FOR a decade the partnership between Matchroom and Sky Sports has been one the lynchpins of British boxing. But that axis will break in July. Matchroom have announced a new, exclusive five-year broadcast deal with DAZN in the UK.
Their first shows as part of the new arrangement with the global streaming service will begin at the end of July with Matchroom’s Fight Camp series. It will encompass a minimum of 16 events a year in Britain with international events included on top of that for a monthly subscription, currently £1.99 in the UK.
“This deal in our key market in the UK is something that we’re extremely proud of. It’s probably the most exciting move as a business I think we’ve ever made and we feel like it’s a huge opportunity. Not just for our business but for our fighters, the fans and also for British boxing. Because now we have the firepower, the artillery to just change the face of the sport here in the UK,” Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn said. “It wasn’t an easy decision for us. We’ve had a great run with Sky. But this was an opportunity we could not miss as a business and as a sport.”
“What I can tell you is to prise us away from a partner like Sky, where we had a number of rounds of negotiation, certainly that had to be a seismic deal. The key thing for this deal, I felt that over the past few years, especially with the inflation of purses because of the success of the sport, we’ve been more reliant on the pay-per-view model,” he continued. “What this allows us to do is make those fight nights and make those cards as part of the DAZN schedule.”
DAZN’s current price point in the UK is described as introductory but there are at present plans for any additional pay-per-view events on top of that subscription. “Our plan with DAZN is to deliver those pay-per-view nights as part of the subscription offering on DAZN,” Hearn said. “Parker-Chisora, Povetkin against Whyte, Usyk-Chisora, these are fights that should be landing as part of the offering to subscribers on DAZN and I feel we’ve been under too much pressure in the past, because the rights fees haven’t been there, we’ve had to put those fights on pay-per-view. I don’t think pay-per-view is dead and we’ll never do a pay-per-view event again but the plan is certainly to decrease that offering of pay-per-view and make sure they just sit as part of the schedule moving forward.”
Matchroom Media, a new wing of the company, will produce the broadcast and additional programming in house for DAZN. “It was absolutely paramount to any new deal that we ended up signing here,” Hearn said. “In all our negotiations with all broadcasters for this deal was that Matchroom Media would run the production element of the deal and that also includes recruiting all the talent.”
Heavyweight superstar Anthony Joshua does not come under the scope of this deal but Matchroom will move their other events to DAZN. “We’ve got so many great fighters not just in the UK but around the world. I think you’re going to see those stars who are emerging now and having to step up into big fights. Joshua Buatsi is a great example of that and you’ll see him in a much, much bigger fight at ‘Fight Camp’ that will get you particularly excited. Lawrence Okolie moving forward into unification fights, Katie Taylor in career defining fights. I thought Chantelle Cameron was outstanding, I think she can be undisputed by the end the year,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “Joe Cordina needs to get a shot at the world title, [Anthony] Fowler’s flying at the moment, there’s so many great fighters. Another big domestic world title fight we’ll be announcing for ‘Fight Camp.’ It’s a rounded schedule. Of course we’re looking at the individual fighters but moreso at the actual main event, the quality of the card and the actual value for money that we’ll be delivering.”
“This is a huge deal for us. It builds on the success we’ve had in the UK thus far,” Joe Markowski of DAZN added, “We want to elevate the amazing stories, the rich stories that exist all over boxing. It’s not about us plucking out the top names and just focusing on them. Via story-telling, via card design, via promotional activity elevating those stories and educate the public about all of them. There’s so many great stories to tell, we’re going to invest in that across the board from top level guys all the way through to prospects coming through.”
Sports documentaries are also part of their plans for generating subscriptions and retaining their audience. “That’s something we’re very focused on as a business both on platform and off platform, using our original content production and partnerships to elevate stories, make people aware of fights – we distributed our Canelo documentary across the BBC in advance of the [Billy Joe] Saunders fight. That did a great, great number in terms of directing people’s interest and awareness of the fight to DAZN. So it’s off platform to drive awareness and then when they’re on platform it’s part of that subscription value,” Markowski said. “We starting to see around the world in different markets our original programming doing equivalent numbers to our live events. That’s something that we’re very, very proud of because it’s us creating original content that is driving real value.”
New subscribers can get DAZN for the low monthly introductory price of £1.99 by downloading the DAZN app on any device or visiting the site here.