Doc ‘In the Company of Kings’ Due for Digital Purchase and Rental April 30, on DVD May 27 From Virgil

Virgil Films will release the documentary In the Company of Kings for digital rental (VOD) and sale (EST) April 30, and on DVD May 27.

In the Company of Kings follows a fight fan’s journey into the dark heart of American boxing to talk to eight former World Champs and those closest to his hero Muhammad Ali about race, struggle, victory, defeat and picking yourself up off the canvas.

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The documentary features Larry Holmes, Bernard Hopkins, Tim Witherspoon, Earnie Shavers, the Spinks brothers, Bob Arum and more.

 

Netflix Entering Live Boxing Ring With Mike Tyson vs. Jake Paul Fight July 20

Netflix is expanding its live-sports footprint with a boxing match scheduled between former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and cruiserweight Jake Paul on July 20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, live-streamed to Netflix’s 260 million global subscribers.

Additional information, including the co-main event and undercards, will be announced at a later date

The 57-year-old Tyson, who has a record of 50 wins and 6 losses, with 44 knockouts, was once the most-feared fighter in the world before retiring in 2005. In recent years, Tyson has dabbled in acting, including a role in 2009’s The Hangover. Jake Paul, 27, a former YouTube performer, has a record of 9 wins and 1 loss, with 6 knockouts since his boxing debut in 2020.

Tyson last fought and beat former champion Roy Jones in a 2020 exhibition match, in which Paul fought on the undercard.

The event marks Paul’s biggest fight to date and his second of 2024, following back-to-back knockouts against professional boxers and Golden Gloves winners Ryan Bourland this month and Andre August in December 2023.

“Whether you’re tuning in on Netflix or showing out in person, whether you’re Team Paul or Team Tyson, or whether you’re a lifelong boxing fan or watching your first fight, you’re not going to want to miss this event,” Paul wrote on a social media post.

Netflix cut its teeth with live sports last year, hosting The Netflix Cup, a celebrity golf tournament featuring Formula One drivers and PGA Tour golfers in an exhibition match in Las Vegas. Sin City was also the site of the streamer’s second live event, The Netflix Slam, an exhibition tennis match between 22-time Grand Slam men’s singles title champion Rafael Nadal against world No. 2 and reigning Wimbledon champ Carlos Alcaraz.

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Speaking this week at an investor event, Netflix CFO Spence Neumann said the streamer, which inked a $5 billion deal with WWE to exclusively live-stream the company’s weekly “Monday Night Raw” wrestling show, would continue to invest in live sports events that revolve around storytelling.

“[Live sports events are] right in that sweet spot of sports entertainment for us. What we call our sports shoulder, which around the drama of sports, the story behind the sports,” Neumann said.

Prime Video Adds Boxing to Live Sports Offerings

Prime Video is expanding its live sports offering to include professional boxing. The streamer inked a multiyear distribution deal with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) to deliver streamers some of boxing’s most significant events.

 

PBC features more than 150 active fighters across various weight divisions, including top contenders and current world champions. Since its debut in 2015, PBC has presented some of the sport of boxing’s biggest fight cards, including in 2023 David Benavidez vs. Caleb Plant, Gervonta “Tank” Davis vs. Ryan Garcia, Errol Spence vs. Terence Crawford, and Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo.

Prime Video will distribute PBC’s pay-per-view (PPV) events in the United States, with the first event anticipated for March 2024. PBC PPV fights will be available for all viewers to purchase, regardless of Prime membership. Additionally, in the United States and select countries, Prime Video will exclusively stream a PBC Championship Boxing series of events, showcasing top matchups among boxing’s current and rising stars. Details on specific cards, dates and locations will be announced at a later date.

In addition to the live PBC events, Prime Video will continue to grow its original sports content offerings, with behind-the-scenes PBC docuseries, live weigh-ins, as well as on-demand access to previous events, highlights, and archival footage.

“With live coverage of PBC action throughout the calendar year, Prime Video continues to bring viewers in the U.S. and around the world the best in sports,” Marie Donoghue, VP, U.S. sports content and partnerships, Amazon, said in a statement.

With the inclusion of boxing, Prime Video now offers streaming members access to NFL Thursday Night Football, select NASCAR events in 2024, Women’s National Soccer League, and the WNBA, among other sports.

PBC events previously were distributed by Showtime, which reportedly dropped its live sports offerings.

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Swerve TV Fast Channel to Stream IBA Champions’ Night

Swerve TV, a free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel operator, will televise live the International Boxing Association (IBA) Champions’ Night on its Swerve Combat channel.

The event will be available free on the channel on internet-connected TVs in the United States on Dec. 9 starting at 10:30 a.m. EST. 

