Wanna know how much I love Boxing? Certifiably cyber-illiterate, I’ve broadened horizons and my grasp of technological advancements, questing for good fistic scraps to watch. Can’t carry a flip phone forever, right? Like a fine wine, I’m a bit aged, seasoned enough to recall the ‘Thrilla in Manilla” on closed circuit, Leonard-Benitez/Hagler-Antuofermo double header on free network television and the advent of pay-per-view. Times inevitably change, things evolve, including the way we view our favorite sport, a lesson I’ve come to grips with. Ready or not, prizefighting’s latest and next lucrative source of revenue is upon us; app-based subscription streaming platforms.
Hardcore fight fans experienced the pros and cons of streams since the early 00’s. Constantly having to be refreshed, frequent pauses in action and/or piss-poor viewing quality are normal occurrences. Not to mention the ever-present fear that brave, serial stream pirating friend (a millennial) of yours gets busted, no longer able to accommodate. All that said, if it’s a big enough bout, none of that matters. Ultimately, ‘tis better to feast thine eyes on shitty stream than no stream at all.
HBO and SHOWTIME deepened pockets with streaming services of their own, HBOGo and the SHOWTIME App, all the while maintaining a loyal, cable television base. And at no time did HBO or SHOWTIME offer up exclusive rights scenarios for their streaming services, which perfectly segues to the next phase of this game; ESPN+ and DAZN.
Boxing promoters are smart, greedy and it’s not surprising a couple of them granted access to their stables in exchange for financial partnership with media streaming giants. Already, the ESPN+ app has featured Amir Khan vs. Phil LoGreco and Naoya Inoue vs. Jaime McDonnell in 2018. They also inked an exclusive deal with Bob Arum, promoter of Top Rank, immediately paying dividends in the form of Terence Crawford vs. Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao vs. Lucas Matthysse. Vasyl Lomachenko and Jose Ramirez are additional options to potentially be served up from Top Rank’s menu of combatants.
Similarly, Eddie Hearn has offered his assemblage to DAZN (pronounced “duh-ZONE”), including prized possession Anthony Joshua. German based, DAZN is aggressively targeting American audiences relying solely on the promise of Joshua, Jessie Vargas, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, Artur Beterbiev, Danny Roman, Billy Joe Saunders, Demetrius Andrade, Terry Flanagan, Katie Taylor and Regis Prograis; all under Hearn’s promotional umbrella, Matchroom. More than anything, this provides yet another avenue for fighter’s to be rewarded; to increase their slice of the proverbial pie.
This writer is currently subscribed to ESPN+ ($4.99 monthly) and has been since the aforementioned Crawford-Horn affair, June 9th. As the calendar creeps closer and closer to Joshua-Povetkin September 22nd, the itch will arise to do likewise with DAZN ($9.99 monthly).
As with anything else, there’s glitches and adjustments along the way. The ESPN+ app works like a charm via iPhone yet hasn’t proven to be terribly user-friendly on SmartTV. Fights are meant to be watched on big screen, not palm pilots. Thankfully, tech savvy sorts have suggested ROKU, Chromecase and Firesticks to make that happen.
At the end of the day, we watch fights and adapt as the method of viewing changes.