International live sports streaming service DAZN is continuing its global expansion, looking to build out its team in Australia and potentially compete against Kayo, Foxtel and Optus Sport.
Australia is a sport-mad country; we love playing and we love watching. For well over a decade there was one clear leader in the premium sports broadcasting space and that was Foxtel. Then, a few years ago, the giant was rocked by the arrival of Optus Sport, which pinched the English Premier League off them and, infamously, the Football World Cup.
In November 2018, Kayo Sports then landed, a revolutionary sports streaming experience. With the 14 best channels from Foxtel in its library – totalling over 50 sports – it then accentuated them with a host of brilliant sports-specific features, multi-device streaming support and an aggressive price point. It seemed there was a new king in town.
However, the next year or two is shaping up as an extremely interesting time for streaming sports in Australia.
What is DAZN live sports streaming?
DAZN, which is pronounced "Da Zone", is a sports streaming service that offers live and on-demand content online and through its app. DAZN was founded in London, but actually began building its empire in Europe. In 2016 it launched in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, then quickly expanded to Japan.
Initially the focus was on boxing, but then DAZN began picking up supplementary sports that were on the fringe peripherals of existing networks. This included picking up local secondary leagues, or popular sports from other countries that could satiate the needs of expats. For example, DAZN broadcast V8 Supercars, Super Rugby and A-League into some overseas markets.
The empire grew rather quickly. Launches followed in Canada (2017), then the USA and Italy (2018), with Spain and Brazil on the agenda for 2019. With this expansion and subsequent revenue, DAZN began to be more aggressive with its broadcasting licences. Bit by bit it's picking up some more mainstream, popular sports in the countries in which it is available.
Is DAZN Australia launching in 2020?
DAZN is actively looking to build out its Australian team, which is based in Sydney. The key indicator is this job posting, seeking an Advertising Sales Executive who will be "working in [the] Australian Sales Team and operate within a huge growth area of sports media."
"Your core role will be to take out to market a broad suite of commercial opportunities for some of biggest sporting websites and governing bodies in the world including; Sportingnews.com, Goal.com, NBA, NFL, MLB, Supercars & Rugby Australia."
While there has been no official announcement by DAZN, the job listing on April 16 at the very least paints a picture of growth. And it is known DAZN has been getting more serious about data-driven advertising and global expansion.
So beyond sales for sites owned by the DAZN Group and negotiating with local sports on overseas broadcasting rights, could broader "commercial opportunities" be interpreted to mean the DAZN streaming service? DAZN has certainly already built relationships with some local sporting organisations for part of its overseas broadcast catalogues.
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What impact would DAZN Australia have on live sports streaming?
A DAZN launch in Australian would follow the clear expansion strategy of the live sports steaming service, but it's a long way from confirmed.
Many of the countries DAZN is already active in have far more complex live sports streaming industries than Australia and with a lot more players. Locations like Canada and the USA in particular offer an almost indecipherably complex web of sports broadcast rights. In Australia the market is far more clear, but also ripe for growth.
With DAZN's well established global network of partnerships, it's in a good place to bring a host of sports from Europe, Asia and the Americas into the local market without stepping on too many toes. In particular there is the limited penetration of North American sports into the local market – just two ESPN channels, often not enough to even broadcast all the sports on offer live – which could be easily expanded upon.
Speaking of ESPN, the Disney-owned sports channel has launched its own ESPN+ over-the-top app overseas, complete with exclusive content and original programming. Could it end up bundled with the launch of Disney+ in Australia in late 2019 or earlly 2020.
The potential Australian launch of either DAZN or ESPN+ in Australia would certainly see some competition for the brand awareness of Foxtel (and Optus Sport to a lesser degree), the functionality of Kayo, and the less than stellar performance of the NBN, which somewhat stifles live streaming apps.
Yet if these barriers are managed with a slow build, we do feel a DAZN launch in Australia is likely. At the earliest, DAZN could launch in Australia in 2020, and you could expect it to be available on PC, Mac, ChromeCast, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In the meantime though, you might want to check out Kayo Sports.