With the new ESPN+ streaming app ready to broadcast the WBO welterweight title fight between Jeff Horn and Terence Crawford, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum sees the streaming service as the future of the way sports fans get their content.
In Horn’s ESPN debut last year, his fight against Manny Pacquiao drew incredible ratings and record viewership for the network for a boxing match. With a worldwide audience seeing Horn win his first world title against a future Hall of Famer, some people argue that Horn’s bout against Crawford should be shown on television and not on a new streaming service that requires a monthly subscription.
In a conference call to talk about the Horn vs. Crawford matchup, Arum told Fightful that any naysayers of the fight being shown on ESPN+ need to understand that the way technology has evolved points to services like ESPN+ being the future for sports fans. Arum also claimed that this fight will be a pioneer in ESPN’s online streaming plan for boxing. ESPN+ has been around less than two months and has televised a number of world title fights, but none are as seemingly big as the WBO welterweight title fight on June 9.
“Well you can’t hold back the future. The future is direct-to-consumer, the future is ESPN+ where I would believe in the next 10, 20 years, everybody will be watching their entertainment on direct-to-consumer platforms like Netflix. ESPN+ will be delivering sports in abundance to fans now in the United States and eventually around the world. It is the future. Get used to it. Jeff Horn and Terence Crawford will go down in history as the two fighters whose fight pioneered this change over to direct-to-consumer sports and entertainment,” Arum said.
The fight, which is Horn's second world title defense and Crawford's welterweight debut, will headline a Top Rank Boxing card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on ESPN+