DAZN rejigs senior leadership ahead of global platform launch
By Jonathan Rest
DAZN, the international over-the-top subscription broadcaster, today unveiled a new-look senior management team as it readies the launch of its global service and looks to increase the focus on non-live content.
The strategy was outlined to staff by acting chief executive James Rushton as the business continues to rebuild off the back of a devastating second quarter caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
DAZN's business model - monthly subscription fees with no long-term contracts - meant it was most susceptible to the suspension of live sport.
However, the company now expects its global subscriber base to return to pre-Covid-19 levels, around 8 million, by the fourth quarter of this year, with the global OTT service being rolled out in the next few months, following an ongoing beta testing phase.
In terms of personnel changes, chief business development officer John Gleasure has taken on the new role of executive vice-chairman, working alongside Rushton and executive chairman John Skipper. Gleasure is already a member of the DAZN board of directors and was an original founder of DAZN and the Perform Group.
Ed McCarthy has been appointed chief operating officer, responsible for leading live and increasingly non-live content strategy.
DAZN believes this is an untapped area of revenue, with non-live content having particularly come to the fore during the shutdown of live sport between mid-March and early July.
McCarthy, who sits on the executive committee, only joined DAZN at the turn of last month from parent group Access Industries, where he was corporate director and portfolio manager.
His move to DAZN came at the same time as Simon Denyer took on a new role at Access Industries, advising on sports ventures, handing the chief executive reins, on an acting basis, to Rushton.
Rushton was the chief executive for the launch of DAZN in 2016, before Perform Group divided its assets to create two separate entities in September 2018.
When Denyer, chief executive of Perform, took that title at DAZN, Rushton moved to chief revenue officer, responsible for all products, revenue and marketing.The vacant CRO post has now been taken up by Paul Morton, the former executive vice-president of finance, who has been with the group for a decade, while McCarthy's predecessor as COO, Neil Colligan, moves into the newly-created role of chief development and delivery officer, and remains on the executive committee.
Veronica Diquattro (pictured, right) and Ben King (left) have all also been promoted today, to chief customer and innovation officer, and chief subscription officer respectively.
Diquattro joined DAZN from Spotify, the music streaming service, two years ago to lead the business in Italy, and in January 2019 was named executive vice-president for revenue, southern Europe, encompassing the new operation in Spain.
She continues to oversee those businesses, but is additionally responsible for all aspects of delivering a seamless customer experience including product development, brand, programming and editorial curation of content.
King, who joined DAZN in 2019 following 12 years in senior marketing, commercial and general management roles at Apple, is now responsible for growing the company's direct-to-consumer subscription service, leading marketing strategy and overseeing distribution partnerships with app stores, device manufacturers, telcos and retail companies.
In a statement, Rushton said: "DAZN is gearing up for an exciting and new phase of growth. We will continue to invest in our initial core launch markets – as evidenced by the recent announcements regarding the major Uefa Champions League and Bundesliga packages in DACH, whilst increasing our commitment to becoming a global sports destination platform through increased focus on DAZN’s forthcoming global service."
The global OTT offering was to go live in over 200 countries at the end of April in time for the 2 May super middleweight fight between Mexican Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and the UK's Billy Joe Saunders but the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent impact on the company's business delayed proceedings.
However, a beta testing phase began on 24 July, with a Golden Boy Promotions bout, which was streamed free of charge to those who had previously registered their interest in the service.
More tests are planned this month, in the hope the service can launch before the start of the fourth quarter.
It will initially feature boxing content only, taking advantage of the partnerships DAZN has with top boxing promoters including Golden Boy Promotions, Matchroom Boxing USA and GGG Promotions, which gives it access to the fights of Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin.
The price point will vary in each country depending on the rights secured, market conditions and the level of interest, with the content to broaden in time.Rushton continued: "The development of non-live content will play a major role in our expansion plans. As one of the key learnings from the pandemic, the relationship between non-live content engagement and customer retention has never been stronger. We have a deep understanding of our customers and we will look to develop a broader and more meaningful value proposition by providing a data-driven, personally curated mix of quality live and non-live content that will attract people to the platform and keep them coming back on a regular basis."
Prominent leagues and sports DAZN 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, the fallout from the pandemic has forced the group to refocus on premium sports properties in its core markets, and subsequently exit contracts that are loss-making, the latest being Copa Sudamericana rights in Brazil.
DAZN holds rights to the secondary South American clubs competition in a four-season deal that started in March 2019, but they have now been returned to Conmebol.
Last month, DAZN informed Uefa and its Team Marketing agency that it wanted to end its Champions League and Europa League rights deal in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines one year early. It has no platforms in the region, meaning it has been forced to sub-license rights to other broadcasters in the region and show games on Facebook and YouTube, as well as on Goal.com, the DAZN-owned soccer portal, which it is selling.