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Eddie Hearn set to announce major U.S. streaming partnership with DAZN

Matchroom Boxing Group Managing Director Eddie Hearn. Photo credit: Reuters
08
May

Eddie Hearn is throwing his hat into the U.S. streaming arms race.

The British promoter’s American initiative, Matchroom Boxing USA, is set to announce on Thursday in New York a major streaming partnership with the fledging service DAZN, multiple sources with knowledge of the deal told THE RING.

It’s a two-year deal with a six-year option, and the plan calls for Matchroom Sport to stream 40 fight cards per year, per sources. Sixteen of those will be staged in the U.S., with the other 24 taking place in the U.K., where Hearn resides as the most prominent promoter in the market.

Each fight card Matchroom Boxing USA streams is expected to carry a seven-figure license fee, which will ostensibly allow DAZN (pronounce Da Zone) to compete with HBO, Showtime and ESPN as a fourth major player in the American boxing landscape. Hearn didn’t return a text message seeking comment from THE RING.

It was announced earlier Tuesday that former ESPN president John Skipper accepted a position with Perform Group as the sports media company’s executive chairman. Perform Group owns DAZN, and also the longtime publication Sporting News, which is now digital only.

DAZN has been referred to as the Netflix of Sports, and just last year, it expanded into Canada boasting exclusive NFL streaming rights. Skipper’s appointment indicates they plan to enter the U.S. market and begin gobbling up TV rights stateside.

Most major American sports leagues are already aligned with a network, and that’s where boxing comes in. Hearn’s stable, headlined by Anthony Joshua, could be DAZN’s first key acquisition, though Joshua is unlikely to appear on the platform. The heavyweight champion, and boxing’s biggest global star, rakes in piles of money as a pay-per-view attraction in the U.K.

The large license fees Hearn will be armed with should help him sign American fighters to compete on DAZN. Hearn signed Daniel Jacobs last year to spearhead Matchroom Boxing USA, but the middleweight contender is currently aligned with HBO. DAZN also figures to finally allow U.S. fight fans to watch Matchroom’s fights that are televised on Sky Sports in the U.K.

Hearn has since staged two fights under the Matchroom Boxing USA banner, both headlined by Jacobs in New York, and each featuring heavyweight contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on the televised undercard. Jacobs outpointed Maciej Sulecki on April 28 in the most recent show, and after testing the waters, Hearn is ready to expand.

There’s a slew of Al Haymon-managed fighters who are promotional free agents, and the British promoter has his eye on many of them, according to sources, with fighters like Jermell Charlo, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter among the targets.

The development comes on the heels of the debut of the direct-to-consumer app, ESPN+, which offers Top Rank’s stable of fighters in live fights for $4.99 a month. ESPN launched the app last month, and showed its first fight shortly thereafter with Amir Khan-Phil Lo Greco, a Matchroom Sport show.

That was a minor fight, but ESPN+ is set to ramp up its offerings, beginning with Terence Crawford’s welterweight title challenge of Jeff Horn on June 9. Many more shows are ticketed for ESPN+ in addition to shoulder programming set to debut this week ahead of the Jorge Linares-Vasiliy Lomachenko fight on Saturday in New York.

DAZN usually costs about $20 a month, but it’s unclear at this time what the price-point will be when it debuts stateside. For now, one thing is clear: Hearn is ready to flex his muscle in America.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger

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