Emerging Tech, Data & Media , OTT & Digital

DAZN Group to prioritise streaming business as Perform and STATS merge

Vista acquisition will see Perform and STATS form “most advanced AI company in sports”.

by Sam Carp

DAZN Group to prioritise streaming business as Perform and STATS merge

Perform is to merge with sports data specialist STATS after Texas-based private equity and venture capital firm Vista Equity Partners confirmed its rumoured investment in DAZN Group’s global sports content company.

STATS’ acquisition of Perform, which is expected to close in the second half of 2019 and remains subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, will see DAZN Group receive a combination of cash and a significant minority stake in a newly formed company.

The financial details of the acquisition have not been made public. 

In return for its investment, STATS will gain access to a suite of companies and services that operate under the Perform umbrella, including Opta, RunningBall and Watch&Bet.

An official release said the currently unnamed new entity will use artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to accelerate innovation in sport by generating machine learning predictions to improve team performance and player evaluation, automate natural language insights for broadcasters and sports technology, and form new data for sportsbooks.

“Bringing Perform into the fold will create the most advanced artificial intelligence company in sports, providing deeper, more robust data and insights, which is essential to our global partners,” said STATS chief executive Carl Mergele. “Not only will we be able to improve our offerings to existing customers, we now have the opportunity to expand our presence in global markets where Perform has paved inroads for years as a leader in digital sports content.”

Bloomberg first reported earlier this month that DAZN Group was close to selling Perform to Vista in a move designed to fund acquisitions of more live sports rights for its streaming business. At the time, A DAZN spokeswoman told Bloomberg that the company was undergoing a strategic review.

“Over 12 years we created a leading global portfolio of content and clients, but the combination of STATS and Perform takes the service to a new level of potential for everyone,” said DAZN Group chief executive Simon Denyer

“While we will continue as an active minority shareholder in the new business, this deal also allows the group to focus on DAZN, into which we will invest all net proceeds from the deal.”

DAZN Group, which is owned by billionaire Len Blavatnik through his Access Industries conglomerate, started in 2007 as Perform Group. The company announced a branding and structural overhaul in September to become two distinct brands: DAZN and Perform Content.

The DAZN sports streaming subscription service has become an increasing area of focus for the business in recent years. The over-the-top (OTT) platform currently operates in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Italy, the US and Spain, and is launching in Brazil imminently.

Commenting on the deal with Vista, Blavatnik said: “The combination of STATS and Perform creates a powerful opportunity as the experience of sports for consumers continues to evolve. We look forward to working with the new business and with Vista, as we remain focused on fully maximising DAZN’s potential.”

The acquisition of Perform further boosts Vista’s wide-ranging portfolio of companies, which spans the software, data and technology industries, and also includes secondary ticket marketplace Vivid Seats.

“STATS and Perform are two exceptional, highly complementary companies with extensive backgrounds as industry innovators that will deliver superior products to customers as one combined entity,” added Robert F Smith, founder, chairman, and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners. “We are pleased to welcome the Perform team into the Vista family and look forward to the ground-breaking technological advances in sports that will result from this unique and exciting combination.”