What does DAZN's future look like?

When DAZN launched it was a vibrant and exciting new option. The service deemed the ‘Netflix of Sports’ by some was one of the best bargains in the sport at $9.99-a-month, with pay-per-view quality fights including Canelo Alvarez, Anthony Joshua and many more being available at that price point - not a separate fee. On top of that, we saw a slew of stacked cards featuring compelling match-ups that resembled the depth of a UFC card as opposed to the modern boxing cards we had been seeing, which were top-heavy and got thin rather quickly.

The pandemic seemingly put a damper on DAZN. For starters, they had minimal content during the health crisis and that is when their less-than-stellar customer service came into play. Two things have plagued DAZN since the start, 1) nearly non-existent customer service and 2) major stars losing which seemingly weakened the stronghold they might have had over the sport. 

It appeared that when DAZN entered the marketplace they probably looked at analytics and names that were available targeting some of the biggest needle movers, such as Canelo Alvarez, Gennadiy Golovkin, Anthony Joshua, and Katie Taylor. All of which at one point lost on their telecast with Joshua and Canelo’s losses being jarring losses that might have changed the way the fighters are perceived. Joshua lost to Andy Ruiz Jr., on short notice, and then had two consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk in his quest to conquer the heavyweight division. Joshua is now rebuilding with Derrick James, but a rebuild with a star is always a unique proposition.

Canelo Alvarez lost to Dmitry Bivol after a magical 2021 in which he became the undisputed super middleweight champion and the most accomplished fighter of that year. Canelo has continued to make major headway in the division and be a notable attraction…but Canelo has recently left the network it seems as he announced he will be fighting Jermell Charlo on September 30th, with a rumored three-fight deal with a rival promoter/network, Premier Boxing Champions, meaning he would not be on DAZN again more than likely until 2025 at the soonest. Something that is a hard ask for a fighter often considered the modern face of boxing - Canelo Alvarez.

This also came along with DAZN backtracking on their original business plan. DAZN entered to get rid of pay-per-view, and now offers pay-per-views, along with the paywall for the service, while running ads. A far cry from what they once were. DAZN entered to get rid of pay-per-views and now seemingly any fight that is of interest with some exceptions will be hidden behind a paywall.

The new stars who they look to emerge have had some issues as well. Golden Boy Promotions has gotten a lot more TV dates for DAZN this year, but with these dates, we have seen an absence from their most compelling figures. Ryan Garcia, a talented boxer with a huge social media following, currently has issues with his promoter, Golden Boy Promotions it seems - and even more so, didn’t fight on DAZN this year. Though his mega-fight with Gervonta Davis was available on DAZN, it was quite clear from the onset that the telecast was a Showtime production. Those who purchased it on DAZN had some frustrations with the service that was being provided as it seemingly was not as easy to use as the Showtime telecast.  

Then we have Vergil Ortiz, who this weekend was supposed to start the summer of great fights off right with an interesting and intriguing match-up by facing secondary WBA welterweight world champion, Eimantas Stanionis. Instead, Ortiz was out of the fight yet, again and his days at welterweight are off. This marks the third time Ortiz has had to withdraw from a main event contest seemingly from symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, with all three of these fights happening on DAZN. As Ortiz's 2023 will probably be spent on the shelf. 

Now, Ortiz Jr., an exciting prospect with all of his wins coming by way of knockout - is looking to solve his medical issues first at the moment, not the best sign for a network that already has a lot of questions. 

This weekend, we have Alycia Baumgardner making her first undisputed super featherweight world title defense against Christina Linardatou, the only woman to beat Baumgardner. A solid match-up, but the undercard has been depleted. A contender bout between junior welterweights Richardson Hitchins and Montana Love is now off, junior middleweight Souleymane Cissokko was going to be tested against Janelson Figueroa Bocachica, a tough local fighter - that fight is off, and now Marc Castro of Fresno, California, posted last night that his bout is off.

Though injuries are commonplace in boxing it is troubling how much they are impacting DAZN's recent cards, especially in regard to the premium price point they are charging. 

There is hope. 

Fighters like Jaime Munguia have a large following and can be the face of DAZN, same with Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez and Sunny Edwards despite being lower-weight fighters, but now the question becomes the value. In the US, it is $24.99 or $239.88 a year, which makes it one of the more expensive streaming options. Add to the fact, that it is not just competing against fellow boxing promoters, but major entertainment entities like Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and another proven staple of streaming services. The innovative nature of DAZN is no longer there, as most boxing promotions now have a form of streaming in 2023. 

We also are now seeing a limited schedule of what will be featured in the future meaning you have to enter into a deep belief in the direction DAZN is going. Though most consumers are investors at this point, it truly feels as though the paying public should move the needle given the new price that rivals a half-a-tank of gas in California. 

Now it is survival. They need the big match-ups to merit the price, Ortiz vs. Stanionis was a huge event to keep retention of viewers. Many people have spoken about how they have DAZN solely for Vergil Ortiz Jr.  

To start in August, Nate Diaz will face Jake Paul on pay-per-view.

The shame in all of this. Since the recent struggles, DAZN has started picking up some interesting foreign cards, like a light heavyweight contest between Conor Wallace vs. Mat Sheehan in Australia this coming Saturday. DAZN might not have the same big fights they used to, but they are curating an interesting line-up, but is it too late? 

DAZN has formed a partnership with Jake Paul's Most Valuable Promotions putting on exciting cards and picking up exciting club-level shows in Germany and the U.K., which does boast the value of the product. Add to it, Overtime Boxing will launch in August on DAZN, and of course the Misfits Boxing events...which exist.

What does the future hold though?

It is clear the pandemic completely changed DAZN as a company, but with Canelo seemingly no longer with the service, and the sport of boxing looking for the next star - DAZN needs their next big fighter. The question is - who will it be? 

Furthermore, was DAZN too far ahead of the curve? Did they see the future before the future was here - and now have to work backward to make it work?

DAZN needs two things. 1) Get back to getting a solid value to the consumer that made them such a beloved option, and 2) find someone who can push buys of the service via an exciting fighting style. 

This seemingly should be their mission as they finish out 2023 and head into 2024. They have plenty of fighters, many who could become hall-of-fame fighters, but now becomes the business side of things. Can they attract the right people to consume the product - and how much do these cancelations, delays, and mishaps hinder them toward their end goal of being an industry leader?

Is the month of July an outlier for DAZN or is this a sign of things to come?