Coronavirus has, potentially, changed boxing for good. While the prospects of high-profile fights returning are high, events may not be the same again. Will promoters like Matchroom, Golden Boy and Queensbury do everything they can to get things back to the way they were? Of course. However, the greatest fight boxing promoters will have in the future is with fear. People will be allowed to attend mass gatherings, but will they want to? The hardcore fans will but what about the general public?
Coronavirus Can’t Kill Casual Market
Before coronavirus KO’d sports, there was a concerted effort to get more casuals into boxing. Whether or not you agreed with KSI vs. Logan Paul II, it generated views. During the lead-up alone, YouTube channels like IFL TV received millions of views. Even though reports were that PPV figures were lower than expected, the fact remains it pricked the mainstream’s consciousness. However, with coronavirus calling a halt to proceedings, the casual audience may fall away. For a sport looking to grow, that could be a disaster.
However, it’s not all bad news. Yes, getting people outside of boxing’s purists to attend events could be tricky in the foreseeable future. However, that doesn’t mean the industry can’t find ways to attract fair weather fans. Social media is the obvious way to engage the masses. Over the last five years, YouTube boxing content has improved dramatically. Alongside video interviews and features, many of the top broadcasters are uploading fantastic fights.
British broadcaster Sky Sports now regularly posts recaps, highlights and full fights on its YouTube channel. From modern classics like Tyson Fury vs. Wladimir Klitschko to Antony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz, you can now relive the magic via social media. In fact, during the coronavirus lockdown, more of this content has been made available online. With companies realizing that things can change in the blink of an eye, those that once feared the internet are now embracing it. Indeed, when people aren’t able to go out, YouTube is a go-to source for entertainment.
Technology Can Keep Boxing Off the Canvas
Almost in tandem with this focus on social media is sports betting. Boxing has always had a strong affiliation with the industry and that could be enhanced in the coming years. What sports betting offers is exposure and entertainment. Morgan Stanley analysts believe the growing market for online sports betting in the US will be worth $8 billion by 2025. Over in the UK, the industry is already worth £2 billion/$2.4 billion. This level of popularity is, in part, a result of the options available to consumers.
As well as live sportsbooks, there are hundreds of online sportsbooks. As a testament to the sector’s size and stature, aggregate sites have become necessary. At SBO.net, consumers are given expert reviews, news updates and deals for the top online sportsbooks. The proliferation of aggregators and affiliates is a direct result of betting’s popularity.
That’s something boxing can tap into. The roots are already established. However, promoters can find ways to make them grow. Be it through collaborations with betting brands, crossover offers or social media link-ups, there ways to engage sports bettors who are, as you’d expect, fans of sport. The final way to keep boxing strong after coronavirus could be cross-channel accessibility.
DAZN has suffered during the crisis but its model remains an intriguing one. Offering a Netflix-style subscription service has not only made it cheaper for fans to watch fights but easier. By creating a platform that’s available on all smart devices, from TVs and computers to mobiles and tablets, DAZN has opened up the sport to a new tech-savvy generation.
The point to cling to here is that boxing isn’t dead. In fact, with the right post-coronavirus strategy, the sport could actually be better than it was before. By using the internet and all its wonders, boxing can come out of this crisis swinging.