A little over a month ago, I wrote this article about how digital streaming and social media are a critical part of marketing a fighter in these current times. The article was received with mixed reviews due to some refusing to accept this new reality. If this pandemic has shown us anything is that social media and digital streaming has kept fans interested in athletes.
When thinking about this topic, I thought about an article I wrote two years ago (CLICK HERE) which was days prior to the launch of DAZN. I mentioned that the “Fight of the Century” would be between Traditional TV vs. Streaming. Since then, that fight has turned more one sided as the streaming world has gained a lot more momentum in the last two years.
We saw the launch of ESPN Plus, Fox Sports App and a slew of other streaming services. On the social media front, the rise of Tik Tok and Twitch have brought in another avenue to not only provide content but also produce revenue.
For boxing, some of the folks known as the “old guys” have not wanted to accept this new way of doing business and/or have a hard time trying to grasp the model of it. I once again reached out to Jay Chaudhry (former CEO of Break Media Group and now Head of Production at Players TV) to discuss the topic as he has created some graphics like the one below to show the revenue stream a social media profile could produce.
When speaking to Jay, he spoke of a term appropriate for this article which is “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL). These three elements create the legal term “right of publicity.” Something that most would think isn’t important, but it is as the NCAA just recently went to that. (Click HERE for USA Today article on the subject.) It’s a way for athletes to earn revenue since they aren’t drawing salaries playing for their schools.
I bring this up because we are seeing social media becoming even more of an influence in this current market. It has a huge influence on how business is being conducted within the sports world. During our conversation, Jay mentioned that fighters should take more of a grassroots approach to promoting themselves. One of the ways is to tap into social media influencers within their region and grow from there. I thought about that and it reminded me of an artist back in the day passing their music out in their neighborhood which often led to the content’s audience expanding.
In these times, someone that has taken that approach is Brooklyn’s own Super Middleweight prospect Edgar Berlanga (16-0). I’ve watched Berlanga in the last 12 months and he has done a great job not only promoting himself but hitting all of those pop-culture platforms that people from NYC recognize. It also helps that he has industry heavyweights in his corner.
I’ve seen how Berlanga’s profile is that of a star while also doing interviews with famous NY DJ’s and influencers. He is building his brand within New York and making himself hot there before branching out. It's smart marketing and something that is much needed by fighters if they want to get to that next level in their careers.
One way or the other, Super Lightweight Contender Ryan Garcia (20-0) somehow makes it in these articles. Why, you ask? It’s because he has really mastered what it takes to build a brand in the new social media market. Another reminder of that is this news release mentioning Ryan and his brother doing a contest on Twitch.
For those that don’t know, it’s not just another YoutTube type of page but it’s more so for gamers. It also provides a simple way to create a revenue stream for artist, athletes, etc. Ryan understands that the Twitch audience is unique. It's also a dedicated audience so he is going to tap into it before his fight in January. This is the type of strategy that fighters need to start doing so that they can make themselves relevant outside of the ring.
Speaking of digital streaming, we saw the launch of Triller which was the first non-traditional boxing app since DAZN. Triller put together the Tyson vs Jones card which was rumored to have done over a million buys. (Michael Woods was first to report it and you can read it HERE)
Prior to the event, Triller wasn’t known to anyone in boxing. They placed huge social media influencers Jake Paul and Mike Tyson on the card to sell the event. Aside from Tyson and Paul, they booked talents like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and others to help make the event a success. I would be the first to admit that I was not a fan of the event. Prior to the start time, it was talked about everywhere and that influenced me to purchase the PPV. The Tyson 8 Second Clip, which had over 8 million views, made this one an event to watch.
Note: Chaudhry went on record after the fight between Logan Paul and KSI 2 came onto the scene to show how much impact the event had on bringing new fans to the sport. The event out-performed the highly anticipated PPV matchup between Errol Spence and Shawn Porter across social media.
This event sparked Floyd Mayweather to sign up to fight Logan Paul in February. The Floyd vs Logan deal is on yet another streaming service, Fanmio. These digital streaming platforms are starting to grow and giving fighters different outlets to distribute their fights. Could this lead to the end of the traditional boxing promoter?
This happened not too long ago with the rise of indie artist in the music game. We saw artists becoming successful on their own without signing to a major company. They had to do all of the “heavy lifting”, but they saw more profit at the end of the day. When discussing the streaming game, it’s going to turn into that very soon. Fighters may even create their own events without having to involve a promoter. Imagine that.
We are deep into the digital age and those involved will have to get used to the new norm. Managers are going to have to engage with their fighters to take on more of a role in social media. This can force those fights they want while also providing a different revenue stream.
Embrace social media and digital streaming because they are here to stay.