Worldwide sports streaming service DAZN recently announced it will expand its international footprint in 2020, distributing its service to more than 200 new countries and territories including Australia.
The first event on DAZN that will be shown to a global audience will be Canelo Alvarez’s soon-to-be-announced fight on May 2.
DAZN EVP Joseph Markowski stated: “Establishing DAZN as the global home of fight sports is just the first step and we couldn’t think of a better attraction for our inaugural event than Canelo’s traditional Cinco de Mayo Weekend fight.”
While the company’s initial focus is on boxing in their global agenda, in the Australian market the Sydney Morning Herald claims DAZN has shown signs of interest in acquiring the A-League rights.
DAZN has a history of pursuing domestic football competition rights in countries where they have implemented their streaming service.
In Japan, DAZN signed a deal with the J.League worth almost $3 billion over a ten-year-period in 2016. The deal, which began in 2017, gave DAZN broadcast rights to show all games in the top three divisions of Japanese football.
The streaming service launched in Italy in August 2018, with exclusive rights acquired to show three Serie A matches per week.
So, if the price is right, why wouldn’t Australian football be a good choice for DAZN’s first major investment in the Australian market?
The upcoming rugby union rights which are set to be settled soon, may also be on the company’s radar.
There is an argument however, that those who watch rugby union may not be an appealing demographic for a streaming service, when compared to those who watch Australian football.
In a column for Fox Sports last week, Simon Hill revealed football is the most digitally engaged sport in the country.
Data put together by research company ‘Futures’ highlighted that almost three out of four people who follow the A-League’s Facebook page are under 35.
While other codes in Australia may have bigger numbers overall, the younger demographic of Australian football fans means more content is consumed online.
This is an attractive proposition for a streaming service such as DAZN, who will be interested in engaging with an already tech savvy audience.
It doesn’t seem like they will be the only ones interested in Australian football rights, with Optus Sport continuing to build their portfolio this past week.
On Tuesday, Optus Sport announced they have secured the rights to broadcast the Copa America this year to Australian viewers.
The tournament rights will include at least five Socceroos games, as Australia enters the South American competition for the first time ever.
Alongside this news, an interesting 14-part series is set to be released in the build-up to UEFA Euro 2020, another tournament they will be broadcasting on their platform.
The series looks to highlight the strong European influence on Australia’s footballing landscape, focusing on historic clubs such as South Melbourne FC, Sydney United and Melbourne Knights.
A two-minute promo for the series shown on Optus Sport’s social channels, has been well received by the online football community.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the telco was involved with further rights negotiations in the future, once the current A-League deal has expired and the National Second Division is up and running.
Football Victoria recently revealed it is in discussions with Optus Sport to broadcast weekly shows on its service.
The telco seems to be on its way to becoming the new home of football in Australia, with Foxtel looking like it is focusing on Cricket, AFL and NRL.
A-League TV ratings are continuing to drop on Foxtel, but the great unknown is its streaming subsidiary Kayo Sports who are not revealing their numbers.
It would make sense that at least part of the A-League’s TV ratings decline is due to those younger football fans migrating to the sport’s streaming service.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Round 17 match between Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar had a reach of 46,000 for the Fox Sports broadcast and 109,000 when it came to streaming.
While the numbers are not necessarily impressive for the Fox broadcast, the streaming figures are more than double and would include Kayo Sports and the My Football Live service.
The streaming numbers are encouraging for the A-League clubs and also Foxtel, who may see the A-League as an important part of its digital offering on Kayo.
Time will tell whether that is the case, with Foxtel currently holding those rights until 2023.
But what’s evident is that there is appetite for Australian football in the online space, despite the current doom and gloom around linear TV ratings.