After months of speculation, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin has signed with boxing’s most innovative partner, DAZN. The subscription service became an easy choice having already signed both Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs which are the two biggest matchups for GGG. Aside from GGG’s part in this, this signing has significant ramifications on the sport moving forward, including the future of how it is distributed.
Once Canelo, the biggest pay-per-view draw in the sport, took his talents away from pay-per-view, it became a real possibility that the end of that format was nigh. The latest wave of boxing stars don’t carry the same mainstream appeal as past eras and if the biggest attraction can be included in a bundle for just $9.99 a month, purchasing a close to $100 pay-per-view for much less newsworthy fighters looks foolish. But in order to truly get fight fans to buy into consuming fights via an app, marquee fights have to be available on them.
As much of a needle-mover as Canelo is, the casual fan probably didn’t even know he faced Rocky Fielding because nobody knows who that even is. The now inevitable trilogy fight with GGG, on the other hand, is what gets things moving. Even for a third time, those two in the ring is the most exciting, hype creating matchup that can be made. And now, for the first time, fans won’t have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for it to happen. Then, all of sudden, the old, rip-offish pay-per-view model is in serious jeopardy.
While causing a negative impact on the pay-per-view model would be a win for DAZN, it does not necessarily mean it will be the win. With all eyes now on their product, they have to turn this into a successful business model. With the massive amounts of money they are dishing out, it is going to take a significant amount of subscribers to make them long-term players in the boxing industry. Even in a time digital platforms are becoming more and more consumed, it remains a serious challenge to get the average person to accept viewing something in a new medium and changing their routine. So, yes, this is bad news for pay-per-views but there is much more to it.
Perhaps, PBC is on to something with airing fights on Fox? Seemingly, airing fights on broadcast networks is going to play a factor in the future of boxing consumption, as well. There is no better way to introduce the world to fighters than to have the fights available to large amounts of people for no extra charge.
All in all, boxing has entered a fascinating time where several networks are attempting to return it to its glory in an era where sports are so fragmented. The most telling factor will be the results of DAZN’s mass spendings to present the biggest fighters on a streaming service. Anyone can predict the level of success they will have, but not many can argue it will be their outcome that dictates how the sport is consumed in five years.