DAZN (pronouced ‘da zone’) appears to have achieved its aim of boxing world domination after confirming it has signed Eddie Hearn and Matchroom to a new five-year global deal which now includes the UK.
The deal – confirmed on June 3, 2021 and described as “a game changer” by DAZN CEO James Rushton, means Hearn’s shows in the UK will now appear on DAZN and not Sky Sports from July onwards. It ends a long association with Sky for Hearn. And aligns him totally with DAZN after he signed a $1billion eight-year US pact with the streaming platform in 2018.
The new partnership will officially kick off from July 31 with the second season of Hearn’s Matchroom Fight Camp – which premiered so successfully in the summer of 2020.
The Hearn signing in the UK caps a stunning few months for DAZN as it emerges from the pandemic in renewed health. It aired the ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders superfight globally on May 8 to critical acclaim from boxing fans worldwide (including in the UK). The show was a spectacular one in front of a live crowd of 73,126 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
While the planned Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua superfight planned for August 14 is now off, these remain exciting times for the self-styled ‘Netflix of sports’.
DAZN, it appears, is likely to have rights for Fury vs Joshua outside the UK and US, as the exclusive Matchroom deal in the UK does not include Joshua or fellow heavyweight superstar Dillian Whyte. Fury meanwhile has an exclusive deal with ESPN+ in the United States.
DAZN has been live since 2016 when it launched in Germany and Japan, and it rolled out in the United States in 2018 with Joshua at the centre of its offering.
A $1billion eight-year deal with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom kicked things off, followed by an eye-popping $365million pact with ‘Canelo’. Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin would soon follow too.
The partnership with Alvarez went sour in the second half of 2020 and resulted in the Mexican megastar taking DAZN and his promoter – Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions – to court. The saga ended on November 6 when ‘Canelo’ released a statement proclaiming he was now a free agent.
Canelo, though no longer on that long-term DAZN deal, made a quick return to the platform for that December 19 defeat of Callum Smith. The fight with Yildirim followed swiftly and the relationship now appears to be strong with that Saunders superfight coming up in May.
DAZN of course would love to pit Canelo against Golovkin in what would be their trilogy fight. The pair have already met twice with both bouts resulting in hotly-contested decisions. Their 2017 showdown ended in a draw while Canelo prevailed in 2018.
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 launch: December 1, 2020
DAZN launched in the UK and more than 200 other markets on December 1, 2020. The UK price is £1.99 per month and December’s attractions included those marquee fights involving ‘Canelo’ and ‘GGG’.
DAZN had initially been planning to roll out its service in more than 200 markets globally in May 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold around the world. That planned launch would have coincided with a showdown between Canelo and British super-middleweight star Billy Joe Saunders.
DAZN of course will find itself in stiff competition with Sky Sports and BT Sport from a boxing perspective in the UK. But the signing of Hearn in April 2021 means that overnight it is the unquestioned market leader in boxing’s biggest market.
DAZN subscription price
The platform launched in the United States with a subscription price of $9.99 per month with no fixed contract. It 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).
Other DAZN markets have different models – with Germany for example charging €119.99 per year for an annual subscription or €11.99 per month.
The global launch came with a subscription price of £1.99 per month or less in the 200-plus new markets, including in the UK.
DAZN fight schedule
There are some great fights coming up on DAZN.
Major upcoming confirmed DAZN fights are as follows:
June 12, 2021: Lewis Ritson vs Jeremias Ponce (Newcastle, England – not available in UK)
June 19, 2021: Jaime Munguia vs. Maciej Sulecki (El Paso, Texas)
July 9, 2021: Gilberto Ramirez vs. Sullivan Barrera (Los Angeles, California)
July 9, 2021: Joseph Diaz Jr vs Javier Fortuna (Los Angeles, California)
July 9, 2021: Tenkai Tsunami vs Seniesa Estrada (Los Angeles, California)
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.
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 through live sport. Its current stable is underpinned by partnerships with Hearn’s Matchroom and 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 is no longer a contracted DAZN fighter per his statement released on Friday November 6, 2020. The statement claimed he is now a free agent and can look to work with the promoters and networks he chooses. As detailed though he returned to the platform to face Smith and Yildirim – and will do so again vs Saunders on May 8.
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 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 30-day free trial.
However there is no free trial in place at the moment and we will update this article with details of any DAZN offers which are available. As well as changes to any of its products and services.
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 option – you can cancel your subscription 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.
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.
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).
DAZN later completed the sale of US media brand Sporting News – once known as ‘The Bible Of Baseball’ – to Pax Holdings in December 2020. The value of the deal was not disclosed.
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.