Sports leagues that have suspended play seem unlikely to resume at any point before June due to the coronavirus pandemic, and at least one media company is no longer planning to pay for content it cannot deliver to its viewers.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that streaming service DAZN has begun informing sports leagues that it will not continue paying rights fees for games that have been suspended or canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Most media contracts state that networks and streaming outlets must continue to make payments even when games are not played, but DAZN intends to defer payments until leagues are more certain of when play might resume.
Ourand also obtained an email that was sent to DAZN employees on Tuesday morning informing them that an unspecified number of employees will be furloughed in the coming weeks. The email hinted at stopping payments to sports leagues and cutting costs in other ways.
“We will not be able to stop revenues dropping but we will try everything we can to manage the decline,” DAZN Group CEO Simon Denyer wrote. “We will have to drastically reduce many elements of our cost base.”
DAZN is a startup and likely cannot afford to continue making payments without having content to show for it like ESPN, CBS, FOX, NBC and other massive companies can. DAZN holds rights in international sports markets and streams a lot of combat sports content in the United States. The network also has rights for MLB highlights and some other American sports.
The NFL RedZone channel has changed the way fans watch football for the past decade now, and we may see a similar concept for the NBA at some point in the near future.
SportsbyBrooks.com reported this week that the subscription sports streaming service DAZN is looking into the possibility of securing a deal with the NBA to launch a RedZone-style show. The idea would be similar to the NFL Network’s popular service, which jumps around the league showing viewers the most important and potentially exciting plays from games.
DAZN recently launched an MLB RedZone-style show called “Changeup,” so the NBA version may not be far behind.
DAZN is pushing for the Andy Ruiz Jr.-Anthony Joshua rematch to take place in New York just like the first fight, according to a report.
DAZN, a standalone subscription channel specializing in combat sports, aired Saturday’s fight between Ruiz and Joshua that saw a major upset as Joshua lost via 7th-round TKO in a stunner at Madison Square Garden. The fight marked Joshua’s first in the US as the British fighter’s previous 22 fights all took place in the UK.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said after the fight that he expected a rematch to take place in November or December probably in the UK, but DAZN officials met with Joshua this week to discuss doing the rematch in New York, according to boxing reporter Chris Mannix.
DAZN officials this week—including executive chairman John Skipper—met with Anthony Joshua to discuss bringing the rematch with Andy Ruiz back to New York. Likelihood is that the rematch takes place in the UK—but it will be Joshua’s call.
Joshua has built up a large following in the UK, but his debut in the US saw him get knocked down four times. Successfully breaking through in the United States is vital to being universally respected in the boxing world. Returning to the UK where he has the fan support and it’s more comfortable would signal to fans that he had to retreat and couldn’t handle the big stage. DAZN knows that and wants him to prove to US fans he’s not scared and that he is capable of a win. It’s better for the sport overall for him to win in New York rather than return to his bubble in the UK.
From Ricky Hatton to Prince Naseem Hamed, boxing is full of fighters who got hyped up in the UK and failed to deliver in the US. DAZN doesn’t want Joshua to fall in the same group. Joshua and Hearn shouldn’t want that either.