DAZN enters the streaming arena – A three-way tussle for Australian football?

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.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

HERO Hybrid Grass: Transforming stadiums for elite football events

HERO Hybrid Grass

In the world of sports, where passion and precision collide, the playing field holds a special significance.

When it comes to hosting elite, high-profile football events, one challenge has always stood out; Maintaining the highest-quality natural grass throughout the entirety of the tournament. This challenge led Hamish Sutherland and his team at HG Turf Group on a remarkable journey of innovation, resulting in the creation of the revolutionary HERO Hybrid Grass.

HERO Hybrid Grass is the result of a ground-breaking partnership between HG Turf Group, Sport Group, Polytan (a member of Sport Group), and GST Global. This consortium of expertise seamlessly blends German synthetic fibre technology, South Korean manufacturing proficiency, and Australian natural grass know-how. The outcome? A technological marvel that is transforming the game of football from the ground up.

Sport Group Fibre: The key ingredient

Central to this innovation is the Sport Group fibre, a pinnacle of German engineering. With a legacy of excellence in developing synthetic grass fibre, Sport Group’s contribution to HERO Hybrid Grass is pivotal. This partnership not only enriches the product’s performance but also propels the industry forward by delving into eco-friendly solutions. Sport Group’s venture into petroleum-free and CO₂ neutral fibres showcases a commitment to sustainability, aligning seamlessly with the changing environmental consciousness.

The hybrid advantage

Hybrid grass, the harmonious marriage of natural grass (95%) and synthetic grass (5%), has revolutionised elite football tournaments. The addition of synthetic fibres augments stability, durability, and consistency to the playing surface. As a result, players experience enhanced ball bounce, ball roll, and secure footing, redefining the dynamics of the game. Notably, this technical edge does not compromise the authentic feel of natural grass—a testament to the meticulous engineering behind HERO Hybrid Grass.

Making the beautiful game even more beautiful

Hybrid grass technology has opened new doors for football enthusiasts. Stadiums have become arenas of unparalleled performance, where players and teams can truly shine. The consistent playing surface ensures breath-taking plays, showcasing the sport at its pinnacle. Moreover, this innovation transcends players and teams, captivating spectators with an unmatched football experience. With HERO Hybrid Grass, fans are treated to impeccable playability, translating into unforgettable moments on the field.

Strong environmental performance

In an era where sustainability takes centre stage, HERO Hybrid Grass stands as a testament to responsible innovation. The partnership between HG Turf Group, Sport Group, GST Global, and Polytan underscores their collective commitment to environmental stewardship. At the end of its useful life, HERO Hybrid Grass is 100% recyclable, contributing to a circular economy. This dedication to reducing the environmental footprint aligns with the partners’ shared values, leaving a lasting legacy both on and off the field.

Pitches made better: By science and nature

The synergy between cutting-edge engineering and the beauty of natural grass is embodied in HERO Hybrid Grass. This remarkable collaboration redefines the playing field and sets new standards for football pitch technology. With installations at prestigious stadiums hosting the Women’s World Cup at venues – such as Stadium Australia, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Perth Rectangular Stadium, Eden Park, and Wellington Regional Stadium – the impact of this partnership reverberates across the globe.

In an ever-evolving world where innovation is paramount, the HERO Hybrid Grass story is a testament to what can be achieved when expertise from around the world converges with a shared vision. As the football world looks forward to more elite events, it’s clear that the hero of the field isn’t just the player – it’s the ground they stand on.

Premier League Productions combine with Genius Sports to bring Premier League Data Zone

Premier League Data Zone

Genius Sports Limited, Football DataCo’s Official Tracking Provider, has announced a new relationship with Premier League Productions (PLP) to improve live broadcasts for fans in over 185 countries across the world through rich tracking data insights and data-driven augmentations.

PLP creates and distributes all of the Premier League’s overseas content, including the telecast of all 380 league matches each season. PLP broadcasts now include a live ‘Premier League Data Zone’ viewing option, bringing fans closer to the action with rich data and tracking metrics in a highlighted match every match round as part of a cooperation between PLP, the Premier League, Football DataCo, and Genius Sports.

Everything from player names to passing accuracy, shooting velocity, sprints, total distance travelled, touches in the final third, and field maps is integrated into live broadcasts via a distinctive L-bar, answering the ever-increasing demand for data-driven insights among Premier League fans worldwide.

To enhance the fan entertainment experience, Data Zone will also include official Fantasy Premier League updates and standings.

Genius Sports CEO Mark Locke spoke on the deal and what it meant for both parties.

“Through Premier League Productions and their international broadcast partners, Genius Sports is revolutionising the viewing experience for millions of Premier League fans around the world,” he stated via press release.

“Powered by our Second Spectrum AI technology, we deliver an enriched visual experience with advanced analytics and key performance metrics in the live broadcast.”

Genius Sports is also FDC’s authorised supplier of official live data to the worldwide sports betting business, offering the most up-to-date and accurate feed on all Premier League, English Football League, and Scottish Professional Football League games.

Genius Sports’ Second Spectrum technology provides enhanced, data-driven Premier League, NFL, and NBA broadcasts on CBS, ESPN, NBA League Pass, and TSN.

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