Eddie Hearn does not have much faith in the pay-per-view model as it is currently implemented in the United States.
The British promoter thinks the current market is flooded with pay-per-view boxing events, exhibition or otherwise. Add in the exorbitant price tags, Hearn believes the product has been significantly diminished.
“You live in a world now, where, pay-per-view in America, you’re on a knife edge every time you fight, because it’s so saturated,” Hearn told Boxing Social. “It’s not saturated at 19.99 pounds, it’s saturated at 80 bucks a pop. Obviously, you had Gervonta Davis [against Marrio Barrios on pay-per-view]…now you go into Wilder-Fury getting another pay-per-view, and then you go into Pacquiao and Spence, a great fight, but another pay-per-view. Before that you have Jake Paul-Tyrone Woodley. These are $80 at a time.”
(The Davis-Barrios pay-per-view was set at $74.99).
Hearn, of course, is not exactly a disinterested observer. He has an exclusive platform deal with the over-the-top streaming service DAZN, which touts itself as the alternative to the pay-per-view model. Indeed, as the current promoter of 168-pound champion (WBA, WBC, WBO) Canelo Alvarez, Hearn is in the midst of negotiating a unification fight for the Mexican superstar to face IBF titleholder Caleb Plant, who is aligned with rival outfit Premier Boxing Champions, the company that is responsible for putting on the most number of boxing pay-per-view shows in the past couple of years. Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) has fought predominately on Fox, one of two networks (the other being Showtime) with whom PBC supplies their vast stable of talent. One of the biggest hurdles in consummating the fight will depend on which network gets the rights to showcase it: DAZN will stream it, while Fox will likely put it on pay-per-view. Alvarez, who is essentially a free agent, will have to decide which package is more attractive.
Although he has repeatedly said that he would have no problem if Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) fought on the Fox platform, Hearn is telling his client to take the up-front money from DAZN over the back-end money from Fox, given what he feels to be a lackluster pay-per-view market.
“I feel that if I’m a fighter I don’t want to be gambling on my pay-per-view numbers,” said Hearn. “There is no bigger star in America than Canelo Alvarez. For me, if I was advising him, which I’m in that boat, I want a guarantee. They’re saturating the market so much…I just feel like the way people are digesting content is changing and I know the numbers are falling fast in America on pay-per-view.”
“I can’t believe $70, $80 pay-per-views are still a thing in America,” Hearn continued. “But it is a thing. But right now, if I was a fighter, I’d make sure I had a guarantee, because I do think that [pay-per-view] is a dwindling market, especially at that price point.”
Hearn said he has already sent Al Haymon, the chief of PBC, an offer for Plant to fight on DAZN and is now waiting to hear back.
“I’d be surprised if Al Haymon would stop Caleb Plant from taking that fight,” Hearn said. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity.”