Media Fortune Fame & Folly

No joy for ‘Netflix of sport’

DAZN wanted to become the ‘Netflix for sports’. But, according to The Information, the company (owned by Len Blavatnik and formerly branded the Perform Group) has been forced to retreat from its global ambitions. In key markets like the US and Latin America, DAZN apparently has not found much of an audience for its subscription service which streams boxing, soccer-football and other sports. It is now reportedly focused on acquiring sports rights only in Japan and key European countries, such as Germany, Italy and Spain, although it is said still to be streaming the service in over 200 countries.

The Information says: “The changes followed growing tensions within DAZN’s executive ranks over the past couple of years, which centered on strategy disagreements between Simon Denyer, then the company’s CEO, and John Skipper, the former ESPN chief who remains executive chair and a board member at DAZN, according to current and former employees. DAZN’s struggles show how difficult shaking up the sports broadcasting business has proven to be for tech upstarts. While Netflix and others have transformed how movies and television shows are consumed, sports events are almost entirely watched live, typically over traditional forms of distribution such as satellite and cable television. Deep-pocketed internet companies like Amazon have nabbed deals to stream some live sports events, but leagues still largely dole out the rights to the most high-profile, popular events to television networks, which are generally willing to spend the most and have the broadest reach”.

DAZN lost $1.3bn in 2019. It tried in 2020 to raise $1bn and considered an IPO. Instead, it raised cash by selling assets including (which TPG acquired for $125m) and the Perform data business (acquired by Vista Equity Partners).

Len Blavatnik is best known for his acquisition of Warner Music Group, which gave him a profit of $7.5bn  when it went public last year.

The Information