By Paul Magno | January 16, 2023

Despite my criticisms of the product, I subscribed to DAZN when the service became available in Mexico. It was only 99 pesos a month, which is just under 5 bucks. No big deal. It might give me a chance to catch some of the fights that don’t get picked up by Mexican TV. Plus, I could write it off on my taxes as a business expense. 

Well, in the last six weeks (as the subscription price quietly doubled, by the way), there’s only been one boxing card on the service-- and that was the KSI/misfits show on Saturday, which was being peddled as a pay-extra pay-per-view event. 

This has been enough to end my brief investment in the streaming service. Today, I officially canceled my subscription. 

Now, I’m by no means one of those boxing purists who tinkles their panties in outrage over outsiders besmirching my noble sport. If YouTubers, influencers, and D-list celebrities want to slap-fight their way through exhibition boxing matches, that’s fine by me. But I sure as hell ain’t going to pay for the privilege of having a service where the best they can give me by way of boxing is the opportunity to see bullshit like that-- if I pay a bit extra.

I know my pesos don’t matter to DAZN, but there’s a larger point here.

According to a recently published Bloomberg article, the streaming service, which is very tight with info regarding its books, lost $2.3 billion in 2021 and, in total, more than $6 billion since its inception. The company claims that $1.9 billion of their losses came from their investment in acquiring German and Italian soccer league rights that year. 

So, that means they “only” lost $400 million?

Listen, I’m no expert at big-business finance and I fully understand how much money these kinds of companies lose before working their way into the market and turning a profit. But I do know what I see and experience. I do know what I’ve been served as a targeted consumer and eventual subscriber. And DAZN has sucked. 

I’m not saying that there haven’t been periods of time where the wannabe Netflix of Sports has been worth the price for fight fans. But, overall, it just HASN’T been worthy of consumer loyalty. That’s especially the case now, where they’ve all but abandoned the US boxing scene and have taken to the programming strategy that killed off HBO Boxing, with almost exclusive focus on European fighters and the smaller weight classes. 

Anything broadly appealing (i.e., good) will now be passed off to their pay-per-view branch. They just can’t pay the big purses with the money they generate from subscription fees and there’s no more corporate willingness to operate deeply in the red, at least not when it comes to boxing. Of course, in big-picture terms, this means that the big players and the big fights will just not deal with a DAZN that can’t pay them directly and can’t deliver them much of an audience, either. And if they DO work with DAZN, the streaming service will be just one of several distribution channels. 

Believe it or not, I was a DAZN supporter when the concept first popped up. I even hoped aloud that Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, chosen as the service’s promoter of choice and general boxing figurehead-- would bring some new energy to a stagnant US scene. Billionaire bossman Len Blavatnik had allocated $1 billion to build a boxing brand and was clearly willing to spend more under the right conditions. Done right, and with proper attention paid to outreach and growth, this could’ve been a real benefit to the sport and to the beleaguered fans who’ve been asked to pay more and more for less and less. 

Then, I quickly sounded alarms as the fails and missteps started piling up. 

As I wrote at the time, right here at Fight Hype:

“Given the lack of insight and foresight by the suits in charge of the business end of DAZN, one has to wonder if boxing was ever all that important to the wannabe Netflix of Sports. Maybe it was just a quick, easy way to get their foot in the door of a North American market where all other major sports were bound to other networks. Maybe the idea was to prey on a boxing fan base, conditioned to pay and pay for content, and bide their time until they could snatch up a ‘real’ sport.”

Well, subsequent interviews with DAZN suits proved my theory correct, with former head man John Skipper pretty much literally saying as much and calling the strategy a “miscalculation.” 

With their boxing efforts failing spectacularly in the US, DAZN shifted their focus to, well, everywhere BUT the US. 

The perpetually clueless and chronically compliant boxing media never thought to ask any questions about the errant math or faulty logic in DAZN’s business strategies. They were too busy being wined and dined by Hearn/DAZN and/or lining up to be “affiliates” and “partners,” taking money to post links to the DAZN subscription page and write cringe-worthy endorsements, culled from press releases, on their social media accounts. 

DAZN, as a sports streaming service, may still succeed. But they did no service to boxing. They fucked up the boxing landscape for a good, long while, creating ultimately pointless business complexities in a sport already bogged down in business complexity, with no real, working plan on how to actually succeed. And they don’t seem all that interested in turning things around. 

Back in 2018, when the DAZN boxing project was first announced, Eddie Hearn held court in front of an enthralled media, beaming with the kind of self-importance that makes people want to believe. Maybe this company, with this kind of backing, would bring positive change to boxing

“I needed artillery and we’re dangerous with artillery, let me tell you,” Hearn told media with a swagger at the official DAZN Boxing kick-off press conference in New York. “And now we’ve got it, $1 billion over eight years. We have by far the biggest rights budget in the sport of boxing and we’re going to be ultra-competitive. We’re going to put on the greatest shows with the greatest talent. This is a brand new era for boxing in the U.S. We’re here and we mean business.”

“We’re going to have a lot of fun and we have money never seen before in the sport of boxing,” Hearn added. “I can’t fail. If I fail here, I’m a disgrace.”

“Fail” is a subjective word in this particular case. Hearn hasn’t failed at scoring some big paydays for his Matchroom fighters and he’s certainly not failed in leveraging DAZN money into bolstering his own promotional stable. But DAZN Boxing has failed...and it’s failure has set back the sport of boxing. 

Got something for Magno? Send it here:

MARCH 29, 2023
MARCH 28, 2023
MARCH 27, 2023
MARCH 26, 2023
MARCH 25, 2023
MARCH 23, 2023
MARCH 22, 2023
MARCH 20, 2023
MARCH 18, 2023
MARCH 17, 2023
MARCH 16, 2023
MARCH 14, 2023
MARCH 13, 2023
MARCH 12, 2023
MARCH 10, 2023
MARCH 09, 2023
MARCH 08, 2023
MARCH 07, 2023
MARCH 06, 2023
MARCH 04, 2023
MARCH 02, 2023