That main event delivers a clash between Albert Batyrgaziev, the Olympic champion from Russia, facing the three-time World champion, Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez Estrada, in the 60kg division. The fight card also boasts an 86kg battle with World champion Loren Alfonso Domingues of Azerbaijan facing the World Championships runner-up Aliaksei Alfiorau from Belarus. In another thrilling match-up, Saidjamshid Jafarov, the World Championships silver medallist, will fight against Japan’s World champion Sewonrets Okazawa in the 67kg class.

“Once again, Swerve Combat will deliver an incredibly high profile live boxing event to our audience without paywalls,” Steve Shannon, CEO of Swerve TV, said in a statement. “We are grateful to the IBA for their innovative approach to reach millions of boxing fans across the USA.”

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Swerve Combat “has seen tremendous growth more than doubling viewership so far in 2023  as a result of increased delivery of combat competitions during the past year and is committed to delivering more free, live combat competitions as its FAST audience grows,” according to Swerve TV.

Swerve TV FAST Channel to Live Stream ‘Rockin’ Fights’ Oct. 28

Swerve TV, a free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel operator, and Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, the New York-based professional boxing promotion company, will televise live the 45th edition of Star Boxing’s “Rockin’ Fights” series on Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. EST, featuring a WBA Continental USA Championship doubleheader on Swerve Combat.

On more than 20 platforms, Swerve Combat will make Star Boxing’s “Rockin’ Fights” available free to internet-connected TVs in the United States.

The WBA Continental USA Championship doubleheader main event features Long Island’s undefeated super lightweight Alex “El Toro” Vargas vs. Julio “El Pantera” Rosa in an eight round championship super lightweight main event. In the eight round championship super welterweight co-feature, Wendy “Haitian Fire” Toussaint will battle Jermone “Quadruple J” Jones.

The sold-out event, which features an undercard as well, is promoted by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing and held at Long Island’s historic Paramount.

“The atmosphere inside of The Paramount during a ‘Rockin’ Fights’ is unlike anything else in boxing,” Joe DeGuardia, CEO of Star Boxing said in a statement. “The thrilling action can be felt in every seat in the house, and it deserves to be shared with a large home audience. We are delighted to partner with Swerve Combat to televise this multi-title event live and free to all nationwide.”

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Steve Shannon

“Boxing is attracting fans at a higher rate in the U.S. than any other sport while also capturing a younger fan base,” Steve Shannon, CEO of Swerve TV, said in a statement. “We are grateful to Joe and Star Boxing for helping us achieve our goal to make live boxing available without paywalls to everyone.”

Swerve Combat has more than doubled viewership so far in 2023, according to Swerve TV, as a result of increased delivery of combat competitions during the past year.

George Foreman Biopic Heads to Digital June 13, Disc June 27

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced home release dates for Big George Foreman, a biopic about the famous boxing champion of the title.

The film will be released digitally June 13, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD two weeks later, on June 27.

The film, directed by George Tillman, chronicles the story of heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman, from his beginnings in an impoverished childhood to the near-death experience that led him to shift from the ring to the pulpit — only to return to the ring and become the oldest and most improbable heavyweight champion ever.

Khris Davis portrays Foreman. The cast also includes Jasmine Mathews, John Magaro, Sullivan Jones, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Sonja Sohn and Forest Whitaker.

Bonus content on the home releases include a making-of documentary, a recap of Foreman’s famous fight against Muhammad Ali, a gag reel and deleted scenes.

Physical media copies of Big George Foreman include a digital code for the movie and bonus materials, redeemable through the Movies Anywhere service and affiliated digital retailers.
 

Fight-Themed SVOD Platform DAZN Bows Globally

DAZN, the London-based sports streaming platform that last year signed Mexican boxing champion Canelo Álvarez to an 11-fight, $365 million fight deal, has launched SVOD service in 200 countries. The initial monthly price point for new markets will be £1.99 or less.

The platform will debut with back-to-back weekends featuring boxing events with international appeal. On Dec. 5, budding lightweight American star Ryan Garcia takes on the battle-tested Brit and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell. On Dec. 12, unified heavyweight champion of the world Anthony Joshua OBE will defend his world titles against Bulgarian mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev.

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“From the U.K. to Mexico to Australia, we’ve seen an encouraging level of interest in our key events since first launching in 2016,” EVP Joseph Markowski said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to introducing the platform around the world … with an exciting schedule of fights.”

In addition to world championship boxing events, the service will stream past classic fights, athlete features and a slate of original programming, including “40 Days,” “Saturday Fight Live” and “One Night.” Additional sports and programming will be added beginning in 2021.

The DAZN app is available on most Internet-connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, and living room devices such as smart TVs, streaming sticks and game consoles.

 

Crackle+ AVOD Service Announces Original Lennox Lewis Boxing Doc

Crackle Plus, the ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) service owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Oct. 6 announced the premiere of original documentary Lennox Lewis: The Untold Story, launching on Oct. 15.

The doc follows the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion as he defied the odds on an inspiring journey to become one of the most decorated boxers in history. Narrated by Dr. Dre, the documentary features never-before-seen footage from Lewis’ personal archives, extensive interviews with Lewis and some of his greatest competitors, including Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Evander Holyfield.

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“We know our audience will appreciate Lennox’s passion and determination to overcome the obstacles he’s faced and reach his dreams both in and out of the ring,” Richard De Croce, SVP of programming at Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

Other original titles found on Crackle include Spides, Corporate Animals, Blue Iguana, Anything is PossibleThe Serge Ibaka StoryRoad to Race Day, On PointCleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters, The Clearing, “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life,” and “Going From Broke,” recently picked up for a second season.

From a modest and challenging upbringing to an Olympic Gold medal and reign as undisputed heavyweight champion, Lewis’ story is one of redemption and forgiveness and the perseverance and strength needed to overcome obstacles. The doc is written by Josh Dubin and Seth Koch, and produced by Rick Lazes, Nick Koshoff and Tom DeNucci.

“The documentary delivers a powerful message and I am so glad we were able to tell this story,” said Lewis. “For anyone watching who feels they can’t make it in life, I am proof that you can.” 

Crackle is available in the U.S. and can be accessed on 26 devices and services including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com. Crackle is also available in approximately 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.

Amazon Prime Video’s NFL Deal Ends; League Coy on Successor

Amazon Prime Video has streamed NFL Thursday Night Football for the past two seasons. Whether that groundbreaking deal is renewed remains up in the air, according to media reports.

Prime Video, unlike Netflix or Hulu, has embraced live sports recently signing exclusive rights to English Premier League soccer. The New York Yankees reportedly are in discussions with Amazon to become the first MLB team to stream games directly to viewers who don’t have a pay-TV subscription.

The NFL is concerned whether Amazon can handle the capacity required to stream games to millions of viewers simultaneously — an interesting concern considering ESPN’s challenges streaming the Clemson, LSU college football national championship game on Jan. 13.

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“What Amazon’s doing over the next few weeks in the U.K. with their Premier League package will be very interesting to watch,” Brian Rolapp, EVP of media with the NFL, told a confab last month, as reported by Sports Business Daily. “They’re getting some pretty high ‘concurrents’ there.”

Rolapp said the NFL doubted any streaming service had the capacity to handle 25 million people simultaneously streaming a single game, much less in high-definition.

“It’s not just technical capacity the league is looking for. Production and promotion are just as important, he said. “In order to hold an NFL package, you’re … going to have to be able to distribute it at a high level of quality — no fan is going to accept less than HD, high-res all the time. You’re going to have to sell it from an advertising standpoint and market it. So we need to see that from any partner, and be satisfied with that before we entrust any game package to them.”

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Regardless, it’s likely money will play as important consideration going forward. Both DAZN and YouTube TV have expressed interest in football, with the latter a sponsor and distributor of Major League Baseball post-season games and World Series.

DAZN, of course, inked an exclusive deal with Mexican fighter Canelo Alvarez worth a reported $365 million.

Rolapp told the confab the NFL remains primarily interested in reaching viewers and fans across multiple distribution channels.

“We will not sacrifice reach for something less valuable, including a higher rights fee,” he said. “We will maximize our reach. We think we can get both, but the reach is really important.”

 

Streamer DAZN Inks Mexico Boxer Canelo Álvarez to Record $365 Million Fight Contract

In a move that could elevate OTT video in live sports, DAZN, the nascent London-based fight streaming platform, has signed Mexican boxing champion Canelo Álvarez to a 11-fight, $365 million fight deal – reportedly the richest athlete contract in history.

In addition to the size of the contract, which runs through 2023, the deal transfers boxing’s biggest draw from the lucrative pay-per-view market to a $9.99 monthly streaming service.

Indeed, Álvarez, the current WBA and WBC middleweight champion, most-recently defeated Gennady Golovkin in a rematch that generated more than $94 million in pay-per-view revenue – based on a $84.95 PPV price tag. The fight generated 1.1 million PPV transactions.

“Canelo is the highest-paid athlete in the world,” Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions, told ESPN. “He’s extremely happy.”

The deal comes as HBO recently announced it would cease live boxing broadcasts after 35 years.

Álvarez’ first fight under the DAZN deal is against Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 in Madison Square Garden.