As the new year rolled in this year I couldn’t help but reflecting on some of the technological developments seen in boxing last year.
The main one in US boxing at least, as well as in the UK too — was the continued growth in streaming boxing matches as an offering by the big broadcasters and networks.
It’s not a new idea of course.
The likes of Sky Sports and Showtime have been streaming under-cards and some main events for years now but with the introduction of a streaming only service in US boxing in the form of DAZN — things have really gotten interesting.
There’s been a lot made of the death of pay per view in US boxing since Canelo went to DAZN but I’m not totally convinced just yet.
For one reason, mainly.
In any economic assumption it must grounded and predicated on reasonable expectations based on tangible numbers.
I’m not saying there’s not a whole pile of market research done and obtained by some of the above parties but I’m also considering looking at the macro as well as micro economic viewpoint as should any logical and rational thought process do.
What do I mean by that? Well, lets look at the big picture for a second.
Is pay per view boxing in America dead or is pay per view in US sports dead should be the real question?
Moreover, is it just a simple catchy quote being used by boxing promoters like Eddie Hearn and Oscar De La Hoya to crap on their competitors? (Probably).
For me, it’s more about a price point and quality question.
In Layman terms, if something is really good and priced sensibly people will buy it if they know about it.
If the latter is proven to be untrue, in that pay per view in US sports is dead — then I don’t see how you can see how the former is correct.
Just yet anyway, in that US pay per view boxing is dead, as in — right now dead.
Moreover and for example, Tiger Woods recently struck a pay per view deal in US golf and when you look at how folks like YouTube are starting to get more into pay per view streams as well as broadcasters in Europe now talking about making soccer matches specifically on pay per view for one off games, as opposed to charging a monthly subscription, this argument and debate gets a whole lot more complicated.
The truth is while the arms race is on and streaming is both the present and the future — it might not just be the one big thing that some think it will.
For anyone who works in tech we all know how relentlessly it changes on the whole. It’s the fastest changing market place on Earth.
You just can’t take a day off from it.
If anything, the fragmentation of distribution platforms for content, sports and entertainment could fragment more but the monetization model of sports for purely subscription streaming is still up for debate for the future.
Yes, I feel streaming is the present and future and how people will consume sport — which is one of the last things that you still need to watch live at the time of it happening.
But, to call yourself the Netflix of Sport (DAZN) you’re forgetting one very important factor.
Netflix is not a live inventory monetized or needed to be watched platform for the most part and is largely an on demand service.
Live sports is. It’s one of the last of its kind in that regard. They are a bit different conceptually, therefore.
All in all, while this is an incredibly hard thing to predict, I think it’s fair to say streaming is not only the future and now part of the present, but, and it’s a big but, who’s to say pay per view boxing streams won’t be popular like streaming subscription services for boxing like ESPN+ and DAZN down the road.
That is, if they are good fights that people want to see and the pricing of them comes back down to reality in America.
Furthermore, who’s to say either of the above entities won’t throw in the odd pay per view (stream) offering down the road to compliment their subscription model.
Everything is on the table still but 2019 should tell a lot from a boxing standpoint — apologies for getting a little deep with this article.
From the sport of boxing’s perspective, it’s all good in the hood with the above activity in my humble opinion.
Competition is a great thing and capitalism for those of us who reside in the Western world is still the best of a bad bunch of systems that we’ve got so far.
For boxing — that only means more big fights, more money for the fighters and more of the best boxers in the world fighting the best on a consistent basis.
After all, isn’t that what boxing fans want to see?