The purpose of this article is to catch back up with the streaming service DAZN which launched in America in the fall of 2018. Back in the spring of that year, Eddie Hearn announced a major deal worth up to a billion dollars. We’ve come to be informed that DAZN and Matchroom USA is a joint venture with the streaming platform owning a sizable percentage of the promotional outfit ran by Eddie Hearn. Never short on words, Eddie Hearn bragged about having the largest budget out of all his competitors. Once he even carried around a Gucci Bag boasting it was full of doe and he would use it to apply pressure to his rival stables in America. This boxing podcaster did a 1-year progress report on DAZN if you have interest in my in-depth thoughts back then the link can be found here DAZN: 1-Year Progress Report – The Grueling Truth
After an expected slow start for DAZN having to sign a slew of boxers, Eddie had a great 2nd quarter in 2019 and closed that same year in the 4th quarter on fire with several meaningful fights. 2020 Covid was a tough year for everyone but especially DAZN who left some of their customers in the dark given that fact they had no fight content going on. I was able to pause my subscription on Roku but others weren’t as lucky. They should’ve giving away the months they charged some folks for free. That said DAZN did get off to a solid start at the beginning of this year. Here’s the link if you’re interested in my progress report Boxing the year so far: 1st Quarter Progress Report – The Grueling Truth to show you this doesn’t come from an overly biased American boxing fan. As we know of late, DAZN has clearly focused on the UK market for good reason considering how popular boxing is compared to here in the states. Beyond just DAZN which not only is putting an emphasis in the United Kingdom, they also launched their sports streaming service all over the world.
What we will touch upon more deeply in this article is Matchroom USA for obvious reasons. It’s almost unbelievable (not really if you’ve paid attention) the lack of critique or full-out criticism that Matchroom USA hasn’t received from the media and from a certain faction of boxing Twitter. Could you imagine if Top Rank’s Bob Arum hadn’t put a fight on in several months? Better yet, the amount of displeasure and shots that would be taken at PBC creator Al Haymon if he hadn’t put on a card since late May. It took a while for the large chunk of full and part-time media members just to be critical of the spending habits that Matchroom USA and DAZN came out the gates with. Time and time again these same folks would routinely destroy Haymon for overpaying his fighters and sure some of it was spot on but gave a pass to the outrageous spending going on at DAZN.
We can all agree that when Al Haymon surprised everyone with the PBC it changed the market no doubt because of the pay his fighters received. But the amount spent on certain fighters or fights by DAZN made it look like a mountain to a molehill. And yes that most certainly caused a major disruption to the market and is one of the main reasons more fights were going on PPV and other fights couldn’t happen. Look how much Al and Bob had to up some of their fighter’s guarantees, a perfect example is Terrence Crawford. Yet here we are 4 months removed from the last Matchroom USA event and your just now hearing some complaints but somehow Eddie hasn’t got the brunt of it nearly as much as Al Haymon did.
Earlier this year I wrote an article about the lackluster main events for the PBC on FOX PBC on FOX Main Events: Where’s The Beef? – The Grueling Truth just in case you needed another article from this guy to prove this isn’t an attack on Eddie Hearn randomly. The question has to be asked. Where or where is Matchroom USA? And to be honest beyond a few good fights DAZN’s schedule overall hasn’t been much to speak of. We’ve heard that Ryan Garcia and Joseph Diaz Jr. are in talks and we probably will get the trilogy bout between Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada by year’s end. Once against I’m speaking from the Matchroom USA standpoint so if you don’t see all DAZN bouts listed you’ll know why. After all, it was Eddie who claimed he would give US fans 12 stacked cards a year along with 4 absolute monster events. In recent months and really since the pandemic hit the writing has been on the wall on just what kind of fights will take place on American soil.
For DAZN USA to catch on with the sports fans over here it was always an uphill battle because of the fierce competition. Using a non-mainstream sport like boxing seemed to make some sense, but not if that was going to be the biggest investment. To no surprise, Amazon is emerging as the leader to acquire the NFL’s “Sunday Ticket”. DirectTV’s contract is over after the 2023 season and the NFL is expected to want in the ballpark of 2-2.5 billion dollars per season. Without some sort of reason for sports fans from the variety of main staple sports, it would be difficult to attract subs. The two times DAZN actually released their “numbers” it was reported well under 1 million and that was at the peak of their close to 2019 with Canelo Alvarez, Ruiz/AJ 2, Gennadiy Golovkin, the Paul Brothers all on the schedule.
John Skipper who headed DAZN USA and ESPN recently expressed the dilemma they had getting new subs. “At DAZN we tried secondary sports and tertiary sports, thinking they can’t do pay-tv, but there are 17 million hardcore badminton fans. ‘We just gotta get 9% to sign up and you’ve got 300,000 people.’ None of that stuff works. What works is top of the pyramid rights that people have to see. Another article from Deadline.com quoting Kevin Mayer the chairman of the board at DAZN and TikTok executive, “don’t expect to be competing for Premier League rights in the U.S. anytime soon. I don’t think it would be smart for DAZN to have a real focus on the US. It’s an ultra-competitive market. We’re going to take a pretty light approach to the US, that’s not part of our core strategy.
There are rumors of Netflix getting into the live sports rights biz in the form of bidding for Formula 1 when their rights expire next year. F1 has also discussed a possible deal with Amazon. That Deadline.com article also discussed the fact that DAZN wasn’t invited to the bidding table for the Premier League UK rights but added DAZN may attempt to buy BT Sports which would give them the rights. Long story short the future Eddie Hearn promised us doesn’t look all that bright from a US point of view. If Eddie can replicate his 1st quarter in 2021 that would be just fine and that along with the fights from the UK would still be worth it for a hardcore fight fan that up until a few years ago had to find a stream to watch most of the fights from across the pond. The irony that Eddie gets another pass after his prediction of Showtime going out of business is so predictable. Remember this is coming from a lifetime boxing fan that put up the 100 dollars from the jump and has re-upped every time. At this point it seems that Matchroom USA and hopefully Golden Boy will give US fans some good fights but nothing like the second and fourth quarters of 2019.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Com Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio