The landscape of British boxing is set for a drastic change over the next few months.
Matchroom chairman Eddie Hearn has announced a mega money deal which will see him leave Sky Sports and promote exclusively on streaming service DAZN for the next five years.
But what exactly does this mean for DAZN, Sky and Anthony Joshua?
What is Eddie Hearn’s UK DAZN deal?
Since 2012, Hearn has promoted boxing on Sky Sports as their exclusive partner in the UK and Ireland.
All of Hearn’s Matchroom UK shows have been broadcast on Sky for the past nine years, but things are about to change.
Hearn has announced a five-year deal to leave Sky and instead take his stable over to DAZN.
The new broadcaster is a fledgling OTT streaming service which, while already established in a few markets across the world, only recently launched globally (including in the UK).
In America, Hearn is already partnered with DAZN.
Both Matchroom USA and DAZN USA launched simultaneously back in 2018, announcing a massive $1billion, eight-year deal with the aim of taking over the boxing landscape in America.
This takeover hasn’t got exactly to plan with a pandemic causing problems as well as numerous other bumps in the road.
But, as things stand today, Matchroom/DAZN are one of the ‘big three’ forces in US boxing alongside Top Rank/ESPN and PBC/FOX/Showtime.
Their current price point in the UK is a subscription fee of just £1.99 per month, but Hearn’s has confirmed this will rise as they announce their full schedule later this year.
For the first three shows at Fight Camp in the Matchroom HQ back garden on July 31, August 7 and August 14, the price will be £1.99.
What does this mean for Sky Sports?
It is currently unclear what this deal will mean for Sky Sports long term.
They have one show left to run on their current deal with Matchroom – headlined by Lewis Ritson vs Jeremias Ponce on June 12.
After this, they will seemingly have a void to fill and it is too early to say whether Sky will look to forge a fresh exclusive partnership with a new promoter or instead stage attractive events on an individual basis.
Rival promoter Frank Warren recently told SecondsOut he’s heard rumours that Sky will appoint John Wischhusen (former senior figure at Matchroom) to direct their boxing and the plan is to work with various promoters to put fights on Sky.
This is not yet confirmed though.
It is also far from certain that Sky are going to lose their biggest star – Anthony Joshua…
What impact will it have on Anthony Joshua?
While this DAZN deal does cater for the majority of Hearn’s Matchroom stable, there will be one significant omission.
Anthony Joshua is such a sizeable pay-per-view star that he negotiates his own broadcast deal with Sky.
As things stand, he has one bout left on his contract which is set to be the mandatory defence against Oleksandr Usyk in August/September.
After this, AJ’s contract with Sky will have expired and his UK broadcast situation will be up in the air.
What will happen to PPV events?
With the move over to DAZN, Eddie Hearn has promised a vastly different approach to pay-per-view boxing.
He said the strategy will now only be reserved for giant events like Anthony Joshua, while he’ll now have the budget to include fights he’d normally put on PPV within the regular DAZN subscription.
Hearn told iFL TV: “This is tremendous news for fight fans – you’re gonna see those fights as part of your subscription…
“The key to this is turning those PPV nights – they’ll be part of your schedule on DAZN…
“We can make big fights, we can make stacked cards, we can make those PPV fight nights as part of the DAZN schedule.”
What else will change on DAZN?
Hearn also revealed some more interesting details, explaining that from the new deal onwards, their own in-house company Matchroom Media will handle all production for their shows.
Hearn said: “Matchroom Media will be running the production for our live events in boxing from now.
“That will be down to the lighting, the ring walks, the look and the feel, the talent, the broadcast team, everything.
“We create a narrative for fighters and fights, we sell the story, cradle to grave. From the inception to the delivery it has to be solid, it has to follow a flow and I need to be able to create that.
“WWE, exactly the same thing. WWE productions create their production, their talent their look and feel – that’s important to me.
“Any deal now will see us create our own talent/presentation team, commentary team, broadcast team, social media team, shoulder content/documentary team.
“Any deal will come with a huge arsenal of production, content, shoulder programming, digital content and we will be looking to build an unstoppable team of talent.”