Readers may recall in the summer of 2021, it had been my intention to cover the heavily hyped Mayweather-Paul exhibition bout. Unfortunately, I would be prevented from doing so, not because of a lack of trying on my part, not because of a lack of my paying a fee to legally access the event, as all who cover Boxing should do when they are unable to attend events in person if they want to cover events, as fans who otherwise want to watch the event should do as well, but because of an issue that caused the servers of United States premium cable network Showtime's streaming app to crash resulting in the event being unwatchable for most consumers and those of us who intended to cover the event, yours truly included.
Some may recall in the aftermath of what was a fiasco, I penned a column detailing my experience that evening. To be fair to Showtime, I did receive a refund and an apology from the network for my experience that evening, which I did appreciate despite being prevented from covering the event and no on demand access of the event being given, despite what I had been told by representatives of the network prior to the event. Fast forward nearly two years later and unfortunately for Boxing fans and those of us in the media who rely on technology to ply our trades were treated to a similar experience that was to be honest on a much more important scale for the sport and it's future. This observer is referring to the April 22 pay-per-view event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV that was hailed by some as one that would "Save Boxing." An event headlined by two of Boxing's unbeaten and highest rising stars Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia in a highly anticipated catchweight bout.
Unlike the Mayweather-Paul debacle, this event would involve the participation of another network in addition to Showtime. The digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN, one that has been marketed as an alternative to the status quo in Boxing including the pay-per-view model, of which longtime readers know that I am a staunch critic of. The network as of last year however, in a controversial, but in some ways understandable move due in part to the economic effects of the global COVID-19 epidemic, as well as a way to bring fighters and promoters, who insist on the pay-per-view model to the table, began to implement the use of pay-per-view on what they insist will be a sporadic basis all the while raising their standard subscription prices to $224 per year or $24.99 per month.
Before I go any further, it is important for me to state for the record and for any possible critics that, despite the fact that I do not currently work for any other media outlet or network besides the outlet that this observer owns and operates here at The Boxing Truth®️, I have been vocal in my support of a subscription-based streaming model for the sport of Boxing that networks like DAZN and ESPN+ offer that are of better value to consumers for the price of either a monthly or annual subscription as compared to the overpriced and under valued model that pay-per-view has become, particularly here in the United States. Nevertheless, I have also been critical of both networks for using the pay-per-view model even on an occasional basis and to take it a step further and be a little more specific, doing so at the same price points that often begin at $70 per event that is not economically reasonable for consumers, much less offering value for existing subscribers. Something that will continue as long as the use of pay-per-view exists in the sport and to be more specific, offers little value to consumers in the process as price points continue to increase to let's be honest, asinine degrees with little or no explanation, much less accountability.
As for the Davis-Garcia card, I chose to access the event through DAZN in thinking that since I as a longtime subscriber, who has covered the vast majority of their Boxing events since their launch in September 2018 here in the United States, would at least have on demand access to the event afterwards if there were any issues with the live broadcast or if I simply wanted to watch the event again, as is standard for all DAZN programming. Unfortunately for yours truly, who wanted to cover the event and in particular the main event as well as many others who are either longtime subscribers to the network or subscribed simply to access the event through DAZN, my experience with DAZN that evening would resemble my experience with Mayweather-Paul nearly two years ago.
Despite the involvement of two networks for this event, the broadcast in North America was produced and handled by Showtime and merely simulcast on DAZN. While that was not a red flag as to what was to follow over the course of the evening, I feel it important to point out due to this not being an in-house DAZN production, which in my experience is normally top notch.
In fairness, the evening, much like virtually every event including the ones I have covered that have aired on DAZN seemed like it would be a smooth one as I was able to observe the opening bout of the card, featuring Middleweight Elijah Garcia scoring a ten round unanimous decision over Kevin Salgado to remain unbeaten. As the broadcast continued, the feed, would begin to become very glitchy and as was the case with Mayweather-Paul, resulting in app crashing making not just the broadcast inaccessible, but hard to even open the app on my streaming devices of choice, an Apple TV as well as Roku. In a scenario that mirrored my experience with Mayweather-Paul, once DAZN's app crashed on Apple TV, I attempted to switch over to Roku to see if I could get the app to open and subsequently restore my feed of the broadcast.
Unfortunately for yours truly, even when I did succeed in getting the app to open and clicking on the broadcast, the glitches including buffering, freezing, pixelation, and yes, app crashing continued for the remainder of the evening. Thus, making my task of covering the main event as well as other bouts on the card for subsequent material down the line for readers an impossible task, at least in terms of being able to do it live or so I thought.
