DAZN sent out a research survey asking fans about the idea of adding one-off pay-per-view to their service, and obviously there was going to be backlash, and there has been.
Boxing Social spoke with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who has worked with DAZN in the U.S. and other territories since 2018, and just took Matchroom’s home events in the United Kingdom to DAZN, leaving their longtime U.K. TV partner, Sky Sports.
The full video is here, and has much more of Hearn’s thoughts on other matters. It should be said that this seems to be a UK-specific question at the moment. Being quite frank, frankly, as Eddie loves to be, I think Hearn knows he has no pay-per-view fights for the U.S. market at the moment. Maybe if he works with Canelo Alvarez again, or maybe if Anthony Joshua or someone comes to the U.S. to fight Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder or the like, but even then you would likely have ESPN+ or FOX or somebody handling it here.
So if you’re a DAZN subscriber in the U.S. or elsewhere that isn’t the U.K., this really doesn’t seem to be a big concern for you at the moment. But if you’re in the U.K., it’s something worth your attention, but it’s also worth really looking at what Hearn is saying, which is that — in his view, anyway — the idea would be saved simply to make DAZN “a player” for a fight like Usyk-Joshua 2, for instance.
Joshua-Usyk on Sept. 25 was not on DAZN in the United Kingdom, it aired on Sky Box Office. Matchroom have cleverly set things up so that their biggest fights are not necessarily tied to DAZN. He’s said many times in the past few years that even for U.S. platform, Anthony Joshua is not tied to DAZN, Dillian Whyte hasn’t been tied to DAZN, etc. If better money were available elsewhere, they might have sold the fights to another platform. It hasn’t actually come up since the launch of DAZN, though.
In short: Hearn doesn’t seem like he’s looking to go back to how things were on Sky, with — frankly quite frankly, to be frank, quite — second-tier matchups on pay-per-view. But he expects that DAZN will need to have the ability to do one-off PPV if they want to be in the mix for the biggest UK fights.
On pay-per-view possibly coming to DAZN
“I think that’s inevitable in certain, unique situations. Very important to get the difference between bringing pay-per-view to a platform and bringing it for specific fights. Absolutely, 100 percent, the aim of DAZN is to bring you traditional pay-per-view nights that we’ve seen in the last five years as part of the monthly subscription. They need to have, in my opinion, a pay-per-view functionality for unique circumstances; that’s the key word.
“When you look at it now, Oleksandr Usyk against Anthony Joshua — that is not going to go as part of your DAZN subscription, being quite frank with you. So you need pay-per-view functionality to do that. They have pay-per-view functionality within their platform. Whyte-Wallin, Chisora-Parker, these fights that you used to see on Sky pay-per-view are 100 percent not part of that vision. That vision is about providing value for money to subscribers in different ways.
“But I believe that yes, at some point — and maybe those fights don’t land on DAZN, so it won’t exist — but they need to have pay-per-view functionality for unique events like Fury against Joshua, Fury against Whyte, Usyk against Joshua, because that model will not work to attract those mega-fights. So they want to be in a position to at least be in the game when you talk about those once in a year or twice a year experiences.
“But that doesn’t change the plan of taking the events where you would moan about being part of the pay-per-view model, and stop making them pay-per-view and put them as part of the DAZN schedule.”
On backlash considering Hearn’s past statements on pay-per-view
“Anthony Joshua will always be on pay-per-view. Tyson Fury will always be on pay-per-view. Nothing’s changed in terms of the fights we’re going to be putting on the DAZN platform and the model that surrounds that. And I don’t even know, by the way — this is just research, and I think it was not the greatest move by the research department. But it was just to find out peoples opinions about pay-per-view. I think they’ve got the answer, by the way.
“But absolutely, right now, is there going to be a pay-per-view event on DAZN in 2022? I really don’t know. Quite possibly, if that fight exists. The whole point of this move is to take boxing on pay-per-view nights, where we used to receive so much criticism and put them at a more affordable price for the customer and deliver more value to that customer.
“Great example: Dillian Whyte against Otto Wallin. That is a standard £20 pay-per-view on Sky Sports every day of the week. Now it’s part of your £7.99 subscription where you would have got Anthony Fowler against Liam Smith, Mikey Garcia here in Fresno, and Dillian Whyte for £7.99 a month. The value is unprecedented and that’s what we will continue to deliver.
“There may be occasions as one-off events that are too big to sit within the platform, where DAZN need to be a player with that functionality. And DAZN can be a player to bring one-off fights in that model. Honestly, nothing changes — at all. It was a research operation where I think they’ve got their answer.”
Hearn’s opinions on the reality of DAZN being a player for big UK fights
“If they’re going to get fights like AJ-Usyk and Whyte against Fury, they will have to have pay-per-view functionality on their platform, quite frankly. If you see those fights on DAZN — and again, this is a question for DAZN — I would expect to see them in that model. But not the fights that you consistently see on Sky pay-per-view. Give you an example on what Sky plan at the moment: Chris Eubank against Liam Williams is a £20 pay-per-view that will be coming to you soon on Sky. Alright? That is a DAZN Saturday night fight night all day long. We’re taking off the fights from pay-per-view that you consistently moaned around and delivering them with a much more cost effective, value for money option.”