DAZN gearing up to 'double' its markets in the next 18 months
By Florence Lloyd-Hughes at Soccerex in Manchester
DAZN, the over-the-top streaming service owned by digital sports content and media group Perform, is preparing to launch in five new markets in the next 18 months, doubling its presence to 10, the platform’s chief executive James Rushton has said.
DAZN is already live in five territories, initially launching in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan in 2016, before entering Canada earlier this year.
Speaking on an panel at Soccerex in Manchester, Rushton (pictured) revealed the platform’s ambitious plans to double its present number of active territories as part of a global expansion of its offering.
He said: “We’re live in five markets now and we’d hope to double that in the next 18 months, so you can see how DAZN could in four or five years be looking to broadcast in 20 markets and looking to take pan-regional risks.”
Rushton was questioned from the floor by Andrew Croker, the experienced media executive who co-founded Perform in 2007 and queried when an exclusive global rights deal with an over-the-top platform might emerge.
Rushton responded: “From a rights perspective we’ve already done that with Perform, a deal with the WTA (the women’s tennis tour) for 10 years, FIBA (the international basketball association) for 17 years, where we control those rights. We’re not commercialising those rights globally through DAZN yet, but who knows in the future.
“I think the first baby step is a pan-regional play. So you’ll see OTT coming in to buy rights for the whole of North America, or for the whole of south east Asia, or the whole of central Europe, and you’ll it start to play out that way.”
Perform has a 10-year, $525-million media rights and production deal with the WTA that took effect at the start of 2017, and in 2016 it became a worldwide partner of FIBA for national teams competitions, in a 17-year, €500-million ($561-million) tie-up, creating FIBA Media in the process.
Rushton acknowledged that a pan-regional rights deal for any property would have to be done in English, saying: “From a platform point of view, obviously doing it in English is needed. The first steps, whether it be DAZN, Facebook, Amazon, looking to a pan-regional play in English and then taking it from there. I think platform-wise it is there now, it just requires someone to have a leap of faith with a commercial model in that many markets.”
He also opened up on the success of DAZN’s broadcast of last month’s ‘super fight’ between multiple boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor.
DAZN showed the fight without a separate pay-per-view charge on its platforms in Germany and Austria and Rushton said the response was “frightening."
He explained: “That was our first traditional box office event we put on the platform, but the proposition was the same - you could come on for a one-month trial and leave any time. That was a really interesting experiment because we had a cost proposition from a trialist point of view so we decided to flip our marketing money around and instead generate trials and interest both from a brand point of view and physical 'how many people can we get through the door?'
“Luckily the platform was a buzz and the platform worked very well. The numbers were frightening, they exceeded all our expectations. Even if all those trials don’t convert into paid subscribers the amount of brand presence we got from that event was worthwhile. The numbers are in the 100,000s in terms of buy-ins or trials for that one event.
“We have some pretty strong boxing on our service so we were able to create a pretty strong narrative about our platform so we’re pretty hopeful we will be able to keep a decent majority of the trialists and it is something we will definitely think about doing again.”
An in-depth feature on the future of over-the-top streaming will appear in Sportcal Insight magazine next month.