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 Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Canelo’s great rival – Gennady ‘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 apparently 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, will be back on the platform quickly when he meets Britain’s Callum Smith in a world super-middleweight title showdown on Saturday December 19.
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.
And it will expand to more than 200 markets globally in December 2020, including in the UK. The first major event was scheduled to be Ryan Garcia vs Luke Campbell on Saturday December 5. However that bout has now been rescheduled for January 2, 2021 after Campbell tested positive for COVID-19. The global launch however, will still happen on December 1.
Now the global launch will be well and truly headlined by fights involving ‘GGG’ (December 18) and ‘Canelo’ (December 19) on a spectacular weekend of boxing.
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 will launch in the UK on December 1, 2020 and the first major bout will be Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev on Saturday December 12.
Joshua vs Pulev, while available in most DAZN markets including the United States, will not be available to DAZN subscribers in the UK as it will be televised live instead on Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view.
The price of DAZN in the UK will be £1.99 per month.
DAZN had 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. 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 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 will be back on the platform for that showdown with Callum Smith on December 19.
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 November 21: Conor Benn vs Sebastian Formella (SSE Arena, Wembley, London)
Friday November 27: Daniel Jacobs vs Gabriel Rosado (Hollywood, Florida)
Friday December 4: Billy Joe Saunders vs Martin Murray (SSE Arena, Wembley, London)
Friday December 11: Joseph Parker vs Junior Fa (Spark Arena, Auckland)
Saturday December 12: Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev (O2 Arena, London)
Friday December 18: Gennadiy Golovkin vs Kamil Szeremeta (Hollywood, Florida)
Saturday December 19: ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Callum Smith (Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas)
Saturday January 2, 2021: Ryan Garcia vs Luke Campbell (Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California)
Saturday January 30, 2021: Alexander Povetkin vs Dillian Whyte 2 (SSE Arena, Wembley, 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).
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 launch in more than 200 markets globally will see a subscription price of £1.99 per month or less, including in the UK.
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.
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).
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.