DAZN launched in 2016 as the self-proclaimed ‘Netflix of sports’ with a gleaming new product and a billionaire backer in Ukrainian Len Blavatnik.
Two years later it made a huge splash by rolling out its streaming platform in the United States with boxing at the forefront.
A $1billion eight-year deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing kicked things off, followed by an eye-popping $365million pact with Mexican megastar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Canelo’s great rival – Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin – would soon follow too.
Now the service is live in nine markets (United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Austria and Switzerland) with a wide-ranging portfolio of sports rights.
There have been rumours in recent weeks that the service has been badly hit by the recent COVID-19 pandemic with its brutal impact on the sporting calendar, and much speculation about the relationship with Canelo and whether he will fight at all in 2020.
DAZN: What is it and how did it come about?
DAZN was the brainchild of Simon Denyer, then CEO of UK-based Perform Group. The company – owned by Blavatnik’s Access Industries – had long held the view that there was a gap in the market for a sports OTT (over-the-top) streaming service. One with an affordable monthly subscription and no long-term contract.
The service launched in Germany (together with Austria and Switzerland) and Japan in the summer of 2016, to positive reviews. The rights portfolio in Germany was particularly strong, including major football competitions such as the English Premier League (EPL), Spain’s LaLiga and Italy’s Serie A. Japan meanwhile launched on the back of a landmark 10-year $2billion deal with the domestic J League.
The United States followed two years later to a huge fanfare, with the focus this time on building a subscription audience through fight sports – predominantly boxing. The service there launched with Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence against Russian Alexander Povetkin in September 2018.
The agreement with Hearn’s Matchroom started a spending spree which culminated in the huge deals to land Canelo and Golovkin, with a view to matching them together in a lucrative trilogy fight. That has still yet to happen.
Other markets launched in the shape of Canada, Italy, Brazil and Spain – along with flurry of major rights acquisitions.
With the pandemic really hitting sports hard, there is much talk of whether DAZN will be as aggressive post-COVID-19 as it was before. Also boxing experts are predicting a reset in terms of fighter guarantees after DAZN really changed the market with its all-out approach to signing up talent.
DAZN UK: when will it launch?
DAZN had been planning to roll out its service in more than 200 markets globally before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold around the world.
That planned launch would co-incide with a May showdown between Canelo and British super-middleweight star Billy Joe Saunders.
But the pandemic struck, the fight never happened and we are still waiting for the global launch. However that is now expected to happen in the fourth quarter of this year.
DAZN has been beta testing its platform via users in the UK in recent weeks and in terms of a subscription price £4.99 a month was talked about before the initial aborted launch.
If as expected DAZN does launch in the UK, it would find itself in stiff competition with Sky Sports and BT Sport from a boxing perspective. Hearn’s Matchroom, which promotes Anthony Joshua, has a lucrative contract with Sky (further complicating the picture) while Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, which co-promotes Tyson Fury, has a deal with BT.
As already detailed, DAZN spent fortunes in its early days in the United States signing up fighters to lucrative contracts with a view to making big fights and building a valuable subscription audience. Its current stable is underpinned by partnerships with Hearn’s Matchroom and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
Some of its major stars include:
Anthony Joshua: While DAZN does not have exclusivity with world heavyweight champion Joshua in the United States, all of his fights since September 2018 have been screened on its platform. This includes the 2019 double-header against Andy Ruiz Jr – AJ’s shock defeat at Madison Square Garden followed by the Saudi Arabia rematch in December. Joshua fights IBF mandatory contender Kubrat Pulev next in London on December 12 and that bout will be screened live by DAZN in all of its markets. It is expected DAZN would be a strong bidder to show a Fury vs Joshua superfight in some of its markets, when it happens.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez: Alvarez sent shockwaves throughout the sport in 2018 when after a career with HBO he jumped ship to sign a $365million, 11-fight deal with DAZN. Since then the Mexican superstar, widely acclaimed as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the sport, has fought three times. But bouts with Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev have so far failed to set the pulses racing, and the bout the platform clearly wants to see is that long-awaited third meeting with ‘GGG’. After much-publicised disagreement about Canelo’s next opponent, the Mexican is suing both DAZN and his promoter Golden Boy Promotions over their failure to pay his $35million guarantee for his next fight. Per Mike Coppinger of The Athletic on September 8, Alvarez has filed papers with the Los Angeles Federal Court in a bid to terminate his agreements with both DAZN and Golden Boy.
Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin: ‘GGG’ signed a lucrative DAZN deal to follow up the platform’s capture of ‘Canelo’. Having drawn one and lost one of their two meetings so far – both in controversial circumstances – it seemed like the sensible move and the only way to have a chance of finally getting his revenge. But to date, for whatever reason, the trilogy fight between Canelo and Golovkin has not happened. DAZN clearly wants the fight – it has always been the plan – and obviously believes it would be key in growing its subscriber base in the United States.
Other notable DAZN fighters: Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, Katie Taylor, Daniel Jacobs, Vergil Ortiz Jr, Demetrius Andrade.
