U.K. based promoter Matchroom Boxing and Perform Group have formed a joint venture, Matchroom Boxing USA, to promote 16 U.S. based fight cards annually over 8 years. Perform Group, which has committed $1 billion to the venture (the largest investment in boxing history), will own less than half the company, but will gain valuable rights to broadcast the events on their digital streaming service, DAZN (self-proclaimed Netflix of live sports). Pronounced Da Zone, DAZN currently controls sports broadcast rights in 5 countries; including Canada, where it owns exclusive NFL live steaming rights. With rights to the Big 4 leagues under contract, the company will use boxing as its entree to the U.S. market.
Howie Long-Short: Perform Group is a subsidiary of privately held Access Industries. The sports media company counts The Sports News and Goal among its U.S. publications. While you can’t invest in Perform Group, there is one way to play DAZN; Dentsu, a Japanese advertising firm that trades publicly on the Tokyo Stock Exchange under the symbol (TYO: 4324). In late March, Dentsu invested in DAZN as part of a deal “which made the service available to customers of mobile phone operator NTT Docomo.” No information has been released relating to the size of the investment or the valuation placed on the company.
This is the 2nd high-profile announcement that Perform Group has made within a week. On Tuesday, the company hired former ESPN President John Skipper to be their Executive Chairman. Skipper has indicated his focus will be on DAZN, which is particularly interesting as he’ll now be competing head to head with his former company and their OTT service, ESPN+.
Fan Marino: I’m excited about 16 cards being added to the annual sports calendar, but strongly dispute Perform Group CEO Simon Denyer’s assessment that “the U.S. boxing market has almost eaten itself alive. It’s pushed anything compelling to pay-per-view, and the pricing is now around $100, which is insane.” This weekend’s Lomachenko fight is on ESPN. 3 weeks ago, Adrian Broner, Jermall Charlo and Gervonta Davis fought on the same Showtime card. 3 weeks prior to that, Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker fought on Showtime; and Deontay Wilder has never fought on PPV. U.S. boxing fans are getting more big-time fights on cable television than any time in the last 30 years and with the addition of OTT players like ESPN+ and DAZN, up-and-coming fighters on the undercard can now be seen too.
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