As streaming services begin to dip their toe into combat sports this may lead to the death of pay per view, in particular boxing and MMA.
By Vicente Vitela, Staff Writer
Low cost streaming sites have landed a crushing body blow to pay-per-view and it looks like the old service might not be able to get up off the mat.
Canelo Alvarez, arguably one of the greatest boxers of his generation, can be seen for $8.33 per month with a DAZN subscription. DAZN, a sports streaming service, recently inked Alvarez to a five-year, 11-fight contract worth $365-million-dollars, and boxing star Gennady Golovkin to a three year, six-fight deal to have both their fights exclusively shown on DAZN.
Deals like these make it hard to promote any pay-per-view. As a comparison, Alverez’s 2013 pay-per-view fight against Floyd Mayweather cost $75.
“Ladies and gentleman pay-per-view is dead,” said Oscar De La Hoya, former boxing champ and owner of Golden Boy Promotions when speaking at a press conference according to thering.com.
Furthermore, MMA fighter Bellator signed DAZN in late 2018 for a nine-figure multi-year deal which includes 15 DAZN exclusive fights per year. While the UFC signed with sports power house ESPN for $750 million for five years, which includes 15 ESPN+ (ESPN’s streaming service) exclusive shows, plus both pre and post-fight shows as well as a fighting library for just $4.99 a month.
“The addition of this content gives ESPN+ subscribers access to the biggest events from UFC,” said Russell Wolff, executive VP and GM of ESPN+ according to Variety.
Both these deals would indicate that the days of calling your local cable provider to order pay-per-views are numbered.
In fact, in 2018 HBO, which brought boxing to many homes for over 45 years, announced that they would no longer broadcast boxing on their channel or through pay-per-view.
According to fightful.com, a website that covers MMA, boxing and combat sports, reported a decline in viewership in HBO. In 2016 HBO viewership stood at 856,000 in 13 events and in 2017, dropped to 701,688 viewers in 16 events, marking a lower profit for HBO.
The quality of fighters is not the only reason why people are choosing streaming over traditional pay-per-view, as ESPN plus and DAZN offer 30-day free trials.
If you sign up at the right time, you may be able to witness the best combat sport athletes for no cost. ESPN plus and DAZN also added other content to their network such as Major League Soccer, gymnastics, cricket and MLB highlights in hopes of keeping the subscribers who sign up under the free trial banner.
“People purchased cable to watch ESPN,” said Travis Vogan, an assistant professor of mass communications at the University of Iowa, specializing in sports cable television in an article for mercurynews.com. “They were not happy about this but they had no alternatives in the past. But streaming technology has opened up new opportunities.”
DAZN and ESPN plus may be the first of many sports streaming services, and if more sports decide to go the streaming rout, pay-per-view and cable may not be able to answer the 10 count.