When asking boxing fans what their “Fight of the Century” would be, one might say Crawford vs. Spence or Joshua vs. Wilder.
However, out of the ring, the fight of the century isn’t Crawford vs Spence nor Joshua vs Wilder, it’s streaming vs. traditional television.
Although most would disagree with that statement, it is absolutely the truth. Think about it this way, we are at another period of evolvement where streaming media content has almost become the norm amongst the average person throughout the world.
We are underneath two weeks from the Eddie Hearn announcement of the fighters he has signed along with the details of the DAZN streaming service. That alone would get significant attention. However, with the news of the World Boxing Super Series Season II being broadcasted exclusively thru DAZN, the announcement on the 17th now becomes THAT much more important.
Although this may be new to some of the younger generation, it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Think about it this way, records are a thing of the past but was something that was started in 1877 by Thomas Edison and the concept lasted all the way thru the early 80’s. Years later, the compact cassette was invented in the early 70s while in 1982, the first compact disc was produced.
During these times, skeptics laughed at the idea of one concept replacing another. However, as years passed and technology evolved, it did.
In the mid to late 90s, Apple and Microsoft started tinkering with the idea of streaming with programs like Windows Media Player & QuickTime. While that was cutting edge at that time, there was still the issue of bandwidth and only being allowed to do so much. With technology becoming better, the company Real Networks streamed a New York Yankees game over the Internet in 1995. After this, we were off to the races as years went by and the development of YouTube, NetFlix and many others were started.
In the early 2000s, people weren’t thinking about anything that had to do with streaming as it was considered an extra cost. CDs were still a big hit with stores like BestBuy, which quickly became the one stop shop for music and video entertainment. As we moved to the mid 2000s and the streaming service was more refined, the idea of having portable electronic devices having the ability to stream became more and more accessible and affordable. CDs were beginning to phase out and people were streaming music thru their devices.
2016 came along and Twitter started to stream Thursday night NFL games live on their platform, which started getting companies to look at this as an opportunity if successful. The project was a success and a year later, they lost to Amazon, who won the right to stream those games on Thursdays. In that year, an article was written by Dan Rafael who quoted Banner Promotions boss Artie Pelullo as saying, “I believe the Internet is the future of our sport”. Little did he know—or maybe he did!—that he was only scratching the surface by streaming a fight on Twitter and that there were bigger plans in the future.
Once the possibilities started presenting themselves, the concept of watching fights via a stream link came to life. The WWE started their own network, charging $9.99 for streaming with the ability to watch original and archived content. Then, ESPN added their ESPN + platform which provides exclusive live and archived content for a low price of $4.99 a month. (ESPN is pushing the plus addition to give the traditionally non-televised undercards the opportunity to be seen and noticed by the streaming public. This is a clever way of getting people to sign up for a streaming service in order to see who is “next” on the horizon).
Now with HBO considerably reducing their budget for boxing, this leaves Showtime, as well as a few other traditional networks, to broadcast boxing.
Showtime has joined the streaming game too, broadcasting live fights from across the pond via their Youtube page.
Some opine that this will never work or that they will never pay for the streaming services of all of these companies. However, history will show that eventually, people will give in and cable TV, in it’s current form, will not exist while streaming services will.
The Fight of the Century will, without question, be a war of attrition which will be no different then Gatti vs Ward. In the end, the platform that will have their hand raised will be the streaming services as they will find a way to “win the decision.”