Comcast has announced a distribution deal with DAZN that will make the app available to Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex subscribers through their set-top box. The sports-centric streaming outfit will join the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and Pluto within Comcast’s applications library.
Comcast is the first major U.S. distributor to partner with DAZN, but it won’t be the last. The OTT streaming service has launched an initiative entitled ‘DAZN for Operators’ designed to be a “turnkey opportunity for cable, satellite, mobile and internet providers to offer DAZN’s premium sports content [within their native environment].”
Howie Long-Short: DAZN has found “great success with platform distribution relationships” before. Namely with NTT Docomo in Japan (via mobile phone) and Sky Italia in Italy (via set-top boxes). EVP of North America, Joe Markowski, is confident that the ‘DAZN for Operators’ initiative will translate in the U.S. He says, “given the power that sport carries in maintaining and growing a subscription base, every operator is seeking out sports content.”
From the DAZN perspective this deal is about growing the number of screens with their application. Partnering with the number one cable provider in the U.S. puts DAZN in “tens of millions of households” and “opens up many more doors [in terms of other potential distribution partnerships].” It also creates a “tremendous marketing pipeline and provides the company with a platform to heavily promote key content” (think: GGG-Derevyanchenko, Ruiz-Joshua II).
Markowski acknowledges that DAZN wants to be a pure-play OTT service – DTC subs are the most valuable – but says that the company has come to the realization that as long as “entertainment is delivered through traditional linear cable” (which looks to be the foreseeable future) the business needs to deliver content within that ecosystem. Maximizing audience size has become DAZN’s number one priority.
As for Comcast, its deal with DAZN aligns with a broader strategy to increase integrations with internet content providers. The company believes it can slow subscriber migration to “connected TV platforms like Apple TV or Roku” if it can keep those viewers within its own environment. The last thing the company wants is a subscriber flipping off their TV set on a Saturday night to watch DAZN fights on their phone or laptop.
But this is as much of a revenue play for Comcast as it is a method of retaining subscribers. Remember, when DAZN inked Canelo, Joshua and GGG they took 3-6 lucrative fights/year – that otherwise would have been distributed through pay-per-view – away from cable operators. Comcast now has a chance to claw back some of those lost dollars. DAZN will pay for the right to use Comcast’s pipes and the telecom conglomerate is entitled to keep 15 percent to 30 percent of all DAZN subscriptions revenues generated through its platform (in line with the Apple app store).
Over the last 30 years it has been customary for distribution platforms to receive 50% of PPV boxing sales revenues. Canelo-GGG I did 1.3 million buys at $85. If distributors sold 100% of the buys (they didn’t, some were bought direct from the rights holder), they would have split more than $55 million. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that DAZN’s ability to court some of boxing’s biggest stars has cost PPV distributors north of of $100 million over the last 12 months.
Fan Marino: DAZN has a particularly strong fight card for the balance of 2019. In addition to GGG-Derevyanchenko (10.5) and Ruiz-Joshua II (12.7), Canelo Alvarez is fighting Sergey Kovalev on November 2nd. The company also has cards headlined by Oleksandr Usyk and Naoya Inoue and KSI-Logan Paul II in the 4th quarter. At $19.99/mo. (or $99.99 year) it’s a no brainer for the boxing fan. Comcast hopes to convey that message to the average sports fan.
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