DAZN seeks wide distribution, and Premier League rights, in Italy
DAZN, the over-the-top streaming service owned by Perform, the international digital sports content and media group, is prepared to hold talks with all media platforms in Italy and other rights-holders in order to secure the broadest possible distribution and coverage ahead of its launch in the country later this year.
Earlier this week, Perform landed one of the three live rights packages for Italian soccer’s top-tier Serie A in a three-year deal worth €193.3 million ($224.7 million) per annum.
The package comprises 114 games per season, to be played on Saturdays at 8.30pm and on Sundays at 12.30pm and 3pm, and paves the way for the introduction of DAZN in Italy, with highlights of all other matches, in time for the new season in August.
DAZN is looking to boost its Italian offering with other attractive rights, possibly including England’s Premier League, from the 2019-20 season onwards.
The other two live Serie A packages, totalling 266 games per season, were secured by Sky Italia, the Italian pay-TV operator, and an established Serie A broadcaster, for €780 million per year, to 2020-21, while rival Mediaset Premium, which previously held rights, missed out, but is hoping to retain coverage via distribution deals.
DAZN’s Italian service will cost €9.99 per month, the same price as in Germany and Austria, and James Rushton, the chief executive of DAZN, insists it is willing to negotiate distribution agreements with major telecoms companies, internet players and conventional broadcasters operating in Italy, to get the best possible exposure.
In a briefing with reporters yesterday, he said: “We do not have a channel, so it is not a question of retransmitting in the traditional sense of the term. But we want to be an open platform and we want as many people as possible to use it as simply as possible.
“It’s also about inserting our app into the hardware. If you are a Sky customer, you may have access to the DAZN app through a remote control and even purchase it with a simple transaction. And the same could apply to Mediaset’s customers, [telecoms company] TIM, and so on.
“We are ready to discuss it with everyone, we are ready to distribute DAZN to operators such as Vodafone, Wind, Telecom and Fastweb, PlayStation and Xbox, but also to broadcasters such as Sky and Mediaset. The climate is positive and we are confident that we can move forward.”
Perform already has a presence in soccer in Italy via outlets such as the Goal.com portal and Opta, the sports data company.
Meanwhile, DAZN is accessible in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and Canada, and is set to enter the US market on the back of a $1-billion tie-up with Matchroom Boxing, the UK boxing promoter.
As users do not require a costly, long-term subscription, the platform is particularly aiming to appeal to younger audiences that have been predisposed towards online-based options, including illegal streaming.
Rushton said: “We are addressing everyone. Obviously millennials are closer to our target because they already use tools like Netflix. The great thing about this [Serie A] package is that we have the Saturday night game that really caters to everyone. But we would like to focus on the 2.5 million to 3 million Italians who illegally watch the games on the web.”
The Saturday evening games are seen as particularly attractive as many are likely to involve top clubs Juventus, Napoli, Inter Milan and Rome, Italy’s four qualifiers for the Uefa Champions League next season.
Asked about other properties it is targeting, Rushton said: “The Italian one is a big market. We believe there may be an alternative to traditional pay-TV, which is expensive, with long contracts. We are negotiating many rights and in the next 10 to 15 days we will close other agreements.
“For example, the Premier League interests us a lot. There will be a lot of football, but also American sports, tennis, motors, cycling.”
Sky Italia presently holds exclusive live rights to the Premier League in Italy in a three-year deal running to the end of the 2018-19 season.