DAZN Builds Up Their Content with an Eye Towards the Future
By: William Holmes
DAZN is hoping to be a big disruptor in the traditional boxing viewing model for fans and have already signed a major fight to give their customers.
The Heavyweight division, prior to the arrival of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has long been considered boxing’s glamour division. One of DAZN’s biggest investments was to lock up the current heavyweight kingpin, Anthony Joshua.
With Floyd Mayweather retired and Manny Pacquiao near 40, the welterweight division’s time at the top of boxing’s money divisions appears to be coming to a close. Anthony Joshua has been selling a tremendous number of tickets when he fights. The first fight for Joshua under the DAZN service will be a good test when he meets Alexander Povetkin.
But their foray into the heavyweight division is not the only thing that DAZN has in mind.
Former ESPN President John Skipper is the new chairman of DAZN, and the company’s stated goal is to be eventually known as the Netflix of Sports. They have Over the Top (OTT) streaming rights to major sporting events in international markets such as Germany, Austria, Canada, and Japan to leagues such as the NFL, NHL, MLB, UEFA Champions League, and Serie A.
OTT streaming won’t have commercials, and won’t rely on advertisements to turn a profit like traditional broadcast media.
Marcus Parnwell, director of product at DAZN, recently told Quartz “We’ve seen Netflix build a model without advertising based on the subscription… Sport has more natural breaks in play, especially US Sports are built for advertising. We’re trying to do a different model and a different thing.”
Their acquisition of OTT rights for some valuable sport franchises will likely take some time to turn into a profitable venture. However, the American consumer has increasingly made the decision to ‘cut the chord’ which has lessened the reach of traditional broadcast outlets. Streaming options, such as Netflix, Hulu, and even the ‘niche’ market of the WWE network have been fairly successful.
It’s only logical for a streaming service dedicated to sports to eventually enter that market. Enter DAZN.
They don’t have the OTT rights to any of the major American sport leagues in the United States yet, but they have already made some inroads into combat sports in the United States and early on their focus will be on that.
Their deal with Matchroom Boxing USA is for $1billion for eight years with 16 events in the US and 16 events in the UK per year. Their deal with Bellator is for 22 events, 7 exclusive to DAZN in addition to their welterweight tournament. They also have a deal for Combate Americas for 13 events a year. They also have a deal with World Boxing Super Series for 15 events and 21 tournament bouts.
The goal appears to put on PPV style events in both boxing and MMA for a lower monthly subscription price.
They already have some attractive fights lined up for fans, including:
9-22: Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin (Boxing)
9-29: Mousasi vs. Mcdonald (Bellator)
10-6: Jessie Vargas vs. Thomas Dulorme, Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Johnson (Boxing)
10-7:Inoue vs. Payano (Boxing)
10-12: Mitrione vs. Bader (Bellator)
10-13: Fedor vs. Sonnen (Bellator)
10-20: Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade, Katie Taylor vs. Cindy Serrano (Boxing)
Streaming will also allow DAZN to do some things that cable networks can’t. Traditional boxing broadcast outlets like HBO and Showtime only show 2-4 fights per card, while DAZN show the entire card, including the opening fights that often feature prospects and local fighters.
It’s alleged that Brian Kenny, Michael Buffer, Sugar Ray Leonard will help lend a veteran presence to their boxing broadcasts.
In addition to live fights, DAZN is also looking into shoulder programming for these events. Scott Woodgat, the director of programming at DAZN, recently told awfulannouncing.com “OTT and DAZN are all about live. The content strategy here differs a little bit from the other regions, because there’s gaps between events in fight sports, and we need to fill those gaps with various shoulder programming, which we’re looking into.”
DAZN has made investment at a base production facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and hired producers, writers, and staff to create original content. They also have a library of past fights uploaded in both boxing and MMA.
Subscribers to DAZN will have other viewing options besides live events.
The future of DAZN is also intriguing.
Saturday’s PPV fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin appears to be the last fight that both boxers have under their current contract with HBO.
Manny Pacquiao, though older, is also a free agent and eager to fight.
The addition of any of those three, or all three, would make DAZN a very attractive option for fight fans, both the casual and hardcore ones.
DAZN currently has Boxing, MMA, Soccer, Cycling, and Cricket as sport offerings in the American market. If they are successful, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see them make a run at the OTT rights for one of the big four professional sport leagues (NFL,NBA,NHL, and MLB) one day.
But as of today, DAZN is making its mark felt in the combat sports world.
Canelo and Mayweather Could Signal the End of PPV, Streaming Poised to Take Over
By: William Holmes
“I don’t fight for legacy. I don’t fight for none of that, I fight for that check. I’m in the check cashing business.”
-Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Boxing isn’t just a martial art, it’s also entertainment. Floyd Mayweather was wise enough early on in his career to understand that having a public persona sells, and when you’re a fighter it’s best to minimize the physical damage while maximizing your earnings.
He has professed that his career is over, and it’s hard to argue against the proposition that he has been boxing’s most profitable star.
Entertainment value is not the only key to a pay per view’s success, nationalistic pride can also be a driving force in PPV sales.
Manny Pacquiao was a pay per view force in part because of it. Today, the Mexican pride for Canelo Alvarez leads many to express their patriotism with their wallet.
But the long term stability of PPV fights is at risk with the rise of streaming platforms.
New outlets like DAZN and ESPN+ now offer a reasonable financial alternative for fight fans. PPV’s were costing anywhere between $60 and $100 for the opportunity to watch one fight. $60 will get you half a year subscription with DAZN. DAZN promises to have 32 US and UK Matchroom Boxing Events and 15 World Boxing Super Series Events for the year.
