up on their competitors.
Remember, the technology isn’t going backward. And it’s going to allow even small, independent producers the chance to avail themselves of geo-tracking, instant viewer surveys and precise audience measurements, which provides plenty of ammunition, from the standpoint of data, to take to any sponsor. The challenge as we move forward is that whoever wants to hit big online will have to reach out and cultivate younger viewers, as MMA has done. And technology may be the mechanism through which to do it. Again, it comes down to who is creative about it.
I, for one, am rooting for this Golden Boy venture to succeed, not necessarily for what it will do for the company, but what it might do for an industry. And even in this business, where “schadenfreude” is often the order of the day, I think everyone else might do well to root for them too.
Delvin Rodriguez Loses to Courtney Pennington In Star Boxing Facebook Broadcast
Delvin Rodriguez Loses to Courtney Pennington In Star Boxing Facebook Broadcast
By: Sean Crose
If there’s one thing the forces behind Thursday evening’s Star Boxing fight card at the Mohegan Sun Casino in eastern Connecticut wanted made clear, it’s the fact that card was being broadcast live on Facebook. Not Fox Sports1. Not ESPN2. Not Bounce. Not beIN. Facebook. While fights have streamed live – and for free – before, Star Boxing is on the more significant side of the promotional scale, which made Thursday’s card a memorable event. Was it the beginning of something significant? Time will tell – though the odds may be in its favor.
The night opened with local (by way of Hartford) fighter Rich Rivera beating on newcomer Marco Parente in the Canadian’s pro debut. The 180 lb catchweight fight was halted in the final seconds of the sixth and final round, giving Rivera a record of 2-0. New Jersey’s Jonathan Rojas was up next, facing fellow lightweight Omar Bordoy in a four round bout. Like Rivera, Bordoy was a Connecticut fighter and the crowd was enormously in his favor. Both he and Rojas, in fact, were making their pro debuts. It was a close, fairly sharp fight for two newcomers to the pro game. The UD win went to Bordoy, who landed the harder punches.
Another Hartford fighter, Jose Rivera, 2-1, then entered the ring to face Long Island’s Marcus Beckford, 3-6-3, in a six round junior middleweight affair. A thunderous, and I mean thunderous, shot by Rivera in the fourth ended things abruptly. Beckford was able to get to his feet, but the referee knew better than to let matters continue. New York City welterweight Sydney MacCow, 4-5, was up next to face East Hartford’s (noticing a theme here?) Anthony Laureano, 3-0. Laureano may have been the obvious crowd favorite, but it was MacCow who dominated the first few rounds by sharp punching and by throwing Laureano’s timing off. Laureano’s pressure, however, began to take effect in the third.
Things got close and heated in the fourth, with Laureano landing the more effective shots. MacCow was definitely there to win, though. Although Laureano was now able to land, the New Yorker kept things razor thin. In the sixth, MacCow was visibly hurt by Laureano. The East Hartford native couldn’t finish his man off, though. Still, the two men closed the show firing away at each other. Indeed, it was a great fight. Laureano took the UD win, but there’s no reason – none – these two couldn’t meet in the ring again.
Former WBC World Female Middleweight titlist Kali Reis, 10-6-1, then faced 7-10-4 Ashleigh Curry. Reis may not have been from Connecticut, but she hailed from right next door in Rhode Island, making her about as close to a local fighter as one could get without actually being local. The first few rounds were somewhat slow affairs, with Reis walking Missouri’s Curry down. The third and fourth rounds presented the audience with more of the same. As the fight wore on, it became clear that – although Curry had her moments – she simply wasn’t of Reis cailber. Curry’s inability to put her punches together, for instance, was particularly telling. The final round showed no significant or sustained change of pace. The easy victory was awarded to Reis, courtesy of a majority decision (how anyone could have ruled it a draw, as one judge did, is a great mystery).
In the co-main, welterweight Samuel Amoako, 21-14, of Ghana, fought undefeated New Yorker Danny Gonzalez, 13-0, in a scheduled eight round affair. Gonzalez dominated the first two rounds, but the fight did not start off being a barn burner. By the fourth round, the bout had developed into a familiar pattern: Amoako would be walked to the ropes and Gonzalez would fire way, hoping to land effectively. Amoako was able to land an occasional solid shot, but those weren’t nearly enough to change the tide. Gonzalez was clearly trying to look impressive, but it can be hard to beat an opponent who isn’t doing much more than surviving.
In the fifth, Gonzalez started landing effectively to the body. Amoako looked like he might be hurt, but held on. And, sure, enough, the sixth was a replay of numerous previous rounds, with Amoako deciding to take it to the ropes with Gonzalez pursuing him. Amoako took a considerable amount of punishment, but, sadly didn’t have much to dish out to his aggressive foe. Needless to say, Gonzalez went home with a comfortable UD win.
It was time for the main event. Danbury, Connecticut’s Devlin Rodriguez, 25-8-4, had been around for a while, but he was clearly looking to work his way back into the upper hierarchy of the junior middleweight division. His opponent was Brownsville, Brooklyn’s Courtney Pennington, 10-4-1. The bout was a scheduled ten round affair. Things started off slow, with Rodriguez stalking and Pennington landing clean on occasion. By the third round, however, it was clear that Rodriguez was the one landing the more effective punches. Or was he? By round 5, Pennington was pot shotting and pot shotting clean. It was a tougher fight for Rodriguez than perhaps some had expected. The truth is that Pennington was looking to keep things slick. That can be problematic for fans who want red meat, but it can also be a very productive strategy. Throughout the middle rounds, the fight was rather close.
The later rounds were similar to the earlier ones. Rodriguez was able to land clean, but his inability to cut off the ring on his man remained problematic. This , though, had as much to do with Pennington’s effective game plan as it did Rodriguez’ own skill set. In the end, the judges saw it in Pennington’s favor, as he walked away with a UD win