The Brief: Why are YouTubers competing in boxing matches? Is this meaningless hype or the dawn of a new age of sports? Let's find out.
Internet beef was manifested IRL when KSI and Logan Paul took their rivalry to the boxing ring. On August 25, 2018, in Manchester England, KSI and Logan Paul fought to determine who is the better boxer. Their younger brothers Jake Paul and Deji, faced off as well in a unprecedented, excessively-hyped, family feud style, enormous ego YouTube boxing event.
Why are YouTubers Fighting Each Other?
This spectacle, which may seem somewhat absurd, has been hyped up for months. The Paul brothers and the Olatunji brothers (KSI and Deji) have been manufacturing online beef, producing diss tracks, showing their training routines, and insulting each other face-to-face at press conferences and weigh ins. This fight was less about the actual event, and more about the buzz it created. These YouTubers have large youth followings and many of the viewers of the fight were children and teenagers.
Logan and KSI are long-time rivals. Their follower counts are neck and neck. KSI has 19+ million subscribers and Logan has 18+ million subscribers. In an era where the lines between online fiction and “reality” are increasingly blurry, feuding YouTubers punching each other until they bleed almost makes sense.
If you’re still wondering why this all happened, the most compelling answer is money – and fame, which can be monetized. There is an official YouTube channel for the KSI vs Logan Paul fight with over 1.3 million subscribers. The Paul and Olatunji brothers made dozens of videos leading up to the fights, receiving millions of views and accompanying YouTube revenue. Tickets to the match cost between $45 and $650. YouTubers, social media influencers, and mainstream news outlets have been reporting and commenting on this event, creating clickable content for their sites.
The match itself was set up on a pay-per-view system on YouTube in which viewers were required to pay $10 to stream the match live, or to watch a replay later on. However, the event’s profitability for YouTube was significantly undermined by the widespread pirating of the stream, mostly on Twitch. While the official YouTube stream had over 800,000 viewers, illegal streams have accumulated at least 1.2 million views. This has led to significant controversy and debate about the implications of illegal streaming and the competition between live streaming giants YouTube and Twitch (which is owned by Amazon).
KSI vs. Logan Paul:
The matches themselves drew 20,000 spectators into the arena and opened with undercard matches between other YouTubers . Then, the Deji and Jake Paul fight lasted five rounds, with Jake Paul taking the win. Finally, KSI and Logan Paul fought for six rounds and the match ended in a draw. According to commentator and YouTuber True Geordie, “we now know these lads are not only evenly matched in subscribers, they’re evenly matched in the ring.”
The outcome match has inspired reaction videos, Tweets, think-pieces, and more. There have been significant criticisms of the match’s end results – with people calling it a rigged, pre-planned performance.
Ultimately, this ostentatious performance revealed what brings in viewers and revenue in contemporary culture: toxic masculinity, controversy, and polarizing fandoms. With the upcoming rematch and more planned fights between other YouTubers, it is likely that spectacles like these will continue to occur. These fights have been and will continue to be lucrative for YouTube, the Paul brothers, the Olantunji brothers, and many others. Whether they’re worth watching or following is up to you.