Sunday, June 04, 2023  |


Aficianado is taking boxing upstream

Fighters Network

You are tuning in. So are you, and you, and you, and you over there. You are all tuning into boxing, especially the major fights. One of them is coming up this Saturday in a Premier Boxing Champions event on SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) when 28-year-old Gervonta “Tank” Davis (28-0, 26 knockouts) takes on 24-year-old Ryan “KingRy” Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) in a potentially epic clash of two undefeated lightweights in the prime of their careers from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The streaming network bringing it into your homes will be, which is not, just It was launched in December 2021 and it’s been the go-to streaming outlet for iNDEMAND, the parent company of Since its inception in December of 2021, has grown far faster, and far larger than expected. It proves that boxing can sell, and it shows there is a market for big fights.

What is unique about the is it supplies a communal environment for boxing fans to come together and share their thoughts in real time as major fights are taking place.

“When we launched this, the whole idea that we were focused on was simplicity,” said Mark Boccardi, 47, who is in his fifth year as senior vice president of marketing and programming and in his 20th year overall for iNDEMAND. “It was about the simplicity of finding a pay-per-view event, the simplicity of ordering the event, the simplicity of having a pristine, quality stream. So, all of that is what we try to do with with every event that we carry. What we’ve been really happy with is the amount of engagement that we’ve seen with our chat, with the fan-react videos, so it’s not just buys.

“Buys are a great metric, but it is these other things that we have. Those are numbers one and two where we’ve seen growth. Third, I think, is people coming to us asking to host the chat. We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how fast this has taken off.”

INDEMAND has been distributed in pay-per-view for over 35 years. It would be distributed through the traditional cable set top box. What iNDEMAND closely monitored over the years was the exponential growth of digital distribution streaming content. The distributing giant realized that the streaming content would eventually consume a huge share of the pay-per-view business. When they looked over the streaming distribution landscape two years ago, iNDEMAND thought the timing was right and made sure the technology was there to launch.

INDEMAND got together with its charter companies, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Comcast, and pitched to them a direct-to-consumer service. INDEMAND owned the URL for the last 20 years. It had been sitting there dormant. But iNDEMAND wanted to do something with the URL at some point.

That arrived with the Tank Davis- Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz fight from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 5, 2021.

Isaac Cruz (left) lived up to his "Pitbull" nickname vs. Gervonta Davis. Photo by Ryan Hafey/PBC

Isaac Cruz (left) lived up to his “Pitbull” nickname vs. Gervonta Davis. It was the first stream on (Photo by Ryan Hafey/PBC).

“We launched it and felt it was the right time,” Boccardi said. “Even today as you see, there are plenty of (streaming) issues, whether it is ESPN, or Netflix with the live shows that they’ve done. People have streaming issues. We wanted to make sure we waited to launch this until we knew the technology was there for our consumers to watch problem free.

“We’ve been really happy with the results. We decided to go with boxing because boxing has provided the biggest events of all-time, the most consistent pay-per-view performance of all-time and has been the tentpole product of the pay-per-view industry since pay-per-view was launched. Pay-per-view was launched on the back of boxing. That relationship between boxing and pay-per-view has not dwindled. It is almost like pay-per-view is in boxing’s DNA.

“When we went to launch this, we already had relationships with these promoters who we had been working with for 35 years. We wanted to be in a position where we were not losing out on the total share of buys. We would hopefully help them increase their audience as well, so since boxing was a core part of who iNDEMAND was, it was logically going to be a core part of what is.” agrees with the promoter to provide the distribution. It does not produce the shows. It is up to the respective sports league or the promoter to supply the production of the event.

The largest revelation has been the relative speed in which has been able to claim a large market share within the pay-per-view business. The second revelation has been the amount of industry people who have approached about getting their content streamed.

“This thing is still growing, we know it is a grind and it’s what I do every single day, but we know we still have more growth opportunity,” Boccardi said.

Since has confidentiality agreements with its promoters, Boccardi was unable to discuss numbers or analytics. But he did say, “I can say that we are happy with the numbers. That ties back to what we have been most surprised about and that is the growth in the number of buys from the beginning to where we are now. I didn’t think we would be at this point as quickly as we have. Some of that is a combination of hard work, luck and having really good content, in which we thank promoters for.”

Boccardi also struck on an especially important narrative that has continued the last 50 years—that boxing “is dead.” If it was, would not be successful, you would not be reading this on and no one would be investing in the sport. Granted, boxing has fallen into the niche realm. But Las Vegas will be packed this weekend for Davis-Garcia. The casinos and hotels will be jammed with people on the floor. They’re all there because a big fight is taking place.

Tank Davis has the potential to broke through into the rarified air of Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao with a dominant performance this Saturday against Ryan Garcia.

“Let’s start with the sport is very much alive,” Boccardi said. “Boxing is not dead. I’ve been with iNDEMAND for the last 20 years and from Week One on the job, I’ve heard and read and listened to comments that boxing is dead. Boxing always seems to be dead, and boxing always survives and will continue to survive. There is always something magical of one-on-one combat with a sport like boxing that goes back to the history of organized human activity. Boxing is alive and boxing will remain a sport forever. You’re always going to have a segment of the population that just aren’t going to be interested. Let’s face it, boxing is a very tough sport.

“It can be hard to watch. For those who follow it, you quickly understand it’s not two people slugging it out in a bar. There is an artistry and a science to boxing. Until you start watching it, it is hard to wrap your head around that concept. But once you do, you look at the sport in a whole new way. There will always be naysayers. Number two, the sport of boxing is ingrained in certain cultures. It is the national sport of certain countries. Look at Canelo Alvarez going back to his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, on May 6, that will arguably be the biggest sporting event in Mexico this year.

“If there is a big event, boxing crosses over into mainstream. There is an event that peaks the sport. Boxing right now is available on more platforms than it’s ever been. Tank has established himself as a pay-per-view star. This is the fight that could elevate him to the next level. For us to see success across the board means Tank has reached that level. He may reach that ultra-elite level with this fight. For how much this will elevate Tank, it means quite a bit for Ryan Garcia, who has a huge following, too. It’s a meaningful fight, and an extremely meaningful fight for Gervonta Davis. But it’s a fight that means something for everyone. It brings boxing to another level. We have two A-sides fighting each other. What’s the phrase, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats?’ That’s exactly what we have here.”

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Follow @JSantoliquito


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