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Digital Streaming & Social Media: Boxing 2020 and Beyond

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It was a little over a year ago when I wrote a story on Ryan Garcia and his message to the boxing public (Click HERE for that story) on how the business model was changing for the sport.

During that time, Oscar De La Hoya mentioned in multiple interviews the uncertainty on how to monetize social media presence.

Here we are in November 2020 and Ryan Garcia has become one of the biggest young stars in the sport. He isn’t alone as Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez and others are right there but he has introduced the future business model of the sport.

Before you start slamming me, take a second to think about some of things I am going to mention in this article.

The business of boxing has always relied on advertising dollars in support of their biggest shows. The true sign of a star would be based on how successful that fighter does on PPV. If the fighter became a star, the premium paid to slap your company’s logo all over the event would be expensive. This was the business of boxing prior to the social media age.

This timeline gives you an idea of when the social media impact started to occur.

When social media was introduced in the 2000s, there was some thought that it could potentially have a great impact. The launch of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter between 2005 and 2006 was the start of the advertising business model changing. When researching some articles, I came across this peer reviewed (Click HERE) one that spoke about “The Harlem Shake” meme video from 2013 that generated over 8 million dollars at a CPM (cost per 1,000 views) of $6.00. This type of revenue drew the attention of advertisers and they were quick put their company name on those videos.

Fast forward to the sport of boxing and recent years, the profile of a fighter and how they are paid has changed. Being out in the public is fine but today’s consumer wants to buy into everything that surrounds the athlete. There are some great fighters but the ones that are truly making money have an active presence on social media.  Of course, there are a lot of fighters that do not want to admit this and feel like it is a distraction more than anything else. I do not disagree with that thought process. In today’s world, that is part of the package if you want to get paid and penciled into those high-profile fights.

It’s clear that boxing is paying more attention to this distribution of mass media.

Recently, the PPV numbers and viewership on some of the boxing programs haven’t been great. Many believe that the low PPV numbers are a concern for the sport. People also believe that illegal streaming is too much of an obstacle to overcome. While I can agree with that, I don’t think advertisers are all that concerned with putting up a check for the PPV. For example, the Gervonta Davis PPV numbers were solid for today’s market but Showtime instead sent out the below:

These numbers were more appealing to the masses than anything else.

That is where the real money lies and that is where advertisers are going to invest. All Access Part I did almost three million views while Part II, about a million and a half. That right there paid for the check any company sent to them for this fight. It wasn’t the PPV, it was everything else leading up to it and after.

Ryan Garcia has been hip to this for a while now and has done a great job with it. He’s smart at teaming up with other Social Media Influencers in order to continue to raise his profile. That is what the popular culture is looking at for acceptance into it. This is what also continues to get him six figure advertising pay checks too.

The two ladies in the above Instagram post represent over 50 million Instagram followers. Aligning Ryan with them exposes him to that demographic and expands his profile as a fighter to even greater heights.

When discussing this topic, I reached out to Jay Chaudhry (Head of Production at Players TV) who has worked extensively with all-star athletes and with the growth of fighter’s brand in boxing and he had this to say:

The current state of Athlete IP and content space is not some kind of trend, it’s literally paving the way of how the future of sports agencies, networks and promoters will be looking at commodity.Long gone are the days of “how many ratings and PPV buys did a fighter pull off”. This information isn’t close to as appealing as  “how many fans actually subscribed to my channel, to my IG page, to my brand account after my fight”. The war of subscribers and who has the best content has already started. You can see Ryan Garcia, Tank Davis, Devin Haney already starting to churn out content on YouTube. Other than Ryan Garcia, none of them are performing at the level they should be with sponsorship and brands. That will come, too.

All of this is to say that at one point, boxing had a fixed business model that all followed. In today’s boxing world, the business model is changing. Having a social media presence and being a great fighter will take you to the top of the sport both literally and financially.

You can follow me on Twitter @abeg718 and follow @nyfights on Instagram.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, Abe grew up in a family who were and still are die-hard boxing fans. He started contributing boxing articles to NYF in 2017. His club show pieces allow fans to see who is next on the horizon, and his training camp check ins are much anticipated. Abe can be found on twitter @abeg718.

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