Sky Sports or DAZN? Eddie Hearn on his big decision

Eddie Hearn is the man who has it all from a boxing perspective – a tremendous stable of fighters and huge broadcast deals with Sky Sports Boxing and DAZN.

Now also promoting P4P king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez for his next two fights, Hearn is at the peak of his promotional powers. But the Matchroom magnate also knows that one of the toughest decisions of his career is about to come squarely into focus.

Hearn’s current Sky deal has just a few months run. It means his UK shows appear exclusively on the platform, and it puts him in an incredible position to grow his business.

DAZN though is a global play, after the streaming platform rolled out its offering in more than 200 countries last December. It had already become a major player in the United States, powered by that landmark deal with Hearn in 2018 – worth a reported $1billion over eight years.

Sky and DAZN: a balancing act

Until now Hearn has been able to balance his work with the two platforms. But now he faces a crucial decision in the UK. Does he extend that hugely successful Sky alliance? Or does he go all in with DAZN to grow a huge global streaming platform for boxing?

Hearn spoke to boxing trade publication Boxing News to explain the conundrum he now faces.

“It’s a very difficult decision that’s incoming. We’ve got six months to go on our contract with Sky. We’re in deep discussions about extending that. We are also having conversations with DAZN.

Eddie Hearn Anthony Joshua Belts
Eddie Hearn with Anthony Joshua after AJ knocked out Kubrat Pulev (Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing).

“And we come back to ‘you are not just aligning with some British boxing, you are aligning with a stable, with Matchroom, with Eddie Hearn and with the huge noise and cavalry that comes with it’.

“It’s a very tough decision for us because Sky, as they have been in many of our sports, have been a huge part of our success. Without Sky, we wouldn’t be where we are. But I need a partner that sees my vision and I need a partner that is prepared to invest in that vision.”

The big sticking point for Hearn in any new Sky deal will be whether it aligns with his ‘vision’. He recently launched Matchroom Media, as his promotional behemoth looks to become a content empire too. Will that work for Sky? And will the compromise be too uneasy for Hearn?

Eddie Hearn a media magnate?

He explained: “That vision isn’t just being limited to ‘six shows here and four shows there’. It is the launch of Matchroom Media; we want to do the production, we want to create 24/7 (documentaries) for every show, we want to create all of our own social media content.

“When you create a narrative, it has to be a ‘cradle to grave’ mindset. We create the event, the narrative and see the whole journey through.”

“I want more investment in content, I want to bring back Ringside. I want to spend almost as much on content and shoulder programming and telling the whole story. I’m not saying Sky don’t want to do that, but it’s a different kind of deal.

“This deal is not just about the money, it’s about the vision that I have for the sport.”

Hearn and Sky have brought British boxing right back onto the front pages, building Anthony Joshua into a massive crossover star. Next up is likely to be that eagerly-awaited unification match with Tyson Fury.

The bout is likely to smash all box-office records for UK pay-per-view, with Sky Sports Box Office set to share rights with BT Sport Box Office.

Hearn right now is riding the crest of a wave, prospering in spite of the ongoing pandemic. But soon he must decide which way he goes. Sky or DAZN? Whichever way he goes, it will – as always with Hearn – create huge headlines. Box office, as ever.