Over at Sports Illustrated, there's a very cool piece by Greg Bishop on the Top Rank vault, a disaster-proof floor of the company's office where its vast library of tapes is stored. Top Rank's Jason Tang has been busy over the years archiving the footage, then transferring it to digital files, with much more to go.
But as Top Rank's Todd duBoef asks, what do you do with it once that job is done? What's the market? And how does it work?
"The real question now is what happens to all this content, once you have the digital platform built up," DuBoef says. "Do you become your own Netflix-type boxing franchise?"
To that end, Top Rank is watching closely what happens with World Wrestling Entertainment. In February it launched a pay channel heavy on video content. Top Rank could do the same, but it does not own the rights to its fighters the way the WWE owns its characters and their storylines. In fact, when a company buys rights from Top Rank for a commercial use, it also must secure the rights for a fighter's likeness from the fighter or his estate.
WWE Network, for those of you who don't know/care at all, is a Netflix-style streaming platform that offers an incredible amount of old professional wrestling footage, plus new original content and live shows, for $9.99 per month. It has been a hit with those that have purchased it, myself included, and I was just thinking to myself what might be involved to get something similar in the boxing world, at least as far as perhaps one promoter -- Top Rank, with the library, is probably the best option.
Obviously, even if the idea were there, it would be a long way off from now, and there would be so much put into it just from the angle of securing the rights to use the fights, getting people paid, etc., that it would seem an almost insane undertaking to even try and do it, and would likely be far more expensive to start than WWE Network was for that reason alone.
Also, if the main focal point was old content in the form of past fights, would that be a good enough reason for you to subscribe at $10 a month? Is a sport like boxing something you can re-watch over and over in the way that movies, TV shows, or pro wrestling are, being entertainment and not competition?