The future is here, now.
The down the line scenario you contemplated is not down the line anymore, though the specifics will narrow and clarify themselves…
But boxing has embraced cord cutting, streaming and the new age of content delivery pretty darned heavily.
The future tiptoed toward us when Top Rank’s Todd DuBoef saw the writing on the wall, and how HBO and ESPN were losing subscribers, as kids, the twenty somethings, didn’t see the merit in having a bloated cable package. They wanted to pick and choose and watch what they wanted when they wanted to watch it, and didn’t care as much if their screen was pocket sized.
So Top Rank matched up their foresight, which, to be honest, wasn’t as much cerebral wizardry as it was cerebral fitness, you had to know the trending if you paid attention to the space (ie cable TV, TV as a thing, and OTT delivery of content), with ESPN’s needs. ESPN wanted, finally, to beef up their OTT game, to stem the flow of bleeding from the cutters, and an arranged marriage has thus far seemed pretty heavenly. In a year, ESPN grabbed more than a million subs to ESPN+, which features boxing and other less niche-y sports.
The other shoe dropped early Wednesday morning, when Golden Boy Promotions and their prize persona Canelo Alvarez edged the sport away from the old ways to the new. They partnered up with DAZN, the streaming service which is a world-wide power, to an extent, which is seeking to establish a base in America. With a mega-deep-pocketed backer giving the green light to ex ESPN bossman John Skipper, Canelo solidified his status as THE MAN in the game by signing on for what is being billed as the richest contract in sports history. 11 fights…5 years…$365 million (or more) bucks. That surpasses Floyd Mayweathers’ exchange with Showtime in 2013. And it brings the biggest draw in the game, not named Mayweather, to the DAZN. (The boxing media heavyweights were sifting through the info late, late last night, and posting stories at 3 AM, after Team Golden Boy/Canelo hammered out the particulars, so some said the deal was ten years, some said five, but everyone got the dollar figure right).
“Alvarez's deal is the richest athlete contract in sports history, eclipsing the 13-year, $325 million agreement that New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton signed in 2014 when he was with the Miami Marlins,” wrote Dan Rafael in his 3 AM post.
“Canelo is the highest-paid athlete in the world. He's extremely happy,” De La Hoya told ESPN’s Rafael after Alvarez signed.
So, what does this mean for you, the viewer?
More content…DAZN is a pay as you go service, $9.99 a month, and you can cancel any time. They feature fights promoted by Eddie Hearn, and his Matchroom company, and, now, Golden Boy material Not just Canelo (50-1-2; age 29; turned pro at age 15), other Golden Boy talent will now be featured on the stream service. Hearn told me on Tuesday that he isn’t co-promoting with GBP, that this is a fee for services setup. In fact, Oscar De La Hoya and Skipper, the ex ESPNer, were the principals in figuring out particulars.
This was a win with a capital W for Golden Boy. HBO, several folks have told us, were late to the party in informing many people they’d done business with that the tent was folding, so GBP had to hustle to adapt. Yes, they read writing on the ball, and noted that Peter Nelson’s corporate bill fold wasn't as bulge-y in the last year or two, so they were looking left and right and center, and chatting with various conglomerates and behemoths to see who might like to snag some live action, DVR repellent sports fare.
As of Tuesday, while I was doing interviews for the Golden Boy Mano A Mano promo video, for the Dec. 15 Canelo vs Rocky Fielding card at Madison Square Garden—the big room, duh, not the Theater—details were still being hashed out. One boss scribe posted a story later in the evening which still held out hope or the possibility that maybe HBO would be screening the Dec. 15 Canelo-Fielding affair, as their adios event, even as DAZN personnel was shooting promo material with Canelo. (AK and Barak do a solid job; they are young and chill, and have a nice mix of probing and respectful. They got Canelo to admit he’d like another crack at Floyd Mayweather if the opportunity presented itself, and that he thinks he’d beat “Money” in a re-do.)
Some particulars will still be forthcoming…Fans will be curious, is there space for Canelo to fight on PPV, if a mega fight presents itself? The same question will be there for people who wonder on what platform an Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder fight would land on, if and when people get on the same stubborn page to make that one.
My three cents: I think this is basically a win-win for fans. As you know, Canelo has been a PPV attraction, so you’ve been dipping deep into your pocket to watch him on HBO, as a subscriber, and then paying up to see him against stiffer foes. Now, you won’t be reaching as deep into your wallet. Also, this signals that Golden Boy and Hearn, or, more so, DAZN, are playing pretty nice. A less fractious landscape, with major league power players not tossing sand in each others’ eyes while in the sandbox, should prove beneficial to fans who want to see matchups that make sense, pitting the best against the best.
