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Schaefer talks DAZN, PBC, and the future of streaming in boxing

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Ringstar promoter Richard Schaefer talks about why the thinks Hearn will have difficulty signing marquee fighters.

In an interview with Marcos Villegas of Fight Hub TV, successful businessman and promoter Richard Schaefer discusses the recent news of Eddie Hearn’s new $1B deal with DAZN as a new streaming platform in the U.S., the seemingly widespread criticism of PBC, and where he sees streaming platforms going in the future.

Schaefer on Eddie Hearn’s supposed $1B deal with DAZN:

“Well what I’ve learned, not just in boxing but generally, is if something sounds too good to be true it usually is.

“So, who knows if it’s a billion [dollar deal]. I’ve heard it’s a two-year deal and that’s why Eddie’s not gonna be able to really offer long term deals to fighters, which I think in itself is a bit a problem because if you ask a fighter to leave his current environment and join a new platform without subscribers, and a promoter without fighters, and you ask some of the fighters to leave their current environment into a new situation, where after two years it could be over if they don’t deliver subscribers, you know, it’s a bit a risky proposition.

“And I think that’s why Eddie hasn’t really been able, since he announced it, to announce to sign up some of those fighters. And I think some of those fighters they realize — if it’s the Charlos, or if it’s a Mikey Garcia, or Deontay Wilder, or an Errol Spence or others, Adrien Broner — these are fighters right on the cusp of becoming pay-per-view stars. And Eddie thinks that a pay-per-view star is somebody who does a million homes. That’s not really the case.

“You build your way up, just like you do in any walk of life, you build your way up. You’ve got to start somewhere. Floyd Mayweather didn’t start at a million homes. I remember he did against Carlos Baldomir 300-350k homes, and then we built it up and he became the king of all time, the pay-per-view king. Who would have thought? And we broke and shattered all these records together and so I think these fighters today, the names I just mentioned, they have the same dreams.

“And you know, when Oscar De La Hoya retired I got a call from the head of HBO and he was telling me ‘well, you know, it’s gonna be a long time before somebody come and break these pay-per-view records Oscar established, I really don’t know who it could be.’ I said ‘Don’t be so negative, I tell you who it’s gonna be. It’s gonna be Floyd Mayweather.’ And nobody believed me. And when I said, you can probably look back in the archives, when I said Floyd is gonna break these pay-per-view records, nobody believed him. Nobody believes us and we broke the records. We shattered them.

“And today I’m saying these records are here to be broken and somebody will come and break them and most likely it’s gonna be one of those guys I just mentioned, or maybe all of them. And why would they go into a platform where Eddie publicly stated several times there’s gonna be no pay-per-view and the pay-per-view is flawed in the United States? So you basically, as a young fighter, you subject yourself to the pot — to the subscription service he’s gonna make available. And that pot is gonna be split up and that is the pot — end of story.

“So you basically limit yourself. There’s gonna be no upside. Do you ever think that if Floyd Mayweather would have joined, back in the day, a platform like that he would have ever made $100M, $200M, $3, $4, $500M per fight?! Per fight?! No! Because he would’ve been tied to that budget.

“And so I think at the surface it looks attractive, it looks big, it’s a big number, it’s a big announcement — it certainly made headlines...as they say, it’s not all gold that glitters.”

On De La Hoya likening Hearn’s new deal to PBC pt. 2:

“You know, Oscar’s very jealous of PBC. And so I think he just has to move on. All these people who have media guys, you know, some of the other promoters who keep trying to pull down PBC, let’s look at the facts. Let’s just look at the facts. PBC has the best stable, nobody can argue that. PBC does the best fights on a regular basis. Once in a while, you know, Golden Boy puts Canelo in with — hopefully with GGG. If they gonna put in Canelo versus Spike O’Sullivan, you know, okay, or for that matter [David] Lemieux. And then Arum, you know, has good fights once in a while.

