Back in 2018, streaming service DAZN signed a 11-fight, five-year deal with boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez worth at least $365 million, but that deal didn’t work out as planned, with the COVID-19 pandemic playing a big role in that. One planned Alvarez fight against Billy Joe Saunders in May 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic, and a reported pay dispute around a planned fight with Callum Smith led to Alvarez suing DAZN and Golden Boy Promotions that September, which then led to the sides coming to an agreement to cut ties that November. However, they’ve now come back together on a two-fight deal, and the first one (on May 7, against Dmitry Bivol) will be DAZN’s first pay-per-view event (similar to the UFC on ESPN+ model, where you need to buy the base service and then specifically buy the PPV on top of that). Here’s more on that from a DAZN release:
Pound-for-pound superstar Canelo Alvarez (57-1-2, 30 KOs) has signed a new two-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing and DAZN. The first fight will see boxing’s biggest attraction step up in weight to take on Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) in a bid for the WBA light-heavyweight title from Las Vegas on May 7. The second fight in the two-fight deal is set for September.
The May 7 blockbuster will be available to subscribers around the world on DAZN, excluding Latin America and Mexico. In the U.S. & Canada, the event will be offered exclusively on DAZN Pay-Per View (PPV) – newly introduced for very select events to come – and priced at $59.99 for current subscribers and $79.99 for new subscribers (inclusive of a one-month subscription to DAZN).
…“We’re delighted to continue growing our long-term partnership with Canelo, beginning with a spectacular war between the pound-for-pound king and a very tough and determined champ in Dmitry Bivol,” said Ed Breeze, DAZN EVP, Rights. “Both fighters were eager for this battle, and we’re thrilled to make it happen around the world on DAZN as well as in the U.S. & Canada by way of the introduction of DAZN PPV. It’s a truly mega matchup and we look forward to broadcasting it to fight fans all over the globe.”
…The May 7 Canelo vs. Bivol mega matchup will be on DAZN PPV in the U.S., marking the first of very occasional events to come that will be sparingly offered to fight fans on top of a DAZN subscription. …New subscribers to DAZN in the U.S. can continue to take advantage of the current annual subscription cost of $99.99 until May 2. Those signing up for an annual subscription after May 2 will be charged the new annual price of $149.99 (which still just equates to only $12.50 per month). Existing subscribers will be grandfathered in at their current $99.99 annual subscription cost for at least one year.
The “very occasional” and “sparingly” language there indicates that DAZN isn’t moving most of its fights to this model, and they do have seven non-PPV fight cards scheduled between now and May 7, including a card Sunday headlined by Lawrence Okolie vs. Michal Cieslak. But it is definitely interesting to see them bringing in a PPV model for select fights, and to see them bringing Canelo back for the first one. The initial DAZN-Canelo megadeal in 2018 was based around having those fights anchoring DAZN’s regular boxing content and drawing in new subscribers, and wasn’t about PPVs, but a lot has changed since then for both parties. We’ll see how this shift works out for DAZN.