Logan Paul and JJ “KSI” Olatunji are two of YouTube’s biggest creators, but their upcoming boxing rematch on November 9th is going to completely bypass the platform that helped build their careers due to piracy concerns.
Paul and Olatunji’s fight will stream exclusively in the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Brazil via a streaming service called DAZN, which appears to be largely dedicated to fighting events. It’s unclear what platform will be used to stream the event in the United Kingdom, but Liam Chivers, Olatunji’s manager, said it will be “confirmed in due course.” Chivers did not respond to further questions from The Verge about whether YouTube is a possible streaming option in the UK.
Part of the reason the fight is moving to DAZN is because of risks surrounding piracy, Chivers said. Paul and Olatunji’s first boxing match in August 2018 garnered more than 1 million viewers, all of whom paid $10 for the fight. On Twitch, a number of illegal streams amassed more than 1.2 million viewers. Even Twitter saw pirated versions of the stream going around, with one Periscope stream pulling in more than 70,000 viewers.
“A no risk, high budget, secure platform deal had to be achieved,” Chivers said in a press release. “I wasn’t going to risk broadcast on an unstable or unsupportive platform and have cost and piracy risk put on KSI.”
Twitch was criticized for not doing more to shut down the streams while they were happening. Jason Kint, the CEO of Digital Content Next and an industry expert, tweeted at the time that he was “ticked off” at Amazon for not “protecting the live PPV IP of Google’s YouTube from piracy.”
“Millions in immediately lost value and more importantly undermines future business opportunities as it trains piracy is only a click away,” Kint said. “Amazon fail.”
The lack of action on both Twitch and YouTube’s part frustrated Chivers, who said he realized right after Olatunji and Paul’s fight that YouTube wasn’t a reliable pay-per-view option.
“We didn’t host the last fight on either of the fighter’s own YouTube channels, so it was clear that the rematch could be hosted anywhere we choose,” Chivers said. “Somewhere equally stable, accessible and on a platform that broadcasts top class sporting events regularly, with a suitable budget to mitigate risk and costs.”
It’s unclear how much the fight is going to cost, or whether people will have to sign up in advance to stream the match. Part of the advantage to being on YouTube is that a large number of people have accounts, and know where to go to find the fight. It’s also where Paul and Olatunji upload the majority of their content — their fans already know where to find them. DAZN is a lesser known site that might not catch the attention of people like YouTube would. More information about the fight, which will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, will be made available in the coming weeks.