Streaming service DAZN 'definitely interested' in bidding for NFL rights

·Yahoo Sports Columnist

If you own a sports or streaming app these days, it’s hard to get a foothold in such a crowded market.

But if you need subscribers, you have to give them a reason to pay for your service.

Upstart DAZN might be spending big for that kind of attention.

‘We’re definitely interested’

Via Bloomberg, DAZN is considering a bid for rights to show National Football League games on its app.

The business magazine reported in March that the NFL is considering splitting game rights from AT&T’s DirecTV to make games more widely available. While the league’s 25-year relationship with DirecTV is still good, commissioner Roger Goodell’s top priority is to make as much money as possible for his bosses, the owners, so slicing the pie of games and rights into as many pieces as possible means higher profits.

Streaming service DAZN is interesting in bidding on NFL rights, which would mark a major push into the U.S. market (Getty Images)
Streaming service DAZN is interesting in bidding on NFL rights, which would mark a major push into the U.S. market (Getty Images)

“We’re having great discussions with DirecTV and AT&T,” Goodell said in March. “We’ve had a 25-year partnership and we want to continue that partnership, but we also are looking to see how we can change the delivery.”

Which provides and opening for DAZN, a London-based company that’s backed by billionaire Len Blavatnik.

“We’re definitely interested in looking at the NFL rights,” DAZN CEO Simon Denyer told Bloomberg. “Our strategy is to be a major player in sports rights via [over-the-top apps], and the U.S. and Canada have the highest penetration of OTT in the world.”

Already streaming games in Canada

DAZN already holds the streaming rights for NFL games in Canada.

But if the NFL opens bidding, DAZN will have some stiff competition from ESPN and Fox Sports, and possibly Facebook and Amazon, all of which are looking to expand their streaming offerings.

Though the NFL and DirecTV renewed their contract in 2014 that goes through 2022, the league does have the ability to opt out by the end of the 2019 season. The NFL must decide by September whether it wants to continue with the deal, which sees DirecTV pay $1.5 billion per year for U.S. distribution rights.

As current subscribers know, however, one of the frustrations of the current Sunday Ticket package is that your local team’s game isn’t featured in full.

While the competition may be fierce, Bloomberg writes that DAZN’s current financial situation - it lost around $627 million last year - won’t impact its decision-making.

Blavatnik, whose business holdings include Warner Music and luxury real estate, is worth an estimated $25 billion and believes that DAZN must continue to spend on rights in order to get the subscriber base it needs to turn a profit.

Pushing into U.S. market

DAZN launched in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Japan in 2015, and added Canada in 2016. It launched in the United States last year, shortly after announcing that it had hired former ESPN president John Skipper as executive chairman.

In the months since, DAZN won the rights to 100 boxing matches a year, and has been streaming fights since last December. In April, it added Major League Baseball, though it doesn’t stream live games; instead, viewers are taken to all parks for game updates.

Citing a source, Bloomberg said the MLB offering has meant thousands of new subscribers for DAZN.

The service currently has 4 million subscribers globally, with 1.2 million in the United States.

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