Industry Trends

Barry and Eddie Hearn are Tipping Live Streaming Into the Mainstream

Michael Mitrakos
July 5, 2024
5 min read
minute read

Tipping Point for Streaming

Evidence suggests that someday in the future we will look back to 2023 as the tipping point for connected TVs (streaming on TVs).  No matter when it happens, Barry and Eddie Hearn will be remembered as streaming TV innovators well ahead of the game.

It could be said that Malcom Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point”, published in 2000, was the tipping point of tipping point theory.  The concept of one small thing “tipping” a system into reorganization was not invented or discovered by Gladwell.  But to his credit, he synthesized 50 years of scholarship in a way that was easily understood and remembered.  Before Gladwell, the theory was used to explain how neighborhoods changed in de-segregation or justifying broken window policing policies.  Since it has been widely employed to explain social media adoption, the power of influencers, and the effects of and reaction to climate change.  During Covid, the concept was practically worn out by journalists attempting to explain herd immunity.

Rapid Growth in TV Streaming

With respect to video streaming, Kanto Media, a global data, insights, and consulting , says that in 2023: “we’re now reaching the tipping point in Smart TV penetration and usage, with consumers increasingly using their TV to stream content directly, connecting via apps and inbuilt IP services.”  Kantor offers the following supporting data:

  • In France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain: 64% of households own a Smart TV,
  • In Brazil: 57% of households own a smart TV (doubled in 4 years),
  • In US: 88% of households own a smart TV (Leichtman Research Group; not in the Kantor report), and
  • Smart TVs are: “the preferred screens for viewing streamed content: across the US, Germany and UK, 88% of video streamers used their TV to access content”.
  • See the full article here

About the time Gladwell was releasing “The Tipping Point” in 2000, Barry Hearn organized a poker tournament with a record £1 million first prize, and was the first to put poker on TV. It was the start of the Ladbrokes Poker Million.

Barry Hearn, an English sporting events promoter and the founder and chairman of Matchroom Sport, made a name for himself promoting events in many sports including boxing, darts, and notably, snooker and pool. Hearn has a track record of developing new trends in the sports entertainment industry.

In the realm of snooker, Hearn's influence is noticeable. His strategies have played pivotal roles in revitalizing snooker's appeal, particularly in the UK. He reintroduced large tournaments, increased prize funds, and spearheaded numerous initiatives to elevate the sport's profile.

As the landscape of media consumption shifted with the digital age, so did Hearn's strategies. Recognizing the surge in online viewership and the decline of traditional TV ratings, Hearn's Matchroom Sport was quick to embrace the potential of streaming video platforms.

Matchroom's Streaming Platforms

1. Matchroom Live:

Under Hearn's guidance, Matchroom Sport launched Matchroom Live, a digital platform dedicated to live streaming and on-demand content. This platform features events from snooker, darts, boxing, and more. Matchroom has grown its video streaming presence to include many channels including the YouTube channel Matchroom Multi-Sport, Matchroom Pool.

2. Partnership with DAZN:

In 2018, Hearn and his son Eddie launched a billion dollar partnership between Matchroom Sport and DAZN, a global sports streaming service. This move marked a shift from traditional broadcasters, as DAZN offers fans a subscription-based platform to watch a myriad of sports, including many of Matchroom's promoted events.

3. Global Reach:

Through streaming platforms, Hearn saw the opportunity to reach audiences beyond the traditional strongholds of snooker in the UK and Europe. By making tournaments accessible online, fans from Asia, North America, and other regions could easily tune in, further globalizing the sport.

4. Engagement with Online Communities:

Beyond just broadcasting, Hearn's embrace of digital platforms extended to engagement. Platforms like YouTube have seen a plethora of highlight reels, interviews, and behind-the-scenes content from events promoted by Matchroom. This strategy keeps fans engaged even outside of tournament timings.

Barry Hearn's foresight in recognizing the potential of streaming video has solidified his legacy as a promoter who is not only rooted in tradition but also forward-thinking. By intertwining the worlds of sport and digital media, Hearn has positioned billiards and other niche sports that one day may be considered the tipping point in streaming media.  

In 2021, Barry Hearn turned his empire over to his son Eddie Hearn who before joining his father’s firm in 2004 was a Cricketer and a sports agent.  Eddie’s passion for boxing seems to match Barry’s for snooker/pool.  No matter the preferences, Matchroom is continuing to lead in live streaming sports.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is meant by the "tipping point" in the context of connected TVs and streaming?

The tipping point refers to a moment when a significant change or shift occurs, leading to widespread adoption of a new technology or behavior. In the case of streaming, it suggests that connected TVs have reached a critical mass, with more consumers using them to access streaming content directly.

Who is Barry Hearn, and what role has he played in the evolution of sports broadcasting?

Barry Hearn is an English sporting events promoter and the founder and chairman of Matchroom Sport. He has been instrumental in promoting various sports events, including boxing, darts, snooker, and pool. Hearn has adapted to changes in media consumption habits by embracing streaming platforms and digital distribution channels.

What initiatives has Barry Hearn undertaken to integrate streaming into sports broadcasting?

Hearn launched Matchroom Live, a digital platform for live streaming and on-demand content featuring events from snooker, darts, boxing, and more. He also formed a partnership with DAZN, a global sports streaming service, to offer subscription-based access to Matchroom's promoted events. Additionally, Hearn has leveraged online platforms like YouTube to engage with fans through highlight reels, interviews, and behind-the-scenes content.

How has Barry Hearn's approach to sports broadcasting differed from traditional models?

Hearn has embraced streaming platforms and digital distribution channels, departing from traditional broadcast models. By making tournaments accessible online and engaging with online communities, he has expanded the reach of sports events beyond traditional audiences and geographic boundaries.

What is the significance of Matchroom's involvement in streaming sports events?

Matchroom's involvement in streaming sports events signifies a shift in the sports broadcasting landscape toward digital platforms. By pioneering initiatives like Matchroom Live and partnering with DAZN, Matchroom has positioned itself at the forefront of live streaming sports, catering to the evolving preferences of modern audiences.

Michael Mitrakos
Senior Software Engineer
Software engineer with a knack for coding in far-flung places. World traveler, taco enthusiast, and ice hockey lover. Currently navigating life one byte at a time, and always in search of the best bookstores.