Eddie Hearn promised a big damn deal.
Well, he's a promoter…The guy has a way with words, and could, and sometimes, his detractors say, does hype the hell out of things that don't deserve the full on treatment.
He could make a promise of ordering breakfast in a diner seem like a monumental occurrence, rich with promises of a superlative experience, perhaps unrivaled in your lifetime.
Um, it was an omelette, and the yep, the home fries were good, but…
So it was with tempered enthusiasm that many in the fight game counted down to hearing deets on the mega massive humongous deal that he said would be a game changer. Let's wait and see, many whispered to themselves.
And, then, on Thursday afternoon in NYC, the Brit told the assembled at a fancy hotel that he'd scored a billion dollar deal to show boxing on a streaming service, one not yet existing in the United States.
Pretty damned good omelette, let's see how these potatoes are…
We will of course have to see how it plays out, but Hearn may not have over-promised and maybe isn't destined to under-deliver. We have to see how this venture is executed, of course. The budget is big, and his promises were alluring, certainly, to fighters he's invited to chat with him, about a new promotional home. And for the fans, will this pay off? Well, you will have to pay up; how much he didn't say, but it will be a monthly fee, and it will buy you a lot of watching time, on your device. See below on HOW to watch the fare, which will run on the DAZN platform. That's pronounced Da Zone, for the record.
Hearn sounded upbeat, no surprise, and called the deal a “wonderful partnership.” DAZN only launched in 2016, so this is a fast-growing service. The fee per month is “affordable,” said Simon Denyer, CEO of Perform, the company which is part of a larger entity called Access. Ex ESPN boss John Skipper landed on his feet and is executive chairman of Perform. He too was at the unveiling of the concept, in NYC, but didn't join Hearn and Denyer and offer his take to press.
Denyer said 60% of DAZN fare is watched on big screen TVs, as people link their stick or box to the big screen. Yes, some old timers unfamiliar with new media setups will have to educate themselves on new methods, on what OTT means, or maybe ask a young un what it all means. The end of June or early July will bring pricing details, Denyer said, and he said they wouldn't be doing PPVs. He also said that US pay cable fees are too high and they want to be an alternative to that. He promised a “sensible monthly fee.” DAZN will be “the home of boxing” within a “few months,” he said.
Hearn drew laughs when he said his phone was exploding, and he knew it was fighters calling him. “We will make this the home of boxing,” he said, and if not, he “will have failed.”
This, he said, is a “shake up.” He said his deal is a nightmare, really, for other promoters.
One ex fighter I spoke to, Paul Malignaggi, now a Showtime analyst, gave the Hearn concept an enthused thumbs up. “This is the future. Some promoters have started using this platform as they recognize this is the new age method of doing things but Eddie has created a huge stir because he is the first to have a mega contract based around this new method,” Malignaggi said.
All in all, I say the same thing I said when Al Haymon unveiled his PBC. We simply have to wait and see how it plays out. Conception and execution are different animals. Here is the release Matchroom sent out after the presentation:
May 10, 2018, New York: Matchroom Boxing, a world leading boxing promoter, and Perform Group, the digital leader in global sports media, have today announced the creation of a landmark $1billion joint venture and the biggest-ever deal in boxing.
The historic eight-year $1billion deal will see the joint venture, Matchroom Boxing USA, stage 16 fights a year featuring some of the sport’s biggest stars at the best venues across America. Perform Group’s live and on-demand streaming service,DAZN, will be the exclusive US broadcast partner for the 16 US fight nights plus Matchroom’s existing 16 fight nights in the UK. This iconic investment in the fights, talent, content, and promotion of boxing will reignite fans’ passion for the sport and engage a new generation of fight fans.
Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom Boxing, and Simon Denyer, CEO of Perform Group, announced the joint venture at a press conference in New York. The two companies have brokered the industry-first deal so that fans can see the fights how and when they want to, anytime and anywhere.
Eddie Hearn said: “This is a historic moment for Matchroom and the sport of boxing. Since our expansion to the US, we have been looking for a partner that shares our vision and that can give us the volume of dates and rights fees required to build the strongest stable in world boxing and take it to a new level.
“This is a dream scenario for us, we can build a formidable team of fighters and also put our stamp on events from production to talent to in arena experience. Our plan is to make DAZN the home of boxing and with 32 big fight nights already confirmed from the US and UK we are nicely on our way.
“America – we have well and truly arrived, let the fun begin!”
Simon Denyer, CEO of Perform Group, said: “Perform Group has a rich history of long term strategic partnerships with the best rights holders in world. I’m excited about working with Matchroom; we share the same passion and vision for reigniting boxing in the US and it’s time for DAZN to provide an exciting new platform for these great events. It’s a better deal for everyone – especially fight fans.”
John Skipper, who on Monday joined Perform Group as Executive Chairman said: “DAZN has already proven itself in Japan, Germany and Canada as the best platform for delivering great live sport to passionate fans. It’s time to bring DAZN to America and the amazing events we have planned with Matchroom is a great place to start”.
The two British businesses, which have worked closely together for over 10 years, are partnering on this joint venture to be the change the US boxing world needs. None of the fight nights will be on PPV, all will be available for one monthly fee and no long term contract.
Matchroom Boxing, which has sold over one million tickets to fights in the last five years through its promotion of boxing, has raised the profile of the sport in the UK to attract sell-out crowds of 90,000 fans.
Matchroom Boxing will stage 16 fights in the UK over the next year which will also be available for US fans to stream on DAZN, anytime and anywhere.
Perform Group is changing the world of sport for fans. Backed by Access Industries, the company believes that more should be done to elevate fans’ experience of boxing no matter how, when or where they enjoy it.