Boxing the 'first step' as DAZN takes OTT service worldwide
By Simon Ward
DAZN, the international over-the-top streaming platform, is to significantly expand its footprint, initially in boxing, by making its service available on a global level from May of this year.
DAZN, which offers access to a variety of live sport and support programming without the need for a long-term contract, is presently accessible in only nine markets on four continents, but announced today it is spreading to more than 200 countries and territories, and in a “first step,” taking advantage of the partnerships it has with top boxing promoters including Golden Boy Promotions, Matchroom Boxing USA and GGG Promotions.
The global English-language platform has been in the pipeline for some months, and its first major event will be a fight involving Canelo Alvarez, the Mexican boxing star who has won world titles at four different weight divisions, on 2 May, with further details to be confirmed.
As a result of its existing relationships, DAZN plans to offer a wide variety of premium fights involving the likes of Alvarez and Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin, and a selection of original programming, across the world.
The new global service will be overseen by DAZN executive vice-president Joseph Markowski.
John Skipper, the executive chairman of DAZN Group, said today: “Beginning this spring, most of the world will have access to DAZN and its unmatched schedule of boxing events. Our roster of championship fighters represents some of the world’s most popular athletes and we’ll be working with them to stage spectacular international events for years to come.”
As in territories where it is currently available, the DAZN app will be offered worldwide on internet-connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, smart TVs, streaming sticks and game consoles.
Non-subscribers can register now at DAZN.com, and pricing by market will be announced in the coming weeks.
The DAZN OTT service was launched in Japan, Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2016, and expanded to Canada in 2017, to Italy and USA in 2018, and to Spain and Brazil last year.
Prominent leagues and sports it offers in different markets include soccer’s Bundesliga and Champions League in Germany, Serie A in Italy and England’s Premier League in Spain, Canada and Japan, basketball's EuroLeague and MotoGP in Spain, top boxing in USA, the NFL in Canada and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organisation in Japan.
However, today’s announcement represents a change in tack with DAZN looking to more fully exploit the rights it has acquired, and adding other premium properties when and where possible, rather than rolling out on a market-by-market basis.
In particular, the expansion will enable it to reach attractive markets such as the rest of Europe (including the UK, where DAZN is headquartered, and Scandinavia), Mexico, and the rest of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Boxing is a natural start point for the global service given DAZN’s tie-ups with the major promoters, and the fact that rights are acquired on an international, rather than national, basis, and the company will no longer have to sell on rights in territories where it does not have operations.
In this context, it is noteworthy that last December’s world heavyweight title fight between the UK’s Anthony Joshua and Mexico’s Andy Ruiz was the most-streamed event on DAZN in the whole of 2019.
In addition, it showed last month's high-profile heavyweight title rematch between USA's Deontay Wilder and the UK's Tyson Fury in five markets (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Spain).
Last year, DAZN produced 107 events that eclipsed the 100 million streams mark, classified as events with live and on-demand streams of more than one minute.
Markowski said today: “Since our launch in 2016, we’ve seen an encouraging level of interest around our key events from both international fans and potential partners, which highlighted the opportunity to capitalise on our existing rights portfolio within boxing to fuel our expansion. Establishing DAZN as the global home of fight sports is just the first step and we couldn’t think of a better attraction for our inaugural event than Canelo’s traditional Cinco de Mayo Weekend fight.”
DAZN had 8 million subscribers, including 800,000 in USA, by November 2019, according to CNBC.
The platform made a big play for USA, and boxing, in May 2018 when it signed an eight-year, $1-billion deal with UK-based Matchroom Boxing, committing, through the Matchroom Boxing USA joint venture, to stage 16 major fight nights per year featuring top boxers in the country.
It was reported last October that DAZN was looking to raise at least $500 million to fund its expansion plans, with Goldman Sachs working on fundraising, according to Bloomberg.
Earlier that month, Skipper said that DAZN was targeting major countries to grow its profile, citing the UK as a “logical market,” while stressing that a dedicated service there would require premium soccer rights.
This has prompted talk that DAZN could move for Premier League rights in the UK, but given these are presently held by well-established pay-TV operators Sky and BT Sport and online retail giant Amazon in lucrative deals running to 2022, this would appear to be a mid-to-long-term goal at best.