Perform launches Netflix-style sports streamer with Netflix-style global ambition

Perform Group has launched DAZN (pronounced Dazone), a multi-sport Netflix-style streaming service claimed as the first of its kind. “This is the first time anyone has launched a pure multi sport OTT platform,” explains Simon Denyer, Perform CEO.

“Individual rights holders are going direct to consumers with their own service (such as the NBA with NBA League Pass and ATP Media which relaunches an ATP Tennis app in January). Some broadcasters (like Sky with Sky Go) are also making available their channels on connected mobile devices. DAZN, however, is multi-sport, has no linear channels, no schedule.”

For a monthly Euro 9.99 fee, fans in German speaking Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) will be able to watch live coverage of Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 matches plus NBA, NFL and handball. This totals 8000 events a year.

The service is OTT but includes all connected devices including smart TVs. It will be offered in HD with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound. Select content will be provided in Ultra HD/4K.

“We noticed that in Germany there were a lot of good quality rights that weren’t being properly exploited by traditional pay or free to air TV,” Denyer explains. “In many cases leagues weren’t happy with what they were getting and appreciated us creating a new market for rights with the launch of this service.”

Perform began acquiring rights for the launch 18 months ago, signing deals either directly with federations, including La Liga (and Mediapro), and English Premier League, NFL and NBA, or with agencies like Pitch, Lagardère Sports and MP & Silva. It worked with Matchroom to sign darts “a fast growing sport in Germany” reports Denyer.

In almost all cases Perform holds exclusive rights in the territories for all plaforms. The main exception is Bundesliga to which Sky Deutschland retains TV rights with DAZN picking up online rights. DAZN will screen highlights of all games of the Bundesliga first and second division, 40 minutes after the final whistle.

“We are not trying to compete with Sky,” he says. “Sky have strong sports rights and also offers a range of other services. We do not have a set top box. We actually think Sky’s subscription base — or any pay TV subscriber — will also buy our service in much the same way that movie fans might have a premium movie channel and also pay for Netflix.”

He adds, “The big difference from traditional TV is that on DAZN fans can watch as much sports as they want. If there are 20 events happening we will show them all live – there is no capacity issue. We won’t prioritise one match over another.

“People refer to DAZN as ‘Netflix’ because our content aggregation, low pricing model and delivery mechanism are similar,” Denyer continues. “We have a brand that we think infers sports and works across multiple countries.You can access DAZN on any device, you don’t need a contract, there is no advertising, you can cancel at any time.”

The similarities with Netflix don’t end there. “As a point to point broadcaster, direct to individual consumers, we will build a record of viewing history, and we will be able to automatically recommend and serve content relevant to each viewer.”

Perform’s ambition is to take DAZN global. “We have researched 30 territories and prioritised those we think have good fan bases for sport, a good broadband infrastructure and 4G network.”

It launches in Japan at the end of the month with a flagship 10 year deal worth $2 billion with the J-League starting 2017. The largest commercial deal in the history of Japanese sports includes all J1, J2 and J3 league tournaments — the first time that all games from all leagues will be aired in the country.

DAZN takes the international host produced signal and will use its journalists and analysts at production facilities dotted all around the world – including experise from the data specialists Opta and it owns — to tailor the feed for each market with local stats, language and commentary.

The online video player will feature familiar PVR style functions including live pause and rewind and on-demand streaming.

Perform has spent six years building its own remote cloud-based production capability and internet backbone. The London headquartered outfit’s international operation includes facilities in Cape Town, Michigan, Buenas Aires, Melbourne, Lagos, Dubai, Mangalore, Paris, Auckland, Seoul, Singapore, Toronto, Katowice and Aveiro.

“We have ingest facilities on each continent and our own cloud service that holds content in broadcast quality,” he explains. “So that means, for example, our office in Tokyo is connected to our office in Sao Paulo and can browse and access match content from South America, localise it in Japan and play it out. We have the flexibility to route content anywhere and to create localised versions.”

The J.League and Perform Group are also working with the NTT Group on a smart stadium project. This will enable Wi-Fi access in all J-League stadiums, starting with J1, to create an environment for fans to check match statistics, watch playback or goal replays, on smart devices while watching the match.

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