1. Quick Look At Boxing Viewership Numbers:
A year ago, boxing was in a completely different place in regards to broadcasting in the United States. HBO was still in the boxing business, pay-per-view shows were becoming less common, ESPN+ was in its absolute infancy and DAZN wouldn’t be released to the American public for another five months.
A number of things has changed since then, including Premier Boxing Champion being a more important fixture on Fox programming since the two sides revamped their deal last year. So far, the new deal has worked wonders for PBC as every show televised on Fox has beaten the competition in viewership and ratings in every single show, drawing in at least a million viewers on average.
Average viewership and ratings for the last 5 PBC on Fox cards:
- April 20, 2019: 1.082 million (0.71 rating)
- March 9, 2019: 1.628 million (1.06 rating)
- Feb. 16, 2019: 1.376 million (0.90 rating)
- Jan. 26, 2019: 1.98 million (1.27 rating)
- Dec. 22, 2018: 1.971 million (1.26 rating)
For comparison, here are the viewership and ratings for the last 5 Top Rank on ESPN shows as the Top Rank shows are the biggest non-PBC boxing competition on television:
- March 30, 2019: 655,000 (0.43 rating)
- March 23, 2019: 469,000 (0.32 rating)
- Feb. 15, 2019: 704,000 (0.48 rating)
- Feb. 10, 2019: 655,000 (0.44 rating)
- Feb. 2, 2019: 880,000 (0.57 rating)
There are a few takeaways from these numbers for each of these networks. For Fox, one thing to notice is the significant drop in viewership after football season ended. The extra advertisement from Fox during late season football games and playoff games helped pushed the first two shows under the new deal right near two million on average. Once the Super Bowl ended in early February, the viewership has only topped 1.4 million and beyond on average just once.
Another thing to take away from the Fox numbers is that matchups don’t really matter all too much when it comes to drawing the highest ratings. In all honesty, none of the matchups were particularly very attractive in terms of drawing in a huge casual audience to watch. Out of the five main events, you can make a case that Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas was the most competitive on paper and even then, that wasn’t something that most non-hardcore fans will go out of their way to watch. Unless you are a top television draw, you’re not going to see tremendously high ratings regardless of the network without a strong marketing campaign.
DAZN doesn’t release subscribers count to the public, but a recent article does state that the streaming service’s goal is to have one million subscribers and looking at the Google Trend table above, you can tell that DAZN's search history is right between Top Rank and PBC. It's a good indication that some people are paying attention, but getting to one million by May 4 seems to be too tall an order for the streaming service.
If one were to correlate the Google Trends numbers to potential subscribers (which would be the absolute best case scenario), one could potentially see DAZN be at around 800,000 subscribers when Cinco De Mayo comes and goes. Even then, that still seems like too much, but mainly it has to do with the unknown factors at play and no real discernible evidence of how many people subscribe to DAZN.
But when one compares DAZN to ESPN+, the other big streaming platform that also broadcasts, boxing, DAZN is clearly dwarfed by subscriber count and online traffic. DAZN doesn't have the benefit of being back by an established worldwide brand such as ESPN and offers a lot more big sports other than boxing, which is DAZN's selling point. Given that online traffic for ESPN+ is roughly 70 times more than DAZN, it would be likely that the subscriber could stand in the low six figures as of now.
Should DAZN prove that streaming services work as a driving force for boxing in 2019, they will have to improve upon its content when it comes to big names. It's not enough to simply have the big stars on your broadcast platform, but having them fight each other and in compelling fights is what will drive people to subscribe. That's why the May 4 show in Las Vegas is so important for DAZN. Not because it's Canelo Alvarez fighting in the main event, but also it's Alvarez facing arguably the toughest opponent out there for the unified middleweight champion today in Daniel Jacobs. Such a fight is a guaranteed sell for new subscribers on DAZN, but the key will be getting to retain those new subscribers. 2019 is a make-or-break year for streaming boxing and if it proves to be a success, this could be the way most big fights are going to be handled in the future.
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