Eddie Hearn is starting to look like the new smartest man in boxing’s collective room. Yesterday, Anthony Joshuas promoter announced his partnership with the Perform Group which will launch its sports streaming service DAZN in the U.S. after striking a $1 billion broadcast deal with Matchroom Boxing.
Next, to the $4 billion UFC sale to WME-IMG, this is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, deal in boxing. The eight-year partnership will see Matchroom Boxing USA host 16 fight nights a year across America which will be streamed live on the DAZN platform.
Perform Group has a rich history of long-term strategic partnerships with the best rights holders in the world,” Simon Denyer, chief executive of Perform Group. “Im excited about working with Matchroom; we share the same passion and vision for reigniting boxing in the US, and its time for DAZN to provide an exciting new platform for these great events.”
Much like the popular MMA streaming service, UFC Fight Pass, the deal brings boxing into the digital age of distribution. The UFC has created a mini-monopoly on MMA content through UFC Fight Pass by offering medium-sized MMA promotions a platform and additional marketing. Subscribers pay a monthly fee for access to a global library of MMA content where they can possibly find the next great MMA fighter.
Since Al Haymon changed the face of boxing with the Premier Boxing Champions platform, the sphere of definition of what constitutes a major fight in the U.S. has evolved with more high level bouts now available on free TV and premium cable versus being shown on pay-per-view. With established premium cable broadcasters like HBO and Showtime dominating coverage of the sport’s most significant bouts and now ESPN with its deal with Top Rank widening the playing field considerably.
DAZN is already established as a Netflix-like sports streaming service in Canada, Germany and Japan so instead of pay-per-views a to-be-confirmed monthly fee will grant access to all the content. As part of the deal, DAZN US viewers will also be able to watch Matchroom’s 16 fight nights a year from the UK, and Deyner said more sports would be added to the service when it launches later this year.
Both Perform and Matchroom originated in the UK and are using the deal as a springboard to build operations in America from a shared base in New York. John Skipper, the former president and 20-year veteran of ESPN, joined Perform Group this week to spearhead its US strategy and operations.
Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Boxing, pledged to use the windfall to build a stable of elite US boxers to fill the schedules. Hearn made waves when he announced his signing of Brooklyn, NY fighters Danny Jacobs and Jerrel Big Baby Miller.
“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,” Hearn said.
The formula follows Matchroom’s business model in the UK, where it has used a long-term broadcasting deal with Sky Sports as a platform to build a stable of popular fighters to fill its TV shows. Its roster includes some of the biggest names in UK boxing, including world heavyweight champion Joshua, Tony Bellew and Amir Khan.
As part of their deal together, Sky Sports will show Matchroom’s 16 USA fights exclusively in the UK.