Eddie Hearn has become a true celebrity in recent years, and DAZN will leverage that fame to capitalise on its new UK partnership with Matchroom Boxing.
Hearn is now a bona fide social media sensation in his own right as well as spawning that massively successful ‘No Context Hearn’ account, which amplifies his viral video clips
The Matchroom Chairman also has a BBC podcast which drew massive attention when Tyson Fury appeared as a special guest ahead of the Canelo vs Saunders superfight in Texas last month.
Throw in charisma along with the undoubted promotional genius, and the potential is there for Hearn to cross over into other areas – it’s something DAZN will look to capitalise on.
EVP Joe Markowski says spreading the word far and wide about DAZN and boxing will be a big part of the strategy in the next five years, and Hearn is central to that. Eddie for Strictly anyone?
Wherever Hearn and DAZN do branch out, the aim will be to build partnerships, establish distribution channels and grow awareness.
Hearn fame a big weapon for DAZN
“We are not going to step into the UK on day one with the platform Sky Sports have built,” said Markowski.
“We don’t have the day-to-day audience of Sky Sports News. We’re not hiding from that and I think using partners and different partnership tactics to counter that, has been part of our success to date in the UK.
“If you look at what we’ve done with original programming off platform. How we’ve used YouTube, how we’ve used social, how we’ve used linear partnerships.
“We distributed Canelo/Saunders across the BBC in fight week – a documentary around Canelo. Did a big, big six-figure number for the UK which directly drew awareness of the fight and interest, and then indirectly drew subscription sales.
“In combination with Matchroom establishing more and more touchpoints and giving more reason for people to tune into the core broadcast, I don’t think those are tactics that other broadcasters, traditional broadcasters, would have used.
“I also think how we use Eddie as a promoter, where we place him, where we allow him to be the entertainer he is, we’re gonna be a bit more liberal on that than perhaps traditional broadcasters would have been because of the opportunity to go and reach new audiences on those platforms.
“It’s probably a different set of tactics, but with a focus of growing the audience and obviously in doing so growing our business in the process.”
The partnership with Hearn effectively sees DAZN take over from Sky Sports as the big dog in the UK’s boxing broadcast marketplace.
DAZN have respect for Sky
Markowski though has huge respect for what Sky has achieved, and is under no illusions about the size of the task that lies ahead.
“We are doffing of our cap to Sky because their investment and their commitment to boxing, particularly with Matchroom in the last 25 years – definitely in the last 10 – has allowed boxing to grow considerably.
“We think the quality of their output and their investment has been a major part of that so in part that allows us to get to where we’ve got to in terms of confidently investing in the UK boxing market.
“I won’t comment on their strategy moving forward, that’s not for me to comment on, but their legacy commitment to boxing is admirable and successful.”
From a positive standpoint, the DAZN/Matchroom deal means yet more investment into a thriving UK boxing scene right now, something Markowski is keen to emphasise.
“More broadly, the fact there’s more investment in boxing from a broader range of broadcasters is reflective of the health of the sport. It’s in a much healthier position than when I started working in sport a decade or so ago.
“That’s great, very encouraging, and fans should be encouraged by that. And long may it continue.”
The five-year plan for DAZN
DAZN has huge ambitions for the next five years working with Hearn – not just in the UK but globally. Markowski and his team are expecting big things.
“We’d hope to see, and we expect to see, DAZN and Matchroom in a number of global markets together. With a strong position in the sport of boxing – elevating the standards around matchmaking, live event spectacle, broadcast experience, consumer experience.
“I think the DAZN business will look very different in five years’ time. I think there will be a number of different consumer touchpoints in and around the DAZN business and we’re looking that as a separate part of my role. How we deepen and expand our consumer touch points, more of a destination for all things sport rather than a singular focus sports broadcast platform.
“A huge focus on innovation, on growth, on a global ecosystem of fights and fighters where the best fight the best. There’s a strong push from us to do that. With a year-round schedule of shows. We’re not a million miles off this now, but I think the ambition is to get to a show a week.”
“A global network of fights, a very strong roster of fighters and an established position as the home of boxing globally. I think we’re well on the way to doing that, there’s plenty of upside for growth here. There’s plenty of new audiences to go after in markets all around the world.
“That’s why we’re so bullish on boxing. With the right management, with the right sort of broadcast structure and with the right partnerships mentality, I think there is huge upside in the overall health of boxing for us and Matchroom, hence why we’re stepping into it together.”
Outside the UK DAZN is not just a boxing platform, it has significant rights portfolios in football for example – particularly in Italy and Germany. Building out the UK proposition right now may not be a burning priority, but it is not something the business will ignore.
“I think you look at everywhere we’ve gone in the world, everywhere we’ve put down roots, we want to be a multi-sports broadcaster. It’s true of Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Japan.
“So absolutely that is a long-term focus, but in saying that we’re very confident in the rights we’ve got already in the UK, which are boxing-focused, that we can make a successful business with that alone.
“So yes, longer term, but for the moment we’re very happy with what we’ve got.”