What the DAZN-Eddie Hearn deal means for boxing broadcast

BRENTWOOD, ENGLAND – JULY 29: Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom sport, watches as he is interviewed for television during the Matchroom Fight Camp media brunch at Matchroom headquarters on July 29, 2020 in Brentwood, England. (Photo by James Chance / Getty Images)

The infamous and meme Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom Boxing recently struck a deal with DAZN that sees him end his long-term partnership with Sky Sports – a deal that is said to be nine digits. It comes at a time when the future of boxing looks uncertain.

What the DAZN-Eddie Hearn deal means for boxing broadcast

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Streaming services

When streaming services like Netflix and Amazon began to become the global phenomenon they are today, they were generally expected to make significant inroads into the sports streaming market. The key to any brand that produces content is variety, whether it’s a Online casino provider creating a vast catalog of roulette, poker and slots that satisfy and interest a large audience or a fashion influencer creating exclusive content for various social media channels – and this is what was considered attractive to sports for streaming services. Amazon is the only one to acquire the rights to “traditional” sports such as tennis, football, basketball and American football. YouTube and Twitch are the major streaming services that have developed a grip on the balloon esports market, with cable channels like ESPN in America and the BBC in Britain in recent years.

Eddie Hearn already has a deal with DAZN for the US broadcast of his fights, but the UK deal represents an important moment. Sky Sports had been the benchmark for many major fights broadcast in the UK, but their model was a la carte. Fans had to pay per fight. From now on, Hearn’s fights, aside from those involving Anthony Joshua, will all appear on DAZN at no additional cost to the public – all included in the price of the basic subscription. This agreement allows for a more global reach and a much easier way to engage with new and existing audiences, outside of the PPV model.

It leaves a whole in the broadcast of Sky. BT Sport offers a PPV boxing service, so boxing won’t desert cable TV, but this represents a change. What’s left at the table for Sky?

Contemporary Boxing

Contemporary boxing is at a strange point. While major fights involving the aforementioned Anthony Joshua, alongside Tyson Fury, Canelo Alvarez and Deontay Wilder regularly make headlines, famous boxers like Logan and Jake Paul, as well as events where the stars of YouTube and Twitch s ‘face, are beginning to eclipse the sport’s most legitimately and historically competitive core.

Logan Paul’s fight with transcendent Floyd Mayweather drew more one million PPV sales. It’s not very often a fight topping the million mark. The demand technically affected Showtime, which meant parts of the audience struggled to access the show. Cards of this magnitude will continue to be PPV. This is why Anthony Joshua is considered “outside” of the Hearn-DAZN deal. Popular fighters require different business models. However, it is the “novelty” fights – those involving Brothers Paul, KSI, and other Internet celebrities – that attract a new audience, as opposed to professionals. The DAZN deal, for fighters Eddie Hearn and Matchroom, could see a new wave of interest creep its way to ringside, giving the sport a chance to shift its professional core forward. Will Sky change his approach and pick up “smaller” fights and position himself ready to catch the tails?

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