Based on my previous experience with DAZN, which to be honest, is significant due to the volume of the network's schedule year over year as well as often week to week in a given month, I assumed that an on demand replay of the event, which is standard for all DAZN programming including their select pay-per-view events for seven days in terms of the full broadcast before individual fights of each card are made available in the network's deep Boxing archives, would be made available either overnight or early on Sunday morning as I have also had to take advantage of from time to time when for whatever reason I have not been able to cover an event live.
To my surprise and disappointment, no on demand replay was made available by the network after the event and as of this writing, six days after the event, is still unavailable as is any single bout on the card in the network's archives. In the interest of full disclosure with the reader, I like many of you who also ordered the card through DAZN, have spent the last several days attempting to reach out to the network to inquire about not only if/when an on demand replay would be made available, which frankly would appease yours truly, or if a replay would not be available, a refund of the pay-per-view price, which in the interest of honesty with the reader was $67.99 (Applicable taxes and fees included) as was offered to existing DAZN subscribers, which I have been one since prior to the network's U.S. launch in 2018.
As of this writing, my attempts to reach DAZN, despite my status of being in Boxing media and having an established communication with the network dating back prior to the 2018 launch, has been unsuccessful beyond getting a reply from their support team expressively apologizing and saying they were investigating the matter. This process, which I have documented on this observer's respective social media platforms, not as a means of shaming either DAZN or Showtime, but more so as a way of showing folks that there are those of us in the sport that contrary to the belief of some, that are in the same position as the average consumer in that there is no special treatment for media members who are unable to travel to events to cover them in person. The inadvertent advocacy of yours truly, as well as many fans and even some fellow media members have also taken to social media to share their experience and their desire to be refunded for an event they as well as I could not see, has had one simple message comprised in a hashtag. #DoRightByConsumers. A hashtag that I first used in the aftermath of Mayweather-Paul.
(*Update to the previous statement to follow at the conclusion of this column.)
Much like that event, the issue here seems to be the same. Showtime's servers being inadequate and unable to hold up to the demand from a technological standpoint resulting in glitches, app crashes, and the event becoming inaccessible. Now, the reader is probably asking one simple question "Beau, if the issue you experienced was through DAZN's app, why would Showtime's servers ultimately be to blame here?"
The simple answer though I am not an expert in tech engineering is that the event was merely simulcast on DAZN in the United States and Canada, meaning it was a standard production of a Showtime Pay-Per-View event as opposed to a joint production between two networks that we have seen from time to time in the past. The only thing resembling DAZN on this simulcast feed was the simple presence of DAZN's logo, which was positioned in the top left hand corner of the screen shortly after the broadcast began. When I began to have those all too familiar issues that I have experienced in covering some previous Showtime Pay-Per-View Boxing cards purchased through the Showtime streaming app, I began to suspect seeing as it was only a simulcast made available to DAZN users here in the United States and Canada, there was no mention of DAZN at all during periods where the feed was up, that somehow this was linked to Showtime's servers, meaning that the feed that DAZN was permitted to simulcast, was likely fed through a link to Showtime's servers as opposed to DAZN's in house engineering, which in my experience has been immaculate in the past. This in all likelihood created a scenario where once Showtime's servers started to experience problems and ultimately crash, due to the feed being linked to DAZN, it subsequently knocked the network offline in North America.
While some might think this is a conspiracy theory on the part of yours truly, akin to what one would see from various YouTubers and others who claim to be in Boxing media, it needs to be pointed out that outside of North America, DAZN was permitted to broadcast this same event in many countries in which it is available using a non-Showtime international feed as part of a standard DAZN subscription, which reported no issues with the broadcast and furthermore, on demand access to international subscribers to the network shortly after the event was made available. Although this should be viewed as a slap in the face to those of us in North America, it puts the blame more in the direction of Showtime as it is clear that their insistence that it be their production as opposed to truly working together with DAZN to not only bring this event, which saw two rival promoters the Premier Boxing Champions group of promoters (PBC), who promote Gervonta Davis and who have a broadcast deal with Showtime and Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, who promote Ryan Garcia and who has a broadcast deal with DAZN come together to make the fight happen, not only accessible on both platforms as well as cable/satellite providers, but to ensure a smooth viewing experience for all.
It is indeed a sign of a network's selfishness in clearly putting their own interest above the interest of the sport and of the public/consumers who legally paid to access the event, even to their own detriment and that of its parent company Paramount Global. After another pay-per-view crash, the question is what now?
