‘UK a logical market for DAZN’, says John Skipper

Executive chairman says OTT service would need domestic Premier League rights to consider launch.

by Tom Bassam

‘UK a logical market for DAZN’, says John Skipper

John Skipper, executive chairman of DAZN, has said the multi-territory over-the-top (OTT) media company would need rights to English soccer’s Premier League to launch a service in the UK.

The London-based company currently operates streaming platforms in the US Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Italy, Spain and Brazil. DAZN also holds rights to European elite club soccer’s Uefa Champions League in eight South East Asian countries, offering expansion opportunities there, too.

As the company targets further territories, Skipper, who recently laid out DAZN’s rights strategy in a far-reaching interview with SportsPro, admitted the UK fits the profile but asserted that DAZN would need to acquire premium rights to be successful there.

Speaking at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London, Sportcal quoted Skipper as saying: “The UK is a logical DAZN market. When you think about what we’ve done, we’ve launched in four continents so we want to show a global footprint. We’ve launched in big markets, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, USA and Brazil, so if you took the next largest markets, they would be the most likely markets for us to launch in and that’s places like the UK.

“In terms of the rights in this country, obviously you need Premier League rights, boxing is very important here and tennis is very important here.”

The last round of domestic Premier League rights sales were concluded in 2018 and do not come up again until 2022, with Amazon having joined established pay-TV broadcasters Sky and BT Sport in acquiring live packages. Amazon has also acquired UK rights to the US Open and men's ATP and women's WTA Tours.

In Italy, where DAZN has a domestic package of Serie A rights, the league is considering a deal with Mediapro to launch its own in-house media service for live games, but Skipper has doubts over the viability of that that model.

He said: “We think an aggregated service that is localised for the market it’s in, and that has a good price value, is going to win. We don’t think single sports services are going to win.

“Over time, services will be managed by the league itself, and you always have that question, ‘Doesn’t this mean that the leagues will take their rights over?’ The answer is it’s quite unlikely. In terms of leagues, if you have 32 owners in 32 different cities, they wouldn’t be able to control their own rights because they (the clubs) want to get a cheque.

“Not only are they in the investment business but they are in the business of running teams and paying players expensive salaries. I don’t think it’s going to be single sports services or niche sports services or league-owned OTT services. It’s going to be multi-sport aggregation of the sports that people care about.

“In Italy we have [Italian soccer’s] Serie A. If you have Serie A, you have a business. In Germany we have a [weekly] Bundesliga game and the Champions League and in Spain we have MotoGP, in Canada we have the NFL and the English Premier League. You don’t do this with niche sports, you will not get scale with niche sports, you get scale with first-tier rights.”