Game Changer: Sky Sports boxing coverage crisis, unsubscribing begins

Sky Sports Boxing WBN

British fans have begun to ditch their Sky Sports subscription following an announcement by promoter Eddie Hearn that he’s walking away from a long association.

Hearn, who emerged in 2010 and subsequently went solo with Adam Smith and his Matchroom Boxing a few years later, has moved on.

Smith is left with zero boxing coverage on the Sky Sports platform and hopes to keep at least Anthony Joshua and any other bonafide Pay Per View stars.

Even then, AJ and others will be televised on a completely separate station on Box Office.

But the outlook doesn’t look good for Sky.

Once a super-power in boxing with Hearn, Frank Warren, Maloney, and Ricky Hatton on board, giving fans more than 30 shows per year, Sky Sports is reduced to choosing to show YouTubers over some undisputed world title events.

That kind of decision doesn’t help UK subscribers justify keeping their monthly outlay.

Social media is already awash with fans stating they would unsubscribe from Sky Sports.

SKY SPORTS SUBSCRIPTION

As Euro 2020 [in 2021] nears, sports fans don’t need to keep their Sky Sports channels as the event is live on terrestrial TV. Therefore, Sky has until August to figure something out.

They need a new boxing stable, and they need one now. The possibility they could sign their own fighters has opened up. However, they certainly won’t be able to turn to any of their former promoters.

Warren is now with BT Sport. At the same time, Maloney and Hatton are disbanded. Where else can they go?

They need a boxing figure with knowledge of the sport if they intend to keep broadcasting after over thirty years of coverage.

Going down the same path as HBO in the United States, who ducked out of boxing after 35 years, Sky has slowly dropped their TV shows and live events over the past few years.

There’s certainly a distant possibility that it could be over for Sky for at least a few years.

Sky Sports New Era
Sky Sports

EDDIE HEARN & DAZN

Regarding Hearn, the Essex man can look forward to a bright future after finding his feet at DAZN. And unless something drastic happens during the deal, there will be no going back.

Having formed Matchroom Media, Hearn has made it possible for the company to be self-sufficient long-term.

It’s a long way from announcing a “New Era” when agreeing to an extension with Sky six years ago.

“We have made the monumental decision to sign a historic five-year deal with sports streaming giant DAZN,” declared Hearn when confirming the move.

“This means that our UK events will now be broadcast live on DAZN along with all Matchroom shows across the world.

“Pushing the boundaries is something we will always continue to do. We needed a partner who shared our vision for boxing, who was also willing to invest in making those dreams a reality.

“This is also an amazing opportunity for our newly formed production and content business, Matchroom Media. They will now be responsible for live production across our events. In addition, they’ll work in close collaboration with DAZN.

“This will enable us to form a cradle-to-grave mindset across inception to completion of our shows so we can deliver the live event experience to the viewer in the narrative and style in which we have built it.”

Concluding with a bitter blow for Sky, Hearn stated: “As we continue Matchroom’s expansion worldwide, this new deal will enable us to further cement DAZN as THE unrivaled global home of boxing.

“Our aim, alongside DAZN, is to create the biggest and best live fight nights. To deliver a viewing experience that is truly game-changing.”

Game on.

Phil Jay is the Editor of WBN. An Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America since 2018. And a member of the Sports Journalists’ Association. Follow on Twitter @PhilJWBN.