“But if you look on a consistent basis — love ‘em or hate ‘em, just be objective, be objective — PBC delivers the best fights. One could have argued in the very beginning of PBC that that wasn’t the case. But the last two years certainly PBC has delivered night after night and fight after fight the best fights. We see it here — a terrific doubleheader [Santa Cruz-Mares and Charlo-Trout] so it’s not fair to keep on attacking PBC. Or some people say PBC was a failure. Why was it a failure? How do they know? I mean, it doesn’t seem to me to be a failure.

“Today PBC is involved in some of the biggest fights on the biggest platforms, attracting the biggest number of eyeballs — so how is that a failure? Because some people write ‘well somebody invested like few hundred million dollars and all the money is gone’? How do they know? Are they the accountants of PBC?!...I know! No, [the money is not gone]. Anybody who talks shit about PBC are frankly childish people who don’t know the facts. The facts speak for themselves and I think what PBC has done for the sport of boxing, they have brought out a lot of exposure to the sport and they sort of like broken up the status quo.

“And I am sure a lot of the things that happened, whether it is [DAZN] or whether it is ESPN going all-in, or whether it is Showtime, you know, becoming the dominant player, utilizing all these streaming platforms as well and so on, a lot of it has to do with the fact that PBC believed in boxing — Al Haymon believed in boxing, and he elevated the sport. So instead of all these critics out there, be it promoters or manager or media members or fans, instead of them all being on Al Haymon’s ass, they should say ‘Thanks, Al. Thanks for elevating the sport because that is exactly what happened, love him or hate him.”

On how he sees the future of streaming platforms playing out:

“Well I think it’s early on in the streaming process but it’s clearly here to stay. I think this is gonna be a new form, a new platform to watch live content. I mean, there’s a reason why all this money, all these smart people, are investing substantial amounts of monies in that. They see that as the delivery platform for sports content in the future. I think today we’re still in the early stages, so it’s sort of like difficult to really figure out what is happening...

“I mean, again, if you just look at the facts today, I used to pay for my HBO subscription and my Showtime subscription and once in a while a PPV fight. That’s how I consumed boxing. That’s how most of us consumed boxing. But now you suddenly have, you know, certain fights are gonna be on ESPN+. So now you need to subscribe to the ESPN streaming platform, that’s an additional $5. It’s not that bad. But then if [DAZN] now comes and they’re now gonna start showing boxing which is relevant to the U.S. — assuming they can get the talent — then you gonna have to spend another $15 or $20...it adds up.

“Let’s say [DAZN] is $15 and $5 for ESPN, that’s another $20, times 12, that’s another $240 bucks and then you still have some PPVs and you still have the other two, the HBO and the Showtime...Right now it’s getting more expensive to be a boxing fan...

On if he thinks this will be the new norm from now on:

“I don’t think boxing will ever be centralized. The level of entry to be a manger, to be a promoter, to be whatever, you know, it’s very low. And so I think you always gonna have different networks, different platforms, different promoters. I think what you gonna see as well — as much as I’d like to say it’s not gonna be the case — but you gonna see certain promoters tied-in with certain platforms and these platforms are investing heavily in boxing and they expect their promoter to make his talent available to their particular platform like for example Eddie does in the U.K. with Sky.

“I mean he has an exclusive with Sky, his fighters are on Sky. His fighters rarely ever fight on BoxNation or BT Sport. And the same is with Frank Warren who is with BT Sport. The same is here with the Arum fighters on ESPN — they gonna be on ESPN! Arum is getting money from ESPN to deliver fights to ESPN. Arum isn’t getting money to build up fighters on ESPN and then put these fights on [DAZN] or on Showtime or on HBO. I mean, it’s normal.

“You can’t blame the network, you can’t blame the promoter. Same is with Showtime, who is tied-in with Al or for that matter Golden Boy with HBO. So, you know, this is always gonna be, and it’s always gonna be more the exception than the norm when you see fights are being made between these different rival groups and that’s only gonna happen in two circumstances. One of them if it’s a mandatory, and the other one is if the money is so overwhelming like was saw with Mayweather and Pacquiao, where a solution needs to be found. But other than that, you can forget it!”