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DAZN preps for first boxing PPV

By Adam Stern
It will cost viewers up to $79.99 to see Canelo Alvarez (left) fight Dmitry Bivol on May 7.getty images

DAZN has long touted how its monthly subscription model would change the sport of boxing by eschewing pay-per-views. Now the streaming service is working toward its first PPV as it takes a fresh look at its business model and how 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 shift follows a nine-figure deal DAZN announced last month with boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez and English boxing promoter Matchroom Sport.

“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 circles have long debated whether the sport is harming its growth by pushing too many fights — particularly mid-level events without a ton of hype — to PPV instead of finding a different model.

“We’re not going to use it in the way other industry players do on an overly regular basis,” Markowski said. “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.”

The new deal will see Alvarez fight at least twice and potentially three times this year on DAZN, with Alvarez reportedly set to receive as much as $160 million. The first fight will be against WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on May 7, and the second is a potential trilogy bout versus Gennadiy Golovkin.

The fight will cost $59.99 for DAZN subscribers, on top of their monthly fee, while it will cost $79.99 for non-subscribers, who will get access to the fight and a month’s worth of DAZN’s service.

Matchroom, one of the top promoters in the boxing-rich United Kingdom, sees the Alvarez deal as a way to grow its presence in the U.S. Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn said Matchroom wants to have the sort of brand recognition in the U.S. that American promoters Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions have.

Said Hearn: “I’ll walk around San Diego or L.A. and people now know who I am, and that’s really important in terms of creating the brand identity of Eddie Hearn and Matchroom in the U.S.”

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