DAZN also attempted to boost its subscription base by matching high-profile YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul in their rematch at Staples Center in Los Angeles in November 2019. The bout was criticised in some quarters by hardcore boxing fans, with the undercard including world champions such as Billy Joe Saunders and Devin Haney.
Outside of boxing DAZN has also hired several high-profile sports stars as ambassadors, including football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Jose Mourinho.
It has also in more recent times put a focus on archive content and evergreen documentaries. Its app contains a good back catalogue of Golden Boy fights in particular – including De La Hoya’s.
DAZN fight schedule
Despite the rumours of issues at DAZN due to the pandemic, it has a pretty strong winter schedule coming up. The major fights confirmed to be screened on DAZN before the end of 2020 include:
Saturday October 17: Lewis Ritson vs Miguel Vazquez (East of England Arena)
Friday October 23: Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Carlos Cuadras (Mexico City)
Friday October 23: Román ‘Chocolatito’ González vs. Israel Gonzalez (Mexico City)
Friday October 30: Jaime Munguia vs. Tureano Johnson (Indio, California)
Saturday October 31: Oleksandr Usyk vs Dereck Chisora (venue tbc)
Saturday November 7: Devin Haney vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa (Hollywood, Florida)
Saturday November 7: Filip Hrgovic vs Rydell Booker (Hollywood, Florida)
Saturday November 14: Katie Taylor vs. Miriam Gutierrez (venue tbc)
Saturday November 14: Rachel Ball vs Ebanie Bridges (venue tbc)
Saturday November 14: Terri Harper vs Katharina Thanderz (venue tbc)
Saturday November 21: Alexander Povetkin vs Dillian Whyte 2 (venue tbc)
Saturday December 12: Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev (O2 Arena, London)
Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Web Browsers, Xbox, PlayStation, LG Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV, and VIZIO Smart TV are all other platforms compatible with DAZN.
DAZN subscription price
DAZN launched in the United States with a subscription price of $9.99 per month with no fixed contract. The platform positioned itself as a staunch opponent of pay-per-view with its high one-off costs (some fights previously in the United States had been priced at as much as $99, notably Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Manny Pacquiao in May 2015).
However DAZN announced in March 2019 – less than a year after launch in the United States – that it was upping the cost of a monthly subscription to $19.99. Subscribers can still however purchase a 12-month subscription for $99.99 (an average of just over $8 per month).
While the service has yet to launch in the UK, rumours have suggested the price point could be £4.99 per month.
Other DAZN markets have different models – with Germany for example charging €119.99 per year for an annual subscription or €11.99 per month.
DAZN free trial
When DAZN launched in the United States for Anthony Joshua’s world-title defence against Alexander Povetkin in September 2018, it offered users a free trial.
However there is no free trial in place at the moment and we will update this article with details if that changes in the near future.
Of course DAZN is different to most pay-TV operators or streaming services in that there is no need to take on a contract if plumping for the monthly subscription – this can be cancelled at any time.
DAZN jobs & careers
DAZN employs a big workforce around the globe in a number of locations – including London, New York, Amsterdam and particularly in Leeds in the north of England, UK.
The Leeds hub was set up after DAZN took a 15-year lease on a facility outside of the city centre at White Rose Office Park.
DAZN normally has a wide variety of roles available for people looking to work for it, and the latest DAZN career opportunities are available on the platform’s corporate website.
Update: Per John Ourand of Sports Business Journal on September 8, DAZN has made layoffs which amount to 2 percent of its global staff. Reportedly most of these come in its New York and Sao Paulo centres.
DAZN background and key people
As already detailed, Ukrainian billionaire Len Blavatnik and his Access Industries is the main backer of DAZN (former Perform Group).
Denyer meanwhile headed up the business as CEO until his recent departure in June 2020. Perform/DAZN mainstay James Rushton is now the acting CEO.
John Skipper, former President of ESPN, was hired by DAZN as its Executive Chairman in the summer of 2018 to head up its expansion into the US market.
Ed McCarthy meanwhile made the recent move from Access to DAZN to become its Chief Operating Officer.
Outside of its streaming platform, DAZN has owned a number of major sports websites around the world, including global football portal Goal (goal.com), US publication Sporting News (sportingnews.com), German sports brand Spox (spox.de) and Dutch football market leader Voetbalzone (voetbalzone.nl).
On September 22 DAZN announced that it had sold a majority stake in its football portals (Goal, Spox and Voetbalzone) to Integrated Media Company, which is backed by US private equity giant TPG Capital. The deal reportedly valued the three brands at more than $100million (£79million).
The initial Perform had also owned a highly-profitable Watch & Bet product (selling betting broadcast rights in to bookmakers) as well as football stats market leader OPTA and other B2B services.
However much of that B2B arm was jettisoned in April 2019 when DAZN sold its content business to US sports data leader STATS. The deal – funded by backing from Vista Equity Partners – saw DAZN retain a minority stake in the new business, known as STATS Perform.