Hearn parts company with Sky Sports as Matchroom agree exclusive deal with DAZN

The five-year deal marks a shift in the Irish, UK and global boxing landscape, and will see Katie Taylor fight exclusively on DAZN.

Katie Taylor will now fight exclusively live on streaming platform DAZN.
Katie Taylor will now fight exclusively live on streaming platform DAZN.
Image: Matchroom Boxing/Mark Robinson/INPHO

EDDIE HEARN’S MATCHROOM have completed a landmark deal with sports streaming giant DAZN which will bring an end to the promotional company’s 25-year boxing affiliation with Sky Sports, the last nine of which have consisted of an exclusive partnership.

DAZN, which is available globally, will become the sole broadcasting platform for Matchroom boxing events beginning with the return of Hearn’s Fight Camp series over three weekends from 31 July.

Matchroom’s new production company, Matchroom Media, will look after broadcast production for 16 annual UK-based shows on DAZN over the next five years, with a new commentary and on-screen talent roster to be announced in the near future.

Anthony Joshua, who has one fight remaining on an independent TV contract with Sky, is currently an exception to the Matchroom’s DAZN deal. Hearn stressed that while he’s confident Joshua will remain a Matchroom fighter for the entirety of his professional boxing career, the heavyweight beltholder is free to explore the TV market upon the conclusion of his Sky deal — with the possibility that he’ll continue to fight on Sky Sport Box Office under Hearn’s banner, or indeed jump ship to DAZN with his Matchroom stablemates.

From an Irish perspective, it means that unless she’s fighting on a prospective Joshua-headlined bill on another network, Katie Taylor’s fights will be broadcast exclusively live on DAZN henceforth. A DAZN subscription costs €1.99 per month in Ireland, although the price is expected to increase to an as-of-yet-confirmed figure following Fight Camp in the summer. Taylor is not expected to return to the ring until September.

“Some of you have heard the rumours over many months”, Hearn told British and Irish journalists on a Zoom conference call, “and it is true: we have now completed a new deal with DAZN, a five-year deal for our UK events exclusively live on DAZN’s global platform.

“This deal is something we’re extremely proud of. It’s probably the most exciting move as a business, I think, we’ve ever made. And we feel like it’s a huge opportunity for our fighters, the fans, and also for British boxing because now, we have the firepower, the artillery, to just change the face of the sport here in the UK in terms of the fights we’re making, in terms of the value we’re giving to fight fans. Also, of course, it gives us the chance to move globally as a business, aligning with the DAZN global platform to move into a number of other markets as we’ve seen with Italy, Spain, America, and some big new markets we’ll announce in due course.”

Hearn declined to share any of the deal’s financial details but stressed that ending his company’s partnership with Sky “wasn’t an easy decision”, adding: “We’ve had a great run with Sky but, to be honest, this was an opportunity we couldn’t miss as a business and as a sport.

“What I can tell you is that to prize us away from a partner like Sky, where we had a number of rounds of negotiation, it certainly had to be a seismic deal.”

While Matchroom’s other existing sports deals with Sky will remain, Hearn said that when the broadcaster came to understand the magnitude of DAZN’s boxing offer, “Even they had to shake my hand and say, ‘Good luck to you, son’,” describing the split as “very amicable”.

“It was too big an opportunity to expand globally at such a rate,£ he continued. “They were very disappointed but it’s business. We have a longstanding relationship and we will continue to, moving forward with Matchroom (other sports).”

Hearn said that he expects Sky Sports will “stay in boxing”, adding: “I think they’ll regroup. I think the key focus of their boxing business is pay-per-view and they have a fantastic pay-per-view platform. I think they’ll continue to stage pay-per-view events and I’m sure they’ll provide a schedule to subscribers for boxing as well.”

On the future of Joshua, Hearn said he expects there will be an “announcement in due course on AJ’s relationship with Matchroom and I know that relationship will finish [only] when AJ hangs up his gloves.

“In terms of his broadcasting deal moving forward, there’s no pushing or guiding from us towards DAZN. That’s a decision for us, him and 258 (Joshua’s management company) to look at the marketplace and the opportunities.

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“Don’t forget [DAZN] already air his fights globally but also, he has a great relationship with Sky as well and they’ll be keen to extend that relationship beyond whatever fight that happens in August in September.”

Hearn stressed that there would be no ‘awkwardness’ between any parties if he wound up promoting future Joshua fights back on Sky Sports’ screens, saying: “There’s nothing in this contract where we have to deliver Anthony Joshua in the UK (UK TV rights).”

As well as the UK and Ireland, the USA, Spain and Italy, Matchroom Boxing and DAZN are expected to expand further into Japan, Australia and Canada later this year.

When asked by The42 if he anticipated a future in which Matchroom followed an almost UFC-like model in which Hearn and DAZN would be able to stage events around the world on a weekly basis, Hearn replied: “Absolutely 100%.

“That’s a huge part of the decision-making process behind this deal. Obviously, this is a significant moment for Matchroom and DAZN in the UK, but this has a huge global strategy behind it for both businesses.

“The strategy for Matchroom Boxing is to be the absolute global powerhouse of boxing and the strategy for DAZN is to be the unrivalled home of global boxing.

“I’ve already told DAZN that it’s our plan to have a show a week all over the world, in different territories. That for us is the absolute 100%, cast-iron strategy.”

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