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DAZN strikes In Demand US cable TV distribution deal for Canelo v Smith

Streaming platform bundles four-month US subscription with fight available for US$69.99.

16 December 2020 Ed Dixon

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  • In Demand reaches around 55m US homes
  • Distribution partners take cut of revenue and new subscription signups

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Callum Smith’s super middleweight boxing world title fight this weekend will be made available on US cable television after an agreement was reached between DAZN and In Demand.

Global sports media company DAZN has rights to the bout, which is being held at Texas’ Alamodome stadium on 19th December, but the partnership with In Demand means those without a subscription can watch the event through their TVs at a cost of US$69.99.

Instead of a traditional pay-per-view (PPV) model, DAZN is bundling in a gift code for a four-month subscription to its streaming platform for cable buyers.

Having launched its new global over-the-top (OTT) service at the start of the month, DAZN’s linkup with In Demand is part of a new strategy to grow its US customer base. With US boxing fans more used to linear PPV consumption, DAZN is looking to introduce viewers to its service that are less accustomed to watching streaming platforms.

In Demand, which reaches about 55 million homes, distributes to its three owners Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter, as well as the likes of AT&T, Altice and Verizon. The providers will receive a portion of each US$69.99 payment. They will also share in the money brought in from new DAZN subscribers who choose to keep paying for the service, which costs US$20 per month, after their four-month trial expires. 

Since its move into boxing, DAZN has been looking to disrupt the PPV model. Rather than making fans pay for top fights on an ad hoc basis, as has been the case for decades, the company is looking to appeal to viewers by offering them a whole host of fights for a set monthly fee.

“DAZN’s global strategy is to provide sports fans access to our content in any environment where they’re seeking it,” Rob Stecklow, DAZN’s senior vice president of subscriptions, told Sportico. “This is just another way to present our content to boxing fans, in the more traditional way that they seek it out.

He continued: “It’s not pay-per-view. People may think that, but it’s just not true. If it were true, we would just sell you the fight and not give you the four months of access. We’re trying to create a long-term relationship with boxing fans in the US; we just want to find them and want them to find us.”

DAZN’s December slate of world title matchups has already included bouts featuring Anthony Joshua, Errol Spence Jr and Billy Joe Saunders, with Gennadiy Golovkin also defending his middleweight belts on 18th December.

The fight is Canelo’s first since the acrimonious spilt last month from his US$365 million contract with Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN, having filed a civil suit against his promoter and broadcast partner in September over their alleged failure to deliver on the terms of his 11-fight deal. For his encounter against Smith, the Mexican will be working with one of DAZN’s partners, the UK-based Matchroom Boxing promoter, meaning DAZN will carry the bout.

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