On Saturday night (Nov. 28), “Iron” Mike Tyson will participate in a prizefight—granted, it’s an exhibition—for the first time since 2005 when the former “baddest man on the planet” takes on Roy Jones Jr. (the former pound-for-pound best fighter in the world) as part of a three-hour PPV event. Triller, a video-making and social media platform owned by Proxima Media, is putting on the event. But the TikTok challenger isn’t broadcasting the pay-per-view (it will be available via cable and satellite providers through Fite.TV, and PPV streaming at TysonOnTriller.com), and with a user base primarily between the ages of 18 and 27, it’s fair to wonder how an event headlined by two fighters in their 50s who were retired before Triller’s target demo came of age benefits the company.
Our Take: Triller may not be a household name—yet. But Proxima Media principal Ryan Kavanaugh said the company’s app has “just about 250 million downloads” to date, so it’s seemingly on its way; for comparison purposes, TikTok has roughly twice that number. Young millennials and Gen-Zs use the platform “for music discovery, to interact with their favorite artist, to post their own content around artist music and to join ‘challenges’ around sports, music and sometimes Hollywood,” Kavanaugh added.
While it may seem like a strange fit for a company playing in the music world to promote a boxing card, “sports is a natural progression for the platform,” Kavanaugh said, adding that the event will officially launch Triller’s “high-end live events business.” Triller knows it is “not going to compete with the UFC or the biggest boxing promoters in the world,” so it has no interest in trying to stage elite athletic competitions. Instead, the hope is to put on a series of sporting contests and concerts (see: the Trillerfest virtual festival) that tap into the “cultural zeitgeist” the way Tyson fights did in the ‘90s. If successful, the live events business should become a primary driver of revenues for the company.
Mike Tyson at 54 years old is not the “must-see” attraction he was three decades ago, which explains why Triller surrounded the headliner with a star-studded undercard (including social media lightning rod Jake Paul, former NBA dunk contest champion Nate Robinson and two-time world champion Badou Jack). There will also be a series of live music performances from the likes of Lil Wayne, YG and Wiz Khalifa. The hope is that if the company provides, as Kavanaugh said, “something for everyone,” collectively the event will appeal to a wider audience than would otherwise buy a boxing PPV. That has seemingly been the case to date. Kavanaugh said the event has drawn “a diverse purchasing [group] between 18 and 60” (roughly half of which are under the age of 30), and “most of those people are general public who may not [necessarily] be fight aficionados.”
Kavanaugh claims the Tyson-Jones card has “shattered all records of presales [for a digital PPV event]” and said, “If you correlate [the presale numbers] out to overall PPV buys, it would put [the event] on par with the biggest fights [Fite.TV has ever done].” Considering Fite.TV had the 2017 Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight, a figure anywhere close to that record must be considered a success for Triller. It should be noted that the McGregor-Mayweather PPV was sold at $99.95. The Tyson-Jones card is on sale for half the price ($49.99).
Revenue aside, Saturday night’s event has been a source of exclusive, original content for the Triller platform, which produced a 16-episode docuseries focused on the Tyson-Jones battle. While Triller hasn’t experienced noticeable growth in users (it’s hard to accomplish that when hundreds of millions are already registered), Kavanaugh said, “What [the content has done] is grow time on the platform. The goal is to give users more and more [content], so they want to stay on [the platform].”
On the surface, it seems strange that an event produced by Triller wouldn’t be broadcast within the app. But Kavanaugh explained that the social media outlet is really designed to house short-form content. “We also wanted this event to be for everyone. We didn’t want people who are 60, 70 [or] 80, who may want to watch it, [to struggle to figure out how to],” he said.
There has been some confusion as to whether the exhibition between Tyson and Jones is a “real” fight. Kavanaugh insists that it is—even if the result won’t appear on the fighters’ record. “The WBC is scoring it. There could be a knockout. There is going to be a winner,” he said. “Anyone who says there is going to be no judging or no winner either does not understand [the rules] or has their own agenda. Unquestionably. 100%.” The only differences between Saturday night’s exhibition and a title fight is that the matchup will be eight rounds (as opposed to 12), the rounds will be two minutes in length (as opposed to three) and the fighters will be wearing 12-ounce gloves (as opposed to eight). DraftKings will be taking bets on the fight in New Jersey, New Hampshire and Illinois.
Note: JohnWallStreet will be running ‘best of’ the next two days as we enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday (which is why some of you will realize you’ve seen Thursday’s or Friday’s story before). We’ll be back with original programming on Monday November 30th. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and stay safe!