Yesterday, Mexican boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez signed a lucrative deal with the new sports streaming service DAZN (pronounced “Da Zone”) through 2023. DAZN is a live and on-demand sports streaming service created by fans, for fans, that is leading the charge to provide access to sports anytime, anywhere. DAZN guarantees no long-term contract, no bundles, just one affordable price for access to all the service’s sports on connected devices.
The agreement gives Alvarez the richest athlete contract in sports history, surpassing New York Yankees Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million agreement by $40 million in a five-year, 11-fight deal worth a minimum of $365 million.
It was a move that people didn’t see coming but if you have been paying attention should’ve have known was en route for combat sports. Technology has changed sports forever and with the advent of the mobile phone and tablet, folks have been tuning out big broadcast and tuning into the direct digital world with ease. Now that the fight game has its own bonafide Netflix, for the same nominal price point of $9.99 no less, securing the likes of Alvarez and U.K. heavyweight megastar Anthony Joshua will help keep fans subscribed to the still fledgling service.
“As we all know, the sport is undergoing an enormous change,” said Eric Gomez, President of Golden Boy Promotions. “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.”
However, what does this mean in general for combat sports? Now that fighters can be signed to long-term streaming service deals that are predicated on their star power changing the mindsets of fans, is the traditional premium cable/pay-per-view model over?
HBO Boxing’s last broadcast will be on Saturday, October 27th with Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs facing Serhiy Derevianchenko for the vacant IBF middleweight title at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Many looked at the rise of Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime Championship Boxing as the catalyst to the loss of HBO subscribers and then DAZN turned up content wise.
Although, Showtime secured its partnership with Premier Boxing Championship and blockbuster fights like Mayweather vs. McGregor which now sits as the number two highest grossing selling pay-per-view of all time, still Showtime represents the new old guard in relation to the broadcast spectrum. Slowly, the world has chosen a faster way to get content on demand. Netflix and Hulu totally destroyed the date waiting game with seasons of TV shows by giving it to its subscriber base all at once. The term “Netflix & Chill” is an actual lifestyle axiom for this generation and that term will expand now to DAZN & Chill probably for the fans around the world that love a good scrap all the time.
With offerings in both MMA and boxing and event producers like Bellator MMA, which has been signing top tier former UFC talent, World Boxing Super Series which singlehandedly put boxing’s Cruiserweight division back on the map, and Combate Americas, the premier Hispanic MMA franchise, DAZN is attempting to take over the game not yet claimed by Al Haymon.
However, with high profile signings like Alvarez and Joshua that bring entire countries over as guaranteed fan bases, DAZN is definitely beginning the era of the usurpation of the traditional combat sports programming delivery model.