Loss-making streaming platform DAZN is now reportedly debt-free after billionaire businessman Len Blavatnik agreed a mind-boggling $4.3billion recapitalisation of ‘the Netflix of sports’.
The global platform has spent lavishly on sports rights since its launch in Germany in 2016, but has so far struggled to turn that huge outlay into profitability.
The most recent company reports released showed a loss of around $1.3billion for 2019 alone. The reports for 2020 – which were due to be released by December 31, 2021, have yet to be posted on the Companies House website.
Recently DAZN had hoped to make another huge splash, and it believed a game-changing one, by acquiring BT Sport. But after appearing set to win the race, it lost out to Discovery – which engaged in a joint venture with the UK telecomms giant. Any deal would have given DAZN something it craves – English Premier League soccer rights in the UK market.
Blavatnik doubles down
Now though Blavatnik, whose Access Industries is the main shareholder in DAZN, has effectively wiped the slate clean per widespread media reports, with a $4.3billion recapitalisation. As well as clearing the company’s debt, it apparently ploughs in a further $250million of investment as DAZN looks set to focus on sports betting, gaming, e-commerce and NFTs.
As well as buying premium soccer rights in a number of major markets, DAZN has put boxing at the forefront of its aim to dominate world sports streaming. The fight game has been its Trojan Horse in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Boxing a big deal for DAZN
The launch in the US in 2018 came with a blockbusting partnership with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing – worth a reported $1billion over eight years. DAZN then partnered with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and also inked P4P king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez to a record $365million contract for 11 fights.
The pact with Alvarez was short-lived but he returned to fight on DAZN under Hearn’s Matchroom banner in late 2020 and early 2021 for three fights. Alvarez is reportedly now mulling an $85million offer from DAZN to fight light-heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol May before finally facing great rival Gennadiy Golovkin in a long-awaited trilogy fight in September.
DAZN also now has an exclusive partnership with Hearn and Matchroom in the UK too after the promoter ended a long-running association with Sky Sports last summer.
While the outlay on DAZN seems incredible, it must be put into the context that Blavatnik has the deepest of pockets. He topped the Sunday Times Rich List for a second time in 2021. The List suggested that despite the pandemic, Blavatnik’s wealth had rocketed by £7billion in just one year – from £16billion to £23billion.
As well as its major stake in DAZN, Blavatnik’s Access also controls Warner Music Group.