DAZN, the world’s largest dedicated live and on-demand sports streaming service, announced its entry into the U.S. market on Tuesday in front of a packed house at Industria NYC. The service will launch in the States on September 10th, at a cost of $9.99/month (following one-month trial); combat sports will make up much of the platform’s flagship programming until broadcast rights for other sports/leagues become available at the turn of the decade. DAZN will hold its first fight night on September 22nd, with WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua taking on Alexander Povetkin live from Wembley Stadium. JohnWallStreet had the chance to sit down with the Champ at the DAZN U.S. launch event to discuss his plans to become a billionaire, to see if he has any concerns about a subscription model costing him money and why athletes sitting in first class haven’t necessarily forgotten where they come from.
JWS: You’re open about pursuing your goal of becoming a billionaire. You have a successful line of gyms, what other businesses are generating income for you?
Anthony: I don’t like to talk about my investments and stuff like that. In this day and age success is determined by finance, your investments; but, I see being a billionaire as a mindset. That’s what I’ve managed to build over the years that has enabled me to achieve “success” in terms of finance.
JWS: Mayweather made a fortune collecting on a portion of PPV receipts. Do you worry that DAZN’s subscription model will cost you money?
Anthony: So, a good business person would look at how they can take a percentage of the company. If it’s going to affect your earnings one way, how can you protect yourself in another. It’s a great opportunity. DAZN should only add to the industry, not take away from it.
Editor Note: This quote would seem to imply that Anthony maintains a stake in DAZN.
JWS: You mentioned that you’ve signed endorsement deals with brands that align with your long-term goals. How does the Jaguar/Range Rover relationship play into that?
Anthony: So, the reason we work with Jaguar/Range Rover is that I met someone who worked there years ago when I was driving a small car. Number one, we got along because of character. He took to my character and believed in my story; and they do ambassador roles, anyway. The thing about Jaguar/Range Rover is that it’s a big car and with a lot of traveling and for the longevity of an athlete, you need to be comfortable when you travel. If you see an athlete traveling in first class it’s not because he’s forgotten where he’s come from, but because he needs to preserve his body. An athlete in a big Range Rover isn’t because he wants to be flashy, he needs to be comfortable because his body is his temple; that’s why the organic relationship with Range Rover/Land Rover came about. I could be with Lamborghini, but it doesn’t really make sense for my long-term goal which is to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Howie Long-Short: DAZN has been consistently making headlines since April. First, the company announced the hiring of former ESPN President John Skipper as its Executive Chairman. Then parent company Perform Group agreed to $1 billion joint venture with Matchroom Boxing, the largest investment in boxing history. Late last month, the sports-only OTT service committed 9 figures to a multi-year global distribution agreement with Bellator MMA.
Perform Group is a subsidiary of privately held Access Industries. The sports media company counts The Sporting News and Goal among its U.S. publications. While you can’t invest in Perform Group, there is one way to play DAZN; Dentsu, a Japanese advertising firm that trades publicly on the Tokyo Stock Exchange under the symbol (TYO: 4324). In late March, Dentsu invested in DAZN as part of a deal “which made the service available to customers of mobile phone operator NTT Docomo.” No information has been released relating to the size of the investment or the valuation placed on the company.
Viacom (VIAB) owns a majority stake in the Bellator promotion. On April 25th, VIAB reported Q2 ’18 adjusted operating income grew 5% YoY to $641 million, as the gains picked up by the company’s international TV unit (double digit revenue & profits growth) and Paramount Pictures’ return to profitability (adjusted operating income was $9 million) offset disappointing domestic advertising and affiliate fee revenue and a $185 million write-down resulting from an operational overhaul. CEO Bob Bakish touted the results as signs the company turnaround was underway. The company will report Q3 earnings on August 9th.
Fan Marino: Combat sports fans who regularly purchase PPV fights are going to love DAZN. At $9.99/month you’ll get 70+ fight nights/year, for roughly the cost of 2 PPV events; or one silly Mayweather-McGregor exhibition.
When I brought up the name Deontay Wilder, Anthony decided to ask the questions.
Anthony: He’s had 40 fights. How come you’ve never called for another mega-fight with Wilder?
Fan: Well, I think you’re the only other “mega” fighter out there.
Anthony: So, I’m the “A” side right?
Fan: You’re the “A” side.
Fan: Are we going to get that fight in 2019?
Anthony: Listen, I need to win against Povetkin, but my real dream is to fight Deontay Wilder as he holds the WBC heavyweight championship.
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