Sports-streaming platform DAZN is looking to freshen up its business model when it comes to major PPV events, according to a new report from Sports Business Journal. With a major upcoming boxing match between Canelo Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol on May 7, DAZN executive vice president Joe Markowski told SBJ that the streamer plans on charging viewers up to $79.99 to see the fight in an effort to drive growth:
Joe Markowski, executive vice president of DAZN, said there was a lot of internal debate at the company as to whether to introduce PPV events, but that ultimately it was a necessary reality for its growth aspirations. Still, he said, it will be used sparingly and only for events too costly to stage under its traditional subscription model.
The news comes after DAZN reunited with Alvarez for a two fight deal worth $85 million. As part of the new deal, DAZN subscribers in the U.S. and Canada will have to pay an additional fee to watch Alvarez fight on the platform. Current DAZN subscribers can purchase the fight for $59.99, but new subscribers will have to pay $79.99, which includes a free month of DAZN.
“My position on this was our business is about serving boxing fans with tremendous value and the best content in boxing, and to continue to do that and be competitive in the rights-for-sale processes for the likes of Anthony Joshua in the U.K. and Canelo Alvarez in the U.S., you have to have a PPV platform, and therefore we need to do it,” Markowski said.
Boxing insiders have pondered if DAZN’s previous model has hurt the sport due to the number of cards included on the service that was headlined by mid-level fights combined with a lack of hype.
I don’t understand what their model is. I mean in the United States they’re doing PPV, I think $80 if you’re not a customer, $60 if you are a customer, and you can buy the fight on all different platforms — I mean what’s for them to do it. Yeah they get the rights for Germany, Italy, but that can’t be worth very much because the fight comes over at four, five in the morning. And UK, they’ve invested a lot of money in the UK and according to Frank Warren they don’t have 40,000 subscribers. So where are they going?
Markowski did tell SBJ that DAZN isn’t “going to use it in the way other industry players do on an overly regular basis.” He continued: “We’re going to do it when we need to do it to make great fights happen, and we’ll first and foremost continue to serve our consumers with the same value we’ve been serving them for the last four years since our entry into the U.S.”
Other industry players like the UFC, include smaller fights on ESPN+, which costs cord cutters $6.99/mo. The UFC-ESPN relationship allows for many non-hyped fights to air on the ESPN family of networks, however, to watch major fights and events subscribers have to order on PPV starting at $74.99.
A major difference between ESPN+ and DAZN is the amount of content the two services carry. Arum shared his thoughts on the viability of the subscription model on DAZN compared to ESPN+:
“I think the subscription model is not viable if all you’re offering a subscriber is boxing. You have to combine it with other sports and other serious things, which ESPN+ which now has 22 million subscribers has done. You go to ESPN+ you can barely find anything because there’s so much on at one time…You can have a streaming service for sports but you’ve got to have content….you can’t do it with boxing alone.”
WWE is another industry competitor to boxing and the world of combat sports. The wrestling promotion created their own standalone WWE Network, which included their monthly pay-per-view events with a subscription. Since its creation, WWE and Peacock struck a 5-year, $ 1 billion deal which brought the network over to the larger streaming platform in the U.S. The wrestling promotion has found success with 3.5 million subscribers watching WWE programming during Q4.
DAZN is banking on the hype of a future Canelo and Gennadiy Gennadyevich Golovkin fight. Canelo’s two-fight deal has an option to expand to 3-fight, which would make it worth $160 million. Canelo previously signed an 11-fight, $365 million deal with DAZN in 2018, but canceled it in 2020 due to disagreements over opponents and financial compensation.
With the recent deal, the plan is for GGG and Canelo to face off in the third fight of their trilogy on September 7, but that could depend on if they win their bouts against Ryota Murata and Bivol, respectively.