Sports streaming platform DAZN, known for its boxing and combat sport broadcasts, is stepping beyond the ring and onto the pitch, buying global broadcast rights of the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the next four seasons in a deal running through 2025.
DAZN has also entered into a partnership with YouTube, sublicensing the tournament’s live competition rights to the video sharing platform to bring the matches to fans around the world for free for the first time.
YouTube’s parent company, Google, has similarly begun to increase its role in women’s sports, sponsoring both the WNBA and NWSL, among other properties.
The DAZN deal marks the first time UEFA has centralized all Women’s Champions League matches globally. Among other more fragmented soccer deals, DAZN previously owned the rights to the Women’s Champions League’s Final, with the remainder of the tournament’s international distribution divvied up among a number of decentralized partners. The new multi-year deal grants DAZN exclusive rights worldwide, with the exception of the Middle East, North Africa and China.
“This deal is a first for women’s football as this partnership between UEFA, DAZN and YouTube will make sure that the UEFA Women’s Champions League can be seen by the fans, by all the people who love this game, wherever they are on the globe,” Nadine Kessler, the UEFA’s chief of women’s football, said in a release. “Such visibility changes everything, as the best female players and best women’s teams in the world can inspire more young girls and boys to fall in love with this sport.”
DAZN declined to disclose financial details of the deal, but described the agreement as “one of the largest broadcast deals in women’s club football history” and a symbol of the streaming giant’s commitment to women’s sport.
The thesis behind DAZN’s approach—and an idea that is taking hold throughout women’s soccer and sports more broadly—is that upfront investments in access will eventually reap returns. By offering free and accessible content, DAZN and YouTube can generate exposure for players and clubs and build an audience. UEFA’s new partners believe that audience is worth waiting for. Plus, new research shows fans of women’s sports are some of the most valuable consumers in the sports ecosystem.
“DAZN was founded with a vision of making premium sports more accessible, and what’s more accessible than centralized rights for the first time and all matches free on YouTube?” asked James Rushton, co-CEO of the DAZN Group. “Overnight, this will make the best women’s football easier to watch around the world than ever before.”
For the first two seasons (2021-23), fans will be able to watch all 61 matches from the group stage onwards on DAZN and free on DAZN’s YouTube channel both live and on-demand. During the second half of the deal, DAZN will continue to broadcast all 61 matches live on its OTT platform, but only 19 matches will be available for free via YouTube—an intentional slow shifting of the content to DAZN’s paid OTT subscription service.
DAZN will also create supplemental UEFA Women’s Champions League original content and expanded behind-the-scenes footage, part of a larger mission to elevate the fan viewing experience and increase the visibility of women’s sports globally. As part of those efforts, DAZN, YouTube and UEFA also debuted their “We All Rise With More Eyes” campaign on the new UEFA Women’s Champions League YouTube channel about the impact they believe elevated exposure will have on the women’s competition.
As Ada Hegerberg, Olympique Lyonnais striker and the all-time highest scorer in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, said of the deal, “The game is opening up to millions, potentially billions, which is unprecedented.”