DAZN in talks with potential buyer for Perform Content business
By Simon Ward
DAZN Group, the international digital sports media group, is in talks with an interested party, reported to be US private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, to sell its business-to-business data and betting arm Perform Content.
A proposed sale is close, albeit not certain, and intended to help DAZN finance the acquisition of live rights for its consumer-facing subscription OTT service in multiple markets, according to Bloomberg, which cited a person familiar with the matter.
Perform Content, which includes sports data companies Opta and RunningBall and betting streaming service Watch&Bet, is the subject of a strategic review after it was separated from the consumer-facing OTT service in the second half of last year.
In a statement today, DAZN Group told Sportcal: "Perform Group Financing PLC (the “Issuer”) and DAZN Group (the "Company"), the digital leader in sports media, notes recent press reports concerning a potential sale of its Perform Content business (“Perform”). The Issuer and Company confirm that, as part of the review of strategic alternatives announced on 15 October 2018, they are engaged in discussions with a potential buyer of Perform. Discussions of this matter are ongoing and a further announcement will be made if and when appropriate.”
Vista and PJT Partners, the company handling the review for DAZN, have yet to comment on the report.
DAZN Group, which is headed up by billionaire Len Blavatnik, admitted last October that the strategic review could lead to a sale of Perform Content to help fund further expansion of the now core OTT offering.
This followed a rebrand in September with the name of the parent company changing from Perform to DAZN Group housing two distinct brands in the consumer-facing DAZN and the B2B-focused Perform Content.
Vista is already active in the sports data market having acquired Stats, the USA-based company, in 2014, and if the Perform Content deal goes through it would continue a trend of acquisitions in the sphere.
Last year, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and TCV, a growth equity firm based in Silicon Valley, USA, bought a 37-per-cent stake in Sportradar, the international digital content and betting integrity business, while Genius Sports, a UK-based sports data technology company, was acquired by funds advised by US private equity firm Apax Partners.
CPPIB also holds a stake in Endeavor, formerly WME-IMG, the combined Hollywood talent agency and sports and entertainment company, that is making plans to go public later this year.
DAZN has undertaken a hefty rights investment in its different markets with full support from Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, the company’s major shareholder, and any sale of Perform Content would generate sizeable funds to invest further in rights.
The DAZN OTT service went fully live in Spain, its eighth market, at the end of last month, and a roll-out in Brazil is imminent.
DAZN was launched by Perform, the international digital sports content and media group, in Japan, Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2016, and expanded to Canada in 2017 and to Italy and USA in the second half of last year.
It has set a target to be in 20 countries in 2020.
Meanwhile, Thomas Kriner has moved on from the position of head of sales at DAZN.
The 53-year-old is taking up a new position as sales director at Infront Germany, an arm of the international sports marketing company, where he will report to co-managing director Marco Sautner.