Sep 17, 2018
By Tara Weiss
How streaming services are challenging the traditional model of sports broadcasting.
The sports streaming market is getting more competitive this month with the stateside debut of DAZN.
The live and on-demand service (pronounced da-zone) launched in the U.S. on Sept. 10, with Matchroom Boxing and Bellator MMA, Viacom’s global mixed martial arts league. The two companies announced a nine-figure deal earlier this year for DAZN to exclusively stream seven Bellator fight cards. Another 15 events will air on Bellator’s linear television home, Paramount Network, and will simulcast on DAZN.
The first DAZN event will feature Gegard Mousasi defending his middleweight title against welterweight champion Rory MacDonald, who is moving up in weight class, on Sept. 29. The event also includes the fourth fight in the epic rivalry between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Wanderlei Silva and the opening round of the Welterweight World Grand Prix.
The deal is another indicator of a step change in the world of sports viewership. Until recently, fans were able to watch primetime sports exclusively on linear TV networks. Major sports have been tied up in years-long exclusive rights deals with broadcast and cable companies, many of which will expire in coming years. Meanwhile, there’s been an explosion of digital platforms with deep pockets eager to buy rights as they become available. They’re interested in streaming everything from arm wrestling (on Turner-owned B/R Live) to the NBA’s minor league (on Amazon’s Twitch). ESPN launched its own streaming service, ESPN+, earlier this year (which bought the rights to Bellator’s competitor, UFC).
"“The DAZN platform will help us deepen our connection to our audience here in the U.S. as well expand our reach to new fans in MMA hotbeds such as Japan, Italy, and Germany.”"