HERE ARE QUOTES FROM THE WEDNESDAY PRESSER AT MSG TO HERALD THE DAZN-CANELO DEAL and THE CANELO-FIELDING FIGHT
CANELO ALVAREZ & GOLDEN BOY PROMOTIONS PRESS CONFERENCE WITH DAZN: QUOTES
NEW YORK, Oct. 17, 2018 – At Madison Square Garden in New York on Wednesday afternoon, Canelo Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) and Golden Boy Promotions announced an 11-fight deal with global sports streaming leader DAZN. As part of the partnership, Golden Boy Promotions will put on up to 10 high-caliber fight nights per year that will stream live on DAZN beginning in early 2019. The new era will begin Saturday, Dec. 15 when Alvarez challenges Rocky Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs) for his WBA Super Middleweight World Title. This groundbreaking deal is the richest athlete contract in sports history.
In a press conference, the fighters and key executives took the stage to discuss the record-breaking deal as well as the upcoming fight at Madison Square Garden – Alvarez’s first in the iconic venue.
John Skipper, DAZN Group Executive Chairman
“Today represents a major shift in OTT sports content. Until now, fans haven’t received the value from these platforms that they deserve. DAZN is here to completely change that.”
“Oscar de la Hoya, as a boxer and a promoter, has been the most important figure in the history of pay-per-view. Right now, Canelo Alvarez is the most important fighter in pay-per-view. His next 11 fights will be available exclusively and internationally on DAZN. During the course of this deal, five years and the next 11 Canelo fights, DAZN will return premiere boxing matches to fight fans for a reasonable, affordable subscription price, and we will build a robust subscription base off of the demonstrated existing demand for these fights.”
“Adding this exclusive arrangement with Golden Boy and its quality roster of fighters to our Matchroom UK and Matchroom US fights gives us a year-long schedule of premium events for boxing fans. We add our Bellator, Combate MMA fights, and our World Boxing Super Series dates to provide a superior and affordable annual offering for fight fans.”
“Today I am thrilled to be here as we announce the beginning of a new era in boxing and the U.S. harbinger of a global transformation to a fan-centered and fan-friendly presentation of sports in OTT subscription services.”
Eric Gomez, Golden Boy Promotions President
“As we all know, the sport is undergoing an enormous change. We at Golden Boy Promotions have taken a major step forward to adapt to this change by signing this historic partnership with the leader of sports streaming DAZN. This is a direct and unprecedented partnership between two major global companies in the sport, Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN.”
“As a Golden Boy fighter, Canelo became the undisputed pay-per-view king. But now Canelo is starting a new era in the sport by having his next 11 fights on this amazing platform. We are committed to making this sport as accessible and affordable as possible for all the fans. The most remarkable thing about this deal is that fans will not have to pay any extra to see the biggest name in boxing, Canelo Alvarez.”
“I’ve always said, when one door closes, another door opens. And we’re very happy with this new alliance that we’ve made with DAZN. Forget about the prices, the amount of money we’re making. The most important thing is that fans can enjoy this fight at a very low price. Thank you very much DAZN and Golden Boy, I’m very happy.”
On the fight: “For me it’s a challenge. It’s a new challenge to move up a division. We know the challenge we have in front of us and we’re going to train real hard to enter the history of Mexican boxing.”
Eddy Reynoso, Manager and Head Trainer to Canelo Alvarez
“We’re very happy about the news with Golden Boy and DAZN.”
“On December 15, we have another important challenge in the career of Canelo Alvarez. Rocky Fielding is a very tough and strong fighter who’s coming off a nice string of good victories. We know it’s a big challenge to be moving up to 168 pounds. And we know that we will fight a strong boxer who’s well-schooled. We want to make history and we want to let everyone know that Mexican boxing will always be number one. We will prepare as always 100%, and we hope to make Canelo Alvarez a three-division world champion.”
Chepo Reynoso, Manager and Trainer to Canelo Alvarez
“On December 15, we will see another great victory so that Mexico can be proud of him. We’ll see you on December 15 with a great victory in the arena of MSG.”
“Everyone wrote me off, no one gave me a chance, and I went there, believing I could do it, and I got the win. I’ve worked so hard all my life to get to the world stage. And now I’m fighting the biggest name, the biggest star in boxing. It’s every fighter’s dream to fight at MSG. I’ve worked so hard all my life for it. I respect Canelo, I’ve watched him over the years. I’m going in there to win. I’m coming in as a world champion. I want to give everything. Expect a good fight and I’m coming to win.”
Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing Managing Director
“We joined up with DAZN, our biggest global boxing partners a few months ago, and when we give you our commitment, we give you our heart, we give you our blood, and we had a mission to make sure the DAZN platform would work and be a success. We launched the platform with Anthony Joshua, the first show being live on DAZN, and now through Golden Boy and DAZN, they bring Canelo Saul Alvarez. This is a gamechanger for the world of boxing and the way boxing fans digest content.”
“Things are about to change. The whole game is about to change.”
Jamie Moore, Trainer of Rocky Fielding
“I believe I’ve got the right sort of fighter in my hands in Rocky Fielding. He’s got massive self-belief, he’s got a lot of attributes that we believe will cause Canelo Alvarez problems.”
“I believe the 15th of December, we’re going to get the biggest win that the gym’s ever had.”