Anthony Joshua on PPV is Bad Business

By Paul Magno on September 12, 2017
Anthony Joshua on PPV is Bad Business
But what if Team Joshua decided not to go the traditional route with their fighter? (Getty)

Yeah, the money is right there, right now, just ready to be scooped into sacks and deposited into everyone’s accounts…

Just because you CAN make a quick buck, that doesn’t mean you SHOULD make a quick buck.

And in the case of burgeoning heavyweight superstar Anthony Joshua, the boxing business urge to score big and score now just may create a ceiling to his stardom.

If the goal is to make Joshua a “billion dollar fighter,” then putting up paywalls is most definitely not the way to accomplish this feat.

Yeah, the money is right there, right now, just ready to be scooped into sacks and deposited into everyone’s accounts. But what if Team Joshua decided not to go the traditional route with their fighter? What if, instead of demanding money directly from the loyal fans at every possible turn, promoter Eddie Hearn worked on delivering Joshua to the fans with as little charge as possible?

Imagine the novel concept of building off a fighter’s massive popularity to secure network deals and sponsorships to dwarf anything that could be scooped up via the pay-per-view business model.

They really could do this with Joshua. Actually, Joshua is probably the only fighter in the world right now who could truly excel under this type of business model. A Joshua earning off the open market could possibly open the door for any number of piggybacking fighters lucky enough to be around the big Brit’s star buzz.

Maybe the entire world falls in love with the affable and entertaining Joshua, just as boxing fans did. It’s very possible. We’ve seen in recent scenarios—most recently for the Mayweather-McGregor mega-spectacle last month—that the mainstream really does want to believe in boxing again. They will respond if given something and/or someone who motivates them to care.

And Anthony Joshua IS that fighter who can make the mainstream public care about boxing again.

Putting paywalls up, left and right, though, will keep a cap on just how big Joshua can become.

Generally speaking, the pay-per-view model is just bad for the sport. The moment boxing stuck its biggest stars on premium cable and its biggest bouts on pay-per-view—essentially creating a double paywall barrier between the sport and the fans—was the moment its popularity began to recede.

While the premium cable/PPV model became extremely popular with promoters and high-end fighters for its promise of guaranteed money, boxing’s overall popularity waned. It became increasingly difficult to create buzz for new stars when casual fans just weren’t being exposed to the sport or its athletes anymore. The business model had essentially made boxing a “members only” club where only the die-hards willing to pay to see the fights were tuning in.

After 30+ years of this business model, boxing has become a niche sport. Even in the midst of a worldwide expansion, boxing has trouble reaching those pockets of the planet where it traditionally thrived the most. TV ratings in the United States are way down from pre-premium cable/PPV days and, most recently, even pay-per-view numbers are trending way downward for all but maybe two or three of the sport’s most bankable figures.

So, why stick Joshua on this dead-end business model—even if it can still yield him results?

Make no mistake about it—Joshua is already a star and he will become a bigger star as time passes. But, as big as he gets, he could surely get even bigger.

Nobody should be paying to see Anthony Joshua dismantle Kubrat Pulev on TV this coming October 28, even though enough people will spend enough money to make everyone a generous profit.

Team Joshua should be focused on bigger things, though. Their guy can be a true ambassador for the sport and a human bridge between boxing’s most loyal fans and the general public that needs a bridge to bring them back.

It would be really nice to see boxing people think outside the box for once and act in the best long-term interest of the sport rather than hustle to make quick, easy scores.

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  1. Timothy Agoglia Carey 12:26pm, 09/12/2017

    Jumping the gun here aren’t we? There never was this kind of talk early in the Klitschko’s careers…..or in their later careers for that matter. This guy is already talking about fighting until he’s forty like he’s already as good as Wlad or Vitali ever were, even though he has a lot more to prove before he gets there. Let’s see how that goes after he’s been KOd a couple of times. Here’s the fly in this ointment…..believe it or not Wilder has got a chin….oh yes he does…. and as long as he’s around long enough to get a couple of good cracks at this guys chin….well….we shall see what we shall see.

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