Former ESPN President John Skipper recently joined Perform Group and now will be smack dab in the middle of a major expansion project in the United States that will see the company's DAZN streaming service be the U.S. home of Matchroom Boxing.
Skipper talked with Fightful regarding his thoughts on Perform Group's recent announcement that it will stream 16 yearly Matchroom Boxing cards in the United States for the next eight years on DAZN. Skipper said he's more than on board with this announcement and believes it will help bring boxing back to prominence with fans getting to see their favorite boxers more than just once or twice a year and not having to pay outrageous amounts of money for a pay-per-view.
"I believed in ESPN and I believe that boxing has a very bright future in this country. I think it has to be unhooked from the primacy of pay-per-view. You got to get the fighters fighting more often, fighting in front of more people. Boxing has an enormous appeal with people and remains a beautiful sport. I think the ESPN effort and this effort are all about [going] from a $99 price tag and a annual, or even less than annual, appearance from a fighter people want to see most. As a kid, I got to see Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali four or five times a year and then you saw Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray multiple times of years. I think that’s what these efforts have in common and I think they’ll work," Skipper said.
Speaking on the topic of pay-per-view and its place in the current American boxing market, Skipper is unsure of whether or not the current pay-per-view model is obsolete. The model has been successful with boxers such as Canelo Alvarez, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao and although the Matchroom Boxing-DAZN deal will not have pay-per-view boxing events, Skipper is reluctant to make any negative assessments on a model that has been a part of the sport for decades.
"I don’t know if it’s not obsolete. It has served a number of boxers, mostly a small number of boxers and a number of promoters and a number of networks very well. I don’t want to be critical of something that has worked very well. We’re trying to think what will work very well in the next five years and you’ve heard Eddie’s vision which we buy into and it’s a vision we believe is going to work," Skipper said.
DAZN is expected to be available for fans in the United States later this summer with the first Matchroom Boxing show in the United States on DAZN taking place later this year. The deal between Matchroom Boxing and Perform Group is valued at $1 billion, the first such deal in the history of the sport according to the initial announcement.