By: William Holmes
DAZN is hoping to be a big disruptor in the traditional boxing viewing model for fans and have already signed a major fight to give their customers.
The Heavyweight division, prior to the arrival of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has long been considered boxing’s glamour division. One of DAZN’s biggest investments was to lock up the current heavyweight kingpin, Anthony Joshua.
With Floyd Mayweather retired and Manny Pacquiao near 40, the welterweight division’s time at the top of boxing’s money divisions appears to be coming to a close. Anthony Joshua has been selling a tremendous number of tickets when he fights. The first fight for Joshua under the DAZN service will be a good test when he meets Alexander Povetkin.
But their foray into the heavyweight division is not the only thing that DAZN has in mind.
Former ESPN President John Skipper is the new chairman of DAZN, and the company’s stated goal is to be eventually known as the Netflix of Sports. They have Over the Top (OTT) streaming rights to major sporting events in international markets such as Germany, Austria, Canada, and Japan to leagues such as the NFL, NHL, MLB, UEFA Champions League, and Serie A.
OTT streaming won’t have commercials, and won’t rely on advertisements to turn a profit like traditional broadcast media.
Marcus Parnwell, director of product at DAZN, recently told Quartz “We’ve seen Netflix build a model without advertising based on the subscription… Sport has more natural breaks in play, especially US Sports are built for advertising. We’re trying to do a different model and a different thing.”
Their acquisition of OTT rights for some valuable sport franchises will likely take some time to turn into a profitable venture. However, the American consumer has increasingly made the decision to ‘cut the chord’ which has lessened the reach of traditional broadcast outlets. Streaming options, such as Netflix, Hulu, and even the ‘niche’ market of the WWE network have been fairly successful.
It’s only logical for a streaming service dedicated to sports to eventually enter that market. Enter DAZN.
They don’t have the OTT rights to any of the major American sport leagues in the United States yet, but they have already made some inroads into combat sports in the United States and early on their focus will be on that.
Their deal with Matchroom Boxing USA is for $1billion for eight years with 16 events in the US and 16 events in the UK per year. Their deal with Bellator is for 22 events, 7 exclusive to DAZN in addition to their welterweight tournament. They also have a deal for Combate Americas for 13 events a year. They also have a deal with World Boxing Super Series for 15 events and 21 tournament bouts.
The goal appears to put on PPV style events in both boxing and MMA for a lower monthly subscription price.
They already have some attractive fights lined up for fans, including:
9-22: Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin (Boxing)
9-29: Mousasi vs. Mcdonald (Bellator)
10-6: Jessie Vargas vs. Thomas Dulorme, Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Johnson (Boxing)
10-7:Inoue vs. Payano (Boxing)
10-12: Mitrione vs. Bader (Bellator)
10-13: Fedor vs. Sonnen (Bellator)
10-20: Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade, Katie Taylor vs. Cindy Serrano (Boxing)
Streaming will also allow DAZN to do some things that cable networks can’t. Traditional boxing broadcast outlets like HBO and Showtime only show 2-4 fights per card, while DAZN show the entire card, including the opening fights that often feature prospects and local fighters.
It’s alleged that Brian Kenny, Michael Buffer, Sugar Ray Leonard will help lend a veteran presence to their boxing broadcasts.
In addition to live fights, DAZN is also looking into shoulder programming for these events. Scott Woodgat, the director of programming at DAZN, recently told awfulannouncing.com “OTT and DAZN are all about live. The content strategy here differs a little bit from the other regions, because there’s gaps between events in fight sports, and we need to fill those gaps with various shoulder programming, which we’re looking into.”
DAZN has made investment at a base production facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and hired producers, writers, and staff to create original content. They also have a library of past fights uploaded in both boxing and MMA.
Subscribers to DAZN will have other viewing options besides live events.
The future of DAZN is also intriguing.
Saturday’s PPV fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin appears to be the last fight that both boxers have under their current contract with HBO.
Manny Pacquiao, though older, is also a free agent and eager to fight.
The addition of any of those three, or all three, would make DAZN a very attractive option for fight fans, both the casual and hardcore ones.
DAZN currently has Boxing, MMA, Soccer, Cycling, and Cricket as sport offerings in the American market. If they are successful, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see them make a run at the OTT rights for one of the big four professional sport leagues (NFL,NBA,NHL, and MLB) one day.
But as of today, DAZN is making its mark felt in the combat sports world.