Jul 9, 2019

DAZN goes on offense

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

DAZN, an international sports streaming company, is eyeing U.S. rights to NFL games, its CEO told Bloomberg. It's also reportedly exploring deals with the NBA and the NFL to launch a RedZone-style shows, according to a report last week from Sports By Brooks and a report Tuesday morning by Front Office Sports.

Why it matters: DAZN has been able to nab streaming rights for major leagues abroad, but so far has limited its influence in the U.S. mostly to pay-per-view type boxing matches. Now, it's looking to challenge the major U.S. sports broadcasters for rights to big-ticket events.

Driving the news: DAZN Chief Executive Officer Simon Denyer is "definitely interested in looking at the NFL rights." He told Bloomberg that the company's strategy is "to be a major player in sports rights via OTT, and the U.S. and Canada have the highest penetration of OTT in the world.”

  • The NFL has the option to exit from its current NFL Sunday Ticket deal with DirecTV, starting with the 2020 season.
  • In the past, the NFL has shied away from giving streaming companies exclusive broadcast rights, but analysts predict they may be more willing to eye those deals as consumers move towards consuming more sports via streaming TV.
  • DAZN currently holds streaming rights to the NFL in Canada. 

Yes, but: The company is waiting to see what happens with NFL Sunday Ticket rights first before committing another large pool of money for rights to the NBA or NHL.

  • The company agreed to a three-year live digital rights partnership in the U.S. with the MLB last year, setting up an MLB RedZone-style show with those rights.

The big picture: DAZN has long been able to compete for major sports rights in markets like Japan, Italy and Germany, but competition in the U.S. will be intense.

  • Fox has recently spun off its entertainment assets to focus on live sports rights, as well as live news.
  • ESPN Media and Disney Executive Vice President Justin Connolly told Axios at a recent Axios Media Trends event that the company was committed to bringing rights to premier sports leagues to ESPN's direct-to-consumer platform, ESPN+.
  • Tech companies like Facebook, Amazon and YouTube have all jockeyed for major sports rights, and are seen as formidable competitors to win rights, given their deep pockets.

The bottom line: Expect to see DAZN be more competitive in vying for live sports rights over the next year.

Go deeper: The sports rights arms race

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