Ruiz vs Joshua 2: The $1 Billion Bet Behind an Unlikely Rematch (Part 3)

By Stevie Adams / in , , , , , /

If you’ve been watching any major sporting event of late, odds are you’ve seen these ads. A year ago, few knew how to pronounce DAZN, let alone know what it is. What it is is a three-year old, over-the-top sports streaming subscription service with a global footprint, huge bankroll, and mile high ambitions. You have hesitated to call DAZN the Netflix of sports. Mmm hmmm. You’ve purposely — I’d just rather you called it that. Yeah. I can just enjoy it and not have to say it. John Skipper once ran the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports, ESPN. In 2018, he was hired to steer DAZN into the future. This year alone, DAZN will stream 20,000 events in eight countries outside the U.S. Everything from the NFL, NBA, NHL, English Premier League, rugby, to tennis. Even cricket direct to your home or phone. Do you see it that way, that it has the ability to completely disrupt the game? It has the potential to be among or the most important sports media entity in the world. I run a US broadcast business, and we wanna work with the biggest stars in sport. Joe Markowski is Skipper’s right hand man, DAZN’s Executive Vice President of North America. Sport is the only entertainment genre that still retains that time sensitivity. Goal! When our colleagues in Italy have a major soccer or baseball night in Japan for example, that is millions of people coming on to the platform at the same time to consume that piece of content. That is very different to a Spotify or a Netflix who are obviously serving content to people as and when they wish to consume it. That creates a completely different business model. DAZN is the future because youngsters today do not want to sit on the settee, watching sport with mom and dad. They want to watch it where and when they want to watch it and they don’t want to be locked in to long-term cable contracts or expensive Pay-Per-View buys. So many of the best fighters and biggest fights have always been here on HBO. The sport used to be basically HBO and Showtime. If you wanted to see a big fight that’s that’s where you went. It’s changed. Not that long ago, Muhammad Ali was the most famous man in the world, but Pay-Per-View changed that. Pay-Per-View restricted the number of people watching boxing and over a long period of time, over twenty or thirty years, plateau and then decline the audience of boxing in the US. I mean could you imagine the Super Bowl being taken and put behind a $100 paywall, a $90 paywall? That’s the equivalent of what boxing has done. It takes its biggest moments and hides them behind this $100, $90 paywall. that you have to pay on top of a cable subscription. It’s nuts. But the death of Pay-Per-View on cable may be greatly exaggerated. There’s a heavyweight fight that’s going on behind the scenes on who will gain the upper hand in the sport. There is a real three-way battle going on, you know? It’s DAZN against Fox and Showtime and ESPN. And you knocked one of them out: HBO. Yeah, yeah. And that was, I think HBO just looked at the madness… Yeah. And said — And looked at the math. Yeah, and they said, “Wow. This has just gotten crazy.” And I think that’s great for the DAZN brand. Great for our brand. We’ve only just got here. Trust me, boxing today is a much better version of Game of Thrones. The three-way battle– There’s the showman, right there. Oh no, you can’t. There is gonna be more money spent on boxing than there was ever spent on Game of Thrones. The man bankrolling DAZN and fueling Matchroom Boxing is Ukrainian-born businessman Len Blavatnik, with a reported net worth of nearly $20 billion. Thanks to Blavatnik DAZN has been on a spending spree for the exclusive rights to a string of fights. $365 million to Canelo Alvarez, $100 million to “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin. There’s a vocal majority of Yankees fans that I don’t like. Plus $300 million more to MLB for a nightly show similar to the NFL’s “Red Zone.” It’s unique in that we have been well-capitalized. It’s unique in that we’re first mover. It’s unique in that it is global. You know, we’re kind of a sneaky beast too. It’s fight season on DAZN. What message are you trying to send there? We’re clearly trying to send a message that this is going to look more like other sports, right? We ran that ad for the first time in Sunday Night Football deliberately. It’s football season. Everybody gets excited. We wanna say, “It’s fight season, so you should get excited, you should be tuning in regularly.” And of course it’s intertwined with our business model, which is a subscription model and we want people to buy a yearly subscription. One way to quickly add subscribers is to land the Holy Grail, the NFL, in the form of its Sunday Ticket whose rights expire in 2022. How ambitious is DAZN going to be? Are we talking taking over the world kind of stuff? They’re coming at it from a position that no one has come before since the days when they were digging up New York and putting cable in. So look at it as seismic as that. And of course in the world of sports, buying sports rights is expensive. It actually gets cheaper if you start buying global rather than individual country by country because it’s not cheap to be in this business. But they are playing that gamble for an almighty return, a seismic return on investment. And they realize that comes with a risk, and ordinary human beings like myself we would never take that risk. When you’ve got billions, why did you risk it? You risk it because you want trillions.

One thought on “Ruiz vs Joshua 2: The $1 Billion Bet Behind an Unlikely Rematch (Part 3)

  1. If Dazn can land NBA, NFL, MLB and Soccer along with some sports channels, it will make huge money.

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