Should DAZN do PPV? Eddie Hearn on the future

Eddie Hearn signed a reported $1billion deal with fledgling streaming service DAZN to underpin its entry into the United States market in the second half of 2018.

Since then the Matchroom Boxing supremo has helped the global platform try to build a successful business based so far not on revenues driven by high one-off pay-per-view prices, but by continuing subscription ($19.99 per month or $99 for a year).

Now as the sport of boxing comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hearn believes things are going to change for everyone – but one thing he’d like to see remain as was is DAZN’s opposition to becoming a PPV platform.

“I certainly wouldn’t like to see DAZN become a PPV platform because that’s not the ethos behind the product,” said Hearn in a Q and A session with users of The Athletic.

“But I do think to introduce the capacity to do it would be interesting and the PPV model enables you to be more flexible to make certain fights. In certain situations, the only way they’re going to be able to air certain fights is via PPV – that’s not in terms of finances, I’m talking about fights like Tyson Fury v AJ. If we’re talking about splitting those TV rights, Fury has an exclusive deal with ESPN, AJ has matching rights with DAZN, so the easiest way to solve that situation is to say, ‘You both air it on your platforms.’ ESPN will want to do that fight as a PPV, so therefore DAZN will have to do it as a PPV. You can’t have ESPN showing Fury v AJ for $70 and have it as part of your monthly subscription on DAZN.

“I like what ESPN have done where you pay for the PPV and you get your yearly subscription as well. I think it’s something DAZN should look at, though it’s not for me to stick my nose into the intrinsic offering to subscribers. But I do feel like, to have that ability and capacity will help them land some of the bigger fights.”

One of the major criticisms of DAZN and Hearn since that splashy launch back in 2018 has been the money they have doled out to fighters to appear on the platform. The biggest splash of course being that $365million pact with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

Hearn admits that purses have “gotten out of control” and that what is needed is a model which is fair to all based on the fighter’s profile and ability.

“What’s happened in the last few months is going to change everyone’s business model,” explained Hearn. “The idea behind DAZN was a subscription service without PPV and I think that was one of its biggest selling points to a fan. Fighters always have in their mind: ‘I want to be a PPV fighter,’ and I think the purses have gotten out of control in the sport – that’s partly my fault, or partly DAZN’s fault as Bob Arum keeps telling me.

“But we need to establish a model where the fighters will get the purses that their value and profile represents. The easiest way to do that is via a PPV model. The DAZN model has been so great for fighters because you get a guaranteed purse – there’s no risk, especially at a time when, for certain fights the PPV numbers might not have been as good as you would have hoped.”