Hey Boxing: Here’s The Problem With Your Greed

By Paul Magno on January 31, 2019
Hey Boxing: Here’s The Problem With Your Greed
This self-defeating business model has been in full effect for the last 40 years or so.

Whether it’s ESPN, DAZN, Showtime, or PBC—asking loyal fans to pay for everything means that only already-loyal fans will be watching…

This morning, when I went to check the latest goings on in the Universo Pugilistico, this was the featured story on the ESPN Boxing homepage: “How to watch Eleider Alvarez versus Sergey Kovalev on ESPN+.”

I bit. Maybe it would provide some fodder for an article or two…or, at the very least, give me a chuckle at the expense of the “Worldwide Leader.” What a proud journalistic moment for the sport of boxing! But, really, what can you expect from a business entity that actually sought out guys like Dan Rafael and Steve Kim—guys who would put any of the chicas in any of the world’s red light districts to shame—as the main voices for their brand?

The “story” was a convoluted mess about which undercard bouts would be on ESPN and how you’d have to switch over to their streaming app to see the good stuff (Eleider Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev 2 and Teofimo Lopez-Diego Magdaleno).

I didn’t care to read too closely or figure out in advance a good way to transition from the gigantic plasma screen to my tiny phone screen as the good fights started up. I wasn’t going to buy that mess, anyway.

It’s not that I can’t afford the five bucks for ESPN+ or even that it’s a bad deal. I just refuse on principle. As I wrote on this site previously:

“To see the mighty ESPN, which invested tens of millions into establishing a real boxing presence, passing the hat to consumers is downright insulting…

We’d presume ESPN to be smarter at business than carny-like boxing people. If their investment in boxing was all about snatching up an underachieving, underperforming niche sport and creating something new, dynamic, and profitable with it, then the goal had to be long-term growth, building towards real payoffs. [This streaming, subscription nonsense is like] something a nickel-and-diming promoter would do because the light bill at the corporate office needs to be paid off.

Most of all, though, the outrage over this…should come from fans who, despite new business models popping up and deep pockets swooping in to “rescue” the sport, are still be asked to pay twice and thrice for being loyal to the sport.

...If a promoter or network can’t make a buck with a fight, then they need to explore the real reasons behind why they can’t make that buck and NOT continue to make lesser fights while counting on loyal fans to bail them out.”

Newcomer DAZN is no better. This new outfit, which aspires to be the Netflix of combat sports, seems to be set on airing bad fights in bulk and/or showcases for expired former stars while leaning heavily on the star power of Canelo Alvarez. Today, right below the “How to purchase ESPN+” story on my “Feedly” multi-site boxing feed, was a story about DAZN adding Brandon Rios vs. Humberto Soto to its schedule, a fight between two tired, battered old pros that would’ve been an intriguing main stage main event eight years ago, but now is little more than a schedule-filler. If Netflix had followed the DAZN programming model back when they were starting up, they would’ve loaded up their site with old Our Gang and Three Stooges shorts, a few public domain movies, and a promise from Martin Scorsese to contribute some content that maybe, possibly could be good.

And don’t think Premier Boxing Champions will escape unscathed in this tirade. Shame on Al Haymon & co. for jumping into the world as a champion of free-to-watch high-end boxing, yet pretty much single-handedly keeping the self-defeating PPV business model alive with pass-the-hat main events like Wilder-Fury and Pacquiao-Broner.

Again, whether it’s ESPN, DAZN, Showtime, or PBC—asking loyal fans to pay for everything means that only already-loyal fans will be watching…and THAT means nobody new is coming to the sport. This self-defeating business model has been in full effect for the last 40 years or so and we’ve all seen the steady downward trend when it comes to audience size, salability to sponsors, and overall growth. It’s, literally, the business equivalent of taking a struggling restaurant, raising prices, and moving it further off the beaten path in an effort to keep it afloat.

Plus, let’s be honest here. Anyone capable of signing up for these streaming services like ESPN+ and DAZN is also capable of finding an illegal stream out there that will give them the exact same quality stream for free.

I mean, that’s probably the elephant in the room when it comes to this entire conversation. Keep gouging us and, pretty soon, lots of otherwise faithful consumers begin to feel some Robin Hood in them, seeing a bit of online thievery as a justifiable theft from the rich to benefit the poor (them).

As for me, personally? I’ll be watching all the fights, but paying no subscription fees or PPV prices. Take that however you like.

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  1. Stern Dayboat 10:07am, 02/04/2019

    Agree with this: not ‘signing up’ or ‘registering’ for anything on priniciple.  The author notes,

    ” I’ll be watching all the fights, but paying no subscription fees or PPV prices. Take that however you like.”

    I"ll watch on platforms I like, that I already pay for, with no registration, no additional tracking what I’m doing and when, etc.  That leaves regular ESPN and SHO and the occascional PBC on network.  Whining and BS from those invested in these paywall schemes already fading noise of no importance.

  2. Joey Palooka 07:08am, 02/01/2019

    Paul, keep knocking them over their heads with these articles. Much appreciation for looking out for the fans instead of taking the all too common, brown-nose, puff piece approach towards promoters and their boxers. My only question has always been…. What’s the solution to all of this? I have some ideas. I bet Magno (a.k.a. Mr. MBGA) has some decent, well-thought out changes that could help boxing. We all know the problems lie with those in power. I’m pretty sure they could care less about anything except the “Almighty Green”. That line on Raf and Kim gave me a chuckle. Dan Rafael is certainly a sight to see at live events. The only man with three positions on press row dedicated solely to him. Hard to miss him.

  3. Robert L. Tammaro 05:08am, 02/01/2019

    I am not a young kid and it is clear to me that the future of many things including boxing is on the internet. This is a good time for boxing and there are more fights available to the fans now than I can remember. It is unreasonable to expect every fight to be a barn burner, but I have seen some very good cards on streaming TV. As for PPV, it discriminates against the fans that cannot afford to spend $80 or $100 for a top fight. I think you should embrace technology as at least an alternative to a long in the tooth business model that is designed to take all the money it can from boxing fans. I love steaming content which allows me to keep current on boxing news and watch some excellent cards at a fraction of the cost.  As far as stealing boxing content on the internet; it is not worth the risk especially for sources that will be gone in a few months due to copyright issues. Besides the steaming quality is usually poor and the fact that you are breaking the law, at the very least, uncomfortable.

  4. Arnulfo Cruz 04:43am, 02/01/2019

    Paying $5 for a good fight is not.  Kovalev-Alvarez fight is a decent fight considering that not long ago Kovalev is one the feared Russian boxer aside from Golovkin.  He was upset by Alvarez and now this rematch fight for $5? Why not? Don’t be so cheap!

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