ESPN+ has a partnership with Top Rank Promotions and will broadcast 54 live boxing events annually. ESPN + is available for only $5 a month.
The value for fight fans is with the streaming services, and a fight fan that’s spending $15 a month for both DAZN and ESPN+ will be less inclined to shell out another $60 or more for a ppv.
The expansion of heavily invested streaming services combined with boxing’s lack of marketable stars to the wide casual sport fan, spells the beginning of the end for pay per view.
The past two years have been particularly troubling for the boxing pay per view business. The rematch between Golovkin and Canelo is the only notable boxing pay per view fight of 2018. In 2017, Canelo’s fights with Golovkin and Chavez Jr. did well on pay per view, as well as Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s one off showcase with Conor McGregor, but outside of these two Boxing PPV has floundered.
Andre Ward rematched Sergei Kovalev on HBO Pay Per View, but by all accounts that fight underperformed and only sold 125,000 pay per views.
The money for boxing is still present for promoters and boxers alike to take advantage of, even with the decrease in PPV events. The contract DAZN has with Matchroom is worth a reported $1 Billion dollars over eight years (125 million a year) and while the official financials that Top Rank has signed with ESPN hasn’t been reported, it is for seven years and was lucrative enough to lure Top Rank away from their long time partners at HBO, and to resign one of their top stars, Terrance Crawford, to a recent contract extension.
The rise of streaming will present many problems for the Pay Per View model. The obvious one is the value that streaming provides. Fight fans will be able to get high quality fights, and a large number of them, for a substantially cheaper price than PPV.
Additionally, streaming services like DAZN and ESPN+ provide access to other events besides boxing. DAZN has locked into an agreement with Bellator MMA and provides other sport offerings, and ESPN has an agreement in place with the UFC as well as other professional and collegiate sport leagues.
The CEO of DAZN, James Rushton, believes DAZN will be a big disruptor in the industry and he believes DAZN will help change the game of Sports Broadcasting. He recently stated, “We are the world’s first truly dedicated, which stand alone, OTT live sport streaming business. We focused on what that means, is providing fans with unlimited access to some of the best premium sports content available, for one affordable monthly fee. No contracts, no bundles, all that stuff that people don’t like with traditional network television. We are live in five markets right now, and we are launching here in the US later on this summer, we are super excited. We are looking to disrupt and change the game of sport broadcasting starting off with fight sports with our partnership with Matchroom Boxing US and Scott and his team at Bellator. We’re looking forward to our first event going live on the 29th of this September with Bellator.”
The introduction of ESPN+ and DAZN into the boxing viewership marketplace will also force each to be competitive and put on high quality fights. Under the PPV model, boxing broadcast mainstays like HBO and Showtime would showcase their best fighters against boxers that would basically be considered “enhancement” talent, in order to build their popularity for the almighty goal of PPV.
With streaming, DAZN and ESPN+ will have to put on high quality competitive fights to draw the consumer away from the traditional televised boxing model to the new streaming boxing model. Tune-up fights won’t attract paying customers.
Mayweather’s last hurrah was likely against McGregor. If he chooses to come back, he will undoubtably remain a PPV attraction. But as of now, he’s officially retired.
Canelo is still in his athletic prime and has many productive and profitable years ahead of him. A loss to Golovkin will hurt his financial drawing power, but he still has that passionate and loyal Mexican base and will still be a bigger draw than most in the sport.
But outside of Canelo and Mayweather the PPV pickings are slim, and for fight fans and their wallets, that’s probably a good thing.
Is PPV Dead? Not yet, and PPV will likely remain an option for promoters who want to cross promote. But it’s on wobbly legs, and the streaming platforms look fresh and ready to go.
Eddie Hearn Announces American Streaming Service
By: Sean Crose
British super promoter Eddie Hearn has officially launched a streaming service here in the United States. According to the press release: “Matchroom Boxing, a world leading boxing promoter, and Perform Group, the digital leader in global sports media, have today announced the creation of a landmark $1billion joint venture and the biggest-ever deal in boxing.” Matchroom is Hearn’s company and it’s clear he’s making it a major player in US boxing. Hearn announced the deal on Thursday with Perfom Group CEO Simon Denyer.
“This is a historic moment for Matchroom and the sport of boxing,” said Hearn “Since our expansion to the US, we have been looking for a partner that shares our vision and that can give us the volume of dates and rights fees required to build the strongest stable in world boxing and take it to a new level.” Hearn intends to showcase 16 Matchroom promoted cards in America this year, along with another 16 from Great Britain. Matchroom will also include all the Pay Per View cards he airs across the Atlantic. “None of the fight nights will be on PPV,” the press release claims. “All will be available for one monthly fee and no long term contract.”
“This is a dream scenario for us,” said Hearn. “We can build a formidable team of fighters and also put our stamp on events from production to talent to in arena experience. Our plan is to make DAZN the home of boxing and with 32 big fight nights already confirmed from the US and UK we are nicely on our way…America – we have well and truly arrived, let the fun begin!” According to the LA Times, Hearn claims he “has $110 million per year to spend on the eight-year deal.” Such a bank account may allow Hearn to bring in the kinds of big American names he hopes to.
Denyer claimed that “Perform Group has a rich history of long term strategic partnerships with the best rights holders in world. I’m excited about working with Matchroom; we share the same passion and vision for reigniting boxing in the US and it’s time for DAZN to provide an exciting new platform for these great events. It’s a better deal for everyone – especially fight fans.” Streaming is making a huge impact on the sport of boxing recently. Aside from Hearn’s Matchroom deal, ESPN has recently begun its own streaming service.