But, over the weekend, the trash-talking rivals translated their e-stardom into a boxing match that packed historic Manchester Arena with 20k fans. And, thanks to 784k livestreamers, it pulled in more than $8.3m, making it one of the biggest British pay-per-view boxing matches in history.
From bloggers to boxers
KSI spun FIFA commentary into a career in comedy, acting, and rap, and Paul turned Vine stardom into work in acting, screenwriting, and rap (netting $12.5m in 2017).
For these online celebrities, building a personal brand with a loyal audience is only half the battle: To make money, they need to find creative ways to sell things to that audience.
As it turns out, boxing is an influencer’s ideal moneymaker
Amateur boxing offers a natural pricing tier (streaming access for $10, live tickets for hundreds) and easy cross-promotion (merch sales, sponsorships, product launches, social media smack talk).
Only half the online viewers paid YouTube’s $10 fee, but the exposure will still be worth millions for the fighters’ brands. Paul’s brother, Jake Paul, beat KSI’s brother in the night’s opening fight and used his victory speech to announce, while covered in blood, the launch of his new clothing line.
Oh, and if you’re wondering who won the main event? It ended in a draw. The rematch is scheduled for February, and you’ll be able to get your tickets soon.