Speaking to Tyler Tynes of the Los Angeles Times, DAZN North America CEO Joseph Markowski gave his thoughts on the current broadcast landscape of boxing and why it has taken longer than other sports to go digital.
DAZN have been at the forefront of moving boxing onto streaming sites for the last five years, and Markowski told Tynes that whilst boxing has been slower tapping into other sports entertainment ventures, he is seeing positive trends.
The firm’s North America lead also touched on the rapidly changing nature of consumers viewing habits, with the adoption of direct-to-consumer streaming platforms taking over from traditional US cable not just among millennial/Gen-Z audiences, but all generations.
Markowksi said: “Although there is still a very powerful linear distribution infrastructure in this country, streaming is (cutting) into that every single day and I think people are more comfortable with the streaming ecosystem.
“They’re using Spotify, they’re using Netflix, they’re using Max, they’re using Hulu to consume media. I don’t think boxing’s escaping that. I think boxing’s probably been, sport generally has been, a bit slower to the races on that than other entertainment genres.
“We’re seeing a lot of positive consumption trends that suggest that people are more comfortable of all ages using those platforms.”
The boxing broadcasting landscape took a significant shift when Showtime announced it will be ceasing its Showtime Boxing operations at the end of the year.
Whilst Showtime stated that its exit from the boxing business was a part of its “strategy to more efficiently allocate resources” that align with its content offering across the business, DAZN has invested more heavily into boxing and bringing fans over to digital platforms.
Markowski stated his views on the current situation of boxing broadcasting as an “interesting spot”. Whilst it may seem bleak that longtime broadcasters such as Showtime and HBO have left boxing, Markowski believes that market dynamics, alongside smarter decision making, has put the sport in a more positive trend.
He shared: “Boxing is now in an interesting spot, reaping the rewards of a few trends that started several years ago. Boxing’s getting to a point where things are starting to happen in a positive sense.
“The emergence of more intelligent broadcast decision-making, to not be led by digital and streaming metrics which can more accurately predict and assess how successful an individual fight would be and what is its value.
“There’s a pressure coming to promoters to deliver fights that are closer to the fan wants than perhaps they were pushed to do (before).”
The DAZN CEO acknowledged the frustration felt by boxing fans as to why the ‘big fights’ don’t happen more often and has attributed this too many conflicts of interest between rivals broadcasters, making a poignant example that the finalists of the SuperBowl or UEFA Champions League would not be delayed due to what channel it is being broadcasted on.
The departure of Showtime Boxing also raises questions about where Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) – where Canelo Alvarez has a three-fight deal in place – will go.
Delivering his outlook on DAZN’s prospects for 2024, Markowski addressed PBC’s future uncertainty as well as projecting that his company has “expansion opportunities” awaiting next year.
He said: “DAZN’s boxing business will be very, very profitable and successful in 2024. I think it’s got expansion opportunities.
“I think it’s going to be interesting to see where the PBC goes. I dunno where it’s going to go. I think the PBC guys are considering their options.
“That will be an obvious growth opportunity for DAZN boxing. That’s going to be a big one.”