Well, despite the fact that I have yet to receive a refund from DAZN, I do believe that it is possible that a reason for lack of communication and resolution with customers and yes those of us who cover the sport, may be due to a potential legal battle that might be brewing between the two networks over the circumstances of what happened on April 22. Although this is purely speculation on my part at this point, just as an observer, I cannot see how a scenario of essentially "Forgive And Forget" could take place when potentially one network might be out millions of dollars due to the obvious server crash and said network clearly being prohibited from producing their own dedicated feed of the event at least in the North American market, despite a proven track record of reliability and dependability when it comes to streaming as compared to the network that insisted upon control. Even as there are some online touting that the event did between 1.2 and 1.4 million buys, which is unheard of in present day with regard to pay-per-view for all too obvious reasons, my question is what will those numbers look like once either refunds are issued or potential litigation due to lack of refunds is brought to both networks by consumers due to the crash of Showtime's servers, which has happened in the past.
(*Update to the previous statement to follow at the conclusion of this column.)
What can realistically be done moving forward? It is no secret and should not be to longtime readers that I as someone who truly cares about the sport and it's future in wanting to see it grow and become more accessible to all regardless of what one's economic standing might be, have been saying for years that the pay-per-view model either needs a significant revamp where it is made considerably more affordable for consumers, in addition to the frequency in which the model is used being reduced, or it needs to be done away with completely in favor of reasonably priced subscription-based options that put the consumer first. After this latest fiasco, perhaps the first line of action that a consumer might want to take at least as far as the United States is concerned would be to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission as well as to reach out to your respective state representatives both in Congress, as well as the United States Senate, who are the lawmakers and tell them not only of your experience with this event, but also to voice your wish to see lawmakers intervene via legislation that would hopefully address both the inadequate experience consumers have to incur when ordering these pay-per-view events as well as to address the issue of the ever increasing price points for these events in the United States, which more often than not, is considerably more expensive than what consumers are charged in other countries for pay-per-view access to the same events, if not offered as part of a subscription network like DAZN or for free in some cases internationally.
The bottom line is something needs to be done to not only benefit the sport of Boxing, but also and more importantly consumers, who do not resort to means of piracy, who do go about access to pay-per-view the right way, by legally paying for it, but unfortunately cannot be guaranteed a smooth experience for the price they paid, much less be given on demand access to these events, which given both the price that consumers continually are asked to shell out, as well as the technology in 2023 being available, should be standard with one's purchase of an event. At the end of the day, no matter what network executives might say in an attempt to spin things to suit their narratives, no matter what a promoter might say about criticizing price points of pay-per-view events, but at the same time not doing anything about it and charging those same price points for their events, no matter what fighters are led to believe that pay-per-view is the only way they can make additional money for their efforts in risking their lives every time they step into the ring, despite the increasing evidence that pay-per-view with only rare exceptions is a failing practice, something needs to change and perhaps the only way to drive that point home if you're in the position of a consumer will be to seek federal intervention by way of the respective lawmakers to force change.
Unfortunately, without intervention and oversight to force the issue, there will be no accountability for these networks and promoters and unfortunately, in the end both the Boxing fan/consumers as well as the sport will continue to suffer because there will be no incentive to change even as inadequate technology and frankly selfishness/stupidity of some networks take revenue out of their own pockets by failing to deliver what they advertised to consumers. Sadly, both for the sport and the fans that support Boxing in good times and bad, the issues that led to this latest pay-per-view crash was not the first time it has happened and without some form of intervention and accountability, nothing will change.
"And That's The Boxing Truth."
(* UPDATE: As this column was being prepared for release, after several days of attempts to reach DAZN, communication between Beau Denison and DAZN did breakthrough on Thursday, April 27, 2023. In an email sent to Mr. Denison, he was informed that DAZN would be issuing refunds for the Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia pay-per-view event, which will take up to seven business days to process. Mr. Denison was also advised that customers who purchased the event via the DAZN website can contact their support team at www.DAZN.com for more information about obtaining a refund.
If however, customers purchased the event via the DAZN app on mobile/tablet, or connected streaming devices and Smart TVs, those customers will need to contact the platform in which they made the purchase including Google Play, Apple iTunes /Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon /Fire TV, which the network listed as examples of who to contact. If you purchased the event through the DAZN app on a platform that is not listed here, contact DAZN Support for more information. DAZN also expressively apologized both to Mr. Denison as well as all customers and subscribers who experienced issues accessing the event.
There was no attempt by Mr. Denison to reach out to Showtime regarding the issues discussed in this column as he strictly dealt with DAZN in an attempt to cover the Davis-Garcia event. Customers who purchased the event through the Showtime app can contact the network at www.SHO.com for information obtaining refunds.
We here at The Boxing Truth®️ would like to again apologize to readers who were expecting post-fight coverage of Davis-Garcia as was originally planned as it was not in our control.)
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