Upstart DAZN may make a play for all or part of the NFL Sunday Ticket package currently controlled exclusively by AT&T’s DirecTV, as the NFL looks at expanding its streaming-media offerings.
DAZN has made headwinds in the streaming world with a diet heavy on boxing, MMA and Major League Baseball offerings. Adding live NFL games would be a serious upgrade for the service, but if the NFL is indeed interest in expanding streaming rights, there certainly will be other streaming services interested in bidding, including Disney’s ESPN and FOX Sports, as well as new media upstarts like Facebook and Amazon.
Currently DirecTV has an exclusive on the Sunday ticket. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has indicated his league would be open to reexamining streaming rights:
Last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a Bloomberg interview that the league wanted to expand the distribution of Sunday Ticket to online platforms in addition to DirecTV. “We’re looking to make sure that we continue to deliver this package, which is a premium package of great content,” he said. “We want it delivered on several different platforms.”
And DAZN could be a serious competitor to ESPN or Amazon: the startup has some money in the bank and already has a relationship with the NFL through OTT rights to Canada. From Bloomberg:
“We’re definitely interested in looking at the NFL rights,” DAZN Chief Executive Officer Simon Denyer said in an interview. “Our strategy is to be a major player in sports rights via OTT, and the U.S. and Canada have the highest penetration of OTT in the world.”
Don’t expect DAZN’s recent financial performance, including a loss last year of around half a billion pounds ($627 million), to curtail its ambitions.
Its 61-year-old, Ukraine-born backer Blavatnik, who made his money in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, controls a business empire including Warner Music and luxury real estate that has brought him an estimated fortune of $25 billion. DAZN must keep spending heavily on rights to get its subscriber base to the size needed to turn a profit. The company agreed in April to sell most of its Perform content unit to Vista Equity Partners to free up cash for investment.
The DirecTV deal currently brings $1.5 billion annually to NFL coffers and runs through 2022, but the NFL has an out clause after the 2019 season.