The streaming sports service DAZN has inked its first major U.S. rights deal with one of the U.S.’s big sports leagues, Major League Baseball
What makes the deal most notable is not just its price tag, but what it does not include: full live games.
DAZN’s three-year deal with MLB is worth around $300 million, built around a live nightly show to air every weeknight starting next year. Rather than airing live games, DAZN and MLB will produce a show in the mold of the NFL Redzone channel, checking in on live games in progress, letting viewers watch critical moments from every game each night.
The deal also includes additional on-demand MLB content and weekend wrap-up shows.
“We will target young multicultural fans, many of whom do not have pay television,” says DAZN Group executive chairman John Skipper. “The fast-paced nature of a whip-around show will appeal to this audience and bring in new fans. Ultimately, our goal with MLB is to grow both the overall audience for baseball and the burgeoning DAZN business.”
DAZN only launched in the U.S. in September, at a $9.99 per month price point. Until now, all of its major rights deals have been for boxing and combat sports, most notably a deal signed last month with Golden Boy promotions and boxer Canelo Alvarez. That deal, according to a source, will be worth a minimum of $365 million.
DAZN first launched in 2016 in Germany, Japan, Austria, and Switzerland, expanding to Canada in 2017, and Italy and the U.S. this year.
While it has major U.S. sports rights in other places, including an NFL deal in Canada and an MLB deal in a handful of markets, its brand has been built mostly around combat sports. Its pitch to boxing fans focuses on how its $10 per month subscription is much cheaper than paying to see all the big matches each year.
The company hired former ESPN president Skipper this year to help it launch in the U.S. and expand its offerings. The deal with MLB suggests it is thinking of unconventional ways to secure those sports rights; many are already locked in at other companies for the next decade.