Global sports streaming service DAZN is lifting its paywall for all women’s soccer content in the UK through the remainder of the 2023-24 season.
The service – which operates across a wide swathe of the globe primarily as a subscription offer – announced today it had lifted the paywall in place for the women’s soccer it covers in the UK until the end of the current campaign. This stable includes games from the top leagues in Spain, Germany, France, and Italy, as well as action from the Women’s Saudi Premier League.
Most prominently, DAZN also holds global rights to European soccer’s UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL), meaning all games from the remainder of that prestigious tournament’s 2023-24 season will be aired for free.
In total, DAZN will make 209 women's soccer matches between now and the end of the season available for free, from six competitions. 29 of these will be UWCL fixtures, as well as 48 each from Germany's Frauen Bundesliga and Spain's Liga F, and 50 from Italy's Serie A.
DAZN has held global UWCL rights since 2021 and already announced plans to keep its group-stage coverage of the UWCL free in November last year. This latest report entails taking that commitment a stage further and extending this free coverage until the end of 2023-24.
Hannah Brown, co-chief executive of women’s sport at DAZN, has said: "What we see in women’s soccer is if you put a paywall up, there is a small proportion of people that are prepared to pay for it. But women’s soccer fans don’t exhibit those strong pay‑TV characteristics that we’ve seen around premium soccer in domestic markets, where you see customers make a real pay choice to interact with something. Women’s soccer fans are just not there yet.”
She added: “The decision marries with the broader commitment to the launch of free. So, we announced this year what we’re going to be doing around ‘freemium’ content, and women’s football sits as part of that strategy. For us as a business, it’s the growth of a really important asset and about building a first-party relationship with customers on a global basis.”
The paywall is being lifted for this content as a part of a campaign DAZN is launching, called 'New Deal', which – it has claimed – is aimed at "ensuring a commercially robust future for women’s soccer."
The New Deal proposal by DAZN calls for action from clubs, sponsors, media, and rightsholders, and for these parties to "work together … to deliver consistently high-quality experiences wherever and however [fans] enjoy the game."
Brown has said, on this front: "The women’s game is at a crossroads. We see two possible futures. In one, stakeholders come together to build a major global commercial sport. In the other, progress is slow and a golden opportunity to accelerate growth is lost.
“The women’s game has significant commercial potential. The opportunity must be seized now. It requires a venture capital mindset, with an investment horizon measured over several years.”
The free tier mentioned by DAZN is launching globally early this year, having initially gone live in Germany.
Each week, a selection of live matches from DAZN’s portfolio of rights will be made available for free to registered users on the DAZN platform and partner channels, including top-tier domestic soccer leagues in Japan (J.League), Spain (LaLIga), and Italy (Serie A), the UWCL, American football’s NFL, the Professional Fighters League mixed martial arts promotion and boxing events.
Registered users will also gain access to non-live content including documentaries and highlights, as well as DAZN’s integrated products and services such as news, data, and statistics, free-top-play games and quizzes, betting, and podcasts.
Last season, the service’s UWCL coverage secured 55.2 million views on the DAZN Women’s Football YouTube channel, up 19% from 2021-22. The competition’s final, in which Barcelona beat Wolfsburg 3-2, attracted a live viewing figure of 5.1 million in total, a 40% increase year-on-year.
That fixture was covered by an array of free-to-air European networks through a late sub-licensing deal between DAZN and the European Broadcasting Union alliance of public service broadcasters.