DAZN UK and global launch back on agenda

The eagerly-awaited DAZN move into the UK and the wider world is again back on the agenda with the news that a global launch is again being planned.

The OTT streaming platform announced earlier this year that it was rolling its product out in more than 200 countries with boxing again at the forefront of its service. It already airs Anthony Joshua fights in the United States and has signed up the likes of promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing ($1billion over eight years), Mexican megastar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez ($365million over 11 fights) and his big middleweight rival Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin to huge deals.

That global launch, planned to co-incide with Canelo’s May 2 fight, had to be shelved due to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but now as the sport begins to come out of lockdown DAZN appears to be getting ready once again to activate.

DAZN’s website is inviting visitors to its website to register if they want to become testers for a beta version of the service. It is believed those testers will be given free access to specific fights in the coming weeks.

The global pandemic has hit DAZN as it has other sports broadcasters, with a recent report in the Financial Times claiming its billionaire owner Len Blavatnik was seeking either a cash injection from an investor or potentially even an outright sale to ensure the brand’s future.

Last week the business began a restructure with the departure of long-time CEO Simon Denyer, who moved over to a role with Blavatnik’s Access Industries. The business is currently headed up by former ESPN supremo John Skipper – who is executive chairman, having joined in May 2018 to drive the move into the United States market.

According to SportBusiness the global launch will mean an entry into the UK market for the first time – something fight fans here have been keen to see since the much-hyped splash in the US market back in 2018 – and a price point of £4.99 per month had been agreed before the planned launch in May was shelved.

DAZN launched first in Germany in August 2016 and only last month purchased a significant package of Bundesliga rights in that market through to 2025. It followed up by opening in Japan on the back of a huge 10-year agreement to screen J League locally. It is also live now in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland.

The beta testing phase is targeting users outside DAZN’s existing markets, and it is expected the global launch will have a boxing event as its centrepiece.

With Matchroom and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions on board, together with the likes of Canelo, Joshua and Golovkin, it is no surprise that boxing will be the driver for the global rollout. As well as live programming the platform has also dabbled in the making of original content including documentaries with the likes of Joshua and soccer megastar Cristiano Ronaldo.

When DAZN launched in the United States, it did so with the stated aim of replacing high one-off pay-per-view costs for fans (as much as $99 for major events) with more affordable ongoing subscriptions. It did though double its monthly subscription price in the US last March from $9.99 to $19.99 though an annual subscription is still available for $99.

It is expected that DAZN would be one of the major players in the battle for broadcast rights if and when Joshua finally locks horns with fellow British world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.