EXCLUSIVE Is Eddie Hearn going to war with BT Sport?

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LET’S talk about December 22, when Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton also fight on BT Sports Box Office. Staging Dillian Whyte vs Dereck Chisora on the same night is not good for boxing fans. But you might argue, from a business point of view, because you’re directly going to war with BT Sport, it’s a potential masterstroke.

It’s genuinely not because it doesn’t really suit anybody. I can understand what you’re saying. But you’re blocking or trying to affect something that will also have a detrimental effect on your own numbers, do you know what I mean? So in respect of December 22, the better move [for us] would have been to go on the 15th because you get a free run at it, you run a pay-per-view before their pay-per-view, which means I’m going to buy Whyte-Chisora and I’m not going to buy Frampton-Warrington, so actually [is it a business masterstroke?], not really.

I can understand the strategy to crush their numbers on the 22nd and it will affect BT Sport Box Office. But we’re going to lose numbers by doing it on the same night too. Naturally, it’s two completely different fights and two completely different markets. Frampton-Warrington is a hardcore fans’ fight, it’s not a fight for the casuals, it’s never going to attract casuals, even if it wasn’t on the same night as us. Ours is a big heavyweight grudge match, where actually, some of the hardcore fans might go, ‘No, I’m going to watch Warrington-Frampton’.

Also, if this wasn’t Warrington-Frampton, if it was [Deontay] Wilder-[Tyson] Fury [on December 22] we would have had no choice but to not go. But, again, not being critical of Frampton-Warrington, look, I did Frampton-[Scott] Quigg [in February 2016], I know the numbers, it’s not a threat.

We will still lose 50,000 buys, it could even be more for running the same night, so it’s not ideal. This isn’t a ‘move’. Anybody can check the venues for December. There is nothing, apart from December 22.

So the only option we would have had [to avoid the clash] is to go to a venue that would have lost us a hell of lot of money, compared to the O2 Arena, or go in January.

So why not go in January?

Because it’s a poor month for pay-per-view. Because Dillian wants to fight Anthony Joshua in April or at least have to opportunity to do so if he wins. If we go in January that wouldn’t be the case. The first date [available after December] is February 2 and I’ve got another fight planned there for that date anyway. And Frampton-Warrington is just not big enough to stop me from staging Whyte-Chisora on the 22nd. It’s not ideal but I’m happy to lose 50,000 buys to get that date and that venue, if that makes sense.
It’s a consideration across the numbers. What we’re going to lose on pay-per-view we’ll make up on the gate.

Did you really have to do another pay-per-view in 2018, particularly a non-title fight?

No. We’re under no instruction to do another pay-per-view. The only instruction we’re under is that every fighter wants to fight on pay-per-view. And the numbers keep getting better and better and better. Look at Whyte against [Joseph] Parker, which happened on July 28 – which is a horrible day for pay-per-view, because people are on holiday, it’s the summer, it’s hot – and we nearly did 400,000 buys. By the way, Whyte’s fight with Lucas Browne [in March, not on PPV] did 700,000 on Sky. So, Whyte is a number driver.

Did we have to do PPV? No. But then obviously the difference with this fight being on PPV and not PPV is that the two fighters will earn well over seven figures each. And if it was on Saturday Night Fight Night, they might earn three or four-hundred grand each.

We definitely didn’t have to do another PPV, but we did do if we wanted to make this fight.

So is this fight a necessity for Dillian Whyte to get the Joshua fight?

Whyte did not have to take this fight. If I’m Dillian Whyte I would not take this fight. Because if Wilder doesn’t take the fight against Joshua [on April 13, 2019], and there’s a very strong chance he won’t, Whyte gets the fight. So why would you fight a guy coming off a career best win, who you’ve had a war with before which could have gone either way. You’re gambling. The money he’s going to make for this fight is nowhere near what he’s going to make for the Joshua fight but he believes he’s improved and he believes he’ll win and he wants the fight.

Chisora has everything to gain. Chisora and [his promoter, David] Haye think they’re going to fight ‘AJ’ in April but that’s not even on the radar.

Even if Chisora wins? Surely that then becomes the logical fight.

Maybe. But it’s a different kind of relationship because Chisora was almost like Joshua’s hero growing up in Finchley. Every time you mention Chisora [to Joshua], even sparring, he says, ‘Oh no, I’m not sparring Del’. But Haye, in his head, thinks Chisora is going to knock out Whyte and now we’re going to fight Joshua. That’s how Haye thinks.

Eddie Hearn

In America you’re focused on DAZN, which is a completely different model to pay-per-view here. How can you keep justifying pay-per-view events in the UK when you’re singing a different song in America?

It’s a completely different price point. I keep saying $25 for a pay-per-view is totally different to $85. The great thing about the US market is there’s a broadcaster now who will pay the rights fees to replace the PPV money. Over here, that doesn’t exist or even anywhere remotely close. It’s not rocket science. If you’re talking about £20 for a PPV and you do what this [Whyte-Chisora] will do, say 500,000 buys, something like that, it’s 10-million quid. Now obviously there’s costs and Sky’s split to come out of that. So even if you’re saying six-million quid, what is the most a UK broadcaster would pay for this fight? 500-grand. That’s difference. 500-grand or six-million quid?

In America it’s the same thing but now there’s a broadcaster that is paying the money to supplement the PPV. So say if Canelo does a million buys, and that’s $40m, DAZN now come in and say we’ll give you the PPV revenue that you’re losing by not going on PPV. It’s mental, but it’s happened. So if Sky turn around and say, ‘right, for Whyte-Chisora, we’ll give you six-million quid in rights’ fees’ I wouldn’t go on PPV. Why would I risk it?

That’s exactly what Canelo has done. ‘Great, I’ve never got to run a PPV again’. Because every time you do a PPV, you’re always thinking, ‘How many buys? How many buys? Are we going to be alright?’ Because it’s always a risk. Canelo has turned around and said, ‘I don’t have that risk anymore, I’ve got the money guaranteed.

So when you talk about hymn sheets, one is 25, 26 dollars and one is 85 dollars. Unless that price point comes down in America they’re going to find, as they’re going to find with Wilder-Fury, as they’ll find with [Manny] Pacquiao-[Adrien] Broner, as they’ll find with [Errol] Spence-[Mikey] Garcia, the numbers are going to go, 300-thousand, 200… And we’re doing a million buys plus on every AJ fight. They can’t do 300,000 on a mega fight in America in that market of that size.

So while there’s no broadcaster [in the UK] to pay substantial rights fees, we have no choice.
But we won’t